Treaty Oak Revival Conquered Texas One Show at a Time – Now They Want to Go National

In November, less than a week after the Texas rock band Treaty Oak Revival released their second album, Have a Nice Day, the group took the stage in front of around 2,000 fans at JJ’s Live in Fayetteville, Arkansas. At one point that night, they started playing “See You in Court,” an indignant track that makes divorce sound like trench warfare. The song’s opening line drops the listener into the middle of the melee: “Boy, you done f–ked up now/ That’s what she said to me.”

The JJs crowd “screamed the words back to us,” lead singer Sam Canty remembers. Have a Nice Day was just six days old, but it “hadn’t taken long for people to memorize the words.”

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Six months later, Treaty Oak Revival routinely sells more than 5,000 tickets in its top Texas markets, and the band’s catalog is earning more than 15 million streams a week in the U.S., according to Luminate. Their trajectory is decidedly old-school: At a time when many artists garner attention via viral moments on social media, Treaty Oak Revival win fans over by “play[ing] the craziest, rowdiest, most entertaining shows that we possibly can,” as Canty puts it.

Labels from each of the three major record companies are now interested in the group. “They’re all after us,” acknowledges Eli Kidd, who co-manages Treaty Oak Revival. “We come from Odessa, Texas — this type of stuff isn’t supposed to happen.”

The band’s ability to build “slowly but surely, largely by word of mouth, couldn’t be more impressive,” says one major label executive who is interested in signing them. But Treaty Oak Revival aren’t so sure they need any help.

While the band is from Texas, known for its vibrant “red dirt country” scene, Treaty Oak Revival kick out brawny bar rock — sometimes their fuming riffs evoke early ’90s Neil Young; sometimes they pack the wallop of an early-’00s pop-punk group. This combination fits the band members’ backgrounds: bassist Andrew Carey previously played in a psych rock outfit in Abilene, lead guitarist Jeremiah Vanley enjoyed a stint in a classic rock cover band, and drummer Cody Holloway has a metal pedigree. (Jeremiah’s nephew Lance rounds out the lineup on rhythm guitar.)

“People want to see the Texas country band in Texas, but not many people are like, ‘Oh, I want to go check out this rock show,'” Canty explains. “So we kind of used the Texas country moniker to get people in the door” — the band’s name pays homage to a notable tree in Austin — “and then we started playing our originals.”

This strategy’s success makes sense at a time when the flimsy wall that once separated country and rock has been effectively demolished by artists like Jelly Roll and Hardy, who have enjoyed country success while also topping the Mainstream Rock Airplay and Hot Hard Rock Songs charts, respectively. (Plenty of acts trafficked in muscular hybrids before these two — think Brantley Gilbert — though they didn’t find, or maybe seek out, the same recognition in rock as they did in country.)

Naturally, the Texas scene has its own home-grown fusions. When Koe Wetzel, who grew up in Pittsburg, Texas, released Noise Complaint in 2016, the goal was to make something like “country grunge,” according to Taylor Kimball, a producer with a metal background who oversaw the album. “We cut that and it kind of started to explode, and that opened up the doors for other artists,” Kimball continues. “The whole genre has shifted a little bit since then.” (Wetzel announced that he signed with Columbia Records in 2020 and is currently enjoying traction on TikTok with his new single “Sweet Dreams.”)

It took Treaty Oak Revival a while to master the style that has become their calling card. Canty describes the group’s first album, No Vacancy (2021), as scattered; that’s partly because he had started writing several of the songs years before while “on a country kick.”

New bandmates opened up new musical possibilities, leading Canty to pen “Ode to Bourbon,” a guitar-lathered dirge, and “No Vacancy,” a lonesome, spindly romp. He considers this pair of tracks “the two where we started getting into our style.”

Between No Vacancy and Have a Nice Day, Treaty Oak Revival crisscrossed West Texas, playing for steadily growing crowds. When Andrew McWilliams, founder of Evergreen Artist Group, became their booking agent, “that’s when it really started to take off,” according to Canty. “I work with a lot of bands in this scene, and I just kept hearing their name,” Kimball adds.

Treaty Oak Revival also inspired fervent acts of devotion even when they were relatively fresh; one fan drove 14 hours from South Dakota to see them early on. When the band found out the extent of her commitment, “we were floored,” Kidd recalls. (Kidd has been a contractor in the oil and gas industry for more than a decade and still works two weeks a month in the oil fields; he manages the band jointly with Bob Doyle & Associates, whose roster includes Garth Brooks and Zach Top.)

By the time Treaty Oak Revival were ready to record a second album, they had played enough gigs that they knew what they were aiming for. They mostly produced the album themselves, while also tracking drums and vocals with help from Kimball, who mixed the record.

In addition to the rancorous “See You in Court,” the other eruptive high note on Have a Nice Day is “In Between,” an unruly track about a one-sided relationship that crashes and burns. Throughout the album, Canty’s narrators are often struggling. “I wish you’d take some time so you can feel bad for me,” he sings on “Wrong Place, Wrong Time,” where the protagonist seems ready to volunteer for a jail sentence — “the only damn way to keep myself straight is doing hard time.” (“A lot of his storytelling is just different,” Kimball notes.)

When backed against a wall, though, Canty’s characters are more likely to throw jabs than roll over. Sometimes the target is an ex. “Have a Nice Day” has a polite title, but that line follows a kiss-off: “I hope that swinging door hits you on the way.” The narrators’ disgust is frequently directed inwards as well; one song is simply titled “I’m the Worst.”

The band uploaded Have a Nice Day and its predecessor to streaming services through Distrokid — which only charges artists a modest yearly fee to put up unlimited music — meaning the band gets to keep all its royalties as it racks up plays. On top of that, Texas has enough avid listeners that artists can build significant live careers there without a national profile. Treaty Oak Revival has already been growing outside of the region as well. In the coming months, they’ll play to sold-out crowds in St. Louis, Missouri (around 2,000) and Des Moines, Iowa (more than 2,600).

But in the right circumstances, Kidd believes Treaty Oak Revival can benefit from the majors’ reach: “If we’re going to do this at a worldwide level, then it’s time to find a partner with boots on the ground in these other parts of the world.”

The group has some leverage in negotiations because it has already proven it can build an audience, which is the biggest challenge in the music industry today. Acts in this position typically want to retain ownership of their recordings and enter into a profit split deal with their label.

While the negotiations progress, Treaty Oak Revival plans to re-enter the studio in July to re-record some songs in a “rootsy” style. Before that, of course, come more shows.

As the band performs, Kidd likes to keep an eye on the crowd. “Whenever they’re performing a song off the new album, you’ll see people screaming every word,” he says. “And then they play a song off the first album, and you’ll see some people looking around like, ‘I don’t know these words.'”

Kidd finds this confusion heartening. “That’s a new fan,” he explains. “That’s great: We’re reaching more people.”

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