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Gavin's Underground

The Tribe Of I, Bludgeon Muffin

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2014-01-27 -
Once in a while we ditch the indie and rock music around town and check out something new, and you can't get a more relaxed crowd than those in the reggae scene. To the untrained eye, it appears that shows may be sparse, but a deeper look reveals a thriving genre in SLC that continues to grow and shrink each year depending on who gets involved. But no matter the size, it's always cool to see who's playing around town and catch a show where you can just kick back and enjoy the party.



The past Friday, I jumped in on the Anthony B. show happening at Bar Deluxe to check out and interview the two local openers: The Tribe of I and Bludgeon Muffin. We chat with both bands today; check out more photos in this gallery here.

The Tribe of I




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

Drew: We are a four-piece reggae band known around the valley as The Tribe of I. We’ve got Kyle McCann on bass, Raphael Khan on lead guitar, Tyler Hartman on drums and I’m Drew Zayach on the mic.

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

Tyler: My Dad was definitely a major player and got me into music at an early age. I was always obsessed with Pink Floyd as a kid. Tool, the Deftones, Primus and 311 are definitely my favorites of all time, for sure. All the bands that my favorite drummers play in have influenced me in one way or another.

Drew: Yeah, my mom for sure! Not that I wasn’t drawn to music, but she made it a mission to have music be a part of my life. Some of the artists that I listened to growing up were Sublime, System of a Down, Supernatural, Bob Marley, Wyclef Jean, Santana, Matisyahu, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Victor Wooten. But in all honesty, the most influential moment for me, the moment when I knew I wanted to be on stage, was when Tyler and I saw the Deftones for the first time. We were about 15 years old, and I had never experienced anything that intense from live performance. My mind was officially blown!



Gavin: How did you all come together to form The Tribe Of I?

Drew: I was playing around a lot of coffee shops and open mics and just felt the urge to get a band going, so I formed the group back in February of 2012 as a three-piece with Kyle McCann and our old drummer, Tom. When things began to pick up speed, Tom decided to pursue a career in medicine ... and so we snatched up Tyler later that summer.

Gavin: What influenced you to play as a reggae band and how was it coming together to make that sound?

Drew: Well, I like reggae, and somehow I have convinced these guys that following me around town is a good investment! Haha!

Tyler: Yeah, something like that ...

Drew: But in all seriousness, we share the same love for the positive, uplifting and sometimes haunting sounds of reggae.



Gavin: You've been around for a few years playing the scene, how has it been building an audience and coming up in the reggae circles?

Drew: It has been amazing! We know it’s not the biggest scene in Utah, but the reggae crowd in Salt Lake is like none other. ... The level of acceptance and positivity from the fans to the artists exceeds that of any other genre.

Tyler: I also think that playing reggae music opens the door for us to take advantage of unique show opportunities such as weddings and community events, that other genres may not be able to play. I think reggae music is very palatable for most people, so that allows us to reach audiences far and wide. Even if you aren’t a huge reggae fan, chances are you will like what we are doing onstage musically.

Gavin: I heard you have an album on the way, what details can you give us on the release?

Drew: We are currently recording and mixing with Eric Eschelbach at Rock Solid Studios in Salt Lake. He’s got a great ear for reggae, and we are very excited about the release. We are anticipating a late spring/early summer release of the album.



Gavin: Are there any plans to possibly tour or will you stick to Utah for the time being?

Tyler: Definitely! I think getting out on the road is always the goal for any active band out there; it is for us, at least.

Drew: Exactly, once the album has dropped, we plan on hitting the western states on the weekends to start. We are determined to spread the word about the band, and, of course, our music. ...

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

Drew: It’s funny, the local scene seems to be a giant roller coaster: There are a lot of ups and downs. There are a lot of really good local bands that come up, and then just seem to fall off the face of the earth for some reason. Overall though, the bands that play in Salt Lake are a very tight group. We all work together to put these shows together. We invest our own time and money to throw these events so that people can have a good time and enjoy live music.



Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make the local music scene more prominent?

