Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mouth Of A Lion, Victims Willing

Posted By on October 16, 2011, 11:59 PM

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The past few months of writing have been rather spotty on my part, mainly due to festival season getting in the way. --- A lot of the acts in town head out to play big 3-5 day concerts somewhere in the state, and trust me when I say it's already a marathon trying to do that with shows like the Arts Fest or New Year's Eve. But now that the festivals have died down and bands are returning to the clubs, shows are going to start picking up in the fall and winter.

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This time, we made our way to Burt's Tiki Lounge, where our old friends Bastard John opened up the show, followed by punk rockers Mouth Of A Lion and hard-rocking veterans Victims Willing. Today, we chat with the latter two and have pictures from Friday's show for you to check out here.



Mouth Of A Lion (Chuck, Ryan, Jeff & Jake)

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http://www.facebook.com/mouthofalion



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



Jeff: In a perpetual state of paying bills. Ready to promote a four-day work week for the U.S.

Ryan: Trying to learn the fine art of balance. If I'm not behind a computer, I'm out on my bike.

Jake: I recently got a dog and realized how much work it is and how a dog is a good healthy dose of birth control for me. Thanks, He-Man.

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



Jeff: I think I first got into punk a few years after I started skateboarding. I was attracted to the energy of it. I think the first punk album I bought was Bad Religion's Generator around '92. Yeah, back then it was NOFX, Pennywise and Bad Religion. What more did you need?



Jake: For me, I always loved to play music growing up. My parents bought me a drum set at a young age and I learned how to play it, jamming with my mom in the basement to bands like the Doors and Led Zeppelin. My influences growing up were NOFX, Bad Religion, Descendents, bands like that. Then, of course, your early Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music. Hell, I even liked early A.F.I. but don’t tell too many people.  A couple local bands that were in Cache Valley at the time were very influential. The Chubby Amigos was one that really got me excited to form a band and play live shows.



Ryan: My older brother is the one that got me interested in music. I think the first band that really made me want to play the guitar was The Police. I remember listening to Outlandos d'Amour and thinking it rocked.



Gavin: How did you all get together to form Mouth Of A Lion?



Jake: Well, we all kind of knew each other from Cache Valley back in the day where we all grew up, or at least in the vicinity,  We all used to play in bands and we crossed paths occasionally. Over a decent span of time a failed marriage, multiple other bands, three different states and a half-dozen crappy jobs later, everyone ended up in the great SLC and voila!  Mouth of a Lion was formed.



Jeff: Qtip and I were in Mike The Janitor and we would play shows together with Chuck's band Nickel Short and Jake's band. That was back in the late 90s. We have a lot of mutual friends, so after a few years of us all randomly ending up in SLC it just kinda fell together.



Ryan: Yup, that sounds about right.

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Gavin: What was it like for you four to come together and create a gritty punk sound?



Jake: For me, it was amazing, like the first time I  got laid. It came together so naturally and seamless. I have played in a lot of different bands over the years and now finally I am playing exactly what I truly love to play. When we started Mouth Of A Lion, it came together rather quickly and we have been continuing to grow as a band fast. I love it.



Jeff: It's really cool when things start clicking; we focus a lot on how our songs flow together, what's fitting, what's not. So it takes us a bit to turn something out.



Gavin: Being relatively new as a group, how has it been for you playing around the state and hearing the crowd reactions to you?



Jeff: So far, we are struggling to pull in much of a crowd. Yeah, it's not easy when you're new. We are just starting to get our name out there.



Ryan: It's been pretty slow going. We've been doing it more for the love of playing music than anything else. If cool things happen along the way, we'll take it.



Jake: Well, so far we have been getting a lot of positive feedback from everyone, but you are right -- we are new group and there is a shitload of ears out there that are virgins to the sounds of Mouth Of A Lion, so we will see what the future holds.

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Gavin: You've done some recordings with Andy Patterson a few months ago. What's the word on an official release?



Jeff: Andy Patterson RULES! We don't have an official date set. They are online at ReverbNation if you want to listen.



Ryan: Andy is awesome. He did a great job with the recording. Couldn't be happier with what we have at the moment. We need to figure out the next steps in doing an "album release" and get it out there.



Jake: Well, that’s still in debate so no official word yet, but I imagine it will be out before the end of the year. So stay tuned.



Gavin: Are there any plans of possibly touring out of state, or will you be sticking to home for now?



