Will Buck Returns to Colorado with New Solo Tunes & Old Bandmates

If you were involved in the Colorado music scene four years ago, it was nearly impossible to miss rock’n’roll outfit West Water Outlaws. What started as a Boulder house party act in 2010 soon found themselves selling out The Fox Theatre and touring nationally with acts like The Meter Men, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Jerry Joseph, and Rival Sons. But just as things really started to take off for the Colorado band, they split when frontman Blake Rooker moved to Nashville to pursue a solo career. The members all went their own way and the band dissolved.

Notably, drummer Andrew Oakley joined several successful Colorado rock acts until he formed A Shadow of Jaguar with Brian Hubbert. But guitarist Will Buck had a harder time trying to find his future in music until recently, when he decided to release his debut solo single “Fuse”. Next Thursday, May 23rd, Buck will return to Colorado for a show with A Shadow of Jaguar and Denver’s Boot Gun at Larimer Lounge. We recently chatted with Will about his new music, his plans for 2019, and why he’s excited to be returning to Denver next week:

You’ve had quite the journey since West Water Outlaws’ breakup. Talk to us about how your current solo project came to be.

In the wake of the West Water Outlaws (WWO) split, I went on my first-ever solo road trip of California in February of 2015. I was lost, shattered and completely open to anything and everything that took me out of reality and into ‘the flow’ as I call it. Aside from writing and the inevitable destructive coping mechanisms that I developed, I found that traveling and really winging it or ‘drifting’ was really the only way [to live]. I would go on to live an entire year of my life ‘drifting’ but that’s a completely different conversation.

Anyway, on that first fateful trip I stopped at an old friends place in Orange County and recorded a demo of this song in one day. I’d had that guitar riff in my head since the end of WWO and I needed to get it out. After that, the song sat dormant for 3 years.

Will Buck. Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Will Buck. Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What happened next?

After I finally learned to sing, which by the way was one of the most humiliatingly frustrating, yet absolutely, amazingly freeing experiences of my life, I returned to this song. I wrote lyrics and self produced the rest of the song in 2018. However, I still kept the original recordings of the guitar tracks. Something about them just had the angst of a desperate man about to explode that I couldn’t recreate. Even the original guitar solo, which was done in one take, made the song. I couldn’t have come at that solo with as much heartbreak, anguish and sheer destruction as that day, even if I tried. It was like a song in captivity that finally broke free.

Did anyone else work on “Fuse”?

I cut the vocals at Speakeasy Recordings in North Hollywood with a groovy guy by the name of Ross Newbauer. Ross got a great performance out of me and pushed me in a good direction, so I've since started tracking most of my vocals for the upcoming EP with him. Justin Peacock, who I know from my Colorado days, mixed the track and seriously brought it to life, those original, grungy basement guitars and all! He mixed a lot of the West Water stuff so I knew he would kick ass on this one. Brian Gardner mastered, who is a total legend and I'm lucky to even have that connection. I think some pretty notable hip-hop guys gave him the nickname Big Bass Brian in the early 2000s for his work and I must say he doesn't disappoint! With the exception of my great friend Wyatt Strassner’s rhythm guitar part, the rest is me on the loose.

You also recently released a video for “Fuse”. Tell us about that.

Marshall Miller shot and directed the music video at The Public Works in Denver. He has the creative eye of a hawk and the patience of a stalking lion. I came up with this crazy idea for the video and he was down! He made all of my creative visions come true and then some. It was also quite fun planning and shooting the whole thing together over the span of 4 days, which was amazing. Normally video shoots are a one day, 14-hour ordeal in my experience, so I felt very fortunate to take our time with this one.

“Fuse” is about a relationship that has gone toxic. It's neither persons fault, but the sad truth is that even though you crave being around each other, the whole thing just blows up every time you do. Each person holds the power to ignite the other and sometimes you can't resist being lit up by them even though you know it's going to end badly. I think a lot of people have experienced this conflicted mindset in one way or another, so I wanted to portray that in the video.

What inspired the story of the video?

I've had the necklace in the video for years- it was actually a piece I found at the Boulder Art Mart on Pearl [Stree] and I wore it so much people started calling it my "signature piece." Overtime it started to mean more and more to me, almost like my soul if it were portrayed in an image. So like the song alludes to, I'm sort of at the mercy of my soul’s captor after I hand over the necklace to the two masked women in the video. I call them "the experimenters" as they then start to run trials on me once they've retrieved the key to my subconscious. The shots of me sort of floating in an abyss with a light on my face are supposed to represent just that- my subconscious. Marshall sent me some prototype shots of him in this world we described as "the box" early on and that's what sparked the whole idea for the video. Then we came up the other worlds as we referred to them as "the observatory" which is the room where the masked women are viewing me on surveillance footage inside the "container" where I've been stowed away. Only the one female wearing my necklace possesses the power to transfer between the worlds. That female’s name by the way is Bailey Turner and her partner/leader in crime is MJ Szymanski; they did a terrific job and were total pros in front of the camera.

Photo Credit:  Summer Taylor Mosher

Photo Credit: Summer Taylor Mosher

What else will you be releasing this year?

I have a ton of plans for the rest of the year- I don't want to give away too much but I am definitely releasing a four-track EP this summer that I recorded in New York City at Figure 8 Studios with Andrew Oakley on drums and Wyatt Strassner on guitar and backing vocals. And I will be touring surrounding this release! I can't wait to see where it all takes me now that the song is out on all platforms!

Sweet. How do you feel about returning to your old musical stomping ground this week?

I am extremely excited to return to Colorado. I lived in Boulder for 8 years and miss it all the time. It is one of the best places in the world and holds so many special people in it! I am most excited that Andrew Oakley (drums) and Vince Ellwood (bass) from West Water Outlaws’ original lineup are going to join me onstage for my set. That is a dream come true for me- to stand on stage in Colorado with two of my best friends again and rock out for a room of radical people.

We can’t wait to join in the rockfest. Tickets for Will’s show with A Shadow of Jaguar and Boot Gun are here. Keep up with Will Buck and his adventures here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Premiere: Bun Bun Has Landed- Listen to Their Debut Single "Urban Bee"

Denver’s Bun Bun dropped their debut single “Urban Bee” around dawn Planet Earth time this morning and BolderBeat is proud to premiere it. Take a listen:

“Urban Bee” will be released across all multiverses this Friday. Bun Bun will also make a rare appearance amongst humans tonight at Elija Kane's “Stay Gold” art show at the State Room above the Buffalo Rose in Golden at 8PM.

BolderBeat reached out to Bun Bun for an interview but as members Snarklet and Reedlet were on a space adventure, BolderBeat was forced to communicate with them through their manager Tarzancula interstellarly. Read on:

Bun Bun (reedlet and snarklet). Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Bun Bun (reedlet and snarklet). Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

Tell us about Bun Bun & how the project came to be.

Snarklet is from Planet Saturn. She arrived here January 1st. Soon after, Reedlet & Snarklet got burritos at Los Marcelos & it was love at first sight. A month later, they went to San Francisco. It was raining in Japantown and underneath a mylar blanket, Reedlet asked Snarklet if she would stay on Planet Earth with him. She said yes! They decided to name their band Bun Bun when they noticed they were both wearing buns in their hair at the same time. They always match like that. It's never even on purpose. They also would like to clear up any rumors: they did not meet on Craigslist.

That’s pretty galactic. Talk to us about this track- what inspired it and where was it recorded?

Urban Bee” is the first song Bun Bun ever invented. “Urban Bee” is not just a song, it is a way of life for bees. It's an introduction into a new form of music, called BeeWave®, patented by Bun Bun. “Urban Bee” was controversially kicked off of Billboard's Hot 100 because it didn't have enough human elements and was clearly made for bees. So, in an effort to be more inclusive, Bun Bun made a second version of “Urban Bee” for humans to listen to which is what you can listen to today.

Originally though, most of the frequencies were made exclusively for bees' ears (ears belonging to bees on both planet Earth AND Saturn). Just try and listen to it. Critics say it is unfair for two SoundCloud rappers to control all of the music made for bees, [but] the fact of the matter is, no one else cares enough to make music exclusively for bees. Snarklet worked as a bee-whisperer on planet Saturn, so obviously she knows what she's talking about when she raps about bees. Reedlet and Snarklet recorded and produced the song at Moon Magnet Studios together while binging on honeycomb.

That’s like, so atroidal. Why did Bun Bun choose this track as their debut single for Earth?

“Urban Bee” is an ode to bees surviving in the city. Bun Bun thinks they are underrepresented and misunderstood, and truly beelieve [sic] that bees deserve to be saved.

Here are some interesting facts about bees: Some people think that honey is sticky because it's made of sugar when in fact, it's sticky because people can't stop touching it. Other misunderstandings about bees mostly revolve around whether bees eat the honey or use it as insulation in the hive. One last fact is that all bees you've ever seen are boy bees, beecause [sic] the Queen Bee kills off all the other girls to maintain her status. Humans never see the Queen Bee beecause [sic] she's in the hive, and frankly, pretty busy.

Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

We beelieve [sic] you. What else can we expect from Bun Bun this year?

Bun Bun has six new songs and is performing them on planet Earth [as mentioned] at Elija Kane's "Stay Gold" Art Show at the State Room above the Buffalo Rose in Golden tonight at 8pm.

Anything else you’d like to add Tarzancula?

Bun Bun is currently [allegedly] feuding with Babelord, another band from both Denver and outer space. Babelord opened for Bun Bun on their tour around the Milky Way. It was annoying because they had to check all of Babelord's guitars every time they flew economy, so now they're feuding over Instagram. Bun Bun recently defeated Babelord in a basketball game at the rec center. It was a landslide.

Whoa. TMZ where you at?! You heard it here first Denver.

Update: Babelord has disputed Bun Bun’s interstellar feud allegations stating, “It’s all love between me and BunBun! So excited for this single!” Listen to Babelord here.

Keep up with Bun Bun and their space adventures here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

First Listen: Whiskey Autumn's 'Modern Doubt' Is a Synth Pop Hollywood Dream

Today, we’re proud to premiere Whiskey Autumn’s new record ‘Modern Doubt.’ The Denver four-piece are releasing the record this Friday, April 12th at Lost Lake Lounge with fellow Denver bands The Milk Blossoms, OptycNerd, and a DJ set from Motion Trap. Synesthesia, who hosted The Pink Party earlier this year, is presenting the show. Take a listen:

 ‘Modern Doubt’ is the follow-up to Whiskey Autumn’s 2017 EP Ice Cream In The Sun. The first single from the album “Birds That Flew,” premiered with 303 Magazine, followed by the premiere of “Let’s Go Sailing Instead” on CPR’s OpenAir. The studio recording of “Monochrome Actress” premiered with our friends at Ultra5280 recently, and the band’s live music video for that song just debuted with Westword last week. Whiskey Autumn will also be on CPR’s OpenAir this Friday for a live session in support of their release and Lost Lake show. Clearly, this is a Denver band with a trajectory worth watching.

Whiskey Autumn. Photo Credit:   Vossling

Whiskey Autumn. Photo Credit: Vossling

Overall, ‘Modern Doubt’ is a psychedelic pop rock album with an overarching theme rooted in modern anxieties such as technology, political doubts, and navigating an always connected world. The album features dancey synth lines, jangly beach guitars, a Hollywood film noir sample, natural sound interludes, and produced hip-hop drum breaks. The record was written by frontman Greg Laut, produced by band members Laut and Jason Paton, mixed by Chris Scott (OptycNerd, Young The Giant) and mastered by Jim Wilson (David Byrne, Neko Case, The Yawpers). Recently, Laut answered a few questions for us about the band’s new record, Friday’s show, and Whiskey Autumn’s 2019 plans:

Tell us more about ‘Modern Doubt’.

