Beyond the Austin music scene lies Houston, TX.
That’s where band Mantra Love resides and records their psychedelic rock, which they performed on a four-city tour across Florida back in January, returned with once again in late June, and continue to promote throughout the southwest United States.
Mantra Love, consisting of brothers Derek and Fabian Silva, started when the Silva brothers bartered a room that would soon become their recording space for a Hofner bass guitar. Recently they released a music video for their single “Howlin” directed by Jay Farnie, who has worked with the band HolyDrug Couple and television shows such as Nathan for You and the Eric Andre Show, and late last year released their self-titled debut EP.
The band’s influences stem from alternative rock of the mid-2000’s, much like Vampire Weekend drum rhythms or Tame Impala demos, but adds a lusher feel to their sound through the haze of their guitars. Derek Silva’s vocals are soft and homely but in their live show the band is constantly energetic and engaging.
Mantra Love is slowly becoming a piece of the ever-evolving genre of neo-psychedelia, and help in continuing the threshold of this type of sound all while proving that there is much more to Texas than the capital’s music mecca. Here’s our talk with them.
How did Mantra Love come together?
Derek (lead vocals, guitar):Well, I started writing music a little while ago. I’m not sure the exact time but we’ve only been playing as Mantra Love for about the past year and a half or so. It started off with me just writing some little songs on the guitar. Then my friend Cody here, we started just jamming together and we started playing some shows together as a two-piece. Later, we added my brother on bass and then we worked together on the songs more, like fleshed them out. Everyone as input on the songs and we did that for a little while. And then we started touring recently, and we released our EP.
Acid Mothers Temple has an album titled Mantra of Love. Is this where the band name comes from?
Derek: I’ve heard of Acid Mothers Temple but I never knew they had an album like that. I don’t know exactly where the band name came from. I guess it just kinda came up one day and i was like: it rolls off the tongue, you can say it and it’s easy to remember sometimes. There’s no significant story behind it. It’s just something you kind of work with.
How do you guys feel about the Houston music scene?
Derek: Everyone in Florida is like, “Austin!” It’s [Austin] like the mecca of music, but i would say that it’s harder to be a band in Austin just because there’s so much more music there.
Cody (drums): It’s really over-saturated.
Fabian (bass): Everybody and their mom is in a band.
Derek: It’s a little easier for us to stand out in Houston.
Cody: And there’s a nice surge of a DIY wave flowing through, of people and just new places every week you hear about.
Derek: Austin has all the legit venues where they actually pay you and feed you, but in Houston it’s more an underground, youth culture just coming together just to make sure it’s happening. Which is really cool though, turns out to be some really cool parties though.
Fabian: I mean, Houston is so huge. You can drive through Houston for more than an hour and still be in Houston. But you’ll find everything, you know. You’ll have the classic, like, Screw and Z-Ro and Bun B and all that shit and you’ll find plenty of metal and punk but there’s an emerging psychedelic scene going down, and some electronic even.
Cody: there’s just a really big thirst for something new and there’s a lot of people who wanna see something happen.
How about Florida? Why did you choose to tour here, and how’s your experience been so far?
Derek: Our manager grew up in Florida.
Cody: So there’s a lot of connections.
Derek: He lives in New Orleans right now but he had all the connections. We’ve met some really cool bands over here- SunGhosts, they’re really cool people.
Fabian: Actually, in the video we shot for the Infinite Channel, I’m wearing a SunGhosts tank top. Too bad you can’t really see too much, but tryin’ to rep for you brotha’s.
Cody: ‘Cause they’ve been really helping us out in the past.
Did you know them [SunGhosts] before you came down here?
Cody: Like the first show [in Florida] we had we played with them.
Derek: We were in love and we were in Gainesville.
Cody: and from then on we just kept playing a couple of shows, I think we played like four shows together.
Derek: We clicked off the bat.
