Switching on less than two years ago, the Austin, Texas-based Electric Touch has quickly charged through the South Texas music grid and is generating enough current to power performances throughout the high-profile music festival circuit.
The band’s energy is derived from immediately catchy pop songs that fuse layers of straight-ahead rock guitars with restrained instrumentation and soaring vocal melodies.
Packing up his drums last summer, drummer Louis Messina left his home in Houston for Austin to rehearse and record an album with his twin brother, Christopher; singer Shane Lawlor; and bassist Ross DuBois. The group joined The Dandy Warhols and Built to Spill producer Frenchie Smith in the studio, and released an eponymous album this past August.
For Louis Messina, 22, the sparks caught fire last year as the band members listened to one of their songs playing over the studio’s speakers.
“Right then and there, I decided to quit everything else and do the band full-time,” he said. “That’s all we’ve been doing ever since.”
Each of the 10 songs on “Electric Touch” are meticulously crafted and polished to a professional gloss shiny enough to attract radio-ready ears, but aren’t buffed to the point of boredom. “Love in Our Hearts” has an appealing, steady dance-pop swagger led by British-born Lawlor’s vocal strut. “Dance” is cooler and more subversive, a song that showcases a particularly sly Lawlor imploring his affection to “pretend the night never ends” and to “dance like there’s no tomorrow.”
Prior to leaving to join the band, Messina was working his way up the ranks of The Messina Group ” a South Texas concert promotion company founded by his father in 2001, which became a subsidiary of large-scale events promotion company AEG Worldwide in 2003. Starting with intern work answering phones while in high school, Louis said he eventually started working in the company’s accounting office, where he learned about the business-end of putting on successful shows and the large amounts of money spent marketing music.
“Even in the concert business, people don’t know what it’s like to be a consumer.” he said. “You can waste so much money if you don’t put yourself in the audience’s shoes to see what it’s like.”
Playing together in high school bands, he said he has always known he’d continue to make music with his brother.
“We’ll always be stuck together forever, I guess,” he said, with a laugh. “We were together in the belly and live music runs through our veins, so we’ll always be joined.”
Having just completed Texas shows opening for Hoobastank, The Secret Machines and Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, Electric Touch will make its way to Oklahoma City to join Tulsa’s Callupsie and folk-rock outfit Cody Clinton and The Bishops for a 7 p.m. Friday “Green Christmas” show at Bricktown Live. The concert will serve as a performance preview for OKGreenfest, a music and environmental awareness festival scheduled for June.
Making its way across stages at Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, the group has landed spots on stages at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Coachella in California, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee and a spot at September’s V-Fest in Toronto, where Messina said the band played just prior to Oasis’ now-famed performance that unexpectedly featured an audience member attack on the British band’s Noel Gallagher.
“It’s been a crazy year,” Messina said, “but it’s been a lot of fun.” “Joe Wertz