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XANTHAN the band

Max, Boz and Corin
Photo: Debbie Miller courtesy of Xanthan
by Ichabod Broccoli
June, 2019

Listen to the new releases from Xanthan at Soundcloud.

Hot Sauce! Houston's own Xanthan is "a three piece instrumental, quirky prog rock band" according to bassist and founder Corin Gatwood, who formed Xanthan in 2018 around "bass-driven songs."

Xanthan have been playing at popular live music venues in Houston, such as White Oak Music Hall, White Swan, and Numbers. They hope to do a state tour, including some shows in the rich live-music atmosphere of Austin, where the annual music festival South by Southwest (SxSW) is held. "Good chance we will do something there next year," Gatwood says of the festival.

With a heavy and intricate sound, Xanthan has combined a throaty bass tone and fuzzy guitar with a variety of moving rhythms.

The band is preparing to go into the studio to record a 10-song album, after they "test drive our recording process" with a single. The recordings currently available on their Soundcloud page will have a limited lifespan, as Gatwood says he will take them down once the album is released.

Corin Gatwood began playing guitar at age 7, the bass at age 10, and began taking music seriously at age 16. He found drummer Boz through the online musician's network BandMix. Gatwood had been a prolific YouTuber for several years, and Xanthan quickly began to appear on the internet. Original guitarist Travis was replaced by Boz's brother Maxwell. Corin and Travis are still good friends, but "we couldn't all make the band work out" he explains.

When asked about his motivation for writing music, Gatwood says, "To put something different out there. I had a lot of weird song ideas and riffs before I formed the band. So now we're work[ing] them into songs. And my band usually makes them better than the origin[al] idea."

Fun Fact: Corin's maternal grandfather was jazz artist and Schoolhouse Rock composer Bob Dorough.

Gatwood provides song seeds in the form of bass line ideas, and Boz and Max add their parts and help with song structure. "Being the bassist, the songs are very bass driven" he says. Heavily influenced by Les Claypool, Gatwood cites Primus, Tool, King Crimson and Dream Theater as inspiration for his playing and songwriting. He also plays in Houston's "post punk-ish" band Late Night TV.

While Xanthan are currently content to be an instrumental act, Gatwood notes "that could change." Asked what he would write lyrics about, he said, "Probably about funny experiences, people and things I've encountered in my life. [I'm a] weird guy, I love weird music. It excites me."

Photo: Debbie Miller courtesy of Xanthan

Q&A with Corin G:
Where did you come up with the name?
The name Xanthan comes from the ingredient xanthan gum commonly found in hot sauce. 'It is an effective thickening agent and stabilizer to prevent ingredients from separating.' Thank you Wikipedia.
What are some of your notable influences?
Les Claypool, Tony Levin, Justin Chancellor (the list goes on). One band I've been into lately is The Residents, a classic art rock band from San Francisco. Mike Mangini and Craig LeMay for Boz.
What sort of support do you get from your families?
There is a long line of musicians in my family on my dad's and mom's side, mainly classical. Both my parents play in the Houston Symphony, so they understand how musicians work. They're my biggest supporters, both of our families. We are extremely grateful for them. Boz and Max's mom helps us set up drums and films us.
Do you play music full time, or do you have jobs/school?
As of a now, yes. I graduated high school in 2018. After the summer I will look for a job to support my habit collecting bass gear.
Do you feel your music is well-suited to Houston audiences?
I feel like we have a good appreciation here. I could see us being [liked] in Austin. We've never gotten negative feedback at least. No one's ever yelled: "Hey! Where are the vocals?!?!"
What is an interesting fact about Xanthan?
When we take a break from practicing we share a can of San Pelligrino blood orange soda.

Look for a review of that upcoming album on Best Policy.

"There is still a lot to come from us."
- Corin Gatwood


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