Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world, is home sweet home for David Garza, but amazingly it took the hometown media years to sing sweet praises for the rising star.
Garza, whose first name is pronounced Dah-veed, quietly has sold more than 30,000 copies of nine albums on his indie label Wide Open Records since 1989. It led to a major-label deal with Lava/Atlantic, which released his debut album, “This Euphoria,” on April 7. His first single, the ingenious “Discoball World,” is in the Top 5 and climbing on the P&P Picks chart.
“This Euphoria,” laced with odd hybrids built on insinuating rhythms and wry wit, is Garza at his Donovan-meets-Beck best. Clearly, he’s not the same artist who initially was dismissed by local critics and disc jockeys.
What could the early detractors possibly gripe about?
“You haven’t heard 10 years of my records,” Garza said, laughing, during a recent tour stop. “You didn’t know me as a 17-year-old college kid, and times were different in 1989 than they are in 1998. Times change.
“Maybe they were completely justified, maybe they couldn’t be more right in blowing me off all these years. I learned a lot from them, not from their writing, but from them as people. I’ve gotten to meet some of the writers and DJs as people, not by writing them nasty letters, but by hanging out with them in clubs.”
Austin, more than anything, kept Garza going through the lean years.
“Not for good reasons, not for bad reasons,” he said, “but for millions of good reasons and millions of bad reasons. When you have people who are on your side, like people in Austin are, like my friends in Austin are, you do it because they believe in you. When you have the naysayers, it keeps you going in a different way, because you want to make friends with them and convince them your music is good.”
It’s not a tough sell now, and Garza, brimming with confidence and enthusiasm, isn’t about to rest on his newfound laurels.
“Touring kept me making records, and making records kept me touring,” he said. “It was like day and night, do one so you can do the other. There’s nothing as powerful as an electric guitar and drum kit in front of 2,000 13 year olds.
“You can make as many records and do as many interviews and do as many interactive CD-ROMs as you want to, but unless you get your spat ass onstage and play, it’s not going to mean the same if you don’t. I keep writing songs, keep my eyes on the music and always raise the ceiling. I refuse to talk about anything other than music, because I feel like I have nothing else to talk about.”
A self-described “son of Texas rock ‘n’ roll,” Garza knew his true calling early.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll star. Who didn’t?” he said. “But back then the definition of rock ‘n’ roll star, in 1979, when I was about 10 years old, it meant two things: make lots of great records and you play lots of great concerts. That’s what you did. That’s all I can do, that’s all I should be doing.”
Garza still has some unfinished business. He has another dream in mind.
“What I want to do is start an all-Texas radio station that you can get in every city in Texas,” Garza said. “The technology has to exist. It would be a community radio station, but the community is Texas, that way kids in Amarillo can hear what kids in Galveston are doing, kids in El Paso can hear what kids in Dallas are doing. That would be the ultimate.”