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Gavin's Underground

Grizzly Prospector, Church & Halo, The Blare

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-12-21 -

Wandering around the downtown area, about the only safe haven from the under 10 degree temperatures are the taco stands. Cheaper than the major fast food joints, and tastier than that one 24 hour place where they found band-aids and cell phone antennas in the taco meat. ...You know the one. And after a bite to eat, off to local music!

This past Thursday I made my way over to the newly repainted and owned Woodshed (which also happened to be a City Weekly night with cheap drinks) and caught three local acts. The wistful sounds of Grizzly Prospector, the newly formed three piece of Church & Halo, and the interchanging rock duo that is The Blare. Talking with all three acts and also taking photos of the show.

Grizzly Prospector

http://www.myspace.com/grizzlyprospector

Gavin: Hey man, first off, tell us a little about yourself.

GP: My beard is currently longer than its ever been. So I'm hoping to avoid comparisons to Santa Claus this holiday season. However, if people insist upon the comparison I'd settle with a younger more robust Saint Nicholas.

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

GP: My interest in making musics was given birth to by my admiration for musics. Weezer was a huge influence at a younger age but they didn't really shape my musics too much. Older stuff like Burl Ives and the Everly Brothers were driving forces behind my musics. When I started making songs I was predominately listening to the Microphones, Little Wings and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. I'm vibrant and still like to believe that I'm growing up and my favorite musician at work right now is Grouper. The first time I listened to her album Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill, I was completely blown away. The music is dark, haunting and yet so beautiful. Kind of like sirens singing you to shipwreck.

Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up Grizzly Prospector?

GP: I've always had this affinity for Burl Ives, in a totally platonic way mind you. Mainly from the 1964 animated classic, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” There's a character in that film named Yukon Cornelius, aka the Grizzly Prospector. That's the origin of the Grizz but the actual birthing occurred sometime in 2005. I wrote a song called "In The Hills Where No One Plays" and was really excited about it. So I called some friends and asked if they would help me record it. That's how it all came to be, so to speak.

Gavin: Why did you choose to do a solo act as opposed to joining into a group?

GP: Firstly, it's nearly impossible for a Yoko to break-up a solo act. Secondly, I'm not amazingly skilled in the instrumental department. Thirdly, the creative process for me is really slow and I wouldn't want to keep others waiting. Lastly, it's comforting to be in complete creative control.

Gavin: What inspired the acoustical and almost country-like sound you've some to play?

GP: Is it really almost country-like? Interesting... Like I was saying, Burl Ives and the Everly Brothers are two of my favorite acts of all-time. I've tried hard to incorporate/modernize their vibes without blatantly ripping them off. But then again maybe I am in tiny increments because my new album Cycles will have a cover of "Devoted To You".

Gavin: What was it like recording your first EP, These Are Songs?

GP: At first it was extremely stressful. It was initially going to be a 21 song full-length narrative. My buddy Garrick and I started recording on it in January of '06. The recording fell apart because I couldn't get the songs to sound like "The Glow” Part 2. So we scrapped that idea almost entirely. Then in December of that year I took a few of the highlights from that disaster, recorded and released them as These Are Songs.

Gavin: Do you prefer the DIY aspect of recording, or do you wish it had a professional touch?

GP:
Old Mountain Radio is really the only release I've done in the DIY fashion. Which was a deliberate choice in order to get the old time civil war vibes flowing. Everything else I've recorded was done with Garrick Biggs, J. Michael Biggs and Braden J. McKenna. I respect their input and they've been very helpful with my recordings. I would like to give them a shout out... Stay up ninjas, Woop woop!

Gavin: What was the public reaction like when that EP came out?

GP: They likely thought it was super emo. Honestly, I don't recall there being a public opinion. To me it was refreshing having finally released something at that point. So, maybe they were like "Hells yeah, its about damn time!” But don't quote me on that.

Gavin: You've recorded a few others since then,
Old Mountain Radio and Cycles this past year. Do you prefer the idea of the EP album, or do you just have no wish to make a full-length?

GP: Old Mountain Radio is a digital full-length sort of/maybe. The songs are short but I like them that way. Cycles isn't even finished yet. The songs on MySpace (a place for friends) are merely demos. I have like 13 songs prepared for that and it will be my first quote, unquote official full-length. My ideas for it are somewhat epic in relation to past GP releases. The songs will much longer, drenched in reverb, multiple guitar tracks and layers of vocals. I've never been entirely optimistic about my recordings but this is going to be a real treat.

Gavin: How did you come to work with American West Freedom Society Press?

