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Garage rock from the cornfields

Josh Logan blazes his own path as Chief White Lightning

Josh Logan of Chief White Lightning

Jack Grisham

At age 11, you could find Josh Logan in a cornfield outside of Amarillo, Texas, picking weeds for cash to help his family. He was the second-oldest of seven kids with a single mom struggling to provide for so many on her own. Today, Logan is the singer in the band Chief White Lightning, a garage rock group from Austin who will be performing at the Mercury Lounge on July 20.

“Because my family is so big, I’ve always thought of it as a tribe,” Logan said. “When I was 11, I learned I could help pay for my siblings’ school clothes. I could just create a little bit of comfort for my family. There was an ultimate irony in being 11 and knowing that I brought home about the same amount of money as my mom. That’s part of where the band name came from. I’ve always felt like a leader in my family.”

“My family also had a form of prayer,” he continued. “We called it putting the white light on something. That’s where the rest of the name comes from. If it’s said to give white light when people need healing, then I want to be the master of that—to give people positive energy to help them make it through their day. I definitely was on acid when the band finalized in my mind.”

Today, Logan performs in a custom eggshell Nudie suit littered with patches and a bright red heart on the chest monogrammed with the word Mom. All these years later, his family is still at the center of his identity. He’s an unabashed momma’s boy who just finished his first record as Chief White Lightning, to be released on El Camino Media on July 13.

After Logan transitioned out of his first project, The Blind Pets, he found himself exhausted from touring and trying to keep a band together.

“We were just touring constantly. It was a lot,” Logan said. “This project culminated from me getting sick of searching for a drummer and thinking I could do this on my own. I would stand and play kick drum and snare and play guitar and whistle. That was the beginning of Chief White Lightning.”

Next, Logan met his songwriting partner, multi-instrumentalist Jonas Wilson, at one of those solo shows. Wilson offered to record him. The two later flew to Portland to finish the record and track percussion with former Elliott Smith drummer, Paul Pulvirenti.

Chief White Lightning’s self-titled debut has an amorphous, genre-resistant quality. Some of the songs contain a post-punk sensibility or drift into guitar-heavy indie rock reminiscent of Ty Segal or Broncho, but that’s only a piece of the sonic landscape. Honky-tonk pianos and languid country bass lines also fill this album with a sound reminiscent of another time.

“The Kinks, Tom Petty, the Pixies, or the Stooges. A friend says this is like ‘Raw Power’ meets power pop. It’s like raw power pop. Really, the older bands are what have gotten me going,” Logan said.

Part of Logan is still that 11-year-old boy, watching his family struggle and desperately working to be the positive energy pointed at their pain. Because of this, Chief White Lightning is firmly rooted in heartbreak—one that isn’t simply connected to lost love, but also to his family and the mother whose connection still defines him to this day.

On the track “Life’s Not Fair,” Logan writes a letter to the mother he misses on the road. “My mother taught me everything that I would I ever need / How to create my own reality / Love is strong and love is fast, and love is all you need / But don’t be scared, life’s not fair / You’ll be here and I’ll be there.”

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