Modern Doubt was written and recorded throughout 2017 and 2018 and reflects my experience of the tumultuous landscape of our current times. My bandmate Jason Paton and I threw out any preconceived notions of what our sound is supposed to be and challenged ourselves to create a record that transports the listener to the world that each song exists in, whether it be a dreamy beach, an old Hollywood film, or a crowded airport. For us, that meant looking at the songs through a cinematic lens and setting the scene with natural sound samples and production choices that catered to the storyline.

That’s really cool. It seems like you’ve already had a lot of attention surrounding this record. What else can you tell us about the release show this Friday?

This will be a Whiskey Autumn show like you've never seen before! We have a new rhythm section and a batch of new songs that will be played live for the first time. Synesthesia is presenting the show and they're bringing along Andy Ai and Kat Phenna who will be providing dystopian, film noir visuals that tie into the themes of Modern Doubt. It's going to be a wild night!

What else can we expect from Whiskey Autumn in 2019?

You can expect a vinyl release of Modern Doubt later this year, summer tour dates to be announced soon, and more surprises coming your way in the next few months!

Catch Whiskey Autumn live this Friday, April 12th at Lost Lake Lounge for the release of ‘Modern Doubt’. Tickets are $10 right now if you Venmo @whiskeyautumn; $15 day of show. Find more information on Friday’s gig at this link and keep up with Whiskey Autumn here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Boulder-Based Nobide Are Making Waves One Big Stage at a Time

By: Natalie Pulvino

Boulder-based live electronic band Nobide is fresh off a show at the Boulder Theater, soon to headline the Larimer Lounge, and has a lot in store for this summer’s festival season. We sat down with Nick Vann, founder of Nobide, to ask him about the band’s authentic sound, local influences, and upcoming endeavors.   

What differentiates Nobide from other live-electronic acts?

Probably our versatility- we want to make all types of music, not get caught in one sound or genre. We’ve been working on combining the production elements with the live instruments, figuring out how to allow the produced pieces to function like a band member. Our live setup is pretty crazy- I can now manipulate and change the sound of the guys as they’re playing [and] do DJ production effects live which is pretty crazy.

You’ve described Nobide to BolderBeat previously as “organic-electronica,” emphasizing the live aspect to your music. What is your process for infusing the produced pieces with the organic element to create the perfect blend?

Our process is evolving as we figure out our sound. We’re still fresh as a unit, so we’re not sticking to any one process for writing or playing- it’s all very open right now. As far as putting songs together it’s really important to me that the songs don’t come out sounding like just another band. There’s so much possibility with production and sound… I’m always looking to hear something new, both musically and in regards to how a piece actually sounds.

Are there any local live-electronic acts that you draw inspiration from?

Mxxnwatchers is making some really forward thinking stuff, as is Evanoff. Break Science are the OGs. I think we all feed off each other, but we’re all sorta doing our own thing and pushing it as far it can go. To me that’s the ideal- there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in making stuff that sounds too much like someone else.

How do you cultivate that influence while maintaining a strong sense of authenticity in your music?

I think seeing how other people approach their music is the best kind of inspiration. We try not to take what other people are actually doing musically or sonically into account and just focus on doing what sounds best to us. In that sense we have no choice but to be authentic.

Nobide recently opened for The Floozies at the Boulder Theater- what was that like for the band?

It was a huge moment for all of us. I grew up in Boulder, so it was especially exciting for me. It was so killin’ to play for the hometown crew and have them show up like that. Nobide is Boulder-bred, and I think it was cool for the Boulderites to see the evolution of the project. A lot of people got introduced to the music that night too which was exciting. We’ve got mad love for Boulder.

Larimer_FB (1).jpg

Are there any shows you guys have played that have been super memorable?

The Boulder Theater show was one for sure, as well as The Fiillmore when we opened for Sunsquabi in January. It’s always exciting to play big rooms with big sound systems. We played with Michal Menert in January and that was a full-circle moment. I’ve been listening to his music for years.

Nobide is on the bill for Summer Camp Music Festival, Sonic Bloom, and a few others that will be announced soon. What is the band looking forward to most about being on the lineup for these festivals?

I think mostly meeting new people- artists and fans alike. It’ll be cool to see how our music stands up and translates in new environments. It’s a big opportunity, but it’s also just gonna be fun as heck.

Do you foresee any challenges that may arise from playing festivals as opposed to singular shows?

It’s definitely going to be a compromise on some fronts [since] we have a pretty complex setup for performing, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. It’ll be a good challenge to be pros, to know it’s not all about us but more about the vibe of the whole event.

There’s been talk that the band may be hitting the road soon. If you guys go on tour, where would you want to play and who would you love to play with?

Eventually all over the world! But for now we’re trying to get down South and out to the West Coast and Midwest, start slowly expanding our radius through the U.S. We’d love to play with all sorts of people that like to get down. Lettuce, Pretty Lights, Zhu, Rufus Du Sol, Bonobo, Odesza… We want to bring this music all over!

Keep up with Nobide here and don’t miss their headlining show at the Larimer Lounge this Saturday, April 6th. Tickets & information here.  

-Natalie

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Weir Drops New Single "Copper" with Local Electronic Label Alias

By: Natalie Pulvino

One way Colorado has distinguished itself in the music world is through the unwavering rise of live-electronic bands. With influencers like Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, GRiZ, SunSquabi and more, young and aspiring musicians are crafting something fresh every day. This week, we sat down with Nick Vann of Nobide and Chris Weir of Weir to talk about Weir’s new track “Copper”, which is being released through Vann’s label Alias today.

So Nick, tell us about your record label Alias. When was it formed, what inspired the project, and what is your vision for the label?

NV: It started in January 2018 with my buddy Gunter- it’s a pretty similar vision to other Colorado labels in that we want to put out organic electronic music. Electronic music with live elements in there with really good branding. The vision is to make it a taste-maker label I suppose. Our slogan is “Global Taste, Local Face,” so it’s focused on the local element as well.

Can you give a brief overview of the other artists on the label? Are they all local electronic acts?

NV: Yeah, local, organic electronic incorporating live elements that aren’t completely made on the computer. We have Hxrse, mxxnwathcers, f-ether, and Nobide, to name a few.  

What is your or your team’s current process for choosing what music you’ll distribute through Alias?

NV: Pretty much, if it hits us sonically and “in the feels,” and if we sort of know the person.

Chris Weir.

Chris Weir.

This leads us into the next portion of our interview, which is Weir’s new single “Copper.” Nick, what excited you about “Copper” enough to distribute it through Alias?

NV: It was really different from Weir, not the stuff he’d been making prior. Cinematic and organic, a bit more instrument-based than his prior music. The arrangement is killer.

Very cool. And Chris, tell us a bit more about “Copper.” The song is intense and thick with emotion. What drove this project and what were your inspirations?

CW: Originally I had a friend reach out to make a track for a ski video that he was working on, so I wanted to experiment with more of a hip-hop based, slower tempo, and ended up developing it into something a lot more than a ski video. And by writing it through a dark time, I used that energy in the core progressions and in the sound I was picking out. I wanted to create a vibe similar to the mountains, or tie it in with nature in some way.

What’s the most experimental or exciting part of the song for you?

CW: Probably the overall hip-hop vibe because pretty much all I’ve written in the past has been more dance-house beats, so it was cool to take the tempo a lot slower and fill the space more.

Why did you feel Alias was a good fit to distribute and help promote “Copper?”

CW: It really was more up to Nick, but I saw it fitting Alias more so than my previous projects for sure, in terms of the organic soundscape that I was messing with.

Do you think “Copper” represents a shift in your musical work, and if so, where do you see this shift going?

CW: One hundred percent- I definitely see myself going towards more of a live performance and incorporating more instruments on stage. To me, this track has a lot more elements that I think I could play out live and develop more into what I see Weir being.

Weir at work.

Weir at work.

These last two questions are for both of you. What is your read on the thriving live-electronic scene in the Boulder/Denver area?

NV: It’s so all over the place in the best possible way. Every type of music is getting produced and there’s a really strong community vibe around it, where people just want everybody to succeed. At the end of the day, everybody just wants more good music.

CW: I think it’s just really cool that there’s so much variety both in Boulder and Denver, and all of Colorado. There’s obviously a huge pop of jam bands, soul and funk, but it’s cool to see more electronic and live-electronic acts popping up.

NV: It seems like Colorado may be doing that in a more forward-thinking way than other areas.

What do you mean by that?

NV: It seems that there’s more technological innovation with the blending [of] instruments to create more of a band. Geographically, we’re right in the middle of the country, so musically we’re blending everything together here.

Lastly, can we expect any further artistic collaboration between you two?

NV: Absolutely.

CW: I would certainly hope so.

Be sure to give “Copper” a listen now and catch these guys live in action at Larimer Lounge next Saturday, April 6th.

Keep up with Weir here and check out alias.fm.

-Natalie

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Ryan Bingham's 'American Love Song' Is Aptly Inspired by Life on the Road

By: Natalie Pulvino

“I’m just a person like everyone else who’s influenced by the world around him.”

Photo Credit: Donnie Hedden.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hedden.

Ryan Bingham, a renowned singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, got his “big break” by co-writing the theme song “The Weary Kind” for the 2009 acclaimed film ‘Crazy Heart.’ Now, he’s on tour across the U.S. performing his newest work, ‘American Love Song.’ We sat down with him this week to talk about the record, his songwriting process, and what his music means to him.

How does ‘American Love Song’ differ from your previous projects/records?

I’d say it’s a lot more on the blues side than my previous records. I definitely set out to make more of a blues record than anything.

What was your musical process for writing this album? Can you describe your emotional journey with it?

You know, I always tend to need a bit of solitude to write songs. I wrote some at home, some on the road, and some at a friend’s place in New Mexico out in the middle of nowhere. I need to find some place where I can get away from distractions. You know, I definitely draw off of all my experiences, kind of past and present- it’s all a part of it. If the songs aren’t making me feel something while I’m writing... I try to feel those emotions first, I think that’s pretty important.

Do you typically write lyrics first or instrumentals? Was that the case with this particular record?

Usually the music always comes first- yes definitely.

Can you describe your process for choosing lyrics to fit the instrumentals?

The music just really sets the tone for whatever emotion is going to come. There are definitely notes and chords that are lighter and darker than others, so the tempo and then the key of the song sets the tone for what’s to follow.

This album has a lot of political references and even touches on border politics. What, in your words, is this album truly about?

Well there’s a lot of layers to it, a lot of stuff that I’ve experienced growing up as a kid, moving around the country. A lot of it ties into social issues and what not. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a political album, but it’s consciously aware, which I try to do when I write. I’m just a person like everyone else who’s influenced by the world around him.

A lot of your music touches on your childhood and life experiences. What role would you say music has played in helping you get through hard times?

Writing songs has always been a kind of therapy for me. Sometimes things are difficult to express or talk about. Writing music and playing guitar has always been an outlet. Now, you find folks that you have common experiences with, and it’s gratifying to share that stuff with people and hear stories about how maybe a song helped someone get through something similar.

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Tying your new album ‘American Love Story’ in here, what did you portray through this album?

You know I think at the end of the day, the album is pretty layered, it’s very autobiographical, very personal, but it’s kind of my take on the world around me and how I’ve been influenced by current events. I’m not necessarily sure if that was the goal. I’m always going to write songs about things that I’ve experienced, and the past few years I’ve traveled around the country and met people, and now I’m telling stories about that and sharing experiences with people.

Do you have a song, written or not written by yourself, that you’d say you identify with the most?

