Today, I we chat with Babble Rabbit about their music and thoughts on the local music scene, along with nearly 200 pictures for you to check out from last Friday's show in this gallery here.
Babble Rabbit (Brandon Barker, Jordan Worthington, Skyler Hawk and Dan Hansen)
Gavin: Hey, everyone. First thing, tell us a little about yourselves.
BR: We're a band comprised of Skyler Hawk on lead vocals, Jordan Worthington on guitar, Brandon “B” Barker on bass/vocals and Dan Hansen on drums/vocals.
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
BR: We have a few common musical influences, such as Rage Against The Machine, Primus, System Of A Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. We also all come from very different musical backgrounds and influences. Growing up, Skyler listened to a lot of Tom Petty and Paul Simon. He listens to a lot of different kinds of music but especially enjoys hip-hop, with artists such as Eyedea and Abilities, Atmosphere and Brother Ali. Jordan likes Pantera, Animals As Leaders, White Zombie, Steve Vai, Metallica, Tchaikovsky, Infected Mushroom and Dave Mathews. B likes a lot of Funk from Sly and the Family Stone to Primus, rock & roll like Iron Maiden to Sublim,. jazz from Thelonious Monk to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and soul from Bill Withers to Ben Harper ... he loves it all. And Dan's brothers raised him to be a grunge kid -- primarily late '80s early '90s; Alice In Chains, Mega Death, Silverchair, Radiohead. He also loves a lot of classic rock and everything in between.
Gavin: How did the four of you come together to form Babble Rabbit?
BR: Jordan and B grew up in the same neighborhood and both got their instruments around the ripe age of 14. We started playing some Rage covers and learning our instruments. Jordan started a metal band in high school called Coffin Nail, while B spent a lot of time in a basement learning how to slap the bass and picking up the guitar. Dan and Skyler met through theater in high school and have been friends ever since. Dan has been playing drums and guitar since about 14, as well. Dan and B met at an all-night jam session and decided to get a house together with Skyler and start a band. Coffin Nail broke up shortly after, and Jordan brought his guitar over and the band formed. Instrumental at first, Skyler spent our jam sessions sitting and writing lyrics until we finally shoved a microphone down his throat. About six months into jamming, Jordan broke his neck in a terrible car accident and was told he could never play guitar again. He then quit physical therapy and started on the road to recovery. Babble Rabbit has been at it ever since.
Gavin: What was it like creating this kind of funk/psychedelic metal sound you have and bringing that on stage?
BR: It came pretty naturally. We all came into the band with different styles and we didn’t limit ourselves to any particular genre. No one member of the band ever takes control of the songwriting. We bring our individual ideas to the table and continually challenge and support each other. We said from the beginning that we wanted to write music for music’s sake, and we have stuck to that wholeheartedly.
Gavin: In 2010, you released your self-titled EP. What was it like for all of you putting that together, and what challenges did you deal with along the way?
BR: Obviously, one of the biggest challenges for a band to record is funding, and none of us had ever committed to a project of that caliber before. You don’t realize how tedious recording is until you find yourself in the studio. Everything is just a little different, from the way you play your instrument to the studio vocabulary you pick up along the way. We can’t deny, though, that it was some of the most fun that any of us has ever had and we can’t wait to do it again.
Gavin: You also released the full-length album Eloquent Madness shortly after. What made you decide to put that album out so soon afterward?
BR: We were actually in the midst of recording Eloquent Madness when we released the EP to help pay for and promote the actual album. We also went on tour a month after putting it out, which led to more difficulties trying to juggle tour booking and recording at the same time.
Gavin: What did you think of the public reaction to it when it came out?
BR: The public reaction was very positive. We received two great reviews from SLUG Magazine for both releases, followed by some other reviews and radio and online interviews. We also made some fans on the road who helped to get the word out outside of Utah. One of the best compliments that we receive is that our sound is fresh and that it doesn’t sound like a lot of stuff that’s coming out right now. Another thing that we have enjoyed is a wide variety of people who dig us. We get a lot of 30- 40-year-olds who tell us that we remind them of the early '90s. Children, grandmas, metal heads, hip-hop kids, hippies, dentists, and grocery-bag ladies -- they all like us for some reason.
Gavin: You've been together for over four years now, which in our music scene is a pretty big accomplishment. How has it been for you working together and keeping the band going?
BR: Well, a little-known fact is that we all married each other four years ago. Sustaining a four-way open marriage can be a difficult task in the conservative boundaries of this great state. It helps that we have a strong friendship. Just as important as band practice is bro practice. We also dedicate a lot of time to jamming. Working around each other’s schedules, we manage get in about 10-20 hours worth of musical face time. We all love and respect one another, and that allows us to be honest and constructive with our criticisms. The band wouldn’t be Babble Rabbit without any one member intact.
Gavin: Are there any plans to put out a new album yet or are you still working on new material?
BR: We have an entire album written and waiting to be recorded and at least another half-album’s worth of material in the spank bank. All four of us write separately, as well, and play around with the different ideas that we all come up with. There’s no limit to what we’ll play. No genre is untouchable. We all have eccentricities that we express musically, and as we learn to work around each other's styles, our sound becomes more dynamic and full.
