Music is Good For the Soul, But Our Musicians Are Struggling

The first week of October each year is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is a time dedicated to advocating for better mental health care, spreading awareness about the widespread prevalence of mental illness, and fighting the stigma that is often associated with mental health. Despite how far-reaching mental illness is, people who suffer are often met with misunderstanding and a lack of adequate mental health care.

Musicians are no exception to suffering from mental illness. It is no secret that living the life of an artist can be challenging, but if music is supposed to be good for the soul, why do so many musicians struggle with mental illness? After all, music has the ability to calm the mind and allow people to relate to circumstances that they are going through. Many people also promote the healing effects of music therapy for behavioral health. If music is really that good for health, musicians should be some of the healthiest individuals on the planet. However, this misconception couldn’t be more wrong. 

The 73 Percent Report

The Record Union conducted a survey of 1,500 independent musicians asking them about their mental health. Unfortunately, the results were staggering. The study found that 73% of independent musicians claimed to have experienced difficulties with their mental health - including stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, 33% claimed to have experienced panic attacks and 69% suffer from depression. 

Although the numbers of musicians who struggle with mental illness are devastating, only 39% sought treatment for their symptoms. Similarly, only 33% of struggling musicians aged 18-25 sought mental health care. On the other hand, 50% claimed that they self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

These numbers are substantially higher among musicians than they are among the general population. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018. In conclusion, musicians are far more likely to suffer from mental illness than the general population. This poses the question: If music is commonly used as a form of holistic therapy, and is so good for the soul, why are so many musicians suffering?

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Musicians and Mental Illness

Many well-known artists have also spoken up about how mental illness has affected them. One of them, who is constantly in the media, is Demi Lovato. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has struggled with substance abuse as well. Unfortunately, co-occurring mental illness and addiction are not uncommon. After all, people who suffer from mental illness are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse, and nearly 50% of people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness. In fact, we hear about co-occurring disorders among musicians all the time, from Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Mac Miller, just to name a few. 

While many artists struggle with it, sometimes to death, others use it as a method of empowerment. Take Kanye West, for example. He claims that his mental health condition is more like a superpower- it fuels his creativity. In addition, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, and J. Cole have also openly spoken up about having depression. Instead of fighting it or letting their mental health silence them, they speak out to encourage others to share their experiences with one another. Regardless of how musicians deal with their mental illness, the list of artists who struggle with their mental health is endless. 

Culture Shock

If you’ve ever moved to a new country, or from a big city to a small town, you are familiar with the term culture shock. It refers to a feeling of disorientation someone experiences when he or she is suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar way of life, culture, or attitudes. Culture shock can occur as a musician takes a leap into the spotlight. Between the stress of trying to get a big break in the industry, the constant criticism from producers, crowds, and media alike, the anxiety of performing, and the overwhelming fans that refuse to back off, it is no wonder that problems with mental health can take a serious toll on the well being of artists. 

The music industry is brutal, and many will spend years making the effort to achieve their dreams just to be told they aren’t good enough. Negative emotions can trigger self-doubt, depression, and even poor decision making. 

On the other hand, there are the ones who finally break through the industry into the spotlight. First, there are the media, following, dissecting, and often criticizing every decision made by artists. While there is plenty of good publicity, it is way more common to see bad publicity arise when a star is less than perfect. The media and the fans sometimes idolize the stars, dehumanizing them and expecting them to behave impeccably. These ideas put a lot of pressure on celebrities.

On top of the media and overwhelming fans, there also comes the pressure of performing. When performing, the stress response is heightened, provoking a fight or flight response that leads to increased awareness and adrenaline levels. Sometimes, this makes for better performances. For others, however, prolonged stress can lead to panic attacks and long-term anxiety. 

The combination of stress, lack of privacy, and pressure that comes from being a famous artist can lead many to self-medicate or neglect seeking appropriate treatment to care for their mental health. It is clear that the climate of the music industry can be toxic for some, so what can be done to improve it?

Something Needs to Change

Any great change takes time. The media isn’t going to stop condemning mental breakdowns of artists any time soon. Fans aren’t going to stop idolizing stars just because we tell them to, and artists are always going to face pressure before putting on a performance. The good news is that some artists are speaking up about mental health. More and more people are beginning to show compassion for mental health rather than judgment. 

Johan Svanberg, CEO of Record Union, stated after publishing the 73 percent study, “It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success.” After all, the music industry is well aware of the toll that fame, fortune, and rejection alike takes on the mental health of artists. 

Instead of treating artists as a money-making product, they should be recognized as human beings who have feelings and needs. Record producers and managers should implement regular mental health checkups and take action to prioritize the mental health and well-being of their musicians. 