I do, there’s a Bob Dylan song called a “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” that I heard when I was very young that I very much identified with. You don’t hear that kind of song on the radio.

What, in your mind, makes an album cohesive? How do you know when it’s complete?

I don’t know, sometimes it never does feel complete. I guess the narrative of the album, you kind of revolve around the center of that. You know the album is complete when you have 12-13 songs and you don’t want to take them off the record.

Who are you speaking to in ‘American Love Song’?

It’s really just anybody who wants to listen and enjoys the music. I try to take everybody into consideration when writing these songs, and everybody’s feelings and emotions are reflections of my own. If there’s some young kid in a small town looking for music that has a different message than they’re portraying in the pop commercial world, then maybe that’s a good thing.

You’ve won a number of awards, including a Grammy. After such an accomplishment, where do you hope to see your music career take you in the next few years?

Oh, you know, I just feel very lucky to have the opportunity to get out on the road and play for people. It’s never really been about winning awards or accomplishing a sense of, I don’t know…  my interpretation of success is being out here and being able to do it and people want to hear the songs. I feel like I’ve already ‘made it’ in so many ways, [that] I don’t know if it could get any better.

Catch Ryan Bingham at Denver’s Ogden Theatre this Tuesday, April 2nd. Grab tickets at this link.

Keep up with Ryan here.

-Natalie

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Jr. Rabbit Talks Band Dynamics, Influences, & What Music Means to Them

By: Natalie Pulvino

Amidst some of the most notable jam bands and the thriving live-electronic scene, Denver is exploding with a number of up-and coming indie-rock bands. This week, we sat down with Jr. Rabbit, a four-piece project with a laid-back attitude but a serious vision. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryan Howell talked to us about the band’s formation, their new singles, and what rehearsals can look like. Read on:

Tell us a bit about Jr. Rabbit. How many people are in the band and who plays what?

I’m [Ryan] on guitar, and I lyrically write most of the music. Shayne MacLaughlin plays lead guitar and drums, Stephen (Eski) Edwards plays bass guitar, and Tyler Moyer plays the drums.

How did you all meet and form Jr. Rabbit?

It mainly started with Tyler and I last year jamming and writing originals, and [we] took it from there. It’s sort of an open project- we let a lot of people in on the recording process. Another cool fact is that me, Tyler, and Shayne are all from the East Coast and all met up around 2012 when I was in Colorado on tour with a different band. Three years later, I moved out here to start my own thing and it sort of went from there.

How would you describe your music?

Musically we try to work on dynamics- most of our songs are three to four chords. Personally, I try to just write things that are relatable. I try to relate to the inner-emotion of the person in our songs.

What inspired the name Jr. Rabbit?

Honestly, there’s not a cool story, I wish there was. I was driving one day and that phrase just popped up in my brain and I thought it flowed nicely, and it was just something that stuck in my head.

Who are your main influencers?

I vocally reflect off Deer Tick and definitely Modest Mouse. We also gain a lot of influence from Classic Rock, which is instilled into all of us… that’s what we grew up listening to with our folks. But we all have different backgrounds. Eski grew up on AC/DC and Tyler and I grew up on Funk.

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What excites you guys about the two singles you’ve released, “Situation” and “Rain to Wine?”

We’re getting good overall- we’re not just trying to make it a catchy song lyrically, we’re trying to make it something that other people can relate to but maybe are afraid to express. “Rain to Wine” is about addiction, and I’ve struggled, and I know friends who have struggled. Songs like that make it okay for other people to talk about that problem, and if not at least it’s a sigh of release for someone who’s going through the same thing. That’s sort of why I got into music- I felt like someone else was writing what I was feeling and it made me feel less alone.

What has been your biggest challenge since working together as a band and how did you overcome it?

Showing up on time. Shayne is always on “Shayne Time,” as we call it. But other than that the challenge is trying to believe in what we’re trying to do and hoping to see that catch on. We’re not doing covers; we’re mainly originals, so the biggest frustration is for people to get on board with our originals.

What are your band rehearsals typically like?

It’s mainly a little bit of everything. At first we usually just start jamming, whether it be a cover song or just improv. We do at least one improv jam per show to just create something in that moment. Then we’ll typically go through our new stuff and end off on the stuff we all know to make sure it’s polished and sharp.

Where has Jr. Rabbit played recently, and which venues are in the books?

We’ve been playing at this place called Maddie's Biergarten in Castle Rock. They’ve got the full setup with a stage and soundboard, and they gave us residency there for all of March. We’ll be in Denver and Fort Collins in June.

Where would you guys like to be with your music career in 2020?

Hopefully in a place where we’re making a living off of it, wherever that may be. I want to be playing for anyone who wants to listen to real, genuine, authentic music. But we’ll see, everything takes time.

Keep up with Jr. Rabbit here.

-Natalie

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Spectra Art Space Is Our Favorite Thing Happening in Denver Art Right Now

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Last Saturday, BolderBeat entered the neon-lit doors of Denver’s Spectra Art Space to an at-capacity crowd. The gallery and event space’s latest art opening party “Colorado Vibes 3” was in full swing with walls dripping in local photography and paint work, fashion models strutting down a catwalk outfitted with black-lights, and musicians playing in the venue’s outdoor patio space. The exhibit, which is available to view over the next month, features all-local artists and a slew of mediums: pencil work, hand-drawn illustrations, mixed media, sculpture work, clothing, fashionable eyewear, photography, jewelry, and more. Whether your eye is drawn to Lexie Lund’s girl-power glitter guns and metallic tampon display, the psychedelic colored pencil work of Nick Fast, Nova Lee’s ominously friendly “ET Phone Ohm”, C.o.l.t.A.l.i.t.Y’s polaroid posters, glitchybb’s kitties, or iamnotunique’s illustrated boxy creature collection, there’s something for every art fiend at Spectra. To check out all of the artists in the “Colorado Vibes 3” showcase click here.


All photos in this feature by Ana White Photography.


Owned and operated by Sadie Young and Kayla Smith, together this lady duo have transformed their storefront on Denver’s South Broadway into a full-on art escape. Young has been hosting music and art events in Denver for nearly 10 years, and has a BFA from MSU Denver with a focus in painting. Smith is an actress and theater aficionado when she is not working at Spectra.

Says Young, “It's important for us to showcase local art because every single artist/musician/actor etcetera is a small business and small businesses are what hold communities together.”

Most everything in Spectra is for sale, with proceeds from sales and events benefiting both the space and the artist. The one-room gallery features a ton of winding niches to explore; behind it there is a covered patio and a retro CD-decorated gazebo equipped with heaters perfect for early spring nights. For “Colorado Vibes 3”, the outdoor area had bite-sized food and drink options with various singer/songwriters playing to the socializing crowd. Indoors, a DJ booth which looks as though it were blasted onto Broadway straight out of a spaceship, had artists spinning tunes while attendees gallery-perused until the synthy percussiveness of DR3AM CA$T took the stage and started a dance party.

The evening’s fashion show was a definite highlight and featured Denver designers including Ellen Bronson, Smasher Robot, KatDog Couture, iLit Designs, and Impek Apparel. From Bronson’s flashy fabrics with a rock’n’roll feel, to the black-light button-ups and bow ties from Smasher Robot, there was enough stylish garb for any Denver fashionista to drool over. Hair & makeup for the show took six hours to complete and was fabulously done by Amanda Brooke of Wonderland Hair Parlor.

Says Young, “My favorite part of the ‘Colorado Vibes’ showcase is how many new artists it adds to our growing family of makers. One of the things I am most proud of Spectra for is being a lot of artists’, musicians’, and designers’ very first taste of being a professional creative. We have been several artist’s first show and first sale, we have been musician’s first show, and designer’s first fashion show. I think we are especially unique because we actually believe in our artists and our creative community, and we would do just about anything to support them and encourage them to pursue their passions. The ‘Colorado Vibes’ format we created is a way for us to highlight the amazing underrepresented talent in Denver and present art and the creative scene in a way that's accessible to everyone, patrons and artists included. I started Spectra because I love being a resource for artists and I wanted to present the art world in a unique way including fashion, fine art, lowbrow art, music, comedy, installation, and performance in one space.”

Spectra’s mission is to “support artists and provide a space that cultivates creativity through highly curated contemporary art exhibitions, events, and detailed immersive experiences” and the opening party for “Colorado Vibes 3” was all of these things wrapped into one glittery, psychedelic ball of smiles and awesome dance moves.

Needless to say, if you haven’t yet explored Spectra Art Space in Denver, it’s time you made the trip. Not only will they send you down a rabbit hole of haute creativity; every time you go, you benefit the local Denver arts scene in more ways than one.

Says Young, “I would like for people to know that we offer several creative classes each month, as well as a plethora of fun events. We are also looking to raise money so that we can renew our lease and hire an additional employee so we can grow and continue to support the hundreds of artists in our family. We have just started a Patreon with a ton of amazing reward options [too]!”

An   iLit Designs    eyewear look by    Ana White Photography  .

Spectra has two upcoming events on their calendar: a performance night by Ahee with • AVRY • on April 25th and their “Bombastic Plastic Toy Show” on May 4th with Meow Wolf, Ratio Beerworks, and others.

Turn up your imagination today and visit Spectra! Learn more about this amazing art space here.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

I Hate It Here Tell Us About Their Unconventional Sound

By: Adam Cabrera

Exceptionally loud, passionate, and in-your-face, I Hate It Here is a Denver based synthpunk two-piece whose unapologetic, experimental sound pushes the boundaries of contemporary electronic music. The group is comprised of frontwomen Cooper Carrington who acts as the sole producer, lyricist, and vocalist, while Alec Doniger provides accompaniment on drums.

Though Cooper has been releasing music for I Hate It Here over the past three years, Alec was added to the project in the fall of 2018 giving a unique electro-acoustic sound to their live performance. Alec is not featured on their most recent release, Songs for Pouring Bloody Glories: Why There Is None (Amongst Other Things). In spite of that, the album is perhaps the best in I Hate It Here’s catalog and is only improved upon with the addition of Alec’s drumming when performed live.

IHIH-1.JPG

For the moment the band will be on hiatus until Cooper returns from attending school in New York City. In the meantime, she will continue to make music under a new project named None Known with plans for an album release sometime this year.

After hearing this news, I decided to attend their final farewell show where I sat down with the duo to ask a few questions.

How did this project come together? Where did it start?

CC: I guess I started recording and writing stuff in 2012 and then I made a lot of bad experimental music under the name Toast Confessions. And then, in 2015 I released I Hate It Here’s first EP.

What was the process of creating that EP and putting that whole thing together?

CC: Yeah um… I guess that was when [writing music] started a continuing trend for I Hate It Here which was really writing about some of my worst emotions and some parts of society that I think are grotesque. So, in a way it’s therapeutic I suppose it’s like a diary almost, but it’s weird because I show everyone in.

What does this project mean to you? Why do you do it?

CC: The “why” is you know just something within me that I guess just commands me to make music and make that a part of my life. For I Hate It Hear though, the “why” was in a lot of ways it was for myself and like I said earlier it's therapeutic and it helps me express things that I am dealing with and articulate them. And, you know, feelings aren’t so easy to describe through words, so I think the sounds that I make help articulate the intensity of them.

What sonically about your music correlates with those emotions?

CC: You know, In a lot of ways they are emotions that are really hard to tell people about in general, it’s not easy just saying them. The sounds are a good way to convey the intensity of these emotions that are often quite negative. So the screaming and the noise I guess it just represents a lot of chaos that is going through my head. I mean there’s also a political element to it a lot of the time. Once again I feel like the political things that I like to talk about are political topics that are not touched often.

What are those topics?

