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At Work: Spanish Gold

by Rob Slater on July 28, 2014

“Right off the bat, we gelled really well," My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan says as he reminisces about the origins of his new project, Spanish Gold. “I just knew that it was special.”

The trio, which also boasts guitarists Adrian Quesada (Brownout, ex-Grupo Fantasma) and group visionary Dante Schwebel (City And Colour, ex-Hacienda), actually started out as a duo, sans Hallahan. “[Dante and Adrian] started demoing together, and the whole time, Dante was calling me about it because we always kept in touch, and I was really excited for him,” he explains. After receiving an invite to join the sessions, the trio met in Nashville for what, Hallahan recalls, began as a “fun recording side project” and eventually turned into South Of Nowhere, the band’s debut album.

In many ways, this collaboration was a no-brainer. Hallahan and Schwebel both played together in Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach’s solo band. Schwebel and Quesada grew up in the same town in South Texas and went to high school together. As for Hallahan and Quesada, the drummer explains with a laugh, “I met Adrian for the first time picking him up from the airport going to the studio.”

According to the always-charismatic Hallahan, despite the first impression jitters, the chemistry was palpable and authentic almost immediately. “You can’t fake that,” he says. “That’s not something you can run through a process—that’s people playing together and that’s what it’s all about. You can have the best players in the world and the best material, but if you’re not firing off each other and not getting along, then it doesn’t work. It happened the same way with the Jacket too.”

Speaking of Louisville, Ky.’s indie darlings—how does the drummer feel about going back to the musical equivalent of square one? “I can’t just rest on the laurels of My Morning Jacket. These are new challenges, it’s a different band and it’s a whole different thing,” he explains.

Musically, Spanish Gold is a well-oiled machine mixing rock, funk and blues with a Tex-Mex vibe that Hallahan ultimately attributes to Schwebel and Quesada’s upbringing. “It’s just something you get only from growing up on the border of the United States and Mexico,” he explains. “There’s a swagger, there’s a feel to it and it’s pretty undeniable when you hear it.”


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