Monday, March 1, 2010

Hekyll N' Jive, Big Black Sky

Posted By on March 1, 2010, 3:30 AM

Just out of curiosity, how many of you out there have been to the Woodshed recently since it undertook new ownership? Raise of hands, anyone? Because let me tell you something... its a real comfort now knowing who and when is playing at the venue. And check this out this new improvement... PEOPLE!

--- This past Friday I made my way out to the venue for a night of music. The monitors before hand were covering the Olympics, which we got to see the brutal Slovakians barely loose to team Canada. Two bands took stage that night, first up the newly formed Hekyll N' Jive, followed up rock band Big Black Sky. I chatted with both groups and took pictures of the night for your still-framed enjoyment.

Hekyll N' Jive (Goose Godoy, Niel Olsen, Marshall Jones & Richard Serino)

http://hekyllnjive.com

***For this interview, Hekyll N' Jive chose to answer as a group***

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

HNJ: We are new to the Utah, new to the music scene, new to each other, ready to find out what SLC is all about.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

HNJ:
We all became attached to the rhythms and melodies and the attraction of inspiration from other aspiring musicians at young ages: Influences include Los Lobos, festival percussion ensembles of Central Mexico, middle 90's house and funky, early 80's eccentric radio, along with the greats like Hendrix, SRV, Marvin Gaye, Parliament Funkadelic, Coltrane, A.I.C., Punk and Metal.

Gavin:
How did you all get together to form the group?

HNJ:
The magic of the internet dating sites, looking for musical soul mates.

Gavin: What's it been like for all of you going from meeting over the internet to forming a band overnight?

HNJ:
Marshall was cleaning his room and then Wham Bamm. . . .FUCKIN' & SHIT. . . Boom! Music Magnetic.

Gavin: Considering the location, does it feel strange forming a group here with none of you originally being from here?

HNJ:
Well each of us have a certain degree of connection with the Valley, but it hasn't been till the band came together that we've really been able delve into the culture and counter culture that has been here waiting.

Gavin: I was told you were working on a demo album at the moment. How is that project coming along?

HNJ:
Well you can check it out for yourself on our website.

Gavin:
Are there any major plans in the works for the band after your finished with it, or just experimenting as a group for now?

HNJ:
We have all made it pretty clear to each other that we are all 100% committed, want to do this professionally, and want to make this as big as we can make it with as many people as we can make it with.

Gavin: A bit state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

HNJ:
As far as the scene this is really the first time any of us have really gotten involved. We've noticed like any city there are clicks and a maincity genres, but we also found that with a little searching there is a real tight knit community and the willingness to groove on the differences we have, musical and personally.

Gavin:
Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

HNJ:
There are a lot of good bands and a lot of really great venues, it would be great to see this place get together and really become a viable community. Music is not just a one band phenomenon, it takes many bands, many people, to really make a movement; which SLC has the potential.

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

HNJ:
Vinyl Williams, Afro Omega, Spooky DeVille, Swanky 5, Dulce Sky.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

HNJ:
There is no other radio that does more for the community than KRCL.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

HNJ:
The War on Piracy is like the War on Drugs. It's BS, and never going away. We're all guilty of instant gratification, and the internet is a great way to discover new connections, new sounds, but if you really love and appreciate what you hear then you should understand how much blood n love goes into making that music and you should respect.

Gavin:
What can we expect from you guys over the rest of the year?

HNJ:
More... and... More!

Gavin:
Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

HNJ:
Our friends, our fans up and coming, the website, view and vote we're looking for feedback on our tunes and how to spread the grooves!


Big Black Sky (Matt Costello, John Bucher, Jesse Morris, Chris Cambron)

http://bigblacksky.com/

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Jesse: From all over, started out in Washington state and ended up spending a lot of years in the southeast.

Chris: Born and raised on the Jersey Shore. Came to Utah in 2004 by way of Boston, Denver, Minnesota, Indiana and Southern Colorado. Got lost in the desert/mountains for a couple years and emerged to go to grad school at the U - it's not the desert but it'll do.