Gavin: Moving on to statewide stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
BR: There are a lot of talented artists in Salt Lake City. The underground scene has always been very prominent. From visual artists to sound artists, Salt Lake City has gotten a lot of recognition nationally as a good hub to network through. The scene could always use improvement, but we are certain it is in good hands.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
BR: More all-age venues would help to get the younger generation more in tune and involved with what’s going on in their local scene. Venues play an important role in setting the bar for what a scene can actually accomplish. Promotions could use improvement, and compensation for bands is lacking in comparison to other parts of the nation. In spite of any downfalls, SLC is a thriving community of badasses and we are incredibly stoked to be a part of it.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
BR: Grey Fiction, Fat Apollo and Cellulites, Brute Force, Funk & Gonzo, Wasnatch, Consumed By Silence, Folk Hogan, 10 Years Gone, Reaction Effect, Doug Gersch, Dine Krew, Burnell Washburn and Wasatch Renaissance, Rich Again, Liquor Box, Dos Dragones, Deja Voodoo, Cornered By Zombies, Laser Weasel, Music Glue, Lauren Begent, Miss Repo, Lindsey Sterling, Blinded By Truth, Means Nothing, Stillborn, Dead Vessel, Veggie Stew, Fox Van Cleef, Vena Cava, American Hitmen, Keith Taylor and so many more.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?
BR: We are huge fans of community radio and the potential it has. It’s like the primordial soup of the underground music scene. KRCL kicks ass, as per usual. John Farmer from Utah Musicians has stepped up to the plate as a huge fan and promoter of the local music scene, both here and nationally with American Musicians. Portia Early has always been an angel of the scene with her work with X96, UtahFM and The Utah Arts Festival. Brian Best from KUTE radio was a fantastic interviewer. We also recently just got some airtime on RadioUproar.net. The nice thing about public radio is you can put your tracks out there, and all of a sudden people are hitting you up, wanting to play your stuff.
Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and as music lovers?
BR: We’re all for it. Art should be shared freely. It’s up to musicians and music lovers alike to invest in the art and music that inspires us. Artists need to be fed, but we also need to get our stuff out there and technology allows us to do that much easier. With things like Bandcamp and Kickstarter, you can invest in the actual artist and their future endeavors. The best thing you can do to help the artists in your scene is to show up to live performances and get a CD from the band themselves. We encourage everyone who gets a CD from us to burn it for anyone they think would like it. We want people to hear our music by any means ... really loudly ... on repeat.
Gavin: What can we expect from all of you over the rest of this year?
BR: Like we mentioned, we have an album ready to record and press, and we’re working on getting that done as soon as possible. We’re looking to open a Kickstarter account and start working towards the financial goal of being able to record. We’re looking forward to the upcoming festival season and we plan on playing some killer shows in the meantime. We also have our sights set on some regional tours throughout other parts of Utah and the West Coast. We just moved into a band room at Downtown Music and we are on a solid schedule of jamming and writing. We are very excited to show people the new stuff that we have been creating. You can also expect some solo projects and albums to come out over the next year or two from various members of the band.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
BR: The Woodshed, The Pickle Factory/Salt Haus, 5 Monkeys, Kilby Court, Free Speech Zone, Utah Arts Alliance, Greenhouse Effect and the open mic community, The Jenkstar Ranch/The Cosmonaut Crew, Desert Rocks/Powellapalooza Crew, House Parties, Hemet, Calif., Studio Steve, our friends, family, loved ones, and anybody who comes out to our shows -- past, present, or future -- Babble Rabbit offers you protection. Stay classy.
Slow Ride (Walter Allred, Jon Strickland and Brian Englund)
Gavin: Hey, Jon. Tell us a little about yourself.
Jon: I'm 27, a student at the U, a property manager and a musician. I BASE jump, sky dive, speed fly, do pretty much every board sport and extreme sport there is. I also travel the world as much as possible.
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
Jon: I started piano lessons when I was 8 but didn't really get interested in music till I bought my first drum set when I was 11.
Gavin: How did the three of you come together to form Slow Ride?
Jon: I was a huge fan of Slow Ride when they first came out and would come to all of their shows and dance my ass off. When they lost their bass player, they asked me if I wanted to learn bass and be in the band, so I practiced twice with them then stumbled my way through the first few shows, haha.
Gavin: What kind of a challenge has it been working as just a trio without having to expand the band?
Jon: It's actually been really nice just having three of us; we tried to expand to a piano player, but soon found how much harder it was to get four people together rather then three, so we dropped the idea.
Gavin: You guys have actually been around for a number of years now. How has it been going through changes and still holding strong?
Jon: I've been with Slow Ride for about three years and I've learned the lesson that probably every band in history has learned: that it's extremely hard to keep the interest of a drummer!
Gavin: Being around as long as you have, you haven't put out a lot of releases. What made you decide to focus more on live performances than recordings?
Jon: We've all got pretty full lives outside of music, so we've always been under the notion that if we have a full band that stays together for long enough and performs a lot then a CD will follow. But so far, we haven't found a drummer who is committed enough and has enough time to stick it out for the long run.
Gavin: Are there any plans to put an album out anytime soon or are you mainly sticking to playing gigs?
Jon: If we can keep a drummer for long enough!
Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Jon: I think it's putting out a few really good bands, but is a competitive atmosphere.
Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?
Jon: I think the music is an art form that is there to influence people and for their enjoyment and if it does either one of those to a great extent then they will support the artist with their time and money.
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