CC: So, for example, Rage Crown’ is a song about street battles between far right and anti-fascist groups. And, you know I’ve attended some of those before. And I guess kind of my emotions around this. What is the effectiveness of this? Does it seem feudal? Does it seem… uh… Why is it that I think it’s so important? What drives me to do that? Or, drug addiction and the whole world around the politics of drugs. Whether there be like legal aspects of it, like the criminalization of substances, or the social elements of it. How when one recognizes one who does a lot of drugs that’s probably a time when they need people to talk to the most and yet that's when people distance themselves from you.

In some of my future releases, I talk more about being trans and just emotions about that. Dealing with transphobia and general discomfort about the subject. And I think it’s also important to talk about whiteness and class. Because I feel like America really just doesn't want you to talk about those things. And, like I said I feel like it's important to talk about these taboo issues.

Do you think your music serves as a medium for those things to be talked about?

CC: I do. I do. Um… I actually think about this a fair amount… You know, I don’t see… Um...

Is that something that motivates you’re writing: opening up the conversation?

CC: I hope! I hope it does. It’s also something I get kind of self-conscious about though.

Why is that?

CC: Well, for one thing you know I talk about things that from a liberal standpoint might be very controversial. And, sometimes I think I may be spitting out perspectives that might actually be nasty that I’m not even trying to convey. So, you know, I’m worried I would never want to make someone so uncomfortable with my music that they would want to turn it off. But, there is a certain level of discomfort that I do want to make people feel. Alec actually once talked to me about how sounds in themselves and music without lyrics can convey some sort of politics in a way, and I thought that was very interesting.

AD: I think that maybe the only reason I say that is because I think it’s almost by escaping, not escaping politics I mean it’s definitely a very central thing, but at least having these spaces to do this, express your political views, you know, I think that is what’s political about it. The fact that we get a chanced to play at DIY spaces like Thought Forums where they open it up for like you know, even if it’s a math rock band that doesn’t have lyrics like Cat Bamboo that last time, I think what makes that political is the fact that it's even able to happen, you know what I mean. Yeah, it’s an expression that isn’t being suppressed and often times that is what politics does in this country. It suppresses people.

CC: Yeah I think you’re really right about just having them perform in these spaces is a political act. Cause in a lot of places all these bands which are often young kids and people in their early twenties and teenagers, you know they can’t always afford to buy out a venue for the night to perform. And that's what's great about DIY spaces is that the whole attitude is that it’s accessible.

What inspires your music making?

CC: Yeah, I find that a lot of people just in general find it hard to talk about very intense emotions that have happened to them even privately with a single person. And I think that creates something kind of toxic in our society, just like a certain emotional closed offness. So I feel like I channel a lot of painful experiences that I’ve had into my music because I think it's important that people be able to be open about those kinds of things.

How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?

CC: You know most of the time when someone asks me when I’m like, ‘Oh I make music,’ and someone's just like, ‘Oh what kind of music do you make? I’m just like, ‘Uuh it’s pretty weird,’ and then I don’t know exactly where to go from there. I guess I would say its menacing, I would say its discomforting, but in challenging and important ways. I like to think so at least.

AD: I also find it, I mean I’m not the creator of it, but I also find it really pretty. Not in a sense that is sounds beautiful or conventionally beautiful but in the sense that, like we were talking about earlier, that you’ve created a very very effective outlet. I mean I think what’s beautiful about it for me is specifically watching you perform. Yeah, there’s never a moment in my mind where I’m doubting that you aren’t pouring your soul into this, which is beautiful.

CC: Thank you, I appreciate that. Yeah, even though it is experimental music with lots of elements of noise and avant-garde stuff, it can often be pretty melodic in a lot of ways.

Could you talk about the performance of it a little bit more?

CC: I’ve had someone come up to me and say that they wonder if I did theater in high school and if I acted, and I did, and it was nothing like… Oh my goodness I was um… You know… I’m not playing Huckleberry Finn. I guess I’m kind of the antithesis of that. But yeah, you know, when I go up I feel like it's not acting as so much as is being able to express these… if I expressed these songs in any other way than what I do, which is often pouring a lot of soul into it, pouring a lot of emotions into it, interacting with the audience a little bit during the songs and doing weird stage antics, I don’t see how it could be performed any other way. Like, I don’t see myself standing perfectly still and singing it unless I wanted that effect because that would be weird.

Are you musically trained? Do you have a musical background?

CC: Yeah um, I’m a classically trained vocalist, and I did choir all through high school. And uh, I’ve done voice lessons and guitar and mixing and mastering classes.

Does that background influence your music?

CC: Yeah definitely I think folk, like classical folk, has had a big influence on me and Italian standards and choral music I think have quite a bit of influence on me. And you know I only knew about these things through choir and my voice lessons.

What drew you to music to express your art?

CC: Well I’ve had a drive to sing and to express myself with music since I was young. My mom tells me this story how about how in kindergarten we had our classroom, and there was a bathroom for the kindergarten kids in the class. And, at the same time every day I would go into that bathroom and take a shit and sing my fucking heart out, and the whole class could hear, and I was just clueless. But looking back at that I guess that's the beginning of me not giving a shit about what...

AD: You did give one shit!

CC: I did give one shit, oh my God!

AD: Just putting that out there.

CC: Um… yeah, and I just feel like sounds can carry a lot of emotion. I think singing a poem can take that poem a lot further than maybe just reciting it or reading it?

What are your more modern musical influences?

CC: Uh more modern stuff… I guess I really get inspired by a number of things like I listen to a lot of different music from around the world, so I guess lately I’ve been listening to a lot of like Ghanaian music and also kind of standards and experimental rock, and art rock, and whatnot. But I also listen to a lot of hip hop, and I listen to a lot of electronic music like minimal electronic music like techno and house. And then yeah I guess I listen to a fair amount of noise music and experimental stuff.

Is there anything new coming up in the future for I Hate It Here?

CC: Yeah pretty much what we are performing tonight is almost all new material which has not been released yet so yeah there’s an EP that's gonna be coming out this year, a single that's gonna be coming out this year, and an album under a different project name called None Known. And that is more experimental, and its structure has a bigger element on noise and ambiance. So that whole album is about exploring themes of sexual trauma and transphobia, and kind of the failures of queer theory and domestic violence and stuff. So, it's some really f*cked up stuff, so I’m excited about that.

Keep up with I Hate It Here here.

-Adam

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Durango’s Liver Down the River Keeps the Jams Alive After an Evening with The String Cheese Incident

By: Moriel O’Connor

Ain't no party like a cheesy hotel after party.

Following The String Cheese Incident Saturday show New Year’s Eve weekend, Liver Down the River and Evanoff performed at the unofficial after party at the Aloft Hotel in Broomfield, Colorado. Liver Down the River, known as “Liver” to their fanbase, who themselves are known as “liverfolk,” made me want to spin until I fell down in a mountain meadow. Their style brings bluegrass to a new level sometimes called “funkideligrass.” Step into their set, and you will find heartfelt vocals, marvelous fiddle playing, psychedelic melodies, and funky bass lines growing from bluegrass roots.They capture the essence of Colorado funk and blues in a truly unique way.

Akin to String Cheese, Liver bring individuals together through joyful sounds. Bliss filled the room last weekend and in the midst of a night of euphoric motion, I learned a valuable lesson: If an “officer” in a red lace dress hands you a citation for “killer dance moves,” you should probably make it to the court date.

Liver Down the River.

Liver Down the River.

Fellow BolderBeat contributor Cy Fontenot plays the drums for Liver Down the River, and he keeps the tempo up to the fast paced wanderlust of the west. I asked Cy a few questions to pick his rhythmic and wise mind. Read more below:

What river does your liver go down?

The river of life, love, and psychedelic space grass.

Do you have plans to bring Liver Down the River’s Colorado sound around the world. If so, where will you go?

Definitely, I think west coast is our next move but I would personally love to make it to Japan, Amsterdam, Germany, Columbia, Brazil, all corners of the planet.

What are some of your favorite Colorado venues?

We love playing at the Lariat, the Vic, Cervantes, and Schmiggity’s, but most of all our hometown Animas City Theatre.

Cy Fontenot.

Cy Fontenot.

What do you love about playing the drums?

Personally, I love the drums because you don't have to think about notes, chords, modes… it's all rhythm, so it frees up space in my mind to connect to what the moment wants, enabling my intuition to take over.

Besides playing in Liver and contributing for BolderBeat, what brings you joy?

Honestly I love adventuring, love the mountains, love playing music and love the connection that music allows me to have with my bandmates as well as the audience.

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Just go for it, play with everyone you can, wherever you can and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll learn.

Sound advice Cy.

With hearts of gold and bold measures of adventure, Liver Down the River is certain to kindle a damn good time. Based in Durango, Liver frequently travels through the Rockies to the Front Range with their jams. They recently signed with Ever Upward Entertainment and have high mountain ambitions for 2019. During the last summer spent touring, they recorded a live album to be released this spring. They also have plans for a brand new studio album. Catch them if you can at their next hoedown on January 25th at Ullrgrass in Golden, Colorado.

-Moriel

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Nobide Chats with Us About Their New Single & What It Means to Be "Organic Electronica"

By: Norman Hittle

Nobide is a Boulder, CO based live electronic band who classify themselves enigmatically as “organic electronica.” Their new single “Wildin’ Out” was just released, so we decided to catch up with band founder Nick Vann to discuss their brand of music as well as what the future holds.

Listen to “Wildin’ Out”:

Nobide is an interesting name and doesn’t seem to hint at its meaning. Would you guys care to elaborate on your project name a bit?

The name Nobide originated in 2015 when I was reading an Eastern philosophy book. There was a chapter exploring what happens when we die, and a particularly poignant part of that suggested that as humans we shouldn't waste our time so that when we meet death we don't go full of regret. I wrote down in my journal ‘no biding time’ and the name sort of came to life. What's really cool and special to us is that Nobide isn't a word, so we get to totally shape and explore the concept and meaning.

What’s the origin tale of Nobide?

Nobide originated as my solo project in 2015. From inception, the focus has been on organic electronic music; walking the line between totally produced pieces and live recorded pieces. The fusion is where the magic happens; it's like you're human but not. Nobide continued to develop and expand into live performances as time moved forward. I was simultaneously studying at CU Boulder and created an independent study major called ‘sociomusicology’ which allowed for a more academic side of exploring with Nobide as well. For graduation, my thesis included the album Contrary To Popular Belief, a written exploration of the project, as well as a live performance of some of the songs. The thesis was the first time Nobide music was performed by a band, and within six months, the Nobide band as it lives now had settled into place. The members now include Nick Vann, Matt McElwain, Ted Kleist, and Tanner Fruit.

You classify yourselves as “organic electronica” and right out of the gate that sounds fun and interesting. Can you go into detail as to how you arrived at that classification and what that entails?

Organic electronic was kind of poking fun at Boulder's hyper-health conscious culture, but it really stuck and we think it's a great description of our sound. We're influenced by people like Lettuce, Snarky Puppy, Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, Bonobo, etc. and when describing their sound to others, ‘organic’ is often a term that pops up. We think it's a good description for our sound as we're very focused on bringing a sort of natural sound and texture to electronic music. The potentials of electronic music are incredible, but so much of it feels one-dimensional today. We're interested in maintaining a natural feel and sense of space/development in our recordings and live shows; not being tied to traditional instruments or to computers. It's an incredibly exciting place to be exploring. We can't wait to hear what we're making in two years, five years, ten years!

Nobide.

Nobide.

“Wildin’ Out” is a very eclectic mix of dance and live instrumentation - as could be suggested by your genre classification - and it makes me wonder, what is the writing process like for you guys? Do you start out all electronic and branch out to live instruments? Or go the live route and then add the electronic elements? Or something else altogether?

