Sunday, April 12, 2015

Family Gallows, Trod Upon, Dara

Three local band interviews from The Woodshed last weekend

Posted By on April 12, 2015, 4:00 PM

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This past weekend had one too many events to cover, but if you were a fan of local music, you had an exquisite choice of shows to attend Friday and Saturday night. I myself made my way over to The Woodshed on Friday to check out an all-local showcase featuring Trod Upon, Dara, and The Family Gallows. Today we've got interviews with all three bands, along with photos of their performances for you to see throughout the blog. (In some parts, the bands chose to answer as a group.)

Trod Upon (Bracken Newman, Nick Noble  & Michael "Bob" Boweter)
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Trod Upon on Facebook

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

Well, we're a local rock band and we've lived here most of our lives. Our bassist Bracken lived in Oregon for about ten years and our guitarist, Michael Bob, lived in Arizona as a kid. But I've been here my whole life, for better or worse.. My name's Nick Noble, and I'm the singer slash drummer for Trod Upon.

Gavin: When did you take an interest in music and what were your favorite acts growing up?

We've all been interested in music since a very young age. We grew up in the wake of Generation X, and so we grew up with a bizarre concoction of influences. But I think all of our roots are based in '90s alternative rock. Stuff like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Chili Peppers, Tool, Stp, and so on. I know Mike and I got into weird outlandish stuff like Mr.Bungle, Tom Waits, and Frank Zappa. Whereas Bracken is a little more toward the folksy end of the rock spectrum. Stuff like Blind Melon, Jack Johnson, or Ray LaMontagne. And of course we all love the classics, ala Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zepplin, Sabbath, etc. But we all have a special place in our hearts for a band called Ween, which is probably one of the most underrated bands of all time. They can play any style or any genre. And when people ask us for a band to compare ourselves with, that's always the first one that comes to mind. And it's sad that most people respond with a blank stare.

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Gavin: What was it like for each of you breaking into the local music scene?

Michael, Bob and I have actually been at it a long time. One of the first bands we were in together formed right out of high school with some of our friends, called White Rabbit. We played our first show during the Winter Olympics in 2002. Out of that band formed Schwa Grotto, which was Mike and I's do whatever we want, whenever we want band. Haha. We did that for about six years, and then we've each had different bands and side projects for the past few years since then. So needless to say we've come to know a ton of very talented local musicians, and are quite familiar with the local scene.

Gavin: When did you all meet each other and come together to form Trod Upon?

Bracken and I grew up together and started jamming on stuff in junior high. Michael Bob was a year behind us in school but I remember seeing him walking home from school every day with his long hair and a guitar in hand and being like, "We should kick his ass and take his guitar." Haha! Not that I ever would but could you imagine how different our lives would be? Anyway, Mike and I have been in many projects over the years and like I said before, Bracken lived in Oregon for ten years. So Mike and I were actually playing a show at Bar Deluxe doing a little comedy duo thing we call the Ass Magnets, when Bracken just shows up outta the blue and says "I moved back." No less than a week or two later we all started jamming together and it felt like old times. It didn't take us a long to start busting out songs and before you know it, we had a set. So we slapped ourselves with the label Trod Upon, which is more fun wordplay than anything. We are not a sullen band, but like all things we come from the dirt and are therefore Trod Upon.

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Gavin: What influenced you to create an alternative sound and how has it been writing music together?

Well I think collectively, our favorite bands are all alternative bands because there is such a diverse variety of what would be labeled as "alternative." There's just a freedom in alternative music, where you can play an acoustic song side by side with a heavy electric song and they still belong together on stage. We like to write and play songs that stretch ourselves as musicians and don't want to be limited to any particular genre or sound. Which is a purely selfish way of making music and doesn't exactly cater to all audiences. And sometimes we get a lot of confused faces when we play shows. Haha. But in this day and age we are oversaturated by music that caters to one particular market, and we hate that. We do it because we love it. Music should be about expressing yourself, and I'm sorry, but I've never felt that I needed to write songs about white girl problems in order to express myself.

