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Slobberbone says basics are key to its success

And not setting lofty goals also helped the band

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Slobberbone's secret to success is as follows: keep to the basics, don't make lofty goals and remember why you started playing music in the first place.

"We play music because we want to play music," guitarist/vocalist Brent Best said during a telephone interview from somewhere near Tucson, Ariz. "We didn't decide we wanted to have fame and money. It's gratifying to make albums and play to audiences, but we're not like some of the bands today who make a hit record and lose steam with each album that follows."

No, indeed. Slobberbone — which features Best, guitarist Jess Barr, bassist Brian Lane and drummer Tony Harper — developed its loyal following through good old-fashioned hard work and grass-roots determination. "We were like those guys who got together if someone had a guitar. But, quite frankly, we didn't really know how to play our instruments well. But we practiced and got a little better."

The band officially formed in 1992 and played throughout its hometown of Denton, Texas. By 1996, Slobberbone was ready to make a record. "When we went to make 'Crow Pot Pie,' we really didn't know what we were doing. But we learned a lot and applied that to the other albums."

Subsequent recordings included 1997's "Barrel Chested" and 2001's "Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today."

"We found out real fast that something learned real quick in the studio doesn't necessarily make something better," Best said of the trial-and-error method used to record those albums. "We did learn how to play our instruments better, and that helped a lot."

The band decided to strip things down a bit for the latest album "Slippage." "We knew how to layer songs and fill them out. So we wanted to do something different. Get back to the basics and just play music."

The tracks on "Slippage" were recorded live in the same room, Best said. "We didn't even use headphones. And there are places where you can actually hear our instruments bleed into the other band members' microphones. That's something that a big-label would cringe at. But we thought it was cool and representative of who we are."

For "Slippage," Slobberbone tapped producer Don Smith, who has worked with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones. "Don was a good producer for us. He had thousands of stories. And he kept us on track. There was no messing around. He focused on the feeling of what we wanted. That's why most of those tracks were recorded on the first, second or third take.

"To us it was important to keep the songs fresh. Otherwise, if we were trying to lay a track for the eighth or 10th time, it would sound stale."

Things have been going well for Slobberbone. On Jan. 17, the band made its TV debut on "Late Late Show with Craig Kilborne," and the band's name was dropped last year by writer Stephen King in his book "Black House," which was co-written by Peter Straub.

The band is also famous for playing up to 200 concert dates each year. "We love making music, and that's why we're doing what we do," said Best. "The other things, like being on TV and mentioned in books are gravy."

Concert info

What: Slobberbone

Where: Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple

When: 7 p.m., Monday

How much: $5

Phone: 467-8499

Web: www.smithtix.com or www.slobberbone.com or www.newwestrecords.com

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com