Similarly, fans and the general population should start speaking up about mental health, too. It is crucial to learn more about mental illness and how symptoms may appear in order to gain an understanding of what others may be going through. Most importantly, allow yourself to see the person, rather than the illness. Share your own story about your struggles with mental illness and how you have found healthy ways of coping. The more it is spoken about with compassion and understanding, the more awareness can be spread. Fighting the stigma of mental illness is essential to encouraging people who are suffering to get the help they need. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, reach out. You can call 1-800-622-HELP to speak with someone immediately. Learn more about this hotline here.

Additionally, if you’re one of our Colorado readers, consider joining the Mental Wellness Meetup and check out this Colorado Crisis Services website too.

Venture Into Spectra Art Space's Psychedelic Portal of Purgatory with Synesthesia This October

By: Chris Garcia

If its name Spookadelia doesn’t have you intrigued, then its exhibitions will. Described as a “psychedelic immersive art and theatrical experience,” the spectacle opens this Saturday, October 5th from 7PM-11PM and is presented by Spectra Art Space and Synesthesia. 

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Spectra Art Space is known for their contemporary art exhibitions and detailed immersive experiences which cultivate and inspire creativity, and Spookadelia will be no different. Guests who dare to enter will embark on a narrative-driven journey through otherworldly realms and planes of existence. There will be a variety of installations created by local artists including Lexi Lund & The PussayHaus collective (who built Natura Obscura), DAS who will be working with Denver’s Meow Wolf, and the Spectra Team, who have created installations for the Underground Music Showcase Odyssey.

Venture in and be guided through this psychedelic portal of purgatory into the world of the Spectra Specter. It’s unquestionable that the experience will captivate you as each room and section is an immersive, interactive and mind-bending voyage. Expect to be challenged on social and environmental issues, and explore the layers of the human psyche, all while participating in a fresh take on the haunted experience. The installations and experiences are sure to frighten, but will also be family-friendly. In addition, the spooktacular exhibition will feature performance artists curated by Kayla Smith, whose involvement in local theater includes working with Adams Mystery Playhouse and Fearless Theatre

Starting this Saturday, October 5th and running through November 3rd, dive deep into the unknown world of Spookadelia! Experience the art. Immerse yourself in a new haunted experience. Open your mind. Tickets will be available for a timed entry which will give you access to the installation for an hour on the date specified; purchase them here!

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

BANKS Took Us Out of the Greyzone and Brought Us Into the Light at Recent Denver Show

By: Taylor Naiman

Last Thursday night, avant-pop singer Banks, a.k.a Jillian Rose Banks, brought her lighting ensemble and edgy synths to the Fillmore Auditorium for her III Tour. Named after her most recent album, III, she chose this particular moniker “to symbolize a lifecycle.” After a small hiatus since her last album, with this release it’s clear that Banks has honed in on her vision and what she values as an artist in this industry. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

During her set, she took some time to share a beautiful poem she wrote called “Ode to the Greyzone,” and a quiet fell across the room. She added that this title was a potential contender for the album title before III was chosen. Banks does not define her chapters by a single word or title, but rather she wants to characterize it by the stage in life she is in. She has found an outlet through poetry and uses it to influence her songwriting. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Onstage, Banks was youthful and fun, with many people in the audience cheering, “I love her!” and “She is so cute!” Her Denver fans clearly appreciated this unique opportunity to gain a deeper insight into her spirit, personality, and the happiness she shared with the crowd while performing.

One captivating aspect of her performance was her light show; it appeared as though she was controlling it. Her light rig was other-worldly and vibrant, reminiscent of being in a hip, new nightclub where the lights constantly changed to match both the mood and tempo of every track. From the lights to the dancing, her set was purposeful. An emphasis of glow was placed on every color of the light spectrum, while Banks looked as if she was manipulating the placement of the light as she moved. Her movements guided these lights and she continued to influence their motion. Every component worked well in unison, and cohesively. Supported by her two matching backup dancers, there was a strong interpretive dance presence and a well-executed choreography.

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

Banks’ set was sultry and undoubtedly classy. All of her dancers were dressed in black, and with a combination of lace and leather, Banks donned shiny thigh-high boots and a slicked-back bun. These fashion choices were definitely meant to look chic to match the edgy tones within her voice. 

