For as many talented acts and distinctive sounds as there are in South Carolina’s music scene, it’s still an undeniably small one. You can chalk that up to the state being only the twenty-third most populated in the country, or lack of major metropolitan areas, or whatever you think the cause of that is. Nonetheless, the realm of “South Carolina music” is a small town, and like in any compact community the news of change sends tremors, especially when the change involves something that was prominent, well-liked and consistent. Tom Angst was all three of those things.
Naturally when an announcement came on April 7 that the band had split up, there were a lot of questions and frown emojis wading around. Though it is a sad occasion for those who have been following local music for the last three years, Tom Angst’s lead singer/songwriter Danielle McConaghy does not want people to be bummed out by it and she certainly is not looking in her rear view mirror. This is her perfect opportunity to move forward and take a different approach to her music.
On Tuesday, May 13, McConaghy will be backed by the members of Daddy’s Beemer for one final show as Tom Angst. They will be opening for Mothers at the Radio Room in Greenville, which seems like a fitting finale. The Radio Room had been a regular venue for the band and Mothers is stylistically akin to Tom Angst. After that show, McConaghy will be a resident of Asheville, NC and already has her next project lined up: a solo act called Fleur Geurl. Fleur Geurl will not only be a new start in terms of how she presents and markets herself, she also plans to change her approach to creating and putting out music.
“I really want to take time to avoid the cycle of, ‘Make song, put it out, perform it,’ like push it as hard as I did,” Danielle says. “I want to make sure that something is what I want it to be. I think I heard that Florist did this, she was making music and releasing it and she didn’t play out until there was actually a demand for it. That’s kind of backwards of what I was doing with Tom Angst, it gets very draining to do it that way. I like playing live but in the meantime I would rather focus on my project and perfect it as much as I can. You start to get into the mindset of what people want to hear, and less of what you want to make. I want to be less concerned with how it will be received and how it will sound with a band and just have it be what I feel like making.”
In short, Tom Angst was a band. This next project is going to be Danielle, regardless of whether or not she adopts a band to back her up at some point down the road.
Creating new material for herself is not the only thing on McConaghy’s agenda either; she wants to learn how to play drums and make an all-girl band while in Asheville. “I want to have fun with it again” she says, “I used to do this just on my own accord and I loved it, and then it just turned into such a business.”
Apart from her change musically, going to Asheville is a major shift Danielle, who will be living outside Greenville for the first time. “Part of it is that I like the mountains” she says, “and I have to admit it’s also a little selfish. But I honestly don’t think I am going to go anywhere right now trying to build Greenville’s scene. I do like to think I’ve added something to it but you reach a point where you need to get out of it if you’re going to progress. And of course I would not be where I am without Greenville or Pablo. I wouldn’t have the confidence to move to Asheville in the first place.”
To describe the overall feeling of her plans, she says it feels like “blooming.” “I do feel like I’m growing towards something. Everyone has been like ‘awww’ about the end of Tom Angst but I’m actually very excited. Reinventing and changing is great. It honestly feels like the universe is just saying, ‘It’s okay, this is done. You have to go do this thing you want to do.’ It’s hard to shake the boat of stuff that you’re comfortable with.”
In regards to fate telling her that this was the right move, that all came at her in the span of one night. “My friend Holden told me, ‘We’re moving to Asheville and we have a third bedroom if you’re interested.’ I couldn’t because I was dating my bass player and we had the whole band going on among other obligations, but then later that night he broke up with me and left the band. After that I talked to Holden and just realized that if there was ever a sign, this was it. So I put new wheels on my roller skates and now here I am!” Putting new wheels on her roller skates was not a figure of speech either, she literally did that.
There is one final Tom Angst EP being released through Real South Records in the near future, but the prospect of Asheville and Fleur Geurl and everything that’s waiting for McConaghy has her far more excited than that release, and with good reason. When the Daddy’s Beemer version of Tom Angst played at The Embassy in Charleston on April 26, she played new material as well as the usual lineup of Tom Angst songs. After the show, it was the new songs that people were chattering about, not that it was likely the last time they’d hear “Inferiority Complex” or “I’m Probably Overthinking It” at a live show.
The end of Tom Angst does sort of feel like a change in the tide for South Carolina music. They were known and liked in every part of the state that had a house show scene, and like the recent end of Makeout Reef or the hiatus of Secret Guest it is a change that really will be felt. But for McConaghy, the one who brought us those Tom Angst songs and shows and everything else, this is very far from a conclusion. What is happening is that we are approaching the next chapter in the musical career of one of the brightest and most endearing voices that the Carolinas have seen in recent years. That is something for all of us to be excited about.
Check out Tom Angst performing “Dimple” off the upcoming EP below, and stay tuned for news about Danielle’s new project, Fleur Geurl. Video by Jorge Arroyo (Small Galaxy Productions).Follow @extrachill on Instagram!