Slim chance

You might think that Denver alt-country act Slim Cessna’s Auto Club would have claimed Oklahoma City as a second home a long time ago, but in its two-decade existence, this show marks its first time here.

“It makes sense really, for us to play more in Oklahoma City,” bandleader Slim Cessna said. “I can’t believe it’s the first time. It’s like, ‘Let’s do this right.’”

The band that audiences would have seen in the ’90s is far different from the one appearing next Wednesday at The Conservatory. What started out as a traditional Western act has morphed into a rowdy, Americana style dubbed gothabilly cowpunk.

“Over the years, we just gave in and allowed ourselves to do what we do,” Cessna said. “It’s hard to explain, but it evolved into this different beast. I’m not sure how or why or when, but it just did. We started putting on a rock show.”

Only after embracing those more eclectic punk elements did Slim Cessna’s Auto Club really start to take off.

“We earned this reputation along the way. Articles and people on the Internet were calling us the best live band out there. You have to live up to that every night,” he said. “My knees hurt, my back hurts and I’m not even fully recouped from the last tour, but it’s a blast.”

While artists like Johnny Cash and Dead Kennedys helped spark the well-received shift in sound and style, it was a certain stormy night that allowed Cessna to bottle that lighting.

“I’m as inspired by the weather as music,” he said. “The
landscape in the part of the world me and you come from is very
different from the rest of the country. A storm is something to reckon
with, something that can get in your face very quickly. There’s the
color and how big and dramatic the sky is. That enters into your art.”

The Auto Club’s latest album is last year’s Unentitled, which showcased the group’s new directions.

like to at least pretend we are artists, trying to challenge ourselves
to approach each record differently so it doesn’t become your regular,
mundane job,” Cessna said. “Our ideal for this one was to make a pop
album. The end result isn’t a pop album. It’s still us, but there’s some
actual hooks in there.”

The sextet has written songs for its next disc; Cessna just isn’t sure when it will see the light of day.

“We don’t work as fast as we should. We’d like to have it out next year, but we’ll see,” he said. “No promises.”

Gazette staff

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