BANKS. Photo Credit:   Luis Castro

BANKS. Photo Credit: Luis Castro

The audience was able to hear a vast and expansive setlist from a few of her singles, and her albums The Altar, Goddess and a majority from III. Her music gave us all the R&B and alt-pop feels, but it was nice to see both variety and a sense of evolution over the course of her releases. Some of the best tracks from her show included “Till Now,” “Gimme,” “Underdog,” “Waiting Game,” “Propaganda,” “Gemini Feed,” and “F*** With Myself.” And if you weren’t dancing along, did you even feel the groove? To balance the mood, she sprinkled in some slower tunes too, including “Better,” “Contaminated” and “Drowning,” among others. Her encore ended with “Beggin for Thread,” and even though she seemed slightly worn out by this time, the audience was still full, and appeared pleased with a great performance. With a powerful voice that exudes a combination of soul and harmony all by itself, Banks has a voice that has to be heard live to fully appreciate it. 

Head over to Spotify and follow Banks for some more seductive slow jams, and to hear some of our favorites. Her tour continues here.

-Taylor

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

Denver's Underground Music Showcase Proves It's Once Again Unlike Anything Else in Denver

By: Adrienne Thomas 

Denver’s Underground Music Showcase truly is the highlight of the year for many local music lovers, and this year was no exception. As far as multi-venue festivals go, UMS is a well executed one, and was a smooth experience for concertgoers. The “official” UMS venues spanned about 7 blocks down South Broadway, and included 3 separate outdoor stage areas. Most venues had their own vibe, like the punk and modular synth daytime-dark shows at the Hi-Dive, late-night crooner showcases at Skylark Lounge, house and techno dance parties at the 303 Magazine “Green Rom” below 3 Kings Tavern, and the intimate singer/songwriter serenades at South Broadway Christian Church. Simply put, there was always a place to go for everyone, with plenty of food trucks and friends to run into along the way. The heat, once accepted, couldn't hinder the excitement of seeing dozens of local gems and national touring favorites. 

Some of our UMS 2019 local highlights included Anthony Ruptak, Maya Bennett, and Kiltro, who drew devoted fans out in large crowds. Claire Heywood sang to us in church, Pout House jammed out at the Hi-Dive, and Ramakhandra and Emma Mayes & The Hip gave all their energy to a packed 3 Kings Tavern crowd. Favorite touring acts included Earthgang, who included the new J. Cole collab “Dreamville” in their set and even brought crowd members on stage for a very real dance-off. The latin rhythms and energy of Y La Bamba and Chicano Batman also made for a great time, and LA-based soul duo Annabelle Maginnis smiled in a furry two-piece through a killer R&B, upbeat soul set. Still, while the national touring acts may help sell tickets, we all know it’s the local artists who make the UMS something special. There’s no Colorado festival quite like the UMS, so here’s ‘til next year!

See more photos from UMS 2019 here.

-Adrienne

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Travers Brothership Return to Colorado After European Tour; Set to Play a Host of Local Shows

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Haling all the way from North Carolina, Travers Brothership will be gracing us with their unconventional, improv-driven live performance, playing gigs across Colorado this week. I had the privilege to chat with Kyle Travers, the guitar and one-third of the vocals of the band. Read on: 

Travers Brothership just finished their first European tour, and Kyle was pleased with the band’s shows abroad: “We were received really well, way better than I expected,” he says, “I think the Europeans are craving that homegrown American sound and because we have that jazz and rock’n’roll vibe, I think they really liked us. And some even knew who we were!” 

Travers Brothership.

Travers Brothership.

Kyle continues about the band’s current state saying, “It’s a somewhat unfathomable feeling to be where we are as a band at this point. Since we became more successful and were signed by Madison House, touring has become a serious part of our lives. I think all four of us love traveling, so being on the road is not a big deal. It’s a blast for me- I love adventure and meeting new people. But what’s really great about it is that we don’t have to do any side jobs anymore when we come home. It feels great not having to put up dry-wall or pick up a hammer or go work in a restaurant on our days off the road. Now, Eric and I will go play golf instead!”

Eric and Kyle Travers are twins. They were born into a musical family; their father Hurricane Bob Travers was a traveling, touring rock’n’roll musician.

“When we were about four years old, our dad gave us toy musical instruments. By the time we were seven, the toys were replaced with real instruments, and that’s really how it all began. Fast forward a few years; by the time we were 12 years old, we were playing biker bars and private events. I consider us really lucky to have had supportive parents who would drive us to these gigs when we were too young to go anywhere.” Kyle laughs. 

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Travers Brothership became a cohesive band when a group of friends, who happened to be neighbors, started jamming together in the Travers house basement. Kyle explains, “Eric and I didn’t want to be the focus of the group and we wanted to expand beyond just the two of us.  That’s why we’re called Travers Brothership and not something like ‘The Travers Brothers Band.’ We really see the band as a community and we all play a major role in the creative process.”   

From Jimmy Hendrix to Donnie Hathaway, Travers Brothership’s influences mesh succinctly, moving from rock’n’roll into soul both smoothly and precisely. The band’s latest album has moved from a harder rock’n’roll vibe into the soul realm more than ever before. 