The writing process varies. As the band lineup still quite new, we don't have an established method of working. Most songs start as riffs or beats that I produce, then bring to the band. We're big fans of working out songs live. From the second we have an arrangement that's cohesive, we're playing it live and figuring out what works and what doesn't. It's a very iterative process. We'll write a new section, then discard it two weeks later after trying it out. We get together for practice and we'll jam one song for half an hour and find all sorts of new places to take it, and that's incredibly inspiring. As we move forward it seems everyone will be pretty involved with the production/writing processes. Matt and Ted are just learning to navigate the Ableton universe, so they'll be able to write more as well. What's especially killing about having an electronic heartbeat is that we can write wherever we are. We're heavily influenced by our travels and people we meet; to be able to put that right into sound is a huge opportunity for us.

Is “Wildin’ Out” a part of a full LP or EP, or is it specifically a single? Can we expect more to be released from Nobide soon?

Wildin' Out’ is just a single, but it's pretty definitive of the realm we're exploring. We do have several more releases slated for this year, and then LOTS for 2019. We're trying to be strategic about all of it and give each song/project the attention and care they deserve.

Looking at your past discography, it seems like you guys have been working hard for a few years on your craft. What’s in store for the future of Nobide?

The future of Nobide is really exciting. We really don't know what's going to happen, but we know we're on to something with this sound. We really just want to get deeper into exploring its potentials, possibilities, and crossovers with other art forms/mediums/artists. We're at a really exciting place as a band right now in that we're starting to get some attention, but we have no expectations yet. We've got a completely blank page we get to start with, which means we have lots of room to explore. At the end of the day, everybody wants more good music, and we want to be making some of the best organic electronic out there. So the immediate future for us looks like lots of time in the studio and lots of shows just working to be the best we can be.

Catch Nobide’s upcoming live performance with Mimosa next Wednesday, November 7th at Cervantes. Event details here!

Keep up with Nobide here.

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Augustus Got A Way of Changing

Augustus.

Augustus.

Augustus began in 2011 when frontman Colin Kelly wrote, recorded, and posted to Youtube his song, “North.” This was years before he met the other two founding members of the band, Jim Herlihy and Jesse Wright, and before they began as a trio named “Tusk.”

This was their first mistake (with many more were to follow), as another band already had the name somewhere out in Musicland. As they would countless times in the following years, they adjusted and moved forward, now as “Augustus,” forgoing that which didn’t work while maintaining that which did: their original “Tusk” logo— two entwined animal bones jutting upward against a black backdrop. Without fail since, Augustus has done with failure what we all wish we would at our best: They’ve used it to become something new, fresh, and better. Today, the group features founding members Colin Kelly on vocals, Jim Herlihy on guitar and vocals, along with Marshall Carlson on bass, and Ryan Healy on drums.

I note the release of “North” as the true beginning of the group because they still play the song. I believe it’s on its fifth iteration now. And that is the real story of Augustus. This is a band in a constant state of reinvention. This has never been more evident than in their recent release, “Idle,” which is wholly different in style from previous releases and qualitatively advanced by a good bit. It is through this lens of growth that I approached a recent interview with Colin Kelly around a fire in my backyard, accompanied by BolderBeat contributor and scene veteran Zach Dahmen. Augustus will perform at the Fox Theatre this Saturday, November 10th and tickets are available here.

PL: So you’re new to Colorado, determined to write and be in a band, and you find two guys, Jesse Wright and Jim Herlihy. You start “Tusk,” which was kind of “mountain-y” and not really rock and roll. Not your forte, but it seemed to fit into the Colorado scene. Why didn’t you stick with that?

CK: Jesse always thought of us as a prog folk band.

PL: Did you really want to be in a prog folk band?

CK: I just wanted to be in a band so I was going to do anything I could with the instruments we had then.

PL: You had lots of early success and hype in those days. And yet, it didn’t work out in the long run. Why?

CK: We had some bad gigs now and again. Jim was doing too much. [He was] going full sprint all night on banjo, guitar, drums… And Jesse was always a wild card. Sometimes totally brilliant, sometimes couldn’t remember how to play the songs. I was still an ametuer in a lot of ways. We’d have these five-minute breaks between songs sometimes at shows, just trying to pull it together.

ZD: I remember those early shows of yours at Johnny’s. In the scene at that time, Whiskey Autumn was No Name Bar, Augustus was Johnny’s, and sometimes on the same night you’d be catching the first half of one show then jumping to the other. It was a captive audience. People were excited at what was happening. But it was always going to be just experimental.

PL: Who was the other band really wrapped up in that?

ZD: The Almond Butters?

PL: Yup, but another one, too… You know who I’m talking about.

ZD: The Ridgelings!

CK: There was a lot of bluegrassy shit going on then. Everybody was all like, “Mumford and Sons!”

PL: Ah yes, the Mumfordy era.

CK: If Mumford could do it, we were like, we could do whatever the fuck we want. (Colin turns to the recorder). Hey, future Pete, do you read me? This is Colin, don’t quote me on that…

PL: I’m totally going to.

CK: Don’t!

PL: But anyway, on those early recordings of yours, there were a lot of great songs, but one phenomenal song in particular that a lot of people still talk about and request called, “Return.”

CK: We still play that a lot. We’ve re-written it like five times. We finally found a version we like with the quartet that we’re keeping. The first records were pretty desperate things for me musically. I liked the songs, but I didn’t really know what I was doing in a studio yet. None of us did. The only reason we could get through it was because Jim was always so prepared. He practices his ass off. And Jesse had some moments of blinding brilliance. But it was a struggle for all of us. Being under a microscope for the first time. On the second record, I was also really sick, and we had to rush through. We had to be decisive and learn to live with flaws. Some have more character than others. Sometimes you have to be OK with not being very good.

PL: Which flaws can you live with… That sounds like some earned wisdom right there. So let me flip it around. Which flaws can’t you live with? Musically? Personally?

Colin gets up to chop some wood, as these sorts of questions make him antsy.

ZD: I can say, on the spot…

CK: That’s a really fucked up question, Pete. Do I have to answer that?

PL: Yup.

ZD: For me, diving deeper into the eye of who I am, as opposed to trying to look more outward… I need to find the thing to make me sufficient and happy, and I have to look inward for that.

CK: That’s very theological.

PL: He’s got a background in it (Zach majored in theology at college)

.Colin chops at another log.

PL: So let’s go back to that time specifically, what couldn’t you live with then?

CK: I couldn’t live with my guitar sounding shitty, my vocals being out of key… I wasn’t always prepared with all the arrangements. I didn’t know what stories I was telling with my vocals. I can’t say I’m any more confident now, but I’ve logged a lot more hours. We all have. And that definitely helps.

PL: Give me a specific story that speaks to all that.

CK: We were playing this show in 2015 and we were being scouted by this guy who had some connections, and who we couldn’t afford, but arrogantly thought we were confident about getting his help, and we realized that night that we couldn’t play a whole three hours live. We didn’t sound like we knew what we were doing at that show. Especially when we started bringing in more electric. We weren’t really acoustic listeners. We were individually more into rock and roll sounds.

Laffin, Kelly, and Dahmen (left to right).

Laffin, Kelly, and Dahmen (left to right).

PL: Tell me about The Mercury EP that came next. I know you were proud of those songs, but I remember you weren’t too happy about how that turned out.

CK: We had a thing, we thought it was working. We thought we were going to continue to get closer to the concept, the feeling of what we wanted to make, but we didn’t get there.

PL: So after that, there seemed to be a great retooling of things that led to your latest release, which couldn’t be more different than where you began, and if I may say, couldn’t have had a better outcome, at least on a critical level. It seems that in the lead up, you wanted to stabilize your group, add permanent players after Jesse left (which was around the Mercury release). You mentioned earlier that you wanted to make the best out of the instruments you had access to, but this one feels very intentional from top-to-bottom.

CK: We had to do everything different when Jesse left. We had to change the sound. It was worse than I assumed it would be at the time. I was really bummed when Jesse left. There was a vacuum, and Jim and I had to start over. Retooling to us meant trying a bunch of different shit till we got somewhere. We couldn’t really do the acoustic shit anymore.

ZD: Sonically, you seemed to completely transform from one space to another. How did that happen?

CK: Jesse used to play a lot of lead on the cello. And now suddenly I was in the position to write lead for electric guitar. I still don’t know if I’ve got that down, but again, I’ve got more hours logged. We used to have a banjo and an acoustic guitar, and now we’ve got two electric guitars. The foot-kit suddenly made no more sense for Jim, and he wanted to do more singing and more lead guitar. So then we had to bring in drums, a new bass…

PL: You sound frustrated just remembering all that.

CK: You go from a three piece folk band to a four piece rock band, and there is going to be some really ugly shit that goes down.

PL: The new album has a song on it called “Things Got a Way of Changing.”

ZD: When it came out, Pete and I listened to it a few times and knew it was going to be the song people gravitated toward. That song to me was just a fucking, “Woah!” Better than anything else you’ve done. It felt like something different to us.

PL: I know it has nothing to do with the changes in the band over the last couple of years. But so many of our motivations are subconscious, and to me it just seems so clearly like a cathartic piece. That from beneath the surface, this theme emerged on its own. What was your experience like making it?

CK: We always wanted to swing back around to playing electric music. We were tired of the half-baked folk thing. I started demoing stuff by myself more, got more organized, and I could hear better when something just wasn’t going to be a song anyone would want to listen to. We started more from the bottom of the song to build up, not just “start with guitar and vocals and then add bass and drums.” I started the old stuff more from a lyrical standpoint. But with this song in particular, we wanted to build it from the ground up. And it took months to write. I sat on it for three months. And the guys did just an amazing job with it.

PL: Aside from the mechanics of it all, there must have been a cathartic moment for you guys with this song, especially after the lull of “Mercury.” You came out ahead when maybe you thought you were falling behind.

CK: Well there was a lot of change in mine and Jim’s life around that time (both got married within that same year) and I stopped working my same old job. A lot of things personally changed. Things stabilized. Life finally felt a little less on the brink of disaster on a daily basis. Which was fun when you’re in your twenties. But from all that was a lot of failure, which created a lot of intensity. We had to find out how not to fuck up anymore. Obviously something was missing, and we had to figure out what that was… We had to find it. It’s tough to say.

PL: I think you said it.

See for yourself how Augustus has changed and grown as they co-headline the Fox Theatre this Saturday November 10th at 9PM with Foxfeather, Hugh Manatee, and Famous Men.

Keep up with Augustus here.

-Pete

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

We're Sponsoring Dandu's Los Angeles Show So We Caught Up With Them On Their "What Are Friends For?" Tour

BolderBeat is proud to be presenting our first show in Los Angeles at Ham & Eggs Tavern next Friday, August 31st from 8PM-Close. The show will feature music by The Colour Out of Space, Neon Clouds, BREATHERRR, and headliner Dandu. Dandu, a Denver-based band who experiment in the sounds of jazz, hip-hop, funk, and prog rock, are currently on their “What Are Friends For?” West Coast tour. We recently sat down with frontman Sean Dandurand to hear more about the band’s time on the road, their latest EP, and this upcoming L.A. show:

We’ve noticed you’ve toured a lot throughout 2018. Tell us about that.

Well, we starting touring last June, when we released our first EP Caught Between. Touring is always something [member] Ben Weirich and I have been interested in ever since we started playing music together six years ago. We’ve been on four tours in the last year; twice to the West Coast and twice to the Midwest. It’s pretty crazy booking and promoting a tour yourself; it’s a lot more work than I ever imagined. Some of the highlights have been playing in Chicago, Nashville, Seattle, Portland, and Santa Fe. Though it’s fun to play in big cities, small towns are always some of the best stops on tour. One small town that sticks out is Redding, California. That town showed up on a Monday night [for us] and was one of our favorite stops on our last West Coast run.