Gavin: You've barely been around a year and a half, how has it been gaining an audience during that time?

Right now, we're just excited to be making music together, and we're trying to capture that in the studio. Our focus is to finish our first album, and we'll promote it shortly thereafter. Playing live is always great, and when we get the opportunity we jump on it. People seem to be responding well, we hope to focus more on that in the near future.

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Gavin: Have you done any touring outside Utah at all or just keeping it local for now?

We have yet to venture outside of the state with the current lineup, but Michael Bob and I have played some shows out of state in the past. Hopefully when we get some more traction locally we'll continue to do the same, but as of yet it is not a concern. Road trips are always great.

Gavin: You currently have some songs up on your Facebook, how have people been reacting to them so far?

We were very surprised to see the amount of plays on a lot of the songs, especially considering the lack of time we spend trying to get the word out. It's so easy to put new stuff on there, that the hard part is waiting until something is truly finished.

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Gavin: Do you have any plans set yet to record an EP or album?

That is exactly our plan. We have some studios lined up to record our EP in the next few months, and hopefully a full album within the next year.

Gavin: What's your take on the way the local music scene currently is?

Salt Lake really does have a lot of great talent. The bands seem to want to support each other and foster a community, which has been awesome. There are venues who make sure to take care of the artists involved, hopefully that continues and more places do the same. Seeing people come and connect with the music and artists is what makes performing such a great time. If more people came out, they would see how good these bands are, and that would enable them to keep doing it. Come support your local scene!

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Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are some of your favorite bands in Utah today?

That's a hard decision cuz there is so much local talent, but offhand, I would say The Green Man 7, American Hollow, Rikshaw, and honestly the Family Gallows.

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

It is going to be a great year. A lot more shows, an EP in the works, and after that we head to the studio for a full-length album. Keep up with us on our facebook.

Dara (Chris, Benjamin, Denise & Kevin)
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Dara on Facebook

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

Howdy! We are Dara. A group of fun-loving individuals who quite simply love music. Aligned by a passion to create in a very open minded platform, we are not bound by rules of the genre. You see each of us have grown up with a worldly, artistic past that is deeply expressed in the music we make.

Gavin: When did you take an interest in music and what were your favorite acts growing up?

It all began when my uncle came to visit me from Germany as a little boy. The moment he began playing his violin and sitar for me I began to cry. It was the most wonderful thing I had ever felt. Just like that I was hooked! From there I messed around with piano until I was given my first guitar at 11. Some favorite artists included Queen, Marley, Hendrix, Eyedea, Zeppelin, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paco De Lucia, The Faint, Rage, Oakenfold, etc

Chris: You know I've loved music for as long as I can remember, which I think is something everyone can say, whether or not they play music. Some of my earliest memories are of Sgt. Pepper’s playing while my dad worked on some project or another in the garage. Those old school bands always rung my bell. Then Streetlight Manifesto always put on a great show. However any kind of jazz does it for me. I remember when I learned to drive I'd always tune into nighttime jazz for those late night drives. Steve Williams is my boy!

Kevin: Growing up I always listened to music, like most people do; but when I was in junior high and first heard bands like Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Metallica, that's when I became seriously interested in music and made the decision to start playing. Those bands opened up a whole new world of music that I never knew existed. Growing up, I listened to metal, all sorts of metal, and that's what I was into for a while. My music tastes evolved and expanded as I grew older but when I was young, it was all about metal.

Denise: I began taking an interest in music when I was a little kid. Started begging my parents to take violin lessons when I was 4. Been playing violin basically my entire life now. I was way into the heavy metal music scene growing up loving bands like Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, The Human Abstract, A7X, and Trivium. I would go to every show I possibly could in high school.

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Gavin: How did each of you get involved with the local music scene?

