Two frontmen cause no divide for rising Americana stars Callahan Divide
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Bass players tend to keep to laying down the beat in the background, but Callahan Divide's bassist is starting to take on more of a front-line role.
And that's just fine with his bandmates.
"Sometimes that situation can be awkward ... but we kind of think bigger than ourselves when we write songs," said Colton Fox, second from left in the above photo and the band's primary singer for the past six years. "We use the vocalist who's appropriate for the lyrics."
"Like Colton said, with other bands, it can be a weird thing," said bassist / co-lead singer Garrett Bryan, second from right in the photo. "But it was a comfortable changeover from me just playing the bass to me taking more responsibility as a singer.
"I didn't know what to think of it at first, but I've become more comfortable with it, and a lot of people seem to enjoy it."
The band's new direction comes through on Poplar, the band's new album, for which it will continue a series of release parties with a 10 p.m. Friday show at Golden Light Cantina, 2908 S.W. Sixth Ave. Cover is $7.
On the band's previous EP, 2015's Come About, Bryan sang lead vocals on only one tune, "Pirate."
"We've split the vocals down the middle now. That's a big directional change," Bryan said.
That's not all that's new on the album: "We've grown up. We've become better players and pushed each other to be better musicians," Bryan said. "We're always keeping that creativity open for new ideas and not being afraid to try something. Doing all of those things helped move this record in a different direction."
Callahan Divide got its start in 2009 in Baird, near Abilene, as a high-school band founded by drummer Travis Fox. Younger brother, Colton, joined to play bass several months later, and the band started shifting to original tunes in 2010, adding its current moniker and current guitarist, Justin Davis. After a few years, they found Bryan, whose Abilene-based cover band was in the process of breaking up.
"I got invited to come down and jam with the Callahan guys ... three years ago, and it was the best decision I ever made," Bryan said.
Fox said the band hasn't "really made a big deal" of Bryan's increased duties, and he appreciates the added flexibility it provides.
"I (sing in) a higher key, with a little bluesiness going on now and then, and Garrett has got a lower, raspier tone," Fox said. "They really compliment each other. ... We've got the same roots, but you can hear the different influences.
"We enjoy singing together," Bryan added, "especially on ('Precious Pain,' a track on the new album). As different as our voices are when they're separate, we love putting them together and making one sound."
Even when the song, as "Precious Pain" does, seems to be an unusual vehicle for two male voices.
"It's a song about making love in the shower with two grown men singing it together," Bryan laughed.
"It's funny," he continued. "The first time we performed it, I said that me and Dayne Pack wrote this song at his house together when we were alone, and it's about making love in the shower. I didn't even notice how funny it sounded til I said it."