Matt: Born and raised in the UC. Took piano lessons, like most Mormons in Utah County until 9th grade. Bought my first drum kit a year before leaving for an LDS mission and have been playing off and on since then. Mostly on the past four years.

John: Born and raised in upstate NY. Moved to the coast of North Carolina before moving to Utah four years ago.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Chris: Led Zepplin and the Beach Boys - that about sums it up.

Jesse: Most of my musical influence comes from my family, most all musicians and have all gigged, recorded and done the whole deal. I have a brother and two cousins that have been very successful. My dad has influenced me the most – he is an excellent slide guitar player, ala Lowell George or Duane Allman. One of my first gigs was playing upright bass in a bluegrass band of his. My grandfather played on the Grand Ole Opry – he gave me my first real instrument, followed by another from my dad and then another from my uncle. So by the time I turned 18 I had all of these instruments and well, college didn’t really seem like much of an option back then. But for records you know, as a teenager I was huge into Tom Petty, John Prine, Muddy Waters, Morphine, the Beatles later got into Dylan, Townes Van Zant, Guy Clark and Tom Waits. I saw a lot of Phish shows in the 1990s, which sets the bar in my mind for what a live music experience ought to be like.

Matt: My father would play his old 45's of BB King, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Eddy Arnold, Three Dog Night, Dodie Grey. Also, I had a good buddy in junior high who was into the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode... you know, the good shit. Also, because of the Irish origins of my surname I really got into U2. Also, I had a drum teacher who introduced me to jazz: Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus. And before I forget to mention him, Jimi Hendrix may very well be my favorite. I don't get tired of listening to him.

John: I started out playing trumpet and tuba in my elementary school band. I picked up the guitar in college and started playing bass a few years back. I was a huge Dylan fan since an early age. The Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers were also big musical influences of mine growing up.

Gavin: How did you all get together to form Big Black Sky?

Matt: I was introduced to Jesse through my older sister who has been friends with his new wife (the introduction being four years ago) for about fifteen years. The other fellas I met through Jesse.

Chris: I responded to a Craigslist ad talking about "country rawk." Turned out my roommate was Jesse's dogsitter. Bizarre.

Jesse: I played in several bands after moving to Utah and finally (and fortunately) met up with Matt and we started jamming. I was switching between bass and guitar depending on who was coming over to jam. Eventually we met up with Chris, but then he moved to Moab for awhile. Then John came along and started playing bass and I switched over to guitar full-time and Chris came back and now here we are.

John: I moved to Utah without knowing anyone, so the first thing I did was seek out guys to play music with. I played in a bluegrass band for a few years. When that fell through, I started looking again and found Jesse.

Gavin: All of you came from different acts with different sounds. How was it early on fitting all those styles together and perfecting your sound?

Matt: First, I had to learn to not be completely forth coming with my feelings about Phish and the Grateful Dead. Secondly, Jesse had to make clear how much he hates heavy metal and John couldn't hide his disdain for classic honky tonk.

Chris: We gave it the ol' college try and used a lot of lube.

Jesse: Those are a difficult comments to follow up. I don’t hate all heavy metal - just the stuff that tries too hard to sound like heavy metal. Metal is one of those things you have to feel and there are a number of people that get involved in the metal scene first because of the image. Anyway, after our album came out and we started playing gigs I was able to let go of a lot of those songs on the album. I feel like we have just now started to dial in our sound. But it took the trial and error approach of putting that album out, warts and all, to get to something that is really exciting and fresh – which is where I feel like we are right now.

John: Fitting our styles together wasn't hard at all. We all brought our skills and backgrounds to the table and found something that is a combination of everything we like. Our "sound" is also far from being perfected. We are always looking for ways to make our shows more fun for the audience and for us. Lately we have been trying to include a wide range of styles into our set. It keeps things from getting boring.

Gavin: Seeing how the band is made up of people from three different locations, why did you choose Utah as the hometown?