Awhile back after the woman I was living with kicked me to the curb I knew that I wanted to start a band with my longtime friend Ian who I always used to play music with growing up. I just had to! Music was calling my name. We started a band called Bothered by Bruce. From there it was magic! I became very indoctrinated in the scene constantly rehearsing at Positively 4th, the practice space in downtown Salt Lake City. Ian now plays bass for Suburban Birds.

Chris: Kilby Court was where I really began getting into the local scene. The shows there are always so intimate and energized at the same time. I was hanging out with the dudes from The Spins a lot, and they really opened my eyes to how vibrant Salt Lake's scene really is. There's still a very special place in my heart for Kilby. I think it's one of those hidden gems that acts as a cultural hub and a launch pad for a lot of young artists.

Kevin: I was in a lot of different bands growing up. Basically, I jammed with anyone who wanted to, it didn't matter what style of music it was. I met a lot of different bands and musicians that way by either playing concerts with other bands or going to every local show I could. Then when I was older, I was in the jazz band at SLCC and networked with a lot of incredibly talented musicians there as well.

Denise: So I got involved performing with the local music scene in high school and then really pursued it after I graduated with my violin performance degree. I was living a block away from The Velour and Muse Music in Provo so networking and finding musicians to collaborate with was a lot of fun being so close to the downtown music hub.

Gavin: When did you eventually meet each other and how did you come together to form Dara?

Well it all really formed around Ben's vision. Ben has been a songwriter for a long time. After being in several bands, he wanted to form a group that expressed and diversified his inspirational vision for the music beyond what could be accomplished by any single person.

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Gavin: You've described your music as “world rock.” What does that mean to you as a genre of music and how does it differ from alternative or indie standards?

To us it is not a genre. It's a perspective and a state of mind. We really aim at creating something that embodies a greater perspective of music as a worldly art form. One that inspires an emotional or spiritual journey for the individual, more than modern culture generally portrays in popular music. All the while maintaining a very genuine connection to the modern listener. Every culture on the planet has contributed to music and art in its own unique and purposeful way. Our goal is to really focus on elements that bring those different ideas together.

Gavin: What's it been like for you to play around Utah and build a following?

We love Utah! It’s so beautiful. Utah has a passionate community of people who are constantly looking for an increase in cultural diversity. Being a world rock and spiritually oriented group, we feel that Utah is a great place to express that vision.

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Gavin: According to your website, you're currently in the process of recording your first album. What can you tell us about the sessions so far?

It's been amazing! Actually now we just finished the album. Dates to be released soon. We all really love recording with Joel Pack whom we recorded the album (The Red Tiger Nebula) with. Ben and Joel are friends through the scene and he has recorded with him several times before. So we knew we were all in for awesome times. Joel really helped express the concept of the album from top to bottom. There are several genres, sounds, time changes, etc. Overall everyone in the group really rallied to the overall purpose of the message as a whole and for each individual track. It was a journey that lasted over ten months in the studio and year’s beforehand writing and perfecting the music.

Gavin: Once it's released, what plans do you have as a band from there?

Hmmm. Save the world. Roll down a grassy hill. You know? The works! Really though we’ll be doing anything that expands the human perspective through spirituality and music. We are really excited to share this album with pretty much anyone with ears. You can bet we have a lot of great things up our sleeves.

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Gavin: Do you have any plans to tour when summer comes around or sticking to home?

So you see since we just finished our new record we have a lot of plans for getting out, playing shows and sharing our passion with the world. Both at shows and online. Basically any way we can. We even have a northwest tour to announce soon. Sshhhh!!!!

Gavin: What's your take on the way the local music scene currently is?

We are firm believers in a local before global type of culture. No scene is perfect, but we love Utah and its unique blend of music styles and opportunities to share art.

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Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are some of your favorite bands in Utah today?

Awww, don't do us like that, man! We have a lot of great friends and groups that we love. Too many to mention.