Tyler: Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. I’d love to see bands in the same genres coordinate things a bit better. Of course things will never be perfect, but one of my pet peeves is seeing two bands of any genre playing in two different clubs, within a few blocks of each other on the same night. I can’t be in two places at once, but I don’t know how you fix that. Everyone seems to have their own agendas. I guess we all just need to work together and see where we fit in each other's plan. We need to put our egos aside, and elevate each other whenever possible.

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

Drew: Funk & Gonzo, Natural Roots, The Green Leefs and Pablo Blaqk are definitely some of our current favorites.

Tyler: Agreed! I recently caught the Grits Green album release party at the Woodshed a few weeks ago, and man, they KILLED it. There is also a band from Ogden, called From the Sun, who are super talented. I’d definitely like to see them come down to Salt Lake and do some shows with us.



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

Drew: We haven't been involved too much with local radio, although we would like to be. Smile Jamaica is definitely one of our favorite local programs. It always puts a smile on your face hearing your show being plugged on the air. Anything that helps us get the word out to the masses, we support 100 percent!

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

Tyler: I think it’s great! A band is a business, and should be treated that way. I personally like to have control as to how we are represented. Sites like Bandcamp and, of course Facebook, allow bands to do just that: market themselves the way they want. This could, of course, be a good or a bad thing, depending on the band and their message. ... I think it’s awesome to see the bigger bands like 311 releasing independent albums. It’s inspiring.




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

Drew: Shows, shows, shows and more shows! We will be promoting our self-titled album throughout much of 2014. We also have new music in the works, and have three songs ready for the next album. We are trying not to get ahead of ourselves, though. Our biggest goal as a band this year is to book some gigs out of state, and to make some new friends while we are at it!

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

Drew: We’d like to give a big shout out to Terry Burden up at Park City Television, Lee from the Woodshed for being one of the biggest reggae supports in Salt Lake. Big ups to all of our family and friends that are helping us live our dreams.

Tyler: This Friday, we are hosting the ninth-annual Marleymas at the Black Lion Event Center in Sandy. We have a lot of great bands on the bill. Tickets are $20 (includes drinks), but you must RSVP to the Facebook event. If you haven’t been to Marleymas in the past, DO NOT miss this. It’s going to be one hell of a party!


Bludgeon Muffin




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

Daniel: We're a reggae band with a bit of a rock feel. It's not like ska with a punk feel. It's more like Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix had a baby. Then allowed Carlos Santana to babysit on the weekends. Misi Touhuni on vocals, Bruce Kamai on bass, Nicolas Snarr on ukulele and Daniel Arellano on lead guitar.



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

Daniel: For me, it was very diverse. My father (Will Arellano) played in bands his whole life, so I grew up on live music. Music like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Santana, Hendrix and Steely Dan, as well as all the funky disco groups such as Rick James, The Brothers Johnson, and Earth, Wind & Fire. As a teenager, it was all about N.W.A., Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Tupac, etc. I did find myself with a handful of Pantera CDs and in love with heavy metal. Always love listening to classical/Spanish guitar stuff like Paco De Lucia and Strunz & Farah. One of my favorite live albums is Friday Night in San Francisco with John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia and Al Di Meola. That album changed me and opened my eyes big time! My musical influences are kind of all over the place. Of course we are all big-time Bob Marley fans. When we first started this band, my favorite CD was Bob Marley's Babylon By Bus, which is a live album. The guitar in that is incredible. It was a huge influence when we first put this band together.

Gavin: How did you all come together to form Bludgeon Muffin?

Daniel: I had been playing in a hip-hop/rock band called The Diggerz for a few years with local Rapper Padrino (Jesus Montano). He booked a show to play out at the Broadway in Tooele. The bass player couldn't make it and eventually had to quit the band due to personal reasons. Our only option was to play an acoustic set. So Jesus and I drove out and played our set of acoustic rap music. There happened to be a reggae band Misi on the bill that night. He had a three piece band with him on the guitar and vocals. Misi asked me to fill in on lead guitar after hearing our acoustic rap set that night. A week later, I received a call asking if I could go play a show in St. George with Misi and his group. By the spring of 2012, the drummer from my previous band and myself had been jamming at my house. My good pal Nicolas Snarr was in a reggae band called the Umbells. We work together and would pack our ukuleles and jam on our breaks. The Umbells had disbanded earlier that year also, so I invited Nic to come and jam with Mike and myself just for fun. I decided I’d call up my pal Misi and ask him if he’d like to come mess around on this new side project I had put together. He was all for it. I remember he asked me, “What is the name of the new project?” to which I quickly answered “Bludgeon Muffin." He was like, “OK cool ... I’ll see ya next week.” We learned a few Misi songs, and things came together so smoothly for us. That’s how it all happened.



