It's that kind of love for the music that inspired SLCHardcore.com, a website focused on the music coming out of the city and along the Wasatch Front, putting the focus on new releases and shows for people to check out. The website even provides video content and reviews when they can, going above and beyond to showcase the latest music coming out. Today, I chat with the website's founder, Dylan Stout, about his music career and starting the website, along with his thoughts on the music scene today. (All pictures courtesy of Stout.)
Gavin: Hey, Dylan. First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Dylan: Dylan: Well, my name is Dylan Stout. I have lived in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas on and off for about 12 years. I play guitar in hardcore bands Hitchhiker and Cool Your Jets. I also run SLCHardcore.com, a website/blog dedicated to all things related to hardcore music in Salt Lake City. Other than that, I am just an average Joe who works a lame day job, loves this city, its music, and has an unhealthy obsession with Lord Of The Rings ... best movies ever.
Gavin: How did you first get into music, and what were some early influences on you?
Dylan: When I was a wee little lad in middle school, I would go hang out in my friends’ stinky garage and watch them play loud rowdy music until his mom would either kick us out or turn off the power. Eventually, they played their first show and invited me to come out to my first hardcore show. I got swept up in the mayhem and excitement the music brought and never looked back. Some of the early local influences that still stick with me are Clear, Tamerlane, 78 Days After Death, Cherem and Aftermath Of A Trainwreck.
Gavin: You're involved with a couple of bands in the Salt Lake City scene. What was it like for you breaking in as a musician and playing music around the valley?
Dylan: When I first started playing music, I had no idea what I was doing. I taught myself how to play guitar and started several cruddy garage bands in middle school that never really got their feet off the ground. The first band I played shows with on a regular basis was called Jezreel, which included my friends and band members who are now in Hitchhiker; Tyson Whitney and JJ Page. Playing around Salt Lake always has been a lot of fun; I have met a lot of new people and made a lot of friends along the way.
Gavin: As you said before, you're currently you're involved with Hitchhiker and Cool Your Jets. How are things going with both bands?
Dylan: Great! In fact, both of the bands are in the process of writing new material for full-length albums, which we are pretty stoked about. With Cool Your Jets, the process of writing is painstaking because our drummer, Drew, lives up in Idaho and writing songs long distance proves to be difficult. But Hitchhiker is planning a tour in early January and we hope to have a lot of new songs to debut within the next little while.
Gavin: When did the idea come about for you to start up a blog about the rock scene, specifically focusing on hardcore and heavier rock?
Dylan: My idea really isn’t anything original. Ever since an old blog I used to follow, Grudge City Activities, ground to a halt, I have wanted to pick up where they left off and improve upon the way they did things. In short, I made the site because I want to see more new faces out at shows. I focused in on hardcore and heavy music because that is what I enjoy and feel most sites make the mistake of trying to focus on too many genres at once.
Gavin: At the time you were implementing the idea and pushing the website along, what was your opinion of the coverage the scene was getting from the media around town?
Dylan: With hardcore music, a lot of people find out about shows via word of mouth. But other than social-media sites, it was hard for people who aren’t directly involved in the scene to find out when shows were happening. I wanted to make the information available to everyone and anyone.
Gavin: You launched the site on July 1 of this year. What was the first month like for you, and what did you think of the reaction you got from those checking it out?
Dylan: From day one of the site, I have had positive feedback. Even though in the first month traffic was on the lower end, I was getting responses from local bands and visitors who showed an interest in submitting material and information about local events. It was very cool that people came out of the woodwork to support the site.
Gavin: Aside from the genre you cover, what did you do to separate yourself from other music sites?
Dylan: A lot of other sites just provide you with event date, time, and a list of the bands that will be playing. I tried to make the site into a “one-stop shop,” someplace people could go to learn about past and present local bands, find their merch, download their albums, read reviews, etc.
Gavin: What made you decide to start incorporating other band's merch websites into your own site, and how has that worked out for you and the bands involved?
Dylan: The site is all about supporting the local talent. Merch definitely isn’t making these local bands rich; it helps them to go on tour and pay the many expenses that go along with being in a band -- equipment, gas, practice rooms. I figured the easier it is for people to find their merch, the more funds bands will have to do awesome things. I hope that this is improving sales for the bands, but I don’t really have any way of knowing what impact it has because the bands run their own individual merch sites.
