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Gavin's Underground

The Fission Breakers, Fear Fiasco, Nostalgia, Anthony Pena

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2013-11-04 -
Getting back into the swing of local shows, this weekend, I made my way over to Kilby Court just before the evenings start to become too chilly to do anything. Not to worry, as Kilby always seems to have a supply of wood to keep you warm by the bonfire. I've gotta say, though, I've never met so many kids and teens who know nothing about starting a fire and keeping it going. No guys, the one log doesn't last forever!
Today, I chat with all the performers at an all-locals show from this past Friday, featuring Anthony Pena, Nostalgia (and the two whole photos we have of them in the dark), Fear Fiasco and The Fission Breakers -- all with pictures from that night, which you can check out in this gallery here.

Anthony Pena

Gavin: Hey, Anthony. First thing, tell us a little about yourself.

Anthony: I'm an oldest son. full Venezuelan, and I am 16 years old. I attend Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts to study music theory, music composition, classical guitar and classical voice.

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

Anthony: I was never really around any good music when I was young; really only listened to what was on the radio and hits from the '80s from a compilation CD my parents had. My parents were brand-new to this country; all the music they knew was salsa and merengue, but they did know Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson, I would say, was one of the biggest inspirations at first. Then, I started guitar and came across guitarists like Buckethead and Paul Gilbert, then I got into Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie. And to this day, local musicians are huge inspirations to me. So, I had to find a lot of the great classics and just wonderful music on my own -- still am.
Gavin: What was it like for you breaking into the local music scene as a high schooler?

Anthony: It's amazing, because one starts earlier in their life and gets a lot more experience than starting later in life. It has its ups and downs, though; it's hard to find dedicated players in high school, so I stay away from those musicians. And people who are running venues, or top musicians, look down on you and have low expectations. So, it's hard to be taken seriously.

Gavin: What kind of a challenge has it been both as a solo performer and part of bands to get booked in Salt Lake City with so many names coming up?

Anthony: Getting people out to shows, because of the shows going on the night one is booked on. Or never getting booked on good nights because one hasn't built their name up yet, but getting booked for a better show would help so much. As for problems with being a solo performer, one can't get a full sound, which makes it hard to stand out. Nothing like being in a band.
Gavin: As a solo artist, what was it like for you putting together your own set of songs and figuring out what worked best for your audiences?

Anthony: Processes, demoing out tracks, writing an array of songs to have at one's disposal And really, just how I feel when I write out the sets; one can't please everyone.

Gavin: How has it been playing gigs in SLC and building that audience from scratch?

Anthony: It's a journey, a journey of playing maybe to family and friends first, then a couple of people and then finally starting to see a good amount of people. It takes time, and a lot of dedication. I think of it this way: It doesn't matter if you play to three or 300, those three count.
Gavin: Are you looking to record anything, or are you just playing gigs for now?

Anthony: Maybe, I'm currently demoing things out with Jantzen Meier of Golden Sun, and on my own I have a decent studio at home. And as for shows -- a couple here and there, but really, just working on getting these new songs together and planning a comeback to the scene with a new band, new atmosphere and hitting it hard.

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

Anthony: I think both Salt Lake and Provo are a great scene, people don't give it enough credit. Yes, we do run into the bands that are just doing it for fun, or are completely Mickey Mouse, but a good scene it is. There's a good sense of networking, which is crucial, and we musicians really help out each other.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Anthony: Try and connect bands a lot more, some kind of group or organization. I don't know, just a thought.

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

Anthony: Oh, man. Creature Double Feature, Andrew Goldring's stuff, L'anarchiste, Bat Manors, Mister Smith, Book On Tape Worm -- I could go on. Utah bands are rad.
Gavin: What's your opinion on current local-music airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

Anthony: I think it's wonderful because it both gains momentum for the musician and gains new listeners to the stations; it's a Win-Win. It give musicians a desire to strive and get the opportunity to either go on the radio live or have their music play in the rotations.

Gavin: What do you think of the rise of sites like Bandcamp and bands essentially marketing themselves?

Anthony: Social media is a killer, literally, but when it comes to musicians it's so beneficial. It gets hype up, one can spread their name out to outside of the state without having to take a trip there. It's a great way to meet other bands and make plans for shows, tour, and pizza parties. It just has its moments, though, because anyone can start a Facebook fan page and that's one more to the millions and millions that have been made, so the Internet can become diluted, created into a land of fog and smog. But if one is smart, it can be an advantage.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of this year?

Anthony: A blackout at first, since I'm working on the new material, but definitely a comeback to the scene. So, expect that sooner than later.

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

Anthony: Yeah, people can follow what will be going on at my page.


Nostalgia (Justin and Josh)

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

Justin: I'm 21 years old. Born in Phoenix, Arizona. Wound up in Utah County, mainly Orem, during some drifting years from ages 15-18. Left Utah, then came back when I was 19. Don't plan to move anywhere except Salt Lake City.