What’s your current tour shaping up like?

We’re doing 12 shows in 13 days starting in Taos and ending in Boise. This L.A. show is the third stop of the tour. We’re hitting some of our favorite places to play, including Phoenix, L.A., Portland, Seattle, and so many more. I’m really excited for the show in Seattle. I got one of my all-time favorite musicians on the bill: Skerik. He’ll be doing a solo saxophone/noise set. Also, in Portland we’re playing with our friends Human Ottoman, and Korgy & Bass will no doubt be a highlight.

Dandu. Photo Credit: Charla Harvey

Dandu. Photo Credit: Charla Harvey

Have you played at L.A.’s Ham And Eggs Tavern before?

We have not played this venue yet, but, always have such a great time in L.A.

How did you connect with the other bands on this bill?

Our good friend Mikey Smith from Denver is playing with his group Neon Clouds. So that’s a special thing for us. It’s always nice to go to a different city and know some of the musicians you play with. BREATHERRR is a performer I’m excited to see. Our friends in Rubedo put us in touch with him. The other group on the bill is The Colour Out of Space, who we connected with through our good friend and L.A. local Linda Kite. The lineup is eclectic, and full of amazing talent. Should be a great gathering!

What’s your favorite way to pass time on the road?

Sleeping is definitely one of the best ways to pass time. We also love to listen to podcasts, and of course to listen to music from our friends at home, as well as the bands we meet on tour! [Member] Dylan Johnson always finds a way to play some 90s hit that we haven’t heard in years. Sometimes Alanis Morissette is the best thing to get you through Kansas.

We really dig your latest EP ‘What Are Friends For?’ Can you tell us more about the production behind that and where you recorded it?

We recorded the EP in three days at Youth on Record. Our good friend Felix Ayodele was gracious enough to let us use the space. All the songs were recorded with the three of us in one room picking the best take of each song. The only overdubs we did were for solos and some of the crazy loop textures you hear. For this session, our goal was to make a recording that sounded like we do live. We had our friends Grant Stringham, Felix, and Steele Kempton engineer the session. Grant produced and mixed the EP; he mixed our previous EP as well. We had our buddy Clark Smith (Dynohunter) do the mastering.

36627165_847877498728950_6871639367962591232_o.jpg

Do you have plans for another release anytime soon?

At the moment, we don’t have another release scheduled. But our goal is to have a full length album ready in the next year. We’re going on a writing retreat the last weekend of September. We’ll be spending time up in a cabin for four days, with the intent of writing enough material for a new record.

Make sure to come down to Ham & Eggs Tavern next Friday, August 31st with Dandu, The Colour Out of Space, Neon Clouds, and BREATHERRR. There’s just a $5 suggested donation at the door- we’ll see you there Los Angeles!

Ben Hanna Band, ChinaRose, & Native Station Tell Us What to Expect from Their Sets at Benevolence Festival This Weekend

This week, we’re presenting Benevolence Festival, a benefit day of music for RAICES this Saturday, August 18th at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing from 2PM-10PM. It’s just $6 at the door for six bands and we’ve published our interviews with Augustus, Whiskey Autumn, and The Beeves, so make sure to check those out if you haven’t! Today we’ve got Ben Hanna Band, ChinaRose, and Native Station in the hot seat:

What made you want to become involved in our Benevolence Festival for RAICES?

Ben Hanna Band: If doing what I love can in some small way contribute to helping other people be with their families and find the resources they need, I will be in every time.

ChinaRose: We think it is very important to stand up for human and individual rights and the issue of migrant families being separated is something we cannot condone. We were very excited to be able to participate in Benevolence Fest when we heard it would also be benefiting that cause.

Native Station: We all felt strongly that no matter your political beliefs we need to treat people properly, with love. The way we would hope to be treated.

Ben Hanna. 

Ben Hanna. 

Do you have any other comments on the current political environment?

Ben Hanna Band: Be good to yourselves- you probably deserve it.

ChinaRose: Love is stronger than hate.

Native Station: The devolution of our political climate will stop if we, the general populace, decide upon common goals and take sustained political action to achieve them. But if we continue to base our votes and support on some misguided sense of team or party, rather than ideals, we will continue the descent.

What have your respective bands been up to in 2018?

Ben Hanna Band: Music-wise we are currently working on playing as many shows as possible. Just trying to have fun and stay fresh. No studio projects right now, but lots of new songs and ambition.

ChinaRose: We are currently recording our third album in our basement studio on the Southside of Chicago. We’re touring from August 16th-30th through Colorado, Utah, and California to promote the album and it will be released shortly before we hit the road.

Native Station: We’re finishing writing a debut album while looking for the right “habitat” to record it in.

ChinaRose.

ChinaRose.

What can fans expect at your Benevolence set this weekend?

Ben Hanna Band: We don't even know what to expect. The current line up couldn't make it due to schedule conflicts so it is all new players. There will be trombone and banjo. Some bad jokes might happen as well.

ChinaRose: We will be playing a bunch of new songs off the album!

Native Station: Oh yeah! A lot of energy and some songs from this album we have been working on. We try to keep something fresh in the back pocket and this will be no different.

Native Station. Photo Credit: Ehlert Art 

Native Station. Photo Credit: Ehlert Art 

What’s up for fall friends?

ChinaRose: Hopefully we will be touring around the Midwest this fall!

Native Station: We are looking forward to going on a short tour (headed south!). Also, we will be recording some new tracks which will make their way into the ether.

We can’t wait to hear everyone’s tunes this Saturday. $6; six bands. All for RAICES. See you there Boulder!

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Whiskey Autumn & The Beeves Talk to Us About Why They're Excited to Play Benevolence Festival This Weekend & Their Upcoming Tour Plans

In honor of Benevolence Festival which we’re presenting to benefit RAICES this Saturday, August 18th at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing from 2PM-10PM, we recently chatted with Denver bands Whiskey Autumn and The Beeves. They’ll be playing Saturday’s fest along with headliner Augustus and bands Native Station, Ben Hanna Band, and ChinaRose. We sat down with Whiskey Autumn frontman Greg Laut and The Beeves’ Matthew Sease to learn about why they felt called to play this benefit and what their bands are up to this year:

Why was playing a benefit for RAICES important to you?

Laut: Separating families is unquestionably inhumane and raising awareness about the ongoing crisis is imperative. Hundreds of children still remain separated from their parents and the Trump administration's efforts to reunite the families has been weak and insincere. RAICES is an amazing organization that provides crucial legal support to underserved migrants and is putting quantifiable plans in place to reunite families. Anything we can do to raise money and awareness for the cause feels right.

Sease: We're happy we have a platform to make some kind of difference in this epidemic of evil. Despite the small scale of the event, we hope the money raised will benefit the cause in some tangible way. This is important to us on the most basic human level, as [it] should be to all people.

Whiskey Autumn. 

Whiskey Autumn. 

What has your band been working on this year?

Laut: We've been recording a new album throughout 2018. The first single was released earlier this summer and our next track premieres with CPR’s OpenAir next Tuesday, August 21st on “Mile High Noon” with Alisha Sweeney. Keep your eyes peeled!

Sease: Last February we began work on our debut album with producer, Nate Cook of The Yawpers and engineer Tyler Imbrogno of Eldren. The album is set to release in late 2018.

What can we expect from your set this weekend at Benevolence Fest?

Laut: You can expect a high energy set of rock'n'roll, synth pop, and good time vibes that get you up on the dance floor. We may even play our new song!

Sease: Tuba?

The Beeves. Photo Credit: George L. Bosser

The Beeves. Photo Credit: George L. Bosser

What’s on your agenda for the rest of 2018?

Laut: We'll be touring the Pacific Northwest in late August and early September. It will be our first time performing in that part of the country, so we're very excited to meet some fresh faces along the way. After that we'll be finishing our new record, which you can expect to hear soon!

Sease: As of now, our focus is on the album. Tours are imminent, and an album release show is in the works. Follow our social media accounts and stay tuned!

Anything else you’d like to catch us up on guys?   

Laut: Big ups to Augustus for organizing this festival. They have been close friends of ours for some time now and have put together a great lineup. We're excited and honored to be on the bill!

Sease: We would like to thank Augustus for having us on this important event, and you all at BolderBeat for covering it.

Looking forward to it! Benevolence Fest is just $6 for six bands this Saturday. Come through!

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Augustus Talks To Us About Headlining Benevolence Festival & Why This Benefit Show Is Important to Them

Earlier this month, we announced that we’re presenting a mini-festival to benefit RAICES this August. Featuring Colorado bands Augustus, Native Station, Ben Hanna Band, Whiskey Autumn, and The Beeves, along with Chicago’s ChinaRose, Benevolence Festival is slated for this Saturday, August 18th at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewing from 2PM-10PM. Throughout this week, we’ll be bringing you info on each of the artists involved. Today, we’re featuring the festival’s headliner, Augustus. We sat down with festival director and Augustus member Jim Herlihy to chat about Benevolence Festival and why the issue of family separation at our nation’s borders needs our attention in the music community:

Augustus.

Augustus.

Jim, what made you want to organize the Benevolence min-fest benefit for RAICES? Why is this issue important to you?

This issue is sort of a "straw that broke camel's back" for me. The psychological trauma that these children have to endure because of our government's actions made me sick to my stomach. I sometimes get into a cycle of thinking, "Well I didn't help out that situation, so why should I help out this situation?" And that just perpetuates itself and I often times end up doing nothing. This was a time I wanted to do something and putting an event like this together is a small part towards helping people in need.

There is a lot of political turmoil in our country right now. Do you have any other comments on it?

It's almost hard to describe all that is wrong with the current political environment in a few sentences. For starters, the fierce tribalism that has seemed to intensify over the past couple years and a growing distrust of media is worrying. The fact that our president perpetuates these tendencies for his own political gain is irresponsible and reckless. His flaunting of long-standing norms from not fully divesting from his business, to exacerbating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to antagonizing the media shows a man less concerned with governing a nation and more concerned with his own image. His lack of understanding about complex issues makes him totally unfit for the job and the fact that it feels normal to have his as our president is incredibly sad.

What is Augustus working on currently?

We recorded a five-song EP titled 'Idle' late last year and we have released two singles from that record this year with a full release slated for fall of this year. We've also been releasing one song for $1 every month through our Patreon campaign. These songs are part of our Rarities series and feature acoustic versions, live songs, covers, and alternate versions of our tunes.

What can fans expect from your fest set this weekend? Anything special planned?

This fest will be unique here in Boulder because of the lineup. It features local rock bands in a town not typically known for a rock scene, and this will be the first time all of these bands will be on a bill together. We're even bringing in ChinaRose, a band we recently played with in Chicago.  All of the bands are donating their time for this cause and all of the money made from the event will go to RAICES.

What does Augustus have planned for the fall?

We're releasing our fourth EP this fall with a California tour, and a couple of headlining shows here in the Front Range area.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I was incredibly encouraged by everyone that wanted to be involved in this event. Twisted Pine, Bolderbeat, and all the bands were so willing to get on board and it made me very proud to know that we were all in the same scene together.

We can’t wait! Tickets are $6 at the door. Stay tuned for chats with the rest of the artists on the bill. 

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Race To Neptune Are Either the Black Sheep of Fort Collins or It's Next Big Thing

By: Brody Coronelli

With a new lineup, the band’s heavy, technical, and invigorating new EP Abandon Fashion showcases their evolution as a band, and what sets them aside from their counterparts.

Race To Neptune.

Race To Neptune.

