While festivalgoers can enjoy headliners such as Tiesto, Deftones, Future and Natalia Lafourcade at the sixth annual Neon Desert Music Festival, they’ll also get to discover several local and regional bands. One that particularly stands out is Austin’s Mesa Inn, which has roots in El Paso (hence the band’s name).
Although the two primary members of the group — guitarist Bradford Hardie and guitarist Ben McCormack — are originally from the Sun City and played together as high schoolers, it wasn’t until three years ago that the two began working on a collaborative project that ultimately became Mesa Inn.
“Bradford and I agreed that we should try another project,” McCormack said. “So we recorded our self-titled debut at Bradford’s house, alongside fellow El Pasoans Luke Navarro (bass) and Oliver Dean (drums).”
The nine-song record captured the band’s self-described “dark beach” sound: waves upon waves of sweet, reverberated guitars, clashing against McCormack and Hardie’s gloomy and poignant lyrics. Shortly after their release, the band began to play shows throughout Austin, including venues such as the Skylark Lounge, Lambert’s, Whip In, Sahara Lounge and The Blackheart.
After a brief lineup change (Navarro and Dean left the band because they had both become parents, resulting in the current bassist Kenny Patterson) Mesa Inn recorded their 2014 EP “Forever Is A Desert,” and have finished another full-length, which will be released around the time of their Neon Desert performance.
“We went to a studio in Austin called the Bubble and recorded and engineered with Kenny’s friend, Sean Rollie,” Hardie said. “The process was so quick — we recorded 10 songs in two days and just focused on keeping everything super stripped down and basic.”
“The new record is most likely going to be called ‘Dark Beach,’” McCormack added. “Our influences have to do with landscapes and nature, and the album’s title and music is a reflection of that.”
But, most importantly, Mesa Inn serves as a testament to McCormack and Hardie’s longstanding musical and personal relationship, and the two said their forthcoming album is the pinnacle of that. “Bradford and I just trust each other’s first instinct,” McCormack said. “We’re writing together, as well as bringing in Patterson on the process, too.”
“This is the best art we’ve created together,” Hardie added. “We’ve been in multiple bands together, but this one is just really nice.”
The band will be playing most of the material off of their forthcoming release at Neon Desert, which also serves as the first time McCormack and Hardie have been back to the city in awhile. “I can’t wait to see how Neon Desert has grown,” McCormack said. “I played with Through The Trees back in 2011, but this’ll be the first time Mesa Inn performs in El Paso.”