Anthony Watkins II has been writing songs since getting a guitar at age 16.
He currently fronts (and basically is) Mobley, the versatile Austin, Texas, indie rock and dance project. Watkins’ experience shines in the band’s 2012 release, “Young Adult Fiction.” The album drew attention and accolades in their hometown, where head-turning local bands grow on sidewalks. Austin music blog Ovrld deemed it the No. 6 Best Austin Album of 2012.
“Young Adult Fiction” journeys through the danceable and catchy to hypnotizing drum and bass grooves. The album has inserted itself into many a local’s regular rotation, but it is the band’s live show that keeps a growing fanbase enthralled.
Watkins is a natural frontman, drawing the eyes of everyone in the room when taking the stage. He has a way of earning an audience’s complete attention, thrashing from instrument to instrument while showcasing an impressive vocal range. The gregarious performer is the opposite when not on stage, causing friends and relatives total shock when witnessing his show.
It is this stage presence and command of multiple instruments that allows him to ascend to superstardom in the eyes of concert goers. Mobley regularly has to evade interested fans after the show who did not get enough of the act during the performance. Such is the power of Watkins’ dynamic stage presence.
“I haven’t always been a performer,” he says. “I’m actually a pretty quiet person when I’m not on stage. People who know me well, even my own family, are always pretty stunned when they see me perform for the first time, so complete is the transformation.”
“Young Adult Fiction” has drawn wide praise for its ability to stay with listeners long after they’ve left their headphones, laptops or car stereos. The highly enjoyable electronic pop sound makes one think it is the result of a master plan. Watkins insists this is not the case, and prides himself on Mobley’s ability to channel a sound that is not limited by anything, including the very instruments that end up on the recording.
“There’s no single way that things start for me; ideas tend to come from all kinds of sources in many different forms,” he says. “Generally, I try not to limit myself by thinking too much about how I might pull something off live or whether I even know how to play the instrument I’m imagining. Usually, most of the writing happens in my head. Approaching songwriting this way has forced me to stretch myself and learn a lot over the years.”
This commitment to the sound in his own imagination has paid off in a big way. Audiences love the sounds Mobley creates, and those audiences are growing in places all over North America. While being in Austin may seem like a good way to get lost in the crowd, Mobley enjoys an ever-growing tour schedule that keeps Watkins performing in and out of the Texas music mecca. He usually travels with a drummer who happens to be from Mexico. Mobley will make a second trip to Mexico after Stopover Festival.
“We’ll be touring Mexico and much of the Eastern U.S. in support of my forthcoming EP, ‘Some Other Country,’ throughout April,” Watkins says. “We played Mexico for the first time last August, but my drummer is from there originally, so it should be a good time. I’m particularly excited because my last single, ‘Swoon,’ has been getting hundreds of thousands of plays in Mexico and there seems to be an appetite for us to come play.”
With an intoxicating stage show and Watkins’ unique ability to summon the magical in music, this appetite is becoming the norm for cities on Mobley’s tour schedule.