Josh: I'm 22 years old. Been playing drums since I was 15. Born in American Fork, raised in Orem.

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

Justin: Originally what got me wanting to make some noise were some bands my cousin had tuned me onto -- Music by Crass and Amebix. These two especially 'cause it was simple and powerful, but straight up, though Crass was my favorite -- not because of what they were playing, but the ethics behind it, ya know. D.I.Y pretty much sums it up. And I've also been fortunate to see some good bands, bands from Subhumans to Primus, Low to Fishbone. Seeing a good performance that gives leverage to one wanting to do their thing, as well -- that's influential.

Josh: When I was younger, I listened to a lot of R&B, '90s pop/alternative and classic rock. I love live performances by Led Zeppelin, The Doors, AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin inspired me to start playing drums. I like all types of music besides Christian rock and country.

Gavin: How did you both come together to form Nostalgia?

Justin: I met Josh in high school, right? Well, my good friend Matt and I walked over to his place in Orem, knocked on the door, got invited in and whatnot. First thing I see walking in his room was his drum set. And he had a little amp and guitar tucked into the corner. Matt coaxed him into making a beat, and I laid down something on guitar. After a few months, we decided to make our own music. To be specific, dub-style music. The year was 2007. And in 2013 coming up on 2014, it's gotten to where it's a hard sound to describe, so I just call it Nostalgia.

Gavin: What kind of a challenge has it been performing as a duo and defining your sound within that structure?

Justin: Can't complain, really. A bass would be killer, though; it would open up possibilities and directions. That's the crucial part right there, having some room to grow and add. But as of right now, based on the opinions I've heard from people eyeing us while playing, it sounds full.

Josh: It's been pretty easy for me. I just listen to what Justin is playing on guitar and make a simple beat in my head, then start playing along to the melody. When we start jamming together I become one with the music and ideas just start flowing naturally.

Gavin: Being an Orem band, what's it like going between Salt Lake and Utah counties and playing both scenes?

Justin: I really enjoy it. For years, I lived in Orem, Sharon Park neighborhood, and had never been to Salt Lake. Went to Provo twice. Just never left the park, ya know. Nostalgia has gotten us up to Logan a few times now. June 7 was the first nostalgia performance. And October 10, just recently; Provo, of course. Nov. 2 will be the first performance in Salt Lake City. Truthfully, though, I want to relocate myself to SLC. This city is very cozy and very strange; two good ingredients to mix into.

Josh: Driving sucks, but it's not so bad considering the crowds and reactions you get from playing in different locations.
Gavin: Back in January, you put together a demo. What was it like putting that together, and what did you think of the public reaction when it came out?

Justin: I don't like recording, especially track by track, which is why we recorded the instruments live and the vocals after. It wasn't intended to be handed out, it was for venues to let us in the back door with our equipment, ya know. But when it was handed out, whoever got it dug it. Feels strange that a set of different ears found, and find, our ears interesting.

Josh: It was a cool experience. I had fun hearing what we sound like recorded. I think we've had a pretty good reaction from the demo.

Gavin: Are there any plans to record a full-length albumt or are you just making music for now?

Justin: An EP, actually. On the demo, the only song that remained the same was Jack, the last one. The other four are either tweaked or different. A full-length though? Hell, yeah. Just in some time, though. People still don't know we exist.

Josh: I talked to Justin about this recently. It sounds like something we would do in the future.

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

Justin: In Provo, it's good but stagnant; no pun intended, no names. But some of the sounds just don't seem to escape the framework. Nonetheless, their music is catchy and good, I just personally don't vibe with the acoustic date nights that are the prominent thing. Some of the ones I enjoy hearing are The Ladells, Mortigi Tempo, Coin In The Sea and The Fission Breakers, even though they're not from this area, and KEMP.

Josh: Seems like majority of shows played here in my part of town are all the same genre. Occasionally, you get a few that are different. They're usually the ones I like.

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

Justin: Cater to all genres and styles.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Josh: The Mountainears, Mortigi Tempo, Swimm, The Fission Breakers and Eidola.

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

Justin: I listen to KRCL, but haven't heard anything I can associate to Provo. Don't know how it'd affect it if it was; suppose it'd be a positive thing.

Josh: I'm not familiar with the bands they air. It would be cool to hear someone I recognize locally, but I'm sure it gives bands good publicity.

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

Justin: I'd like to get one more show in December. We had one to be honest, at Shred Shed, but no joke, the other band said no dice for us to play with them. Big bummer; just play it by ear. 2014's gonna be busy. This year was practicing in front of people we didn't know and met after, learning how to set up a stage and what's comfortable. Yeah, dude -- 2014!