With a spellbing conceptual precision that blends scuzzy ‘90s grunge-rock, darkwave, and the teeth-kicking emotional thunder of punk in a manner that makes heads bang, dice tumble, and PA systems growl, Race to Neptune are one of Fort Collins’ loudest, eclectic, and ferocious rock bands.

The band made their debut in 2016 with Oh Contraire, an album that had a few moments of brazen, fiery chargings into up-tempo punk-rock, but for the most part stayed on the melodic side, using dark, midtempo, and gritty instrumentation to surround frontman Brian Maier’s personal and biting lyrics in a shadowy glow. On the Thurston Moore-reminiscent “Wanderlilly,” the guitars are loud and fiery, but immensely tasteful and bright as the band uses a catchy refrain and echoing harmonies to guide the song into a warm resonance. The song is forceful and delicate all at once; a balance the band had no issue finding on that album.

On their new EP Abandon Fashion, the band has kept the technical sensibilities of their debut intact, making use of raw, punkish energy to play their eclectic and progressive brand of rock’n’roll. Many of the songs have a raw and thundering approach that takes more after punk-rock than it does from brazen, technical, and melodic broods through the dimly lit streets of Oh Contraire. These songs aim to ignite, but not in a typical four-chord punk rock fashion. The band uses this driving energy and delivers it with an array of sonic intricacies in a way that’s more indicative of artists like Jack White, Black Sabbath, and Queens of The Stone Age rather than Subhumans or The Germs.

“I think [Abandon Fashion] is a two word statement that almost signifies that we are going to write, record, and do what we want and how we want, no matter what is cool, trendy, or ‘in fashion’,” says frontman Brian Maier.

The whole EP was cut live at Stout Studios in Fort Collins, capturing a raw and forthright energy that often can’t be found when meticulously multi-tracking or chasing the perfect take. This raw approach, balanced with the driving and aggressive nature of the songs makes Abandon Fashion a fierce, unrelenting pleasure.

“I honestly have always wanted to [record the way we did on this record] because it captures the aggressiveness and raw energy of how we actually sound that can’t be faked. I think if we recorded the first album the same way those songs would have come across just as heavy. Track by track recording is so dialed in and precise in every way from the smallest turn of an amp or pedal knob to how hard we strum or hit a drum or cymbal. This was total freedom and we recorded this just how we practice and this is how we sound live, because it is!” says frontman Brian Maier.

The opening track “Mortal Melody” features a nearly two-minute chugging intro with guitars that gradually grow more jagged, and pummelling drums that grow fiercer with each strike. The song is a garage-driven excursion that has all the thrill of driving down an empty desert highway going fifty over the speed limit. “I’ll be your creature/Can you teach me to teach/Sing to me slowly/In a motor melody,” Maier sings with a quiet growl on top of a scuzzy and aggressive bassline.

The Sonic Youth and Modest Mouse inspired “Departure” follows, a scuzzy rocker with a chanting, harmonic, and arena rock-reminiscent chorus. “Sunsets” is an older song of Maier’s that resurfaced while the band was tracking the album. With a beachy, sunburnt instrumental that feels like a long drive by the coast and lyrics about running off to California, it’s a bright and infectious song by a band that often defaults to the shadows.

The closing track “Abandon Fashion” is a return to form for the band. The entirely instrumental song opens with a fit of siren-esque picking, only to devolve into a showdown of fiery, circling guitars that get more aggressive with every note. What starts out capturing a warm sunset quickly starts to resemble a sky littered with flames, dancing down to the ground.

The album artwork for  Abandon Fashion .

The album artwork for Abandon Fashion.

In more ways than one, Abandon Fashion marks a new beginning for the band. Not only is it a step into new musical territory, but the band underwent two significant lineup changes before making it. With Matt Petersen now on drums and Matt McNear on bass, the band’s sound is shifting in a different direction. Their influences are made loud and clear, and their presences melding with Maier’s technical and anthemic songwriting have led to Race of Neptune’s most invigorating record so far.

“I think it has been a pretty seamless transition,” says Petersen. “We got comfortable together really quickly. Matt just came on as bassist late February and we were in the studio the first week of April. I think that's definitely a testament to our cohesiveness. [Matt and I] both have a strong jazz background with our instruments which allows us to keep time really well while getting out of the rhythmic box bass and drums can sometimes be confined to in rock music. We are also all involved in the writing process… it’s a very cumulative sound you’re hearing.”

Race to Neptune underwent a quick evolution on Abandon Fashion, and for the better. It’s an invigorating, technical, and fun record that sets the band at the forefront of Fort Collins’ music scene. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t outliers, though. In a scene dominated by folk, EDM, and bluegrass, Race to Neptune are a shining beacon of musical progression and experimentation run through a filter of loud, raw, and eclectic rock.

“There has been a little increase in rock bands and venues in the [Fort Collins] area which is nice, but we are still the black sheep of the music scene up here. It is still very much dominated by jam bands, DJs and bluegrass, but we are trying very hard to support other local rock bands as well,” Maier says.

When the musical cohesiveness, energy, and vision of a band like Race To Neptune are all working together, maybe being the black sheep isn’t a bad thing; maybe it’s a sign that they’re at a the forefront of new sound and identity for Northern Colorado. It’s too early to say, but considering how far they’ve come as a band on only two records, anything is possible.

Abandon Fashion is out now. You can keep up with Race to Neptune here.

-Brody

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

2018 Belongs to JJUUJJUU

By: Brody Coronelli

A Q&A with frontman Phil Pirrone on the band’s debut album, their upcoming shows, and how it feels to be on the cusp of their big break.

Phil Pirrone of JJUUJJUU.

Phil Pirrone of JJUUJJUU.

The Los Angeles psych-rock band JJUUJJUU has a sound that’s entirely their own. Harnessing the collision of psych and desert rock with the ambience of low-fi and a fiery undercurrent of metal that never overpowers the music, they’re one of rock’s most interesting and hard to pin down groups. They’re also on the cusp of a breakthrough.

The band- fronted by Phil Pirrone, the founder of the Desert Daze festival- released their debut album 'Zionic Mud.' The album is an atmospheric exploration of a number of different influences, each coming together to capture an atmospheric, psychedelic daze. A good deal of collaboration followed the release. The band released alternate versions of each single re-imagined by friends and supporters, which include Warpaint’s bassist Jennylee’s synth-driven and danceable take on the title track “Zionic Mud” and Liarsloud, scuzzed-out version of “Camo.” They also released a music video for their own version of “Camo” directed by Flaming Lips animator Michan Burzan.

This summer, the band is set to play a number of shows opening for the heavy metal band Mastadon and experimental rock band Primus; two hugely high profile acts with the potential to send JJUUJJUU into the stratosphere. In between those shows, the band is headlining Lost Lake in Denver on June 19th with support from DeCollage and King Eddie. I had the opportunity to chat with Pirrone recently about the band’s new album and their upcoming tour dates.

You guys just released your new album 'Zionic Mud' last month. How has the rolling out and reception of that record been, and in what ways is it different from your past material?

This record was five years in the making. So it's good to have it out. We had only released an EP before this, in 2013, so in a lot of ways, this is the beginning.

Your songs are definitely more blissed out and bright than your counterparts; they aren't always aggressive, and instead, favor some ambience. How do you go about creating this sound live and in the studio?

Not sure how we get there- I guess it's just our collective influences and experiences informing how we approach a song or jam or what have you. Short answer: happy accidents.

What sound were you trying to capture on 'Zionic Mud', and is it going to send the band in a new direction, or expand on a sound you've already established?

I just wanted it to sound like something I loved, no matter what that ended up being. I don't know what direction we're going in or what we've established. Just putting down what comes out and going from there.

What inspired you to have friends and collaborators release their own alternate takes of the singles? What do these new versions have to offer that the originals don't? The JENNYLEE version of "Zionic Mud" particularly stands out to me; it brings out a danceable element in the song's framework that I didn't catch in the album version.

It was my friend Jason's idea who works at the label. And a great idea at that. These versions are some weird form of collaboration between myself and the remixer, without being in the same room or even talking about it. So, it's very exciting to hear what each of them come back with. Jennylee went the extra mile and reimagined the track through her lens and it's lovely.

What made you choose METZ and Liars to rework the songs? Are there any other collaborations in the works?

Part of the aim of this experiment was to find very different filters to mix these songs through and see what we end[ed] up with. Both seemed like total long shots, but they both said yes (surprisingly). Very happy with how both came out.

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Your music strikes a really interesting balance between psychedelia, stoner-rock, desert-rock, and a cool, low-fi aesthetic. How did you come across this collection of sounds, and how do you go about synthesizing them into your live set?

We really don't talk or think about what we're going to do, we just go for it. Whether I'm on my own or with the group, we just jump into it and follow what comes out, or we don't if it's shit. Performing the songs live with a group is an evolution. It's difficult to replicate what happened on record because so much of it was improvised or literally a happy accident. So the live incarnation sort of evolves and the songs grow and change. I think that's totally a normal behavior for a group like JJUUJJUU.

How does it feel to be opening for Mastodon and Primus, two colossal names in the scene? How'd this opportunity come about, and do you have anything special planned for these shows?

Feel honored and excited and nervous, frankly. Touring with bands this good keeps us on our toes and forces us to bring our best. We've toured with Claypool Lennon Delirium before, so it's great to be invited back out. Les Claypool has some of the best fans in the world. They are there to enjoy loud music and have a good time. So, for that, among other things, we're very grateful. We're going to be playing nice and early, so we'll be having a BBQ nightly from stage. We might perform a few weddings (if needed). First 50,000 people in the gates get a free hot dog and t-shirt (if there's also a wedding).

What's next for the band after you guys finish your expansive touring schedule this year? Do you see the band continuing in the same sonic direction, or is there a new sound on the horizon?

We're playing Desert Daze in Southern California in October. We're working on LP2 right now (early stages). It's going to be different. But the same. But different.

-Brody

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Daphne Willis Is Bringing the Freak to Boulder's e-Town Hall This Week

By: Julia Talen

To classify Daphne Willis as one type of musical artist is a difficult feat. She’s been immersed in the music scene for over ten years, having released several records, her most recent being 'Freaks Like Me.' On it you’ll find gorgeous ballads like “Somebody’s Someone” mixed with pop dance tunes like “Out of the Black” and “Just a Little Bit.” Her music gives listeners a glimpse into Willis’ personal experiences which she’s honest and open about.

Daphne Willis. 

Daphne Willis. 

Her latest single, “Do It Like This” (which includes a sweet music video shot on the Queensboro Bridge in NYC featuring dancer Shereen Jenkins), is the perfect upbeat track to blast and sing to in your car with your windows rolled down this summer. Not only that, but she’ll be in Boulder Friday, May 18th bring her vibrant spunk and rich voice to e-Town Hall. We spoke with Willis to hear more about the evolution of her multifaceted musical career and what to expect at her upcoming show.

When did you start playing music and how has your career evolved?

Sure. Well I grew up in a musical family. Both my parents went to UT Austin; my mom was a vocal major and my dad was an engineering major so I grew up singing in a musical family. We always used to listen to music and sing. My parents had me taking piano lessons when I was little. I did that for a while. Played a little bit of saxophone. And then I ended up getting really into poetry when I was in sixth grade. I learned how to play the guitar when I was in high school. I originally started playing cover songs, and once I kind of got more comfortable with the guitar I started writing my own songs.

And then did you study music in college?

No, I’m completely self-taught. I started writing songs in school, and then I went to DePaul University -I’m from Chicago originally- and I started playing out at open mics in the blues clubs and stuff like that. I had written a handful of songs and got a band together and we would play the bars in Chicago, and then we started touring around in the Midwest.