Gavin: When did the idea come about to start recording shows on video, and who did you get to work with you on that project?
Dylan: Grudge City Activities used to film bands every so often and post them online, and I wanted to take that idea and expand upon it. Usually, you see people at shows with a camera or cell phone recording their favorite band. However, when they get home, they realize that the audio is unbearably bad and the moments they captured are unusable. With some donations from friends and SLUG Magazine, I was able to get some good equipment to record local bands with. Hopefully, kids will see these videos and get more interested in coming out to see the bands.
Gavin: You've also added a music archive, where people can download complete albums from local hardcore bands absolutely free. What was it like putting that together, and why did those bands agree to give away their music?
Dylan: For obvious reasons, I had to ask bands if they were okay with me just giving away their albums online. A lot of bands were okay with just having the exposure that it brings to have kids listening to their music. Plus, a lot of the music on the site isn’t the newest releases from the bands, so if people feel so inclined to find more music, they can go to the merch section and pick up an album from the band. While making money doing something you love is great, a lot of local bands realize it’s not about the money but the passion and message of the music.
Gavin: What plans do you have down the line for expanding the website and the coverage you're helping provide?
Dylan: A few other people and myself are putting together a monthly magazine-type handout called STAUNCH, which will be directly linked to the website with event calendars, band interviews, music news, etc. Between my job and going back to school next semester, things are going to get really busy, and I am will be involving several other people in the site to help keep expanding it.
Gavin: Moving more local, what are your thoughts on the local music scene as a whole, both good and bad?
Dylan: I wrote an article on the website about this not too long ago. I feel like the music scene in Salt Lake was at an all-time low a few years ago. Attendance was down to a handful of people and promotion was almost nonexistent for local shows. I feel like the bad part about the scene is people don’t support bands and shows like they used to. Kids are spoiled with 2, 3, maybe even 4 shows a week but since it’s music they haven’t heard of, or it isn’t their “friend’s band,” they don’t come out. If people really care about hardcore music or the music scene in general, they should show it by making local shows awesome and bringing new faces. That being said, there is SO much good going on. Every band I have played shows with and the venue owners I have dealt with have all been so approachable and supportive. There are some really good bands in Salt Lake and the surrounding area that have made, and continue to make, some really skillful and excellent music. The reopening of the Shred Shed is another good thing because we desperately needed an all-ages venue that catered toward heavy music.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to help make things more prominent?
Dylan: Tell your friends! I started going to shows because my friends invited me and it changed my life forever. I can only provide the information about shows, but word of mouth and personal invitations from friends are really what get kids to come out.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay of locals on community and commercial radio?
Dylan: As someone who doesn’t really listen to commercial radio, I can’t really comment on that. But, I do know that there are several people who run podcast and Internet radio stations. My friend Frank runs a great Internet radio station called Fighting Words Radio that plays local music and interviews bands. Things like that are great and I fully support them.
Gavin: What's your take on the labels we have around the state today and how they're helping musicians?
Dylan: The guys over at Exigent are doing a great job at promoting and supporting local shows. I don’t know the guys there personally, but everyone I know who is on the label has had nothing but good experiences. There is Matchless Records, which I am not a big fan of, mainly because they are solely interested in the acquisition of wealth at the expense of the artists. Zookeeper records is a great local label that Hitchhiker is on that is run by Konrad Keele. The label is a mixture of many different genres and is always willing to help us at the drop of a hat.
Gavin: What can we expect from you, as well as the website, over the rest of this year and into next?
Dylan: From the site, you can expect up-to-date information on hardcore bands and events, the STAUNCH zine handout, more music in the archive, and as many video recordings of live sets as we are able to make. As far as what you can expect from me, I am currently involved in starting a new band with members of Cool Your Jets and Cherem.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Dylan: Every year, there is a Sub For Santa benefit show that raises money to provide Christmas for children who are in need. This year is going to be an awesome two-day event. Bands including Tamerlane, Cherem, Mean Season, Outspoken, Sleeping Giant, One Choice, Reality and Reflect will be playing. The shows will be on Dec. 7 and 8, and all the details will be available on the website!
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