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

Josh: Yeah. The demo is on our Facebook we just created. These questions and the answers provided will be more definitive than anything on there, though. And yeah, check it out, and check it off if it's lame. Haha. And if you dig it, and wanna play some venue or someone's basement -- don't matter -- get in touch. And a big thank you to Mr. Sheehan here, who didn't have to bless us with an opportunity to talk about what we care for.


Fear Fiasco (Chase McClure, Trace Titus, Jason Tallon and Garrett Tice)

(For this interview, the band chose to answer as a group.)

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

FF: We are Fear Fiasco: two guitar players who make donuts, a bass player who, basically, runs a thrift store, and a drummer who mows lawns.
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Chase: I became interested in music when my Grandma enrolled me in guitar lessons with Michael Mann when I was about 13. I was really fascinated with the way instruments could be played differently to create a full song, so I really got into writing then. I really liked to listen to bands like Dream Theater until I had memorized nearly every note on every instrument in one song. It was insane the way they could do that much stuff and still have it sound really, really good.

Jason: Well, originally, I had no interest in playing music. My sophomore year of high school, I met Garrett and he told me I should learn to play the bass and jam with him. I borrowed my fiend's and tried to figure it out. Shortly thereafter, I met Chase and he pushed me to learning more difficult things. So, I suppose I would say that as cheesy as it sounds, those two are my biggest musical inspirations. I wouldn't even know where to start when it comes to favorite acts, though. I really enjoy seeing Say Anything live. They never disappoint.

Garrett: I just started listening to music at a really young age and I really connected with the drums, and I thought, "Hey I want to play in a band," and I've been playing music ever since. I grew up listening to all sorts of different bands that got me inspired to be a musician, like Fall Out Boy and New Medicine.

Trace: I was always interested in music from a very young age. I always wanted to learn how to play the guitar and started lessons when I was in eighth grade with Michael Mann, as well. After about six months, I stopped taking them due to lack of practicing, but when I was 18, I decided to go back and really learn how to play. Bands like Thrice and The Rocket Summer have always been a big inspiration to me.

Gavin: How did you all come together to form Fear Fiasco?

FF: Well, we had a few bands before Fear Fiasco. It all started with Altered Ending, which was Garrett and Jason's band with another guitar player. Chase joined Altered Ending three months later as the singer and rhythm guitarist. After the other guitar player quit, Chase quit singing for awhile, and we had another singer for a bit before Trace eventually joined the band, playing lead guitar. After the second singer quit, we all formed John Breakfast and played open-mic nights and jammed in Chase's basement until we eventually decided to get serious and we changed our name to Fear Fiasco, and here we are now.
Gavin: What made you decide to go for a more pop-alternative sound, and how was it coming together as a group and hashing it out?

FF: Our sound wasn't really a decision. We all jammed together for a few months, and when we decided we wanted to do originals we learned some of the songs I had written. I started writing arrangements specifically for the band, allowing everyone to play whatever they wanted while providing a blueprint for the feel I was going for. I just wrote what I thought sounded good.

Gavin: You've only been together a couple of months. How has it been playing around and gaining an audience?

FF: We've had a lot of help from Ron at Mojos in Ogden as far as exposure goes there. We played an open-mic night and he invited us back to play. We played what felt like our first real concert and we met The Fission Breakers, who invited us to this show we're playing at Kilby Court. It's really our first show in the SLC area, so we're really excited for that. Haven't seen any of Provo yet; we'll have to find our way out there soon. Overall, though, everyone's been really supportive of us and we appreciate that more than we can put into words.
Gavin: Being a Layton band, how has it been traveling between Ogden, SLC and Provo and getting a taste of each city's audience?

FF: I think we covered most of what we'd have to say about that in the last question, but it's always fun to drive up to Mojos, blasting our EP to get ready for the show.

Gavin: Do you have any plans to record an album down the road, or are you still just writing music?

FF: We're definitely planning to record an album in the future. We just released our self-titled EP on iTunes, Spotify, etc., and we're planning on recording a single in a couple of weeks. We're still writing songs and figuring out how we want an album to sound, but it'll probably come together on its own if we keep going the way we have been practicing almost every day together.
Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on the music scene, both good and bad?

FF: Aside from one or two bands we've played shows with, everyone's been really friendly and supportive and we've tried to reciprocate that.

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

FF: There should be more venues throughout the suburban areas. There's really not a lot of places to see local bands play, especially around the Layton area.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

FF: The Fission Breakers, Eat Crow, The Contras and GoodGrape. They're all super-cool and a lot of fun onstage.

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

FF: We're not really aware of any local radio stations that do much to help local musicians. If they're out there, we've yet to find them.
Gavin: What do you think of the rise of sites like Bandcamp and bands essentially marketing themselves?

FF: We support sites like that. We use Tunecore. It's awesome that it's become so easy for bands to market themselves now.