I had this little acoustic EP I had made, and I submitted it to some sub-licensing companies, like you know when you’re in P.F. Changs and you hear music playing? I had my song playing in a catalogue like that. And it was playing on American Airlines flights. The president of this record label was on the flight, and his iPod died, so he plugged his headphones into the armrest and my song was playing. It was crazy. I was eighteen/nineteen at the time and they flew me out to L.A. and the whole thing. The A&R guy that actually signed me, he’s based in Nashville so he was having me go to Nashville for co-writing and to work on the record that I was going to do with them.

So basically I signed a deal and dropped out of school. I took the opportunity and started doing co-writing in Nashville. I did a couple of records with Vanguard Records and then left the label. Now I’m independent as an artist, but I’ve signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV so I’m now a song writer. I write pop music for Sony ATV, and I’ve been with them for three years.

Cool. Speaking of songwriting, what does your process look like?

Well, I write all the time. I write four to five songs a week, and I co-write a lot which is pretty standard in the music industry. A lot of my writing is done in New York, L.A., and Nashville. And I collaborate.

Sometimes we start with the melody. Sometimes with lyrics. Sometimes someone already has like a track made so we write to a track. I often kind of categorize the writing sessions. So if I’m writing for somebody else, it’ll go a little differently than if I’m writing for me. Or, you know I do a lot of film and T.V. writing so the film and T.V. writing is always a little different too.

It all kind of just depends. For me I try and draw inspiration from things I know. I like to write what I know, things from my friends and family’s experiences, kind of just what I see in the world and experience in the world.

That’s awesome. You have kind of a range of different sounds. You’ve got some dancey pop songs and more mellow ballads, like “Somebody’s Someone.” I’m curious, what are some of your musical influences?

I grew up with The Beatles and Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. And I grew up with a lot of jazz and blues influence being in Chicago. I also grew up with a lot of you know the R&B of the nineties- Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. And with all the hip-hop so I have kind of like a hip-hop influence too. I don’t know. It’s kind of all over the place, but it’s fun to be able to blend the genres by just weaving a message and theme throughout the music.

Nice. With your upcoming show at e-Town together, I have to ask. Have you and Dave Tamkin ever played together before, or how are you two connected?

Oh my gosh, it’s so fun because we go so far back! I’ve known Dave for ten years. He’s from Chicago too and we used to play the same clubs and were in the same circles in Chicago. Then we finally played a show and hung out and really hit it off. We stayed in touch though both of us moving away, and he’s just the best. He’s my homie.

That’s great. What should audiences expect at your Boulder show?

I like to talk about the song and give people a little bit of insight into my world and how I wrote it. I’m super open about my personal experiences, and the show is going to be heavily revolving around mental health. That’s the theme of the show. I’ve been in recovery for two years and have a lot of experiences, like pretty much everyone else on the planet with the mental health stuff. So I think it’s just gonna be a nice, open atmosphere. It’s going to be really fun.

Get your tickets to Daphne Willis and Dave Tamkin’s e-Town show here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Making Movies' Music Powerfully Explores The Modern Day Immigrant Experience

By: Julia Talen

Latin-indie-rock band Making Movies serendipitously forged when singer/guitarist Enrique Chi played music at a “Day of the Dead” street festival in Kansas City. Upon hearing him play, Maria Charaund, the leader of a folkloric Mexican dance group for children, encouraged Chi to play at her restaurant up the street and to meet her sons. Turns out Maria just so happened to be the mother of Juan Carlos and Andres Chaurand (now Making Movies’ percussionists).

Chi connected with Juan Carlos, who’d grown up playing Latin and salsa music and dancing to Mexican folklorico. Chi shared all along that his musical vision was “always to grab those Caribbean rhythms, those Latino rhythms, and re-link them to rock’n’roll. At the time I didn’t know how linked they already were to rock’n’roll. I just had like this gut instinct that they were. And once we started playing with Juan it was just like it instantly it all made sense.”

Making Movies.

Making Movies.

The bilingual band evolved into a group of four; two sets of brothers: Enrique and Diego Chi alongside Juan Carlo and Andres Charand. Their Latin cultural backgrounds pulse through their music, charging their songs with important messages and themes critically relevant to the country’s current political climate. We spoke more with Enrique Chi about the band’s cultural background, ideology, and their upcoming show May 14th at e-Town Hall in Boulder.

You spoke a bit about the band members familial roots in the music. I’m also wondering, were there any sort of influences from Kansas and growing up in the Midwest that have shaped your music?

I have a lot of thoughts on this. I feel lucky as an artist to be so introspective all the time, because I’m always forced to answer those sort of questions you know, ‘How did you get here?’ and it’s good for humans in general. On one hand, you have Juan Carlos and Andres who have Mexican-American roots, and you have the disconnect from Mexico, which inspires you to get more folkloric. It was something that happened with me too. Like their mother started that dance group in order to keep their roots.

One thing about being in the Midwest, when you feel so disconnected from people that are like you, you can find small pockets, but you’re always the small minority. So you cherish the things about your cultural identity at a heightened level. I think a lot of people try to like shed their parents’ culture, like, “Ah my parents, they were like this or that. I’m different.” But when you’re an immigrant from an immigrant family those things about the old versions of your culture, they become super, like you romanticize them. And so everybody in the band loves old, old Latino music. We don’t really listen to contemporary Latino artists very much. We listen to the classic stuff that we remember hearing at our grandparents’ house or grandmother’s house or with our mothers or whatever because of that longing. Because it brings us back home. So that’s one weird influence.

The other thing is that by being in the Midwest, in Kansas City specifically, Kansas City has a vibrant jazz scene. And it has come back up in the last few years. There’s a ton of history there. Like Charlie Parker is from there. And I think the first time I saw Juan Carlos perform I didn’t even know him but he was playing at the jazz museum in a Latin jazz band of sorts. Because the Latino bands, like salsa bands, almost have to play in the jazz environments. Juan Carlos has that… so the improvisational components and those things have kind of stuck with us.

And then Kansas City doesn’t have a really successful music scene. When I was growing up there was like one band that had broken through, that I knew of. It was the Get Up Kids. But outside of that there was hardly anything. And their path was the same path. The scene was all about you rent a van and you play basements or punk-rock venues or you play art spaces. There’s no other tools to a musical career. Which is not totally true, but it is kind of true because in Kansas City, their network runs out pretty quickly if you’re trying to build a real national or international career. So you kind of have to leave one way or another. And if you’re a broke artist you have to buy a crappy van and do whatever you have to do to be playing in New York or Chicago or L.A. and be building connections and experiences. So that thing really stuck with us.

Growing up, I looked up to this band called Shiner. And Shiner’s like this really angular rock’n’roll band. But they became fairly successful through that kind of path. Sometimes the guitarist can be kind of dissonant and angular and that actually comes from the Kansas City indie rock scene or punk rock scene.

Whatever the underground scene may be [that angularity is] almost a necessity. Because you’re playing oftentimes when you’re touring like that with no resources for people that didn’t want to see you. They’re just randomly at the bar, or they’re there because the other band is a local band and they’re not that good but they have friends and the friends came. You’re friends are there because it’s a night out. And you’re the opener and you’ve just drove like seven hours for your one shot in Indianapolis. And you’re gonna make it you know? And you’re opening up to these people and they’re not really there to see you so you almost have to be noisy. You almost have to like yell at them. Like, ‘Hey hey hey! Pay attention over here!’ And it’s almost a gimmick to attract attention and be like, ‘Okay so now that I have your attention, here’s the music we make.’ And so there’s some of that in the Kansas City scene and I think that we have a little bit of that… a little angular.

I’ve seen the photograph of you guys with “DACA” written in permanent marker on your skin, and I’m curious, has the band’s message or political stance shifted since the election?

It’s shifted. It’s kind of both you know. We made the first record about an immigrant neighborhood and the kids who grew up disenfranchised. And even before we made that record we’d put out a video about undocumented kids. ‘Cause I remember, to bring it all full circle, that day I met Juan Carlos and his mother, I also asked this guy who looked like he was in charge, I was like, “Hey this is really cool. A lot of young people they’ve made stuff and they’re selling it. And he was like, “Yeah we have an after-school program for kids in the neighborhood,” and so I was like, “Oh I’d love to volunteer and we can give some guitar lessons.”

And I resonated with, like, I can tell when a kid just moved here from another country. Like I remember that feeling of feeling a little disconnected… And so I’ve been writing about those experiences- about how these kids when they become aware of the fact that they’re not suppose to be here. They’re “illegal” or whatever the words are and how much that shifts their psychology, and so I would write about it because it was on the top of my head. And I remember we used to say, “Oh you know we’re not a political band, we just write about social topics. We write about what we’ve seen and what we’ve lived.”

We already had for four years put up the “We are all immigrants” flag at shows because to me that’s like the story of all music… how do you make any kind of music? It is a mix of all these people’s culture… without human migration nothing is anything. Everything comes from this beautiful mix of what people do. And so you can take pride in your own heritage, but you should do that with this education that human beings have been moving and mixing cultures and language since the dawn of time. We’re just some small part of that huge conversation.

And then we had this opportunity at the Folk Alliance Conference [in February 2017]. We did a musical piece right before the keynote speech by Billy Bragg. A lot of things he said in the speech that day really resonated with me and he told me, ”You know it’s your turn now. Pete Seeger once told me it was my turn now, [that he couldn’t] write songs for your people, your generation… [And] just like that it’s your turn now,” and he looked at me and pointed at me.

After hearing Billy Bragg, I was like, you know, we can be political because the reality is that when you pull out an ideology like that, like a crazy idea like, “All humans should have the same rights as you and I have” and you pull that out of an ideological discussion and you try to implement it into the world in any capacity,  it becomes political. I can’t just say, “Hey these kids who are undocumented, we need to do something” and pretend that that’s not a political decision that needs to be had. For me it’s my life. I know this kid. He is undocumented, and I wish he could go to college and he doesn’t have any other options. He grew up here. But to solve that very human personal problem, it’s a policy, and we don’t claim to know the political answers, you know, but we can raise awareness and ask people to engage. I think if people really look inside themselves they know the answers. Even people who are judgemental, you know, if they meet someone from a different culture and then build a bond that opens their minds, they’re like, “Oh shit maybe I was looking at this all wrong.”

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

Making Movies at their NPR "tiny desk" performance. photo courtesy npr. 

And what about the name of the band, Making Movies? How did that come to be?

My dad loved rock’n’roll. He was almost like an outcast in small town Panama, small town Central America, and he would dig for rock’n’roll records. So during my childhood musical experience, I was always going through his vinyls and he really loved Dire Straits. And I loved them as a kid too. I would sing their music. Even before I spoke English, I would sing this song called “The Walk of Life.” And one of their albums is called Making Movies.That’s where I lifted it from. I always thought that’s a cool meaning you know. I loved that music before I knew the language. And so I loved it for the other languages that music carries. And here I’m in a bilingual band. It kind of represents that fearlessness of you know- our music can communicate the story to them through some other mechanism. ‘Cause I still remember the feeling of being elated by that song and I didn’t know words. It just moved me.

Anything our readers should expect at your upcoming e-Town show on Monday, May 14th?

I would just say that the opening act, Alex Cuba, he’s from Canada and he’s like a legend. He has multiple Juno Awards and is really respected, but he hasn’t toured the U.S. very much. So it’ll be a real treat to have him with us, and he’s also won Latin Grammy Awards and stuff like that too, so definitely come out early and don’t miss Alex Cuba.

And be prepared to move a little bit! It’s kind of hard to be at a Making Movies show and not move your hips a little.

Get tickets for Making Movies e-Town show here.

-Julia

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.