Jeff: So far, just trying to play locally, I know Jake would like to put some sort of tour together. We all have full-time jobs, so it's going to be a little difficult; hopefully, sometime in the near future.



Jake: I would love to tour in the future, but right now there is a lot we can do in our own backyard. There has been talk of a tour but nothing set in stone. At this point, we want to get the CD out first, and then we will focus on expanding our horizons.

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Gavin: Going statewide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?



Jeff: Love the local scene, but there's a LOT of bands and a lot of different genres. To me, sometimes, it seems a little fragmented. It takes a heavy hitter to bring everybody out. Which is great, when it happens.



Ryan: I'm always impressed by the amount of local talent. Some great bands and cool people in the local scene.



Jake: Considering the size and demographics of Utah, I think we have a great music scene here. Look at a the population of each state. I think Utah is 34th in this category right behind Kansas, Arkansas and Mississippi. What the hell is going on in those states? Here in the SLC area there is a band playing every night of the week and lots of genres to choose from and lots of legitimate talent as far as a national standpoint even goes.



Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?



Jeff: I think it would take some sort of "school of thought" music movement where everyone is backing and enjoying a certain style. like a "right time, right place" sort of thing.



Ryan: I think a consistently good venue would help. A place people get stoked to go out to.

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Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?



Jeff: Anybody with the balls to get up in front of people and play music!



Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?



Jeff: Local airplay seems pretty scarce here in SLC. I think we need a "locals-only day" once a week or something.

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Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and music lovers?



Jeff: I think it's great for the public. Not really sure how much it affects a band's income. I am happy that there are cheaper, and different, options to get music these days. I don't think music should be reserved just to the people who can afford it. Music should be for everybody.



Ryan: Times have changed and I think the music industry really needs to rethink its "money-making model." With that said, I think it's much harder for bands to make a living playing music these days. You have to really bust your balls and make things happen for yourself. I think for bands like us, file sharing is awesome. We aren't relying on the money from album sales so we can milk it for all it's worth.



Jake: As a music lover, what can you say? I have heard of all kinds of bands I never would have if it weren’t for file sharing. So yeah, I have liked it. The people who are mad about it are the ones who travel on their private jets and live in ridiculously large houses, and for everyone else it promotes the hell out their bands. I don’t really give a shit either way, I'll listen to music one way or another. I play music because I love it. It's not like I live way beyond my means and get pissed about not making money off of it, and now I can't gold plate my gold. If everyone stole our upcoming C,. I would be stoked they went to those extremes to have it. I heard somewhere that music was a gift from the gods, so fuck it -- don’t hide it, divide it.



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



Jake: More shows, more songs, more fans, and more of what we love to do.



Jeff: Trying to get the album out called Songs For The Pubelick. A bunch more local shows and more songs, more practicing. Quality Punk 'n' Roll Core!

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



Jeff: Yeah, come check us out if you get a chance!



Ryan: Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates and show listings.



Jake: You can find our newly recorded songs on ReverbNation and Facebook; you can also request a CD on our e-mail at mouthofalion@gmail.com.





Victims WIlling (Joe Jewkes, Kelley Evans, Brad Barker, Bob WIlson & Matt McYle)

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http://www.victimswilling.com/



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



Brad: I'm Brad. I am the vocalist for Victims Willing. I write all of our lyrics except for one song that Joe wrote. I have been involved in the punk scene since the late '70s. It is still my favorite genre of music and I assume it always will be. I am also an artist and graphic designer. Kelley Evans is our guitarist and  is a founding member of the band. Joe Jewkes is our bassist, and has been from the beginning. Bob Wilson is our drummer and newest member of Victims Willing. He's been in the band for going on a year now.



Matt: I'm Matt. I play guitar in the band. I will always be able to recall the exact date that I met Brad:  We were in the same photography class in college and started a conversation after seeing the first plane crash into the World Trade Center on television. In the weeks that followed, we really hit it off and found that we shared many similar interests in music, art and film. When Brad found out that I played guitar, he asked me if I wanted to join his current band at the time, Knowitall. I was really excited and we had a blast playing together. After Knowitall broke up and we graduated college, we got jobs and didn't get to hang out very often, so I jumped at the opportunity when he asked me if I wanted to join Victims Willing.

