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Crash Test Girls is an up-and-coming shoegaze band from San Marcos, Texas. The group consists of Allison Jones, Sammy Smith, Ayden Byers, and Cal Hushka. Here you can find some behind-the-scenes information about the band itself and their future plans!

The Band Defined

Allison, Cal, Ayden, and Sammy noticed a lack of loud music in the San Marcos music scene. They decided to take matters into their own hands and fix that themselves. Crash Test Girls has been on a rampage across town ever since they started in the Summer of ’22. The band plays a mix of crushing shoegaze and serene dreampop, which gives listeners the best of both worlds. The band is currently recording their first EP, so stay tuned.

Crash Test Girls has quickly become a staple of the San Marcos music scene since they began playing shows. They have played venues in town such as The Porch, Secret Room, Lazy Daze, and The Growling. The band most frequently plays at Earle’s Basement, which is where they practice as well. Crash Test Girls has also been starting to play a ton in Austin, thanks to venues like Electric Church and Independence Brewery. They are looking to play in whatever state or city they’ll get booked in, especially with the Summer approaching!

The band is represented by Distortion Media, which is a brand-new artist management and booking organization here in San Marcos, Texas. The owners run local venue Earle's Basement, where Crash Test Girls write, practice, and play songs. Distortion Media, Earle’s Basement, and Crash Test Girls are growing together thanks to the big crowds of music fans that come to the venue and watch the band! Distortion Media is branching out from Earle’s Basement, and they have booked a show on April 14th at Don’s Japanese Restaurant featuring Crash Test Girls. Come and listen because everyone is invited!

Allison Jones

Allison playing a live show

Allison Jones had the idea for Crash Test Girls as soon as she started learning the guitar in 2021. Even though she was improving her guitar playing skills with every moment of free-time she had, the band only felt like a pipe dream to her. She didn’t know any musicians here in San Marcos, Texas, and she definitely didn’t know anybody that wanted to play the noisy shoegaze music that she loves so much. Luckily, all of this changed when she reconnected with Sammy Smith in the Summer of 2022. Once he came over to write with her for the first time, she knew she had found exactly who she was looking for to start the project.

Before picking up the guitar, Allison had been singing since her early childhood. She sings most of the songs that Crash Test Girls have written so far, as well as playing the bass. She will even occasionally switch instruments with Sammy and play the guitar for a few songs such as “Mental” and “Undone”. Her voice can seamlessly switch from a sweet and comforting tone to a loud and visceral scream. This dynamic shift in vocals can shake up a song’s tone instantly and keep listeners on the edge of their seat.

Allison has a wide variety of influences that definitely show in the band’s music. She is incredibly into bands that can create a massive wall-of-sound, no matter the genre. Think dreampop band Cocteau Twins’ "Lorelei", or gothic metal act Type O Negative’s "Love You to Death". Crash Test Girls pays homage to Cocteau Twins during their live set with a cover of “Heaven or Las Vegas”, which appears to be a crowd favorite! She also brings a hardcore-punk background to the band, which can be heard at the end of the band’s song “Mental”.

Sammy Smith

Sammy playing a live show

Sammy Smith was at a local show that was put on by Texas State University’s very own KTSW 89.9, and he ran into a friend of Allison. Allison and Sammy went to High School together near Dallas, so the encounter hours away from home was unexpected! This friend told Sammy that Allison actually lives here in San Marcos, and explained how she is looking for people to write music with. He came over to Allison’s house that same night to work with her on songs. They wrote a demo for their first song titled “Back Home”, which has been the opener for Crash Test Girls’ live sets ever since.

Sammy had been writing songs on his guitar for awhile before he joined Crash Test Girls, and he has written countless demos that he recorded on his MacBook laptop. The band actually adapted one of Sammy’s solo songs called “Henry” into their live set. He mainly plays guitar for the band, but he can be seen playing bass for a few songs. He and drummer Cal even switch instruments for their cover of “Heaven or Las Vegas”! Being a multi-instrumentalist broadens his songwriting capacities. Sammy also sings on a few Crash Test Girls songs so far, including the song “Say Your Piece”.