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

FF: More shows, more music, and probably some merchandise. We want to get some T-shirts done next and get a single out. We're also thinking about doing some music videos, but that's kind of up-in-the-air right now.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

FF: Like us on Facebook, get our EP on iTunes, look out for our upcoming single. We'd like to say thank you to Mojos, Sunnybrook Studio, and Mike Mann. And thank you for interviewing us!


The Fission Breakers (Travis Woolston, Patrick Oberg and Jonathan Pillling)

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

Patrick: We're a psychedelic-rock band from Bountiful. We're missing our drummer, Jon, right now, but we're all around 19 years old, just enjoying the ride.

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

Travis: For the most part, I'd say our tastes in music were pretty generic other than our occasional Doors covers. We're pretty well known for that around Bountiful. Sometimes people say we sound like them; I'm guessing a big part of that is Patrick's vocal style. Lately, I've been listening to The Velvet Underground, MGMT, Radiohead, stuff like that.
Gavin: How did you all come together to form The Fission Breakers?

Travis: We originally played in a short-term band with a mutual friend; in our free time at those practices we ended up making some pretty interesting stuff, so I got us a PA and the jamming began.

Gavin: What made you decide to take a more blues/indie kind of tone with your sound, and how has it been hashing it out over the past couple of years?

Patrick: Playing piano as a kid was boring for me at times. Hearing a different style of play with the organ in '60s bands was always appealing to me and that made me strive for a similar style of play in our own music. In the beginning, we had a strong influence from The Doors. To grow from that point and develop our own sound is exciting, especially when a lot of people aren't going for that style anymore.
Gavin: What's it been like for you playing around the state and gaining an audience?

Travis: Getting around is always good; it's great to meet new people and make new friends. Playing outside of SLC has helped us gain a little better feel for playing on the road. We've gained some experience through interacting with new places and crowds; it's a lot of fun.

Gavin: You've got a debut album on the way later in November. What was it like putting that together, and what issues did you deal with along the way?

Patrick: Interaction has been a long-awaited project for us. Just getting out of high school was a big hump to get out of the way. A lot of the songs were written last spring, and that has given us a lot of time to get comfortable with the songs before we laid them down. Recording with Gregg Hale from Lincoln Street Sound was a great experience for us. He really understood the sound we were looking for and was a big help with getting the songs to feel right.
Gavin: Do you have any plans to tour outside Utah after the release, orare you mainly sticking close to home?

Patrick: After the release, we're going on tour with The 2:13's in December to Arizona, California, and Nevada; that will kick off at Kilby Court on Dec.13, along with a couple of Idaho shows with them in November. We have some dates lined up for spring that are out of town in support of the new album. Aside from that, we have a couple of shows in Bountiful in November, but our last show locally in 2013 will be the one at Kilby.

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

Travis: It's always fun to see what you can see. There are a ton of great people in the local scene. Hangin' out backstage with some kids who are there enjoying the atmosphere is priceless. There are definitely your bad days, as well -- dead batteries, broken drumsticks, just about anything you can imagine has and will happen. Those things aren't that big of a deal, though; there's always someone to help out, especially if you're passionate about what you're doing.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Patrick: I think the musicians need to remain passionate. That's where it all starts: If you don't care about your music, you can't expect others to. You can feel passion and that is what makes great shows. Once you have that rolling, it's up to the community to invest in going to shows and supporting them. Passionate musicians and a supportive community will generate a better scene.

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

Patrick: I enjoy listening to Desert Noises on occasion. I haven't heard too much from The North Valley, but I liked their old project, The Spins. Lake Island is really awesome, but The 2:13's are still my favorite right now.
Gavin: What's your opinion on current local-music airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

Travis: 90.9 [KRCL Radio] is great. It's very rare that I'll listen to the radio, but when I do, it's them -- even though they're always asking for more of my money, haha. It's an awesome thing for local musicians; in fact, I think live, local musicians and bands playing on the radio should be much more common than it is.

Gavin: What do you think of the rise of sites like Bandcamp and bands essentially marketing themselves?

Travis: I think it's very unreal, I wouldn't bother for a moment taking those things seriously. It's like a pay-to-play boosting system; those sites exist for the benefit of the advertisers. But at the same time, I still believe that if a band is going to make it, they can do it without anything at all but their love for music; that other stuff just really isn't necessary. I don't mind having pages on those kinds of sites as long as I'm not the one managing it.
Gavin: What can we expect from all of you over the rest of this year?

Travis: Aside from the album release, possibly a live music video of our song "On Your Mind." We're playing a lot of cool cities; really excited for Los Angeles. But, for the most part, we'll be promoting the new album and finishing up new songs for our second release next May.

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

Patrick: Our album release show is Nov. 16 in Bountiful. Come to the shows and, hopefully, enjoy the experience, Thanks, Gavin!


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