The great thing about instrumental songs is that they leave the door wide open to interpretation, an element Bryan Hamilton, chief songwriter for Louisville band Tsunami Samurai, capitalizes on in their latest release, “Texas Toast.” Ultimately, he said he wants the song to be a “soundtrack” to the dreams of our daily lives.
“This song is about staring out your car window and letting your imagination run wild,” Hamilton told LEO. “I hope people take away a song that gives their road trip a little more vibe. A song that makes daily life a little more epic. A song that makes the imagination run free for a little while.”
“Texas Toast” is a song that’s hard to define. Hamilton and his bandmates throw all caution aside here, boldly experimenting with anything in their reach. Twangy surf guitars? Check. Bouncy gypsy groove? Check. Ethereal, angelic-esque choruses? Check. A Russian Cossack-style danceability? Check. Perhaps the best way to explain the song is saying it would fit right at home in a Tarantino film. It’s a song painted with broad strokes, though underneath the smorgasbord of sonic textures lies a stable, easy backbeat swing that keeps the song grounded to an ear-pleasing listenability.
“Music wise, we approached ‘Texas Toast’ as a surreal western painting,” Hamilton explained. “It’s built from ‘70 tracks, and they were layered in for both musicality and texture. It has a lot of small details like a jaw harp or a chain being dropped on the floor that can make it fun to keep listening to. Despite the ‘70 tracks, the song still has a surprising amount of space, which I think attests to how many of those tracks were just a single detail.”
Hamilton also found a silver lining in the pandemic lockdown, a positive air that lends itself to the tone of both “Texas Toast” and Tsunami Samurai’s aesthetics: “Luckily, I had just purchased an interface and some other home recording equipment to start recording and the vacuum created by the pandemic allowed me time to learn to use it. It was a total learning experience nearly every step of the way and involved hundreds of hours of YouTube tutorials.”
One of the things that make “Texas Toast,” and Tsunami Samurai, so intriguing is the band’s refusal to play by the rules of songwriting. Hamilton believes its more important to be fulfilled by the music he makes than to simply appeal to a fanbase or be pigeonholed to one genre.
“This song, and all of the Tsunami Samurai songs that I wrote, are first and foremost written for my own enjoyment,” he said. “Everything we have done has been without any promise of an audience. I personally cater to my own goals and expectations when composing. The most important thing, to me, is to have a song I can look back on later and know it was worth writing in the first place.”