A musician's move from Texas to Nashville can be the first step to stardom; it worked for A-listers Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves. But it's far more common to hear about migrant musicians who head back to Texas after not hitting it big-time.
It's not that coming home without a major label record deal or hit single equals complete Music City failure. Coming home worked for Seth Reeves, the lead singer for Fort Worth indie rock band Siberian Traps.
It was 2009, and Reeves was getting divorced and feeling disillusioned with his career as a teacher. So he moved to Nashville, where some of his musician friends were already living. He saw it as "part of an exodus in search of music," he says. And indeed, he found music, forming Siberian Traps with drummer Peter Wierenga, shortly after relocating to Tennessee.
The band recorded two releases: their first EP and first full-length Blackfoot. "But we struggled to gain much traction in a town so saturated with musicians," he says.
For musicians, whether to keep grinding in a new city or take a humbling trip home is the same dilemma actors face in Los Angeles or dancers face in New York City. Reeves, as an artist keeping a keen eye on the world around him, took his cues.
"My father passed away in 2011 after a battle with lung cancer," he says. "I was pretty well devastated. In the spring of 2012, my niece was born, the first of a new generation, so the combination of losing my father and seeing my brother start his own family made me feel as if I were missing out on the most important relationships in my life. Things didn't seem to be happening very quickly for Siberian Traps in Nashville, so it felt like that chapter was closing itself."
With the move back to Texas for both Reeves and Wierenga complete, the band eventually welcomed bassist Mike Best and multi-instrumentalist Ben Hance. In 2016, Siberian Traps released Stray Dogs, a well-received record of twang-injected guitar pop that earned the group critical praise and some radio airplay, including spins from local NPR-powered signal KXT 91.7. The group's superb new record, Indicator, displays a deft touch when it comes to crafting songs that feel both expansive and cohesive at once.
With songs that fans of My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses will surely adore, the group has adopted the catchy tag of "spirit rock" to describe the broad reach of its sound.
"I feel like ['spirit rock'] does a pretty good job of describing the feeling of the music we make," Reeves says of the term coined by a friend. "I often think of our songs as having a sort of exuberance and reaching out toward some kind of transcendence within the seams of our ordinary experiences."
Sometimes, you have to take the long way around in order to find what's been nearby. For Reeves, now a remarried father, being home meant first going away. Because after all, great art is rarely pulled from the straight and narrow.
Siberian Traps perform June 9 at 8 p.m. for the Indicator album release show at Shipping and Receiving, 201 S. Calhoun St., Fort Worth. $5. shippingandreceiving.bar.