Some well-connected bands arrive in Austin aboard big airplanes and stay in such plush hotels as the Driskill and the Four Seasons. Buchanan drove the entire way from OC—taking in all that fabulously depressing Texas flatland—and spent their down time in an RV park emptying their shit tank. They also didn't have any money; so much for imbibing in Tex-Mex or barbecue.
"We smelled a lot of great food, though," says band namesake Jay Buchanan. "We would love to have gotten a steak. Mostly we walked around, passing out our sampler CDs. But we got to see Michael Penn, Daniel Lanois and Billy Bob Thornton play."
So, was it all worth it? Yeah, kinda, sorta, Jay says. Like every other SXSW band, Buchanan played only a 40-minute set, and it wasn't exactly mobbed. Most of the 50 or so present for the band's midnight gig at the Lava Lounge Patio had never heard of them or their music. One guy mocked Jay's singing by crooning for his buddies into a beer bottle. Plus, the room was a block off Sixth Street, where the clusterfuck of venues always seems maxed-out during SXSW simply because of convenient geography.
But playing SXSW still looks good on a band résumé, which helps Buchanan as they gear up for the release next month of All Understood, their debut disc for the Ultimatum label. "We're just spending time trying to meet as many people as we possibly can," says Jay. "It was cool to be in Austin and see all these other musicians who do the same thing we do. But it was just so overwhelming. There are so many bands playing and so many things to do. The people we met were all really nice, but in terms of getting our music heard, it's all a big crapshoot. I could take it or leave it."