Jesse: Actually I think it is four locations. Chris being from Jersey, John is from New York, Matt is from Utah and I am originally from Washington state but spent most of my life in the southeast. I didn’t anticipate ever heading to Utah honestly.

Chris: If you had told me that I would still be living in Utah five years ago, I would have laughed heartily. Perhaps it's the delightful socio-political climate that really warms my heart and has made me stay.

Matt: Who wouldn't want to spend their entire life living in Utah? Beautiful natural wonders all around. The girls are hot and eager to get in your pants until things get serious and then they want you to go back to church. Sorry. Getting a little off track there. Obviously I've had recent bad experience with the latter.

John: Donny and Marie. Enough said.

Gavin: Late last year you recorded the full-length album Inside Passage. What was the recording process like for you, and what issues did you come across while doing it?

Jesse: It was positive for the most part. Matt and John just nailed it as a rhythm section. We worked with a great engineer and the mastering studio was top notch. We learned a lot and I believe the next recording we are doing will benefit tremendously from our experiences with Inside Passage.

Matt: Recording is fun. My issues were mostly dealing with meter.

Chris: I'm actually not on the record so it was smooth sailing for me.

Jesse: He should have been though. Chris played with us in the beginning stages of the band then moved down to Moab. Fortunately he is back and we are glad for it. He is definitely on the next record and having him back adds so much depth to our sound.

John: Recording was a good experience. It's one thing to play live and forget how you played. Making an album forces you to focus on every note.

Gavin: What do you think of the public reaction to it since its release?

Jesse: Hmmm. Mostly I think anyone that listens to it gets the impression that we are looking for a sound or style we can really sink our teeth into. And we have done that since recording this album. In listening back to it, there are quite a few different styles and approaches. The next record will definitely be more consistent, at least stylistically. I have had a lot of positive reactions to the record, and no I am not related to all of them.

Matt: I think it is going to be a big hit with kids between the age of 4 and 8.

Chris: I do love me some Rod Stewart.

Jesse: Ha! The SLUG review sticks out in terms of public reaction. I don’t think they really listened to the album – maybe they read our bio and based the record review on that. But open SLUG to any given issue and read the local record reviews and it makes me wonder why anyone sends their material there in the first place. My favorite was the review where they described some band as "Nickleback with Vaginas." We got compared to Rod Stewart by a guy who signed the review as Woodcock Johnson. At least they picked up on our voracious heterosexuality.

John: My mom loves it.

Gavin: Are there any plans in the works for a tour or just playing around town for now?

Matt: I'm not good with logistics, so probably local or perhaps regional stuff.

Jesse: We have been making the usual rounds though Ogden, Bountiful, Park City, Provo and Salt Lake. We have opened some doors with heading to Denver, Boise and St. George/Las Vegas, which we are planning for the summer.

Gavin: A bit state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Chris: There's a local music scene?

Jesse: Yeah. Coming from the east coast, it is definitely more insular here. There are a lot of talented people here but I think it needs more of a community vibe, amongst both the players and the patrons.

Matt: The Red Bennies have always been a local favorite. To be honest, I don't get out to see local stuff much. I have been exposed to the Provo scene quite a bit lately and there is some good stuff coming out of Happy Valley. It seems like there has always been good stuff coming out of Utah County. It never gets exposure though. I am bored by the Band Of Annuals, but they may find my country sensibilities corny and archaic. I love the old shit!

John: I think the local music scene is hindered by the lack of good music venues in Utah. Very few club owners are committed to staging quality music on a regular basis. There are a lot of dive bars that host music, and big venues like Energy Solutions Arena and the E Center, but not much in between.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Jesse: The easy target is the weirdness with the bar/club scene and alcohol laws. But I have spent a lot of time in the southeast, and Utah is not the only state with bizarre, inconvenient liquor laws, despite what most people here think. I played a lot of bars in South Carolina during the late-1990s and all liquor drinks were made with those plastic airplane mini-bottles. And the liquor couldn’t be served at the same bar as the beer was being sold at, so each club had a liquor bar and a beer bar in the same building. But the clubs were always packed and you always got paid well as a musician. So I don’t think weird alcohol laws are the root of the problem here.