“I think we owe it to my brother Eric and our bassist Josh Clark, more than anything else, for changing directions a bit. Eric was really getting into Wilson Picket and other 70s soulful artists, while Josh was into Donnie Hathaway and Marvin Gaye. Naturally, from listening to these artists, a lot of our sound started to morph. Aggressive, coming for you mentality will always be at the core of who we are as a band, but it’s important for a band to grow and evolve. Naturally, what you listen to will show in what music you write. And at the end of the day, we always like to challenge ourselves as musicians.” Kyle muses. 

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Eric and Kyle Travers, and the band’s bassist Josh Clark contribute to the vocals of the band and it’s their three-part harmonies, which have caught the eyes and ears of spectators over the years. Their unique three-part harmonies are their signature talent and what they’re most known for. Says Kyle, “Some people who have heard us play, even fans in Europe, compared us to Queen because of our three-part harmonies. It’s pretty crazy!” 

And when it comes to showing off their talent onstage, Kyle says, “We’re a high-energy band onstage. Our motto is to ‘break a sweat and play to the best of our ability, give everything we got from the heart.’ We’re kind of a jam band, so during our live shows, we improvise a lot. Improvisation is one of the most creative ways to be… if you listen to Sun Ra or Thelonious Monk, they’re breaking every rule in the book and they are held in high regard!” 

The band has already toured the nation with established bands like Charles Bradley, Taj Mahal, Moe, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Blues Traveler, Robert Randolph, Leftover Salmon, Trombone Shorty, The Marcus King Band, Dr. John, and many more. Their most recent album Let the World Decide dropped last December, and now they are embarking on a massive national tour in support of it. Among the Colorado gigs they have lined up, some of them are Denver’s Cervantes Other Side on July 12th, The Lazy Dog in Boulder (which is a free show!) on July 13th, and Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins on July 17th. 

Keep up with Travers Brothership here.

-Mirna

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

COIN Making Debut Red Rocks Amphitheater Set Wednesday, June 12th

By: Elena Marti

 While they may be supporting Young the Giant and Fitz and The Tantrums on their 2019 North American Tour, COIN are no strangers to the spotlight, having made appearances at Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits in recent years. They’re familiar with the Colorado altitude as well, having just headlined the Gothic Theatre in Englewood in March 2018.

COIN.

COIN.

While it may appear easy to write COIN off as another cookie cutter pop group at first, the trio are incredibly good at writing songs that allow you to relate and feel understood. COIN’s third studio album is said to be released later this year, but the three-piece have already released four singles from the album including: “Growing Pains,” “Simple Romance,” “Cemetery” and “I Want it All.”

“Growing Pains” deals with the uncomfortable part of falling in love we all wish we could ignore, or at least fast-track through: when you have to put up this front, trying to be the coolest version of yourself, and overall, just desperately trying not to screw everything up. “Cemetery” confronts the dangers of spending your life focusing on money above all else with lines like, “never had time for a family/but he is the richest man in the cemetery.” The dark undertone of the lyrics is counterbalanced by the exuberant beat on this tune. For COIN fans, singles like these have listeners excited for the band’s new record.

Fortunately for you, COIN are headed back our way! On Friday, June 12th, head out early to catch COIN’s debut Red Rocks set, which will surely draw you in and keep you hooked. It’ll only take one listen for you to be singing this band in your head for the rest of the night! Get tickets while they last here and keep up with COIN at this link

-Elena

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

Dynohunter Ending Their Spring Tour at Cervantes' with New Music

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Live tech-house music is not a frequent occurrence, even if you find yourself attending a lot of music festivals. However, if you are one of the festival goers who really enjoys electronic music, then live tech is what you ought to seek out if you haven’t already! What I’m getting at here festheads is Dynohunter, a live tech-house act you might have seen perform at music festivals across the country including Electric Forest, Summercamp, Joshua Tree, Sonic Bloom, Arise and others. They've opened for some of the biggest names in livetronica including Papadosio, Eoto, Opiuo, Sunsquabi, Ott, and The New Deal, and supported world renowned DJs Shpongle, Bonobo, Infected Mushroom, Klingande, and The M Machine. The trio has been on a six-week nationwide tour as of late, and they’re closing it out on May 22nd by headlining Denver’s homegrown music event Re:Search Wednesdays at Cervantes’ Other Side.To add to the shenanigans, the event will also feature Casual Commander (Sunsquabi), Aaron Bordas (Late Set), Mikey Thunder and Jordan Polovina. Needless to say, if you’re a tech-house fan, this will be one for the books!

Dynohunter.

Dynohunter.