Gavin: What made you go for a more reggae-infused take on jazz and rock, and how was it coming together as a group to make it work live?

Daniel: Great question! It just comes out that way. We all love reggae music. Misi does an incredible job writing reggae tunes. I add my distorted wah wah pedal to the mix and it just comes out with that rocker feel. My goal for Bludgeon Muffin has always been to reach out to people who love as much diversity in music as myself. Our live set includes anything from Nirvana reggae-style covers to Brooks & Dunn reggae-style covers, in addition to our original music, which mixes island-style reggae with a little Santana/Hendrix. Our fans are very responsive to what we do. We all love the sound that comes out and are very proud of what we are doing. It’s a trip to see people with their devil horns in the air and banging their heads at a reggae show.

Gavin: You started up back in 2012, how has it been for you playing around the area and gaining an audience?

Daniel: We have been lucky in that Misi as a solo artist already had a huge following. Since we all played in previous groups, we were able to rally all of our supporters and convert them into Bludgeon Muffin heads. People that hear us for the first time seem to be very receptive. We will always take the time to mingle after the show and spend time talking to everyone. When strangers are buying you drinks, you know they like you. It’s a great feeling to see people that saw you at a show for the first time, heard you were playing another show, and brought their friends to see you again.



Gavin: Are you looking to record an album or an EP anytime soon?

Daniel: We just finished our EP titled Revolt. The EP release party will be held at Liquid Joe's on Feb. 28. The EP will include eight tracks and will also be available at The Rawk Shop on 2580 S. Main in Salt Lake City.

Gavin: Have you given any thought to touring yet or are you just playing around the state for now?

Daniel: Now that our EP is finished, we absolutely plan to get out of town and promote like crazy. We are working on getting merchandise together. We plan to tour the western side of the nation first and eventually will work our way east.



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

Daniel: Some of the best music I have heard has been local. It helps to network with other groups and help each other out. It can get real competitive at times, but it has to be. In order to get better, we need to push each other. As long as attitudes don’t get in the way. I’ve experienced the occasional frontman who will compliment you on your set and then offer you a 10-minute set to open up for his band. You’re like, “Yo that’s not love!”

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make the local music scene more prominent?

Daniel: We had to master our craft first. Develop a show that was worth charging for. It took a lot of evaluating videos of ourselves, playback audio from shows and brainstorming how to become better.



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

Daniel: I really enjoy seeing Wasnatch. Funk & Gonzo are great. Funk Fu is always incredible live. We recently played with Sturgeon. They were awesome. The Sarah B Band was so professional. I learned a lot watching them.

Misi: One of the most impressive reggae groups locally in my opinion is Afro Omega.

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

Daniel: I try to listen to KRCL as much as possible. We’ve sent them demo songs but have yet to hear ourselves on the radio. YET... It’s going to happen. It’s only a matter of time. It’s important to all local groups to have the support of your community. Community radio is a critical part of the local scene. If you can get people in St. George to hear your music on the radio, that’s a huge opportunity to be heard throughout your state. We will eventually tour throughout the state, so it would be great to have people who have already heard our music or at least heard the name.



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

Daniel: Anything you can do as an artist to promote and get your name out is all part of the hustle. I think most bands have gone through too many sketchy "manager" types that bleed the band dry with promises of success with no results. Self-promotion is an important media for bands that really want to get their music out there without a middle man like a band manager. The problem with it is there are so many popping up. It’s hard to stay on top of which sites to join.

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

Daniel: We are constantly improving and working to get better. We will be touring, creating new music and working on building our fan base.



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

Daniel: Always! Besides the EP release on Feb. 28 at Liquid Joe's, we will also be sharing the stage with Tarrus Riley on Feb. 19. This is a Roots Rawka production that will be held at The Complex. We are very excited about this show. Peace, love and Bludgeon Muffin!


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