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



Brad: I have loved music since my father bought me a crystal radio kit when I was very young. I would lay awake at nights listening to it. I heard a lot of different eras of rock 'n' roll and pretty much liked all of it. Acts that actually influenced me and made me want to be a musician were Cheap Trick, KISS, Alice Cooper and Aerosmith. Later, Ramones and The Boomtown Rats would change my musical taste in a big way. From that point on, there was so much music that I loved I would be hard pressed to pick any one influence but Circle Jerks, Adolescents, X, Black Flag, Germs, Channel 3 and Fear were just a few of my staples.



Matt: My parents put me into piano lessons when I was a kid, but despite their efforts I never was very interested in music or learning to play an instrument until I discovered Nirvana. It changed my life and is the reason I ever picked up a guitar. I collected every studio album, single and bootleg I could get my hands on.



Gavin: As a band, Victims Willing has been around since 1980, having a good run in the underground music scene until the early '90s. What was the first run of the band like for each of you?



Brad: The first run was exciting and a hell of a lot of fun. It was also much more serious. We felt we had a message to get across. We had ideas of touring and putting out records. We wanted to make a name for ourselves. That also made it stressful in a lot of ways. There was really no money to be made in our band so touring and records were really more of a pipe dream than anything. When you have to have a shitty full-time job just to scrape by and five different personalities, it's really hard to make something like a tour happen. But still we were lucky to be a band at the time Raunch Records and the Speedway Cafe were doing tons of shows. We got to play with so many cool out of town bands. It was an amazing time. We had a pretty good following, as well, and made a lot of lifetime friends.

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Gavin: Reading articles from the time and newer ones, on reflection there doesn't seem to be a singular reason for the hiatus that led to the breakup. What were your feelings about the band at the time and what was the biggest reason you went on hiatus?



Brad: In my personal opinion, we were just burned out as a band. People, tastes and priorities change. We weren't really writing any new material that I thought was exciting. We had a chance at a cool European record deal that went sour. It was just a frustrating time. We took a small break with the idea of coming back together all fresh and with tons of ideas. It didn't work out that way. We came back to the same frustrating lack of inspiration that we had when we took the break. Derek (our drummer at the time) and myself decided to leave and start a new band. Kelley and Joe then went on to start their thing. Steve just kinda dropped off the radar completely.



Gavin: Between that time and the reunion, what other projects did everyone get into?



Brad: I did Hair Farm, Anger Overload, Knowitall and HasBeens.  All the other guys have been in their fair share of bands, as well. I think Joe has been in the most bands, though. I don't even know if he could remember and name them all.



Gavin: Brad, your brother Brent died back in late 2008 following a routine surgery. What was his passing like for you and what was it that jarred you to reunite the band?

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Brad: Well, it was, at the time, the worst thing I had ever experienced. Brent was not just my brother but my twin brother. We were pretty close and had experienced so much stuff together. It was very hard to lose him. I used to talk to him 10 times a day or better on the phone. His passing left a huge hole in my life. It was very shocking. Before he passed, we had had a falling out that lasted for many years. We had really just reconciled and were healing our relationship when this tragedy struck. It made me realize how fucking short life really is. It is one hell of a short trip in the grand scheme of things. Then I realized that people were really the most important thing you have. Everything else is just stuff. I really missed playing with Kelley. He has been my friend since we were about 10 or 11. He is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He has a great sense of humor. He makes me laugh so hard sometimes that it hurts. He is beyond kind and caring. He's quiet, thoughtful, and forgiving. He is truly someone to aspire to. I know quite a few people who would tell you the exact same thing. He is also a unique and talented musician. I just missed having an excuse like weekly practices to hang out with him. I really missed the chemistry between us in the band. Joe had been in Victims so long, too. He feels like a brother to me -- more of the antagonistic brother version; a nice contrast to Kelley, I suppose. I just missed hanging out with them and making music so much. I just decided it was time to see if they wanted to make music again. It's been really fun again. It feels really organic. It's nice.



Gavin: What was it like putting the group back together and recruiting new members to play?



Brad: For something I thought could never happen, it came back together really easy. Almost too easy. First, I asked Kelley if he thought he might want to put the band together. I think he really understood where I was coming from with my wanting to put the band together again. I think he missed the music and hanging out together as much as I did. He said yes. The next thing was to ask Joe. He thought on it for a few and then said yes, as well. That was really the core members of the group. Me, Kelley and Joe. I had played with Matt in Knowitall and we got along great, so I suggested him as the second guitarist and no one had a problem with it so Matt was in. Back in the heyday of the band, Troy Lemmon used to come watch us rehearse all the time. He ended up becoming quite a good drummer and had heard a lot of the songs over and over. We asked him over Myspace if he'd be interested in playing in the band if we were to put it back together and he wasted no time in joining us. We were then up and running.