It’s an added bonus if you like to dance fellow festi lover, because a live Dynohunter show is a sure way to be moved. With a sound embraced by fans of house and techno, and a live performance fueled by the organic energy of live instrumentation, their music is undeniable on the dance floor. Trust me, I’ve seen a few myself. The group’s sound is dark and tribal, peppered with worldly rhythms and deep hypnotic grooves tastefully mixed in with hard-hitting dance tracks, uplifting melodies, and soulful improvisations. This trio is truly a breath of fresh air to the world of electronic dance music. The band’s creative ways of blending deep electronic influences with live saxophone (Clark Smith), bass (Fred Reisen), and drums (Nic Thornsberry) forges a new path in the vast expanse of electronic music.

Dynohunter has released 12 EPs and three full-length records in the past four years with no sign of slowing down. Their newest releases “Third Rock from the Sun,” “Lyra” with Eli Spiral, and “Ectoplasm” have been running hot during their current tour. They’re also keeping it fresh with a single, “Night Tripper”, due for release on May 31st which you may just get to hear early if you stop by their Cervantes’ set. Come and get your electro fix on Wednesday, May 22nd and experience Dynohunter for yourself! It’s bound to be a non-stop tech-house dance party. See you on the dance floor!

-Mirna

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

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: LiteLvl's New Music Video Is an Ambisonic Audio & 360-Degree Visual Experience

LiteLvL released their debut single “Boost Your Immunity While You Sleep/Inspire Photosynthesis In Plants” last week. The duo, comprised of Katey Sleeveless (Eros & the Eschaton) and Jay Marz (King Eddie), are self-described as “installation soundscore.” Today, we’re proud to premiere their debut music video for the track:

“Boost Your Immunity While You Sleep/Inspire Photosynthesis In Plants” was mixed with ambisonic audio, which means just like the video itself, the sound is also three-dimensional. Filmed at Moon Magnet Studios, the video features LiteLvl members Katey Sleeveless and Jay Marz, Andy Ai & Kevin Netz on visuals/projections, and dancers Kailani Dobso & Holly Seidcheck. Videographer Ben Tyson of DenVR is behind the entrancing, psychedelic video experience.

LiteLvl. Photo Credit:   Julianna Photography

LiteLvl. Photo Credit: Julianna Photography

“As you move, you'll hear different things. When you look at one guitar amp, you'll hear more of it. When you turn around, it'll feel like that amp is now behind you, and you hear the second amp in front of you louder.” frontman Jay Marz said of the trippy, mylar-fueled experience.

The band play FoCoMX - Fort Collins Music eXperiment this Saturday, April 27th at 4PM at Art Lab Fort Collins.

Keep up with LiteLvL here.

I Prevail Bringing 'Trauma' on Tour This Spring & Summer, Including a Red Rocks Amphitheatre Set

By: Nathan Sheppard

I Prevail recently released their newest album Trauma, which is the band's first album in three years. This highly anticipated record offers fans a look at what their genre has to offer in the future, while also giving us the classic I Prevail that we fans have come to love.

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The first track of the album is “Bow Down,” and was the first single released. This track gives us everything that we know the band is great at: the back and forth between Brian Burkheiser’s clean, smooth vocals and Eric Vanlerberghe’s harsher tones, a melodic chorus, and heavy breakdowns. This song is a clear indication that I Prevail still know how to make the jams they’re known for. They also produced one of their heaviest songs to date on this record with “Gasoline,” a tune that showcases Eric’s screaming abilities.

In “Paranoid,” we get a very different track which shows us a possible direction the band could evolve into. They experiment with different genres by incorporating bits of electronic, hip-hop, and alternative elements into this song. This is seen heavily throughout Trauma and is on par with the trend in rock music today to try and appeal to a wider variety of fans. While I Prevail are trying to expand their musicianship, they still stay true to their roots by not overwhelming you with the electronics; you can still tell there are heavy instrumentals in each track.

I Prevail gained a major following with some of their softer rock ballads like “Alone” and “My Heart I Surrender,” and with Trauma we get two of new awesome ballads. The first is “Every Time You Leave” featuring Delaney Jane and the second is the last track on the album “I Don’t Belong Here.” Both of these songs are definitely tunes that you will be turning the volume up to and singing along.

Overall Trauma takes us to an updated version of I Prevail. The album is very well produced and has a much cleaner sound to it than previous ones. While a good chunk of the rock scene is going towards a more mainstream pop style, I Prevail is able to add elements of that without losing who they are as a band. They experiment with newer sounds in a way that is easier to digest compared to changing their sound all together. Trauma is an album you want to listen to all the way through, whether you’re an old fan or new.

I Prevail will being taking their brand new album on tour this spring/summer with Issues and Justin Stone. Their tour starts at the end of April and hits Colorado when the band will make their way to Red Rocks Amphitheatre on May 13th for KBPI’s annual birthday bash. Tickets and dates can be found here.