GP: No comment.

Gavin: Are you working on anything new at the moment, or mainly playing around?

GP: I've been on a musical hiatus for the past few months but I'm planning on finishing
Cycles some time in the near future. I wrote a new song for it that is called "Better" when I was down for the count with the piglet flu. I can't wait to start messing around with it live.

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

GP: There's a lot of free local output right now. KillerBuds is my personal favorite. They're a grouper of killer dudes making killer tunes for free. It's not anymore complicated then that. MagicGoatMusic has a Digital Magic Series that is extremely magical and downright essential. MooonDial is releasing really witchy musics for free digitally, or on cassette tape, whichever you prefer.

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

GP: More nudity could really spice things up. The musical output isn't racy enough. So it's lacking a lot of potential publicity.

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

GP: Current top five: Heavy Petting, Hew Mun, Sparks and Spools, Stag Hare and Sleepover. Other local interests include: Aye Aye, Birthquake!, anything Braden J. McKenna, Silt Panles, Silver Antlers, Some Beasts and Summer Lights. The last of which is totally wrecking it right now. Their hard at work on their first EP. It's going to melt everyone's faces. Think Indiana Jones & Raiders Of The Lost Ark... So yeah, You have been warned!!!

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

GP: I don't listen to the radio that often, so it's hard for me to formulate an honest opinion. A few of my friends have done live-in-studio performances on KRCL's Circus Brown show. I had the opportunity to witness of one them first hand, which was cool beans.

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

GP: A few different blogs have posted my musics and in turn its generated a few extra friend requests on MySpace. So I can't really complain.

Gavin: What can we expect from you going into next year?

GP: Hopefully, an illegitimate child or two, an even longer beard and the release of
Cycles.

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

GP: Barack Obama doesn't care about white people.


Church & Halo (Robbie Taylor, Skylar Church & Richie Allison)

http://www.myspace.com/skylarchurch

Gavin: Hey Skylar, first off, tell us a little about yourself.

Skylar: First off something to know a little about me is cheers and thanks for the interview! Also, um, well, Average Joe here: listing your general naive learning patterns of all idiosyncrasies. I'm an artist through and through, Love all people genuinely, Soccer Baseball and chess are the best sports! Sam a surprising to most inactive Mormon who still believes... weird, eh?

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

Skylar: My mother Grace U. Henderson, daughter of Francis Urry - KSL radio personality and LDS actor of movies like "Windows Of Heaven", and "Johnny Lingo". Was constantly in musicals growing up. Along with the story my father Dr. David Henderson, an avid piano and organist raised me around Everly Brothers, The Doors, Doobie Brothers, Beatles, growing my ear into Green Day, Lagwagon, Unwritten Law and Evolving. Into all aspects of music like jazz blues classical flamenco Island and such

Gavin: How did you first get started performing around?

Skylar: Giving talks in sacrament meetings at the age of five (the practice at least), then school assemblies and street corners up to be asked by others to open for them.

Gavin: How did you guys all meet up and form the group?

Skylar: Well Church & Halo is the new band forming as of four days now but originally it was a chemistry and commitment thing. Either different views to discipline and integrity issues to money over a genuine love for the music! Richie Allison, aka "Richie Halo", was my best friend of seven years who just a month ago decided why not? Then I had a keyboardist and bassist - three weeks later then Robbie Taylor showed up out of the blue! Now here we are.

Gavin: Before the band you performed as a solo act. In thats etting, did you prefer more intimate shows or larger crowds, and why?

Skylar: Both, each kinda show provides a great uniqueness to it. Big shows usually have a lot of energy and you never know whats going to happen! Small shows as you said are extremely intimate and have lots of participation along with the story telling aspect is a lot of fun! I especially enjoy getting to know my audience personally. It's good making a new friend!

Gavin: I know you've only been playing for a short while, what's it been like for you developing a list of songs and perfecting them in front of audiences?

Skylar: Well, define short while? I started at 15, being 22 now and have been off and on into out of and back into the scene. Much like my love life I guess. But the songs have been a lot of fun making in front of a rewarding loving town like Salt Lake. Everyone is supportive and the constructive criticism I love mainly for honesty reasons. I want anyone, fan or not, to be able to find something within all our songs that they can enjoy. Much like the range of genres I listen too.

Gavin: Has the idea crossed your mind yet to record anything, or is that still something far off down the road?

Skylar: Me and Richie are aiming to have our EP Little, Little ready for release the end of January as for our first full length album, The Everlasting Crutch should hopefully be ready some time 2010! As for my old EP ...Once Love, we are thinking a re-release with proper mastering other than a computer microphone sit down recording ha ha!