Much of Sammy’s musical tastes aligned with Allison’s influences, but a lot of his own influences come from elsewhere. His favorite artist is indie artist ARTHUR, which is the solo project from singer Arthur Shea of the band Joy Again. Sammy also listens to a ton of video game music, particularly from Nintendo Games. A lot of his favorite songs come from games such as "Super Mario 64" and "Earthbound". Video game sound designer Koji Kondo is his favorite composer, and Sammy takes great inspiration from his song writing abilities.

Ayden Byers

Ayden playing a live show

Ayden Byers had been playing guitar for years, and he always wanted to be part of a band. He half-jokingly made a post on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak asking if anybody wanted to be in a shoegaze band with him. On a lucky chance, Allison and Sammy just happened to be scrolling on the app to look at funny posts from people around San Marcos. Once they saw Ayden’s post, it was as if they struck gold. They followed Ayden on his social media accounts and asked him to come over and jam with them. He was exactly what the band was looking for, and he immediately knew he wanted to be a part of Crash Test Girls. He joined the very night that he met Allison and Sammy, and he quickly proved to be an essential component of the band.

Ayden is a trained guitarist that added some needed grit to the band. He had so much gear that the band benefitted from, such as his seemingly endless amount of guitar pedals. He is known as the “fuzz man” of the band, due to how dirty and loud he can get his guitar tones. The way he manipulates the feedback coming from his amp transforms Crash Test Girls songs. He also creates beautiful swelling guitar leads over Sammy’s rhythm guitar riffs. Ayden immediately started embellishing a few of the songs that Crash Test Girls already had, and he writes songs of his own for the band. “Say Your Piece” is a dreamy anthem for the band that has been a staple of the band’s setlist since their first show. A newer song that Ayden has written called “False Flower” has pushed the band even further into a heavy direction, which pairs perfectly with Allison’s occasional shouting.

His influences come from masters of feedback across the globe, such as bands like Japanese experimental noise rockers Boris. Their droning guitars give Ayden a huge inspiration for his fuzzy guitar riffs on Crash Test Girls songs like “Ungrateful Lover”. Indie rock and shoegaze band Swirlies is another massive influence on Ayden’s guitar playing and song-writing. Their track "Pancake" in particular shines through on some Crash Test Girls songs. He is also a big fan of 1960’s psychedelic noise band Les Rallizes Denudes from Japan. Their soft, beautiful melodies and ear-piercing feedback offer a glimpse into Ayden’s wide spectrum of musical tastes.

Cal Hushka

Cal playing a live show

Cal Hushka was able to join the band through Sammy Smith’s connection with the KTSW radio station. Both Sammy and Cal are a vital part of the radio station, and luckily Cal is a drummer! A drummer was the final component that the band needed, and they were not easy to come by. Not only did Cal play drums, but they also completely matched the band’s vision. Their rhythm is the backbone of the band, and they immediately started writing with the other three members during their first jam-session.

Shortly after Cal was introduced to the band’s full lineup, Crash Test Girls started playing shows around San Marcos and Austin. Not only does Cal play drums during their live set, they also handle much of the sound equipment and mixing. Venues love them for that! They also handle the lighting before their sets, so the band looks as good as possible. Cal also has a history of playing guitar and bass, so the writing process for Crash Test Girls songs is streamlined even further.

Cal played in a rock band before Crash Test Girls, which shows their influence of musicians such as Joan Jett. They really love anything Joan Jett has been a part of, including The Runaways and the Blackhearts. They also bring their love of noisy grunge to Crash Test Girls with their admiration for bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Texas band Narrow Head. They aren’t afraid to show their love for the poppier side of music either! Pop-rockers Paramore have a huge musical influence on Cal.

On the Rise

Since the creation of the Crash Test Girls Instagram account in December, the band has seen a huge increase in followers each month. At the time of this graph’s creation, the band has amassed 370 followers over the course of four months. Their follower count especially spikes upwards after each night they play a show. March had the largest amount of new followers so far at 193, which was 90 more followers than the band received in February.