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

Things are definitely moving quickly for us. We have a lot of music, videos, merch, shows, shows and more shows (in many different cities) coming up this year. We have a very busy year. As previously mentioned we will be expanding the human perspective through spirituality and music. So that should keep us pretty busy throughout the year. Come out and say hi to us at a show! We’d love that. Oh and most important: grab a copy of our new album, The Red Tiger Nebula, this summer. It’s a wonderful concept full of great songs that we are sure you will enjoy!

The Family Gallows (Peter Frederick, John Dilley, Hunter Harrison & Jacob E. Gallow)
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The Family Gallows on Facebook

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

I play guitar and sing backgrounds for the group. I also write a lot of the lyrics and melodic theme of the music.

Jacob: I play bass guitar and do occasional background vocals.

John: I do lead vocals and some acoustic guitar. Peter plays drums.

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Gavin: When did you take an interest in music and what were your favorite acts growing up?

At five I was given Pearl Jam's Ten and immediately fell in love. At 11, I began playing the trumpet and transitioned to the guitar at 13. From then on it was all Metallica, Bad Religion, NOFX, Thrice, Deftones, Tool, and anything I could get my hands on with a guitar in it.

Jacob: I started playing cello in middle school. In high school I transitioned to bass. I started out trying to play Deftones, and Nirvana. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Tool are probably my biggest influences.

Peter: I've been playing music since starting piano lessons around age six. In middle school I got fed up with piano and took up the drums. Mostly enjoyed Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Aesop Rock, Operation Ivy and Primus growing up.

John: I’ve been singing for almost as long as I can remember. I have distinct memories of sitting on my windowsill singing along with the radio. I must have been pretty young to fit in the windowsill. I was in choirs through school. At 14, I picked up the acoustic guitar my grandma left to my mother. It was sitting in there in the basement and one day I just picked it up and I’ve been writing and singing songs ever since. As far as who I liked growing up? The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, Green Day, Offspring, Less Than Jake, Rancid, and so many more.

Gavin: How did each of you break into the local music scene and how was it performing before this band?

I was invited to play in a few punk bands in high school that frequented Kilby Court and Lo-Fi Cafe. I enjoyed performing and writing, but I wanted to branch out. That led to hard rock, jazz, reggae, and then the folk version of this project.

Jacob: At 18 I briefly played with a jazz quartet. That was my first bar experience. I played in a few metal bands after that. In college, Hunter convinced me to join his reggae/jam band. That was my real entry into the gigging scene.

Peter: This is my first professional band. Performing before this was always a mess!

John: I played a couple of unpaid performances in some short-lived, one-off projects through high school and shortly after. After a brief hiatus from music, I started performing some original songs at open mics around town. After getting some positive feedback I found a couple of guys to jam with and formed, “The Past 10s.” We had some fun times, but we had no idea what we were doing. I will always have a soft spot for that band. That’s where I learned how to be a performer.

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Gavin: When did the four of you come together to form The Family Gallows?

In 2009 I began writing acoustic music that didn't fit with any project I was in. It was a bit of a departure in style, so it took a while to find the sound. My solo album was released at The Woodshed in 2010, and the project began to form. Jacob and an old drummer rounded out the project, but holding onto drummers was a struggle until Peter joined in late 2013. John joined about a year before Peter, but he didn't take over lead vocals for a while.

Gavin: What made you go for more of an indie/radio rock kind of sound and how has it been writing music together?

The indie/rock sound was a natural evolution from the acoustic versions of the songs I write. Everything starts as a folk song. Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and the 60s taught me that a great song always sounds as great on an acoustic as it does with a band. Once I have vocals, lyrics, and the chord structure, we all get together to find a full band version. That usually grooves into a rock sound, but we have a lot of other genres speckled into those grooves.

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Gavin: What was it like for you performing around town and gaining a following?

It has taken a while for us to find our sound and gain fans. I don't think we really had any clue about what direction things were going until this lineup. That's when things began to pick up steam, and that's when the crowd response became noticeable.

Peter: It's awkward getting yourself out there and sharing something you make with close friends, but it seems the harder we keep trying the more welcoming everyone becomes!