Chris: My take on it is, that despite the size of this city, a lot of people just don’t go out to clubs, either because of religious reasons or because they perceive clubs being places where un-outdoorsy people hang out. And there is generally apathy towards original, local music in Salt Lake. Having lived and played in towns like Atlanta and Athens, GA and Asheville, NC where bands like Widespread Panic, R.E.M., STS9, John Mayer and the Avett Brothers hail from, there is a sense of pride amongst the local folks about supporting the local artists and seeing them succeed nationally. Supporting live and local music is just another form of being a good community-oriented citizen in other parts of this country.

Matt: It seems like musicians have this attitude of gladiators. Everyone is competing. I think it would help to have a more open, sharing type attitude with other musicians/bands. Let's help promote each other. I like to see disparate styles share the same bill.

John: I agree with the competitiveness of the local music scene and the public view towards clubs. Ironically, there's not much to compete for, yet the pressure is higher for bands in SLC. In NY, bands helped each other out more. Musicians here put up with a lot more crap than other places also. People are more willing to pay to play or volunteer their time because that's what has become the norm.

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Chris: Mary Leaky and the Dick Chainey's, Red Rock Hot Club.

Jesse: Like Chris, I am a big fan of Rich Daigle and the Red Rock Hot Club. Incredible guitarist. I honestly enjoy a well-written song more than anything else - John Davis of Flash Cabbage writes great songs.

Matt: Brad Wheeler plays a lot of Tolchok Trio on KRCL. I have never seen them play live but I like what I've heard.

John: Wisebird and Stonefed are the two Utah bands that stick out in my mind.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

Matt: I like the eclectisism: The Dirty Blvrd., Rev. Wheeler's show, Foregash and Cody, the reggae... I would like to hear a more country oriented show. I don't think country is represented well on KRCL. I like how most of the DJ's will play cuts from local recordings. I could stand to here a little more.

Chris: KRCL = Good!

Jesse: Dig KRCL – I listen to Ebay and Brad quite a bit. A fair amount of the music I buy is something I have been exposed to on KRCL. Portia’s show on UtahFM is definitely worth checking out, especially for local stuff. It would be nice to hear her local show via a more accessible medium like a morning or afternoon local’s hour on KRCL. Good radio in the car can’t be taken for granted.

John: Honestly, since getting Sirius, I haven't listened to one minute of local radio.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Chris: Can I take the 5th on this one?

Jesse: It can be a great thing if you release your stuff for free in a strategic way – which is probably the only way to do it. It will end up be free sooner or later anyway. So if you can use it to get yourself some hype then you are probably on the right track to bigger and better things. Personally speaking, to borrow from The Dude, I still do it manually with a bit of a vinyl fetish.

Matt: I've never had any delusions of making any money at this. I understand it is how many make their living... I don't know what the solution is. Merchandizing?

John: I think file sharing is great for both bands and music fans alike. The Grateful Dead pioneered modern-day file sharing by allowing their shows to be taped and traded. Their philosophy was that once they played a note, it no longer belonged to them. The best thing a band like us can do is have our music be heard. We give away our album for free, which I guess is like files haring. If people like what they hear, they will tell their friends and come see us live. That's what it's all about.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of the year?

Matt: Hopefully a band that progressively sounds better and improves.

Jesse: We should have an EP out by summer, and I am anticipating some more recording later in the year. We are definitely on the look out for gigs and would like to get some exposure this summer at outdoor events if anyone has any suggestions, we are certainly open.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Jesse: We are playing Earth Jam in Pioneer Park the weekend of April 24-25. There are a lot of other great bands playing that weekend. There is a benefit show for the Earth Jam we are playing at which will be held at the 5th in Bountiful March 20. We are closing the show. Also, we are playing at ABGs in Provo March 27 for all you Happy Valley folks out there.

Chris: Democracy and Phronesis.

Matt: Tell my girlfriend Megan that I love her.

John: Tell Matt's girlfriend that I love her.

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