Fabian: Actually, when we played at Churchill’s, a band had to drop out and we didn’t know really what to do. We hit up SunGhosts and they were totally down to come through and just jam and just kind of improv and it was great and they loved it, and I loved it.
Cody: People in Florida too, not only the musicians, everywhere we go, we always have a place to stay. It’s like a couple of people asking us; we always have multiple locations and free weed and free food.
Who influences you?
Derek: We try not to pull much from one place ‘cause I feel like that brings a freshness to the music, like whenever you just pull from everything.
Fabian: I think I can say this as a general consensus, but, The Strokes and Tame Impala. Especially for me, Gorillaz, Melody’s Echo Chamber, the Velvet Underground.
Cody: Todd Rundgren
Derek: I love Blondie, I’ve been into Blondie lately. Supertramp, New Order.
Cody: For me, drummers would definitely be John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, I take a lot from him. Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys and Christopher Bear of Grizzly Bear are definitely my main drummers. Oh! and Jeremiah Green of Modest Mouse.
Derek: Mitch Mitchell, I like him.
Cody: Oh yeah and Mitch Mitchell, of course.
(the artists on this playlist were chosen by Mantra Love; songs curated by Gabby Strang)
How about outside of music? What in your life influences you to make the music that you do?
Derek: For me it’s like a deep, reflective, thought of my experiences as a human being and what it means to me. I try to make it as deep as I can, ‘cause I do not want the music to come off as superficial or empty. I feel that’s what people really resonate with most, when they can recognize, like, ‘oh, these people are actually meaning something, or they feel what they’re doing,’ and it translates well. So yeah, just life in general.
Who creates the band’s artwork?
Fabian: Right now we have a nice, young gentlemen in San Diego- Giovanni Rosas. He actually made tour posters for us. He also did our shirts, and he did some stickers.
Cody: He did the outside of the CD, right?
Derek: The actual CD itself is him. The album art is from a guy named Slime Sunday we found off of Instagram. And we just commissioned him to do some stuff.
Fabian: And Glenn Edinburgh has helped us out too, he’s a really great artist.
Derek: And with our merch table, our friend Jesse Castillo, ‘Culture Kid,’ helps us deck it out and he’s working on doing some on-stage props too. There’s a lot of artists we work with. I like to keep it diverse. As long as it relates to what we do.
Cody: It seems like each one has their strengths of which area they’re really good in.
Talk about your EP
Derek: It’s been out since November 7th of last year. So it hasn’t been too long. We have a lot of the songs that we’re probably gonna throw on another EP. We probably wouldn’t release an album until we can get onto a label.
Fabian: We have two songs from the [Infinite Channel] setlist. One is “Song For the Human Experience” and other one is currently a name we call “X and O”, but we’re gonna drop those as a couple with a video.
How does your recording process go?
Derek: We do most of that ourselves. We did some mixing with our friend Jonluke Caplinger with Electric Line Studios.
Cody : Out of Woodlands, right outside of Houston.
Derek: Most of the tracking and stuff, I like to keep that in our control so that we can put whatever’s in our mind into recordings. I feel like it’s a smarter move for a band to be in control. Might as well learn as much as you can about the whole process and be able to influence it at any point.
It’s like with Kevin Parker, from Tame Impala. He does all that stuff by himself.
Derek: Yeah. when I first started listening to him, I listened to “Sundown Syndrome”. My friend made a mix CD and I was like, “what is this?! this is amazing.” and then I discovered the EP, they released InnerSpeaker and then I was hooked from there. Then I learned he did everything himself and I was like, ‘I can do that.’ If he can do that, then I can do that.
Cody: I love that picture of him laying there with his feet up on his chair. Even on that album [Lonerism],which is huuuuuge, he’s still just chillin’ in his bedroom makin’ his songs.
Would you ever consider playing Texas’ Levitation festival?
Fabian: In a heartbeat, yeah.
Cody: Drop everything and go do that.
Derek: I think one day we’ll definitely do that.