-Nathan

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

Modern Suspects Release New Music Video for "Desufnoc"

By: Julia Talen

On April 1st, Denver band Modern Suspects released a music video for their latest single “Desufnoc.” Filmed entirely on an iPhone X, guitarist Bart William’s visualized the inspiration behind the film, while frontman Garret Myers wrote the song, galvanized out of a devastating tragedy in which a close friend of his died in a plane crash.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, “Desufnoc,” is confused spelled backwards, and the single and video grip viewers as the group explores the absurdities and the inexplicable aspects of life through visual and audio media.

The video opens with an old Volvo pulling out of a garage on a dry, sunny day. There is music in the background and the viewer thinks that the song is beginning, but the camera hones in the the Volvo’s driver- a woman in a leopard coat with blue hair- listening to what’s on the radio. Anticipation builds as she pulls into a parking garage and we wonder where she is going, but before we can find out, she walks past a series of framed pictures hung on a wall and the camera zooms in to one of the frames, taking the viewer into another realm of the film as the song begins.

As the music flows, the camera continues to hone in on other picture frames, glasses, or mirrors and we melt into new scenes. This movement between different corners of life through pictures and frames elevates lyrics such as, “I’m confused/I’m confused/I feel so confused/Don’t know which way to go.” Viewers become disoriented much like the aftermath of a tragic and sudden loss. The symbolism of moving through frames also makes the audience consider memory and time, and how these play out in the stories that make up our lives and the lives of others.

Modern Suspects.

Modern Suspects.

As the film progresses, the viewer progresses through scenes that are perhaps touchstones of Myers’ personal experience: there is a scene in a body of water, a cemetary, a church. The film ends with a man running toward a house, jumping through a window into a scene evocative of the beginning of the video. The leopard-coated lady listening to Modern Suspects through headphones then walks past another series of frames hung on a wall as the story closes.

Overall, the video sets out to “confuse” viewers, reflecting on events, scenes, stories, and tragedies that take place each day of our own lives and can easily feel disconnected and absurd.

It’s no doubt that Modern Suspects’ visual and musical talent shine in this dreamy pop tune, beautifully accompanied by a thought-provoking video project which brings viewer closer to the lyrics of the track.

Keep up with Modern Suspects 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.

More Than 20 Years Later, The Acid Mothers Temple Continues to Carry On Their Free-Spirited Way of Life

By: Adam Cabrera

Though perhaps far past their prime, The Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. continues to carry on their free-spirited way of life pertinent to the beatnik soul collective that the group helped found over two decades ago.

The Japanese psychedelic/noise band, who have played a significant role in the psych revival of the past two decades, performed at the Larimer Lounge on Monday night. Though I had the feeling that the band may have lost some of its muster since their heyday in the ‘90s, their bohemian personality and genuine passion for live performance made for a unique show experience.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan opened for the headlining act, a five-piece psych/metal band whose diabolic guitar meddling, dark organ sounds, and powerful vocals effortlessly captured the attention of the crowd and got them moving. Faces painted and wearing decorative costumes which resembled traditional Japanese attire, their performance had a theatrical and often menacing tone as if the music was tapping into some ancient oriental mysticism. But the strange and experimental attitude of the band was only the tip of the iceberg compared to the following act.

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The Acid Mothers group is just a small part of the larger collective led by founding band member Kawabata Makoto. “A group of social dropouts of every description – musicians, dancers, artists, farmers, channellers, ex-yakuza, mermaid researchers and professional vagrants” as the band describes it. So, as the group began to gather themselves onstage to set up their equipment, it was clear each member jived with the nonconformist mantra of the collective.

Kawabata, with a head of long unkempt hair and casually touting a pair of paisley bell bottoms, oddly unpacked his gear out of a grocery basket showing perhaps how he never felt the need to buy cases for his equipment. Likewise, the band’s vocalist, Mitsuko Tabata adorned themselves with a purple cape and orange wig while Higashi Hiroshi played synthesizer; not touching a single key throughout his performance. It seemed he much preferred the alien-like whirring of the machines pitch generator.

Drummer Satoshima Nani humorously came dressed in runners shorts and a loose workout shirt. During the show he pounded relentlessly behind the kit; so much so that he broke his sticks halfway through the set and by the end of the night, he was drenched head to toe in sweat, which explained the runner’s getup.

Together the band was a curious group of misfits who in every action displayed just what the AMT collectives motto states, “Do Whatever You Want, Don’t Do Whatever You Don’t Want!” In their largely improvised set they similarly denied any of the usual trappings of traditional rock performances. And in winding psychedelic jams, they would regularly devolve into ear-splitting noise freakouts or relax comfortably into tranquil sonic meditations.