Gavin: When you do head in, will you be looking for a studio or go more toward DIY?

Skylar: For now we are working with Nate Eye on individual songs and the EP's but we have been talking with Barry Gibbons of Platinum Records in Bountiful who just so happens to be Richie's mother's bishop! And maybe a little DIY acoustic tracks or slam tracks.

Gavin: I know you've also come to be in charge of Salt City Indie Arts. How did you come to earn that honor?

Skylar: More or less you could say! I am the head of Public Relations for SCIA. which came about by my friendship with founder and president Michael Dimitri. Along with the freedom of come and go as you please attitude and you gain more leadership opportunities based on your level of involvement. Especially because its all on a voluntary basis.

Gavin: What have you done with them as far as events, and how is the group progressing these days?

Skylar: Well, I have recently had the pleasure of hosting "Put Your Mouth Where The Word Is!" Poetry Slam Competition. Same as the weekly "Open" as we say at Green House Effect every Sunday night! As well as competing in The UAF Poetry Slam. Nowadays it is growing into a far more ambitious project along with the direction of Cody Winger with the pre-existing UTAHSlam.com, a possible show on UtahFM.org and many desires for far larger events bringing local business' together with local artist! As we say, "Make it your own"

Gavin: Moving to more local stuff, what are your thoughts on our music scene, both good and bad?

Skylar: It's slowly diminishing in presence. I don't see enough bands working together and see more "shit talking" instead. We have a saying at the open mics, "It's not a competition, it's our reason to breath for at least ten seconds." But I gotta say there is a ton of hidden talent in this city of freaks! This city needs to recognize themselves in the mirror for once and say to themselves "I am here!"

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

Skylar: Exactly what SCIA is trying to enable along with more cross promotions and unifications with local radio and television, I know their goal is ratings but there downfall is the negligence of working together to help build the communities and especially THE scene. I mean honestly do you think I give a damn about NY or LA? I care what we do in my hometown with my friends who seem as famous to me as Mayer or Clapton. Support everything local!

Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Skylar: Locally I dig on Allred, The Blare, Grizzly Prospector, Funk N' Gonzo, The Brobecks, The Used, too many to say man. Nowadays playing everything I guess. Not to cop out but seriously, everyone is capable of good music.

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

Skylar: Thank God for Portia!!! That BAMF is the reason this scene is still surviving. X96's “Live & Local” with Portia before she moved to UtahFM made way for the other awesome local and live shows with Victor Cade and Helmut along with Ebay Hamilton, whom I am extremely fond of all of them and their efforts to help promote good business and good music along with good art! And X96 seems to of lost their best asset other than Radio From Hell. I hope they revive “Live & Local... but “Unsigned, Uncensored” is best show in town!

Gavin: What can we expect from you going into next year?

Skylar: Lots and lots of mayhem and events. I plan on taking a wire-cutter to the barbed wired oppression named noose this city is choking. Showing this state what they are really made of!!! Oh ya, and music too!

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

Skylar: Yes Dec 23rd is our Christmas Eve show at The Collective Loft in Farmington. For info go to our MySpace. And Dec 28th at Mo's Bar & Grill is our 2nd Cash Prize Poetry Slam which I will be emceeing. Join our group on Facebook and stay tuned to the launch party of SCIA's new website!

The Blare (Blair Furmanski & Kevin Anderson)

http://www.myspace.com/blarethemusic

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

Blair: We basically like everything that has anything to do with music.

Kevin: Music is such a big part of our lives, so being able to do what we love is the best feeling.

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

Blair: The raw emotion and energy of punk rock is what initially got us hooked, then experimenting with psycho-active substances opened us up to more talented music. Growing up we listened to Ant-Flag, AFI, Refused, Thrice, Form Of Rocket, Then we found Radiohead and we knew we were put on this earth for a reason.

Kevin: I was raised on the classics like the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and my older brothers turned me onto punk music and Indie music. But Bands like Radiohead, Beck, and Elliott Smith really opened my eyes to something bigger.

Gavin: How did you both get together to form The Blare?

Blair: On MySpace.

Kevin: We just started jammin' and messin' around one day, we just clicked with each other and started taking our music more seriously.

Gavin: A lot of your work has electronic overdubs woven throughout, making it quite distinct. What was the process like in honing and perfecting that sound to your music?