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Gavin: Considering the band's history, how much of the old work did you try to stick to, and how much new material did you write?



Brad: At this point, it is about half and half. It was important to honor our past but at the same time we needed something new for people to hear.



Gavin: What was the reaction from the community when you started getting back out for shows?



Brad: It was awesome!!!! A lot of people kept telling us we were way better than in the past. I think in some ways that may be true; however, I also think that time caught up to us. We got a lot of complaints in the past that we were too metal. Now punk and metal have been so combined and people are so used to hearing it that in some cases people think we sound more punk now. At any rate, we are still getting people out to shows and so I'd say things are going very well.

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Gavin: Last year, you released the album Old Bones And New Cadavers. What was it like recording that album, and what issues did you have to deal with along the way?



Brad: Recording was super-easy. We basically went into the studio with Andy Patterson and tracked each instrument one at a time. We then added the vocals last, did a mix and Andy mastered it for us. We were pretty well-rehearsed and things went very smooth. Andy is an incredible engineer.  He works so fast and sure-footed. There is really no fucking around with the guy. He gets in and gets out, all the time getting pretty much the sounds and performance that we wanted. We have all been extremely happy with the end result. We had some really great tattoo artists, Chris Parry and Mike Groves from Georgia, do the front and back cover art for the CD. I laid the whole package out, got the thing pressed up and we had ourselves a great new album.



Gavin: What was the reception like to the album from newer fans, and what did older fans think of the formal return?



Brad: The album has sold very well. People seem to really enjoy it. I haven't heard any complaints about it yet. All the reviews seem to think it's a pretty solid release.

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Gavin: Rumor has it you may be working on new material for another release. What's the official word?



Brad: We are working on new material that should be on a new album, I'm hoping, this summer. We still have a long way to go but I think we can do it.



Gavin: Moving onto statewide stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?



Brad: I think there are a ton of really good and under-appreciated bands in Utah. I think the bands support each other well. I think the people that come see the bands really support them and seem to enjoy what's going on. If I had to complain about the scene I'd have to say that the treatment bands receive from most of the venues is in need of an overhaul. First off, making music and being in a band is not cheap or easy. It takes a lot of money and time. It also takes work and gas to come play for people, and I don't feel bands are compensated well for that. Not to mention the fact that bands play a big part in bringing in patrons to a venue, thus helping the venue generate money from their drink sales. Then the bands only receive a small stipend for all the hard work they have put into a performance. Now, you also have all the pay-to-play and pre-selling tickets to play bullshit. It really takes all the fun out of being in a band. I think it really should be the venue and promoters' job to make sure that people know about their shows and establishment. Bands always end up having to do a lot of the advertising. I don't mind doing some of it, but it seems like a majority of it is left up to the band. It didn't used to be so much like that. Promoters act like they are doing you the biggest favor ever letting you play when, in fact, you are doing them the favor by bringing fans in and giving them a good professional-acting band so they can have a show. It's dog eat dog.

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Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?



Brad: I don't know. I guess bands just need to get out there and do promo on the Internet and such so people can hear what's going on in Utah. No one is just going to hear of your band if you have no recordings out there, no reviews no presence on the Web. That is where bands need to spend their time promoting what they do. 



Gavin: How would you compare the SLC punk and rock scenes now to how they were during your first run?



Brad: The new run is a lot harder and a lot lamer. We came up through the Raunch Records, Painted Word, Alice's, The Pompadour and Speedway Cafe days. There were tons of great shows and four great all-ages venues. It was an awesome time. There is just nothing in this city these days that even comes close to touching those long-gone venues.

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Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?



Brad: That is hard to say. Tough Tittie and Endless Struggle come to mind. Both great bands, but TT has now broken up. Big bummer. I saw The Hung Ups the other night. They were really good.



Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?



Brad: Share those files!!!! Don't be stingy. If they are any good, then people will come see your band and you can make your  money selling them merch.

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



Brad: Probably just a bit of playing. I think we are gonna take more time to write and concentrate on that new album.



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



Brad: Yes, have your promo one-inch buttons made by me! You can find me through the ads in SLUG Magazine for Pin Pricked. See you at the shows.


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