However, despite the youthful energy of the music at certain points during the evening, the oldest members of the group did show their age. Kawabata often would lean against the wall providing relief from standing for so long. And on one occasion, amid Higashi’s long white hair, you could see him wince as he rubbed his sore back. They may have been long past their prime, but their performance surely was one of the most energizing I’ve seen in recent months.

Before the show, I spotted Kawabata hard at work on his computer, most likely plugging away at the multiple AMT projects he is apart of, and as soon as the show ended the band ran to the front of the club to run their merch table. It’s plain to see that nearly 24 years after their start in 1995, they remain true to their carefree and untroubled beginnings with the AMT soul collective as the band continues to tour the U.S. independently. Over the next few months, be sure to catch them live as they make their way across the country as part of their 2019 North American tour.

Keep up with The Acid Mothers Temple here.

-Adam

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

FreeMusicForFreePeople Is Throwing an Immersive Event at Denver's Mercury Cafe This Weekend

This Saturday April 13th at Denver’s Mercury Cafe is the FreeMusicForFreePeople (FM4FP) Showcase “Live from the Multi-Verse,” an interactive multi-art experience to celebrate community. FM4FP is a community and media organization that has been serving the Denver area since 2013 who formerly held a residency at Gypsy House Cafe. This year’s event is thrilled to have a home at Mercury.

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With an emphasis on synesthesia, the FM4FP Showcase will focus on an immersive theatrical storyline to engage and entertain the audience with music, circus art, dance, visual art and poetry.   The event is in partnership with Youth on Record’s FEMpowered program and participants have been offered an event internship opportunity at the showcase so they can develop their performance and event planning skills.

Starting at 7PM, the night will feature performances by Lady Gang, Reed Fox, Definitely Maybe, Twin Flame Medicine, Random Temple, Smiley Gatmouth, Sunflower duBois, Circus Performers (Dani Rose and Katie Nadal), Abby Moon & Crescent Dance Project, Nimbus, Bun Bun and FEMpowered Interns. MO SPKX, “2017 Westword MasterMind” and “2018 Westword Best Solo Rapper” will emcee the evening.

Find more information on FM4FP and their mission click here; learn more about Saturday’s event at this link.  

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

LA's Balto Making Two Stops in Colorado This Week

By: Mirna Tufekcic

Balto is a brave Americana-rock band hailing from the City of Angels who will grace us with their presence right here in our own Denver, Colorado this week. They are playing in Loveland at 5030 Local this Friday, April 12th, and then coming to Denver on Saturday, April 13th to play at the Black Buzzard. Oskar Blues’ Denver bar is the perfect setting for this band, and for you to go enjoy local brews while lubricating your ears with the boozy, swaggering style of American music rooted at the intersection of Motown, Big Star, Plastic Ono Band-era Lennon, and Jackson Browne. When you’re listening to Balto’s music, it paints an open-road landscape of nostalgia. Basically, they make you feel like a character from one of Jack Kerouac's novels.  

Balto.

Balto.

And these guys are going places. They’re already on their way, actually. Balto’s newly released single “Black Snake, Mojave Blues was featured in Rolling Stone’s 10 New Americana and Country Songs. They have over 3 million listeners on Spotify, and have supported nationally touring bands including The Revivalists, Blind Pilot, David Nail, and Current Swell.

Balto is also on the “Top 20 Sessions”of 2018’s Jam in the Van. You can check out their video above, or watch their new live video from BalconyTV. Make sure to catch their Colorado shows this week and keep up with Balto here.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist 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.

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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.

Premiere: Denver's Boot Gun Debuts with a Bang with Two Singles & a New Music Video

Denver’s Boot Gun have entered the Colorado music scene with a serious bang. Today, the three-piece are releasing their debut single and video for “Virginia,” a high-energy rock’n’roll track with a Southern twang, and a rebellious video featuring a slew of Denver haunts to match. And folks, one thing’s for sure, the trio comprised of Keith Lawrence (guitar/vocals), Davie Landry (bass/vocals), and Cody Hart (drums), have brought the party.

“Virginia” was recorded and mixed by Todd Divel (The Yawpers, In The Whale, The Velveteers) of Silo Sound and mastered by Hans Liburd of Burdhouse Mastering. The video was directed and filmed by Colin Anders of Slice Cinematics (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, A Shadow of a Jaguar, Dragondeer). Boot Gun also featured several friends on the track’s instrumentals including Bullfrog Baugh on harmonica, who makes an appearance in the video about 40 seconds in, Sam Janik on guitar, and Bill McKay on organ and piano.