John: I think the biggest issue for us getting going was figuring out when and where to book, not just for us, but for venues as well. I mean, we don’t really belong on reggae night, hip-hop night, or at metal shows. We have material that would appeal to all of those audiences, but not all of our material would appeal to all of those audiences. We didn’t cleanly fit into any “scene,” so we’ve had to gain fans one at a time.

Gavin: Last year you released your debut album, Mammatus. What were the recording sessions like and what was the hardest hurdle to get over?

Recording the album was a struggle and an emotional release. We had taken nine months to write and prepare all the songs before we went in, with the hopes of doing the album live. We were able to track it all out with bass, drums, and guitar done live. Unfortunately only half of them really worked. We had to ditch two songs, re-record two, and record two new ones to end up with the album we wanted. Throwing those two out was tough, but I was happy that four of them were mostly live tracked.

Peter: Recording was awesome. Everyone was able to get their tracks down pretty quickly and we saved a lot of time recording the instrumentals altogether live.

John: It was amazing to be completely focused on creating music for hours and hours, day after day. It was like time stopped for us but kept going for everyone else.

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Gavin: How was it working with the crews at Rigby Road and Interlace Audio to finalize it?

Joel at Rigby Roads was phenomenal to work with. When we had specific demands, he was there to support them. When we weren't doing our best, he was there to light a fire under our asses. Interlace was wonderful as well, very fast, affordable, and great masters. A lot of punch, but not so much it loses dynamics.

Peter: Drunk.

John: Rigby Road was awesome. Joel knew exactly how to get us where we were trying to go sonically.

Gavin: What did you think of the public reaction to it when it was finally released?

Everyone has been very supportive of the release. It's been a great way of fan introduction, and something that long time supporters of us have really enjoyed. Even our songs that are 7+ minutes get a good deal of praise.

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Gavin: Do you have any new songs in the works for an EP or another full-length yet?

There is another album ready to record, and a brand new EP being written actually. We played 2 of them at The Woodshed and the crowd danced and smiled with us. I think the material is getting better and more cohesive.

Peter: We are already playing new songs at performances and constantly refining content.

Gavin: Are there any plans to tour at the moment or just staying at home for now?

The immediate goal is to try and earn as many fans in the local scene as we can this year. If we can do a short northwest tour in the fall or spring I would be very happy, but I'd really love to see how we can do in this state.

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Gavin: What's your take on the way the local music scene currently is?

The local diversity is really kicking ass. More reggae, more indie, more jazz, and, of course, the funk. Maybe I missed it when I was younger, but after punk and metal shows for my formative years, the current scene seems to really be exploring new territory.

John: The local talent is outstanding. There’s high-quality entertainment in clubs all over town every weekend. If you haven’t gone out to a show in a while, this is a great summer to check out some local music.

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are some of your favorite bands in Utah today?

The Damn Handsomes, Monorchist, Simply B, Said The Head, Grand Banks, Dara, Trod Upon, Triggers & Slips, Royal Bliss, Berlin Breaks, No Safe Way Home, The Highway Thieves, and so many more. I try and go to a local show once a week, so it's always growing.

Jacob: Big Wild Wings, Nick Johnson, Jack Wilkinson, American Hit Men, Opal Hill Drive, Wasnatch, Marinade, Candy's River House, Tony Holliday, Canvas Heart, Divisions, Tupelo Moan, Isaac Farr, Mathew Hope.

Peter: Trod Upon. Dara, Big Wild Wings, The Damn Handsomes, Tupelo Moan, Desert Noises, Folk Hogan.

John: Mine's Bigger Than Yours, The Past 10s, Victor Vanderkill and the Vaudevillains, Said the Head, Topanga.

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

Shows and shows, ha ha. We do a different set each show, debut new material every month or two, reinvent old material, and, of course, new covers. Last Halloween we played Weezer's blue album from start to finish, and we might just have something in store for this year.

Peter: More shows spiraling methodically outwards from SLC!

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