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Boy Howdy Productions opens on a high note

Darn It’s “Euro Trash” music video launches a new Wisconsin label.

Darn It’s “Euro Trash” music video launches a new Wisconsin label.

For nearly a decade, Ryley Crowe has developed Darn It (officially stylized as “darn it.”), a long-standing solo project that pushes the highly utilized multi-instrumentalist from supporting role to main character. Back in 2014, Crowe released Darn It’s self-titled debut, showcasing a penchant for earworm-worthy hooks, intuitive structure, and pointed lyricism gifted with plenty of basement pop bite. “Euro Trash,” Darn It’s most unabashedly power pop moment, quickly became one of the project’s calling cards. Seven years later, “Euro Trash” is getting an official release as the A-side of a forthcoming 7-inch that will serve as the launch product of Crowe’s Boy Howdy Productions record label. 

If anyone finds Crowe to be a familiar face, there’s plenty of reason. He’s had a steady hand in a number of Fox Cities acts over the years, including Miserable Friend, The Wishbone Breakers (formerly known as The Crowe Brothers), and Dusk, the last of which is reportedly sitting on nearly 30 tracks worth of new material. Tone Madison talked recently with Crowe, who made sure to note that while being interviewed he was appearing “[as] Boy Howdy, on behalf of Ryley Crowe.” (It’d be a missed opportunity not to note that while Boy Howdy was taking questions, he was doing so in a stately blue cowboy hat, complete with feather wrap.) That very specific level of kitsch translates quite well to the “Euro Trash” music video, which is premiering below.

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Ryley Crowe performing with Dusk at the Fox River House as part of the 2017 Mile of Music festival in Appleton. Photo by Steven Spoerl.

Ryley Crowe performing with Dusk at the Fox River House as part of the 2017 Mile of Music festival in Appleton. Photo by Steven Spoerl.

In the clip, directed and shot by Finn Bjornerud (who also works closely with Dusk and associated acts), Crowe takes on the two roles central to the narrative of “Euro Trash.” One, a heartbroken ex feeling frustrated as his former partner is successfully wooed by a European man, the other, the mysterious European figure in question. Bjornerud wisely draws from the visual style of French New Wave, borrowing fonts and framing techniques while still employing plenty of deliberately-paced sweeps, a tactic that’s fast become a fixture of the director’s style. Both Crowe and Bjornerud lean hard into the material on this one and their collective effort pays off, making “Euro Trash” a winsome bit of irreverence. 

When the 7-inch arrives, “Euro Trash” will be backed by a reworked version of Darn It’s “Junior Jr.” Initially slated to come out last year, the video for “Euro Trash” is set to be joined by another video for “Junior Jr” which Crowe and Bjornerud are hoping to start production on this summer. A number of projects are set to be involved with the label, which seems to have a very solid footing in its early phases. Asked if there was any more information that could be divulged about the label, the response from Boy Howdy was fitting: “You’ll hear more about it on May 7, which will be the launch of the new brand.” Followed up, after a beat, with “Boy Howdy, comin’ atcha,” and an animated mimicking of a lasso whip.

Euro Trash b/w Junior Jr will be out on May 7 via Boy Howdy Productions.

Tone Madison: As far as timing goes, “Euro Trash” is a song you’ve been playing [in Darn It’s live shows] for eight or nine years. Why now for an official release?

Boy Howdy: Well, with Darn It, that project had always kind of been where the first couple ideas I had accumulated as a songwriter/producer and the intention was to bring some of those songs into more hi-fi realms and actually do a physical release and be a stepping point for this label. It ties into the idea of Darn It, where I have a hand in every part of the production. With this release being the first one, it’s representative of me as an artist in various realms.

Tone Madison: As far as launching a label, is that something that’s been on your mind for some time? Was this a development accelerated by quarantine?

Boy Howdy: The releases for Darn It have all been very DIY and I’m not very apt to… I don’t really know what a label is. I can see how [a label] can be beneficial for artists and their careers but approaching that as a relatively unknown person, that was my only means that I could come up with. I knew how to release my music as a kid playing in a bunch of bands and knowing how to record bands, and recording all my own bands turned into this idea. I record all my own projects, which branched out into people reaching out to me to record their bands so the intention with the label would be to release any project that I have a hand in production-wise or as a member of the group, just curating my style as a producer or creative.

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Tone Madison: There’s a lot of clever things happening in the video, how long did it take you to conceptualize all those elements?

Boy Howdy: The concept I had been stewing on because it’s the story of the song, right? It’s this guy getting his heart broke by this European dude. The concept of me playing both roles was the initial concept. I brought that to Finn and I was like “Can you make a band of Ryleys? Can you have us both on the screen at the same time?” We came up with scenes based on that idea and came up with locations we could use locally. We’d pick a location and then go there with a general concept and it usually morphed into something a little bit different, depending on the circumstances. The pool scene, initially, I wanted to wear a big inner tube and a bunch of floating devices and look really nerdy as the Ryley character and then we had these lifeguards hollering at us. We’ve had shoots where we had to leave the premises… as long as we get the footage, that’s all that counts. It’s a lot of figuring out as you go, but the initial concept came early on. 

Tone Madison: You have a tendency to revisit your older material in really interesting ways. Is that something that happens naturally or is it more intention to re-enliven your existing songs?

Boy Howdy: I like to put songs to that test, where if you can play it… I feel like that’s the test of a good song. If you can play it in a completely different genre or feel, if it still holds some sort of significance to me. It’s fun to mess around. I play in a lot of other projects and don’t take a lot of time to sort out new material for Darn It, so it’s been piling up. With this 7-inch being a revisit of old material, the next Darn It release will be all new material and, ideally, a lot of songs. With that, I have a bunch of projects I’m sitting on with other artists. I’m working with Free Dirt, from Madison, on another release and my little cousin Arthur is putting out his first record, which we recorded together and my brothers are also a part of that recording as well, so that’s a big family project, as well as the Wishbone Breakers. [The Wishbone Breakers] are working on new material too, so I’ve just been in the studio all quarantine, just writing and recording. This is going to be the summer of everybody getting their ears on [all those recordings].

Tone Madison: Is that it for the projects you’re involved with, then? That’s five, by my count.

Boy Howdy: I am working on a record with Ridley [Tankersley, Dusk’s current bassist] as well that started during quarantine. He had a bunch of songs demo’ed up, so we did a lot of basic tracking during quarantine. He’s my roommate, so we were living and working on that together. That’s in line for a Boy Howdy production as well and his songs are so great. He’s a new member of Dusk, who also has some songs he’s been writing with us and it’s been a lot of fun.

Tone Madison: Do you have a limited number of pressings for the 7-inch?

Boy Howdy: 200! I dropped a few copies off at Mad City [Music Exchange] and Strictly Discs, so if anyone wants to snag a copy early, wink wink, those shops have [the records]. There’s four of them floating around Madison.

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