Says frontman Keith Lawrence about the track, "Virginia came to me in multiple dreams last summer. I showed the boys the main riff and they said ‘Sounds great. Where's the rest of the song?' I told 'em I had to go back to sleep to hear [and] see the rest of it. A few months and a couple of disco naps later, we had us a rock’n’roll ripper."

A ripper it is indeed. “Virginia” is a boot-stompin’ tune rife with slashing rips, harmonica twang, and a jangly toe-tappin’ keys solo that will force you on your feet. Some of that energy didn’t enter the track until the boys rounded things out in the studio though.

Says Keith, “As a band, we all believe that a song isn't finished being written until we record it. Todd at Silo pushed for certain creative ideas that we were able to let shine on these tracks. Having Bill McKay sit in on keys helped round out the sound and bring our musical intention into fruition."

Boot Gun. Photo Credit:  Mountain Trout Photography

Boot Gun. Photo Credit: Mountain Trout Photography

Along with “Virginia” and their debut music video, Boot Gun also released their B side “Feels Like A Storm” today. While “Virginia” takes you on a wild ride, quite literally in the video, “Feels Like A Storm” is the moodier, heavy-hitting track from the trio.

Says Davie, “‘Storm’ is a song that we wrote collectively. It started with Keith singing but never felt completely right. So we argued and laughed, and laughed and argued, and I was forced to sing it… In the end, it became the beast that you're listening to today."

You can listen to “Virginia” and “Feels Like A Storm” on all major streaming platforms and catch Boot Gun live at Cervantes with Dave Watts & Friends on Friday, April 12th.

Says Davie on Boot Gun’s debut, “It’s a young band's take on all the rock’n'roll we love and grew up on. We go from A to Z, then back to A just make sure you're still with us."

Join that trip and keep up with Boot Gun here.

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.

Premiere: Elektric Animals' "Vulnerable Thing" Digs Deep

By: Sam Piscitelli

There’s always been some sort of heaviness that accompanies the Rock genre; a pressure to make as much noise as possible. The tricky part is keeping the music grounded in the roots of its composition and lyrics. A lot of the time, the story of the song can become muddled in the making of it and what the band itself is trying to convey. Luckily, for Elektric Animals their song “Vulnerable Thing” not only deserves recognition, but shines a light on the future of what alternative rock can be, if only fought for with a little persistence and love for the craft. The Denver trio, comprised of Nick Sanders (vocals), Oscar Jara (guitar), and Jerrid Van Scoy (bass) recently formed and today, we’re proud to premiere their newest single:

“Vulnerable Thing” digs deep into the message that in life, you have a tendency to carry the past into the present. It can be both a force of positivity, or of negativity. Whether it’s the scars you’ve endured or the happiness you wish to see fulfilled, life can either make you or break the person you are destined to become. Elektric Animals decided to pour their souls about this aspect of life into this track. This band is fearless, yet honest, which reminds us that music is a treasure, not just a glimmer you can shove on a shelf somewhere.

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The music industry at times seems to settle for uninspired music; music that only garners in split seconds of attention. Elektric Animals seem to be the opposite, creating music that involves fleeting moments and engraving them more permanently inside our heads. Not many bands or artists can take fleeting moments and engrave them like this, but this is a band who does so knowing that the only attention they crave is from the real stories they lead.

Keep up with Elektric Animals here.

-Sam

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

Attila & All That Remains Brought Heavy Hits & a Wall of Death to Recent Denver Show

By: Nathan Sheppard

All That Remains and Attila hit the stage at the Oriental Theatre this past week for a night that every metalhead could appreciate. Sleep Signals and Escape the Fate opened things up for the co-headliners.

Attila, who released their newest album Villian in February, took the show to the next level with their party animal antics. Those antics led to a love-hate relationship with most people, but for those who love them, Attila puts on one of the best live performances of any band in their sphere. From start to finish, frontman Chris Fronzak had the crowd moshing and and even threw in a “wall of death” just for kicks. The set was filled with mostly favorites like “Moshpit” and “Pizza” with some new songs from their latest album as well.

All That Remains was the second headliner of the night and continued the mosh party right where it left off. ATR released their ninth studio album Victim of the New Disease this past November which has been a welcome return to their roots as a heavy metalcore band. The first quarter of their set was heavy, with newer songs from New Disease, followed with a medley of older hits. Vocalist Phil Labonte was able to show off a wide vocal range from high screams to low growls, and even showcased his clean vocals in “What if I Was Nothing?”. They topped off the night with their smash hit single “Two Weeks”, leaving everyone exhausted from moshing and jumping throughout the set.

Attila and All That Remains are about halfway through their American co-headlining tour, so make sure you make it out to one of these insane shows! Remaining dates can be found here.

-Nathan

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