Blair: The process has been amazing and really rewarding when things come together. Computer programs nowadays provide such a rich palette to work with in creating musical textures. It really brings music to a new level when you have thousands of sounds to work with, everything from deep hip-hop bass to colorful high synth sounds. It's a much different process than artists of the past have used.

Kevin: Sometimes the music just comes together so easy it makes me think that we are getting the hang of things and other times we spend countless hours working on the same things to the point it drives us crazy.

Gavin: Do you find it difficult to reproduce in public, or is it always hitting the experimental during a show?

Blair: Yes. It's hard to reproduce the recorded tracks we play with at shows because everywhere you set up you are going to get a different sound. The first couple times we played with the recorded tracks there were times when we would feel completely lost on stage. Now, we're kind of working on getting the sound right on stage and then working towards the audience. Hopefully our sound will continue to improve live but it's always going to be a bit of a gamble using recorded tracks. There also seems to be a direct correlation between how good we sound and how much money is behind the sound.

Kevin: It's hard to sound the same every time but we try to make it work. The thing that gets to me about playing with these recordings is there is no room for error or being "human" and making mistakes. But at the same time it is one less thing you don't have to worry about, like getting off beat or coming in to soon or too late, these recordings are very reliable.

Gavin: You recently released Talking In Your Think earlier this year. What was the recording process like for both of you?

Blair: We basically made TIYT to go through the process of making an album. It was very low budget and only two of the songs were done in an actual studio. The good thing about recording is that it makes you really get your songs down. The bad thing about recording is that by the time you do, you don't ever want to hear those songs again.

Kevin: It was a complete learning experience for me. I could actually hear everything that was going on. I felt like I was learning how to play these songs all over again. I didn't really know what to expect from all of it but I really dug the whole process.

Gavin: Do you prefer the DIY style or were there times you were wishing for a studio sound and process?

Blair: Both. We got much more of a studio sound on our new EP and are very exited about it. Most of the process is still DIY for us where we basically go into the studio with pre-recorded tracks and then put the drums, guitars, etc. over them. The nice thing about making music nowadays is that home recording technology is very accessible so we try to take advantage of that, while still using a professional studio to get a professional product.

Kevin: The studio sound has its perks and the amount of money you put into a record definitely shows. But DIY has made it possible for unsigned bands along with the internet to get their music out to the public for cheap and usually the sound quality isn't that bad. New technology has changed music in so many ways it boggles my mind what is possible now a days.

Gavin: What was the public reaction like after the album finally came out?

Blair: It was crazy. It was actually the night Real won the championship so it was hard to tell which celebrations were for the album and which ones were for the soccer game.

Kevin: It was good.

Gavin: You're currently working on a new EP, how's it coming along?

Blair: The new EP is done and will up on the web any day now.

Kevin: This EP will sound a little different from our album because of the bands lineup has been changing from the start of things. That element gives us our evolving sound.

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

Blair: There is a lot of opportunity in Utah and overall we've experienced a lot of support for playing locally. The only negative thing about playing around Salt Lake in particular is that there seems to be a monopoly controlling the mid-level show bookings that would offer good local bands a chance to play with touring bands. You can really tell the bands that have the connections because they are the same ones opening for every show that offers spots to local acts.

Kevin: I really dig the local scene, there are some really good bands that I've heard or seen around the SLC.

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

Blair: More people like you, Gavin. With all the things going on around Salt Lake right now I think it is inevitable that the music scene will continue to get bigger and better especially in the next couple years, coming out of this recession.

Kevin: Just getting the word out and getting people involved in the local scene.

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

Blair: Grizzly Prospector and Aye Aye

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

Blair: We love the local radio stations. It's really inspiring to hear the amount of talent that coming out of Salt Lake right now. It really pushed artists to have quality recordings available.

Kevin: They really help out the local scene a lot. It helps bring the music to the public. Most radio stations are filled with horrible music and the they just play the same stuff over and over.

Gavin: I know you've encouraged people at one point to download your album for free. With that in mind, what's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Blair: File sharing is awesome. It feels good to be a part of the new era in music. I think at first people were worried that file sharing would ruin the music industry but so far the effects have been much more positive than anyone would have anticipated. Artists have to realize that there are still ways to make money in music, it's just a matter of evolving to find new and creative ways to do it.

Kevin: I think it can get a little out of hand when that is the only way people are getting music. I really like the idea of sharing music with whoever wants it.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys going into next year?

Blair: More music, more shows, more psychedelia.

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

Blair: Yeah, the new EP
Nine Time Priming will be available on the web shortly. Check out our MySpace page for details, or come to a show and pick up a copy.

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