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Gavin's Underground

Birthquake, Vile Blue Shades, Palace Of Buddies

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-03-24 -

Headed over to The Urban Lounge this past Saturday. Seeing their new banner, new HDTVs and painted murals on the walls. All in time for a CD release show.

Kicking off the night were the experimental tropical sounds of Birthquake, followed up by the musical experience that is Vile Blue Shades. And closing out the evening in celebration of their new self-titled album, Palace Of Buddies. I got a chance to chat with all three bands and of course caught pictures from the whole night, all for your enjoyment.


Birthquake (Matt Whittaker, Greg Whittaker, Mark Herrera and Nick Whittaker)

http://www.myspace.com/birthquake

For this interview, Birthquake chose to answer as a band.

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

BQ: The Band is a family band, Matt, Scott and Nick Whittaker. We recently adopted Mark Herrera as a Whittaker. We started Birthquake about a year ago. We like good times, hate bad times. Our life could be compared to the movie “Logan's Run”, except that we don't have jewels in our hands that light up when we expire, we're not running from anything.... so maybe our life isn't like the film. I would say its more like “Jeremiah Johnson” (we wont explain, just watch the damn movie).

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

BQ: When we were young we were introduced to music by bands like The Riverdales, The Rip-Offs, Minor Threat, T-Rex, and a lot of punk bands. Matt and Scott started a punk band in the 90's called The Assassinatiors that became pretty popular for a while. We then heard bands like Sonic Youth, and saw Fugazi and music took a new shape! It was a glorious ball of musical yum-yum presented before us in a beautiful ice cream dish covered with diamonds and cute kittens. Then there were these amazing groups that we stumbled upon like Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes and a bunch of other rad tropical Brazilian bands.

Gavin: Being brothers, how was it growing up and all being interested in music?

BQ: It was nice to say the least. We were raised on music. We weren't genetically programmed to play sports or be interested in sports, if some one throws a ball at us to this day we get in the fetal position for safety. Music kept us all close. Scott picked up a bass, Matt got some drums in 7th grade and Nick's friend, Tommy Anderson showed him how to play a Ramones song on the guitar. Our parents were supportive of us playing music.

Gavin: How did the idea come about to start Birthquake?

BQ: Birthquake was a funny name we thought of back when we were playing in El Toro. After El Toro broke up we went our own ways and did other bands but told each other that some day we would do a family band called BIRTHQUAKE! About a year ago, that time finally came!

Gavin: When and how did Mark become a part of the group?

BQ: Scott met Mark through work a year ago. After they got to know each other and Scott saw the Sonic Youth sticker on Mark's bike, Scott felt it safe to invite mark to a practice. After Mark jammed with us once, we knew we had to have him aboard the ship!

Gavin: What inspired you to go more the experimental, almost jazz-like sound?

BQ: All of us were kind of tired of how generic sounding music has become. A lot of music today uses an almost predictable formula that just becomes boring after a while. It is depressing. We feel music should be happy and never predictable, like riding splash mountain for the first time, there you are in a happy tree with happy animals and then out of no where you are tricked by a fox! A damn fox! And before you know it, the log you are in has gone over a water fall and you get covered in water, but your still alive! We wanted to incorporate some tropicali rhythms because they are the happiest feel good rhythms we have ever heard. Mark Contributes the most to our Jazz sound. He is a Jazz expert. He is the Latino jazz man! He is Tony Dazzleship!

Gavin: I understand you're working on the “Teepee” EP. What's the status with it?

BQ: The Teepee EP is out now! You can get a copy of it at one of our shows or listen to it on MySpace, or you can do both!

Gavin: Are there any plans to possibly tour, or will you just stick to playing around for now?

BQ: We are hoping to do a little touring this summer and a lot of touring once we have a full length

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

BQ: Salt lake has an interesting scene. There is a good balance of rad, innovative music and generic, boring sounding stuff.

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

BQ: That is the million dollar question. I wish we could answer that. I wish anyone could answer that, but A suggestion would be; more people should come to a show expecting to have fun and more bands should be happy and energetic while they play.

Gavin: Who would you say are your top five favorite acts in the scene right now?

BQ: Palace Of Buddies, Jinga Boa, Lazer Fang, Future Of The Ghost, and The Devil Whale! These bands are rad because they play what they want to play, they aren't afraid to push the limits.

Gavin: Moving to the music industry, tell us what your thoughts are on it in general and the current state it's in?

BQ: We think the underground/indie scene is doing great. There is a wide variety of great bands to listen to, from folk to metal, from math rock to hip-hop there is a great selection of bands to "tickle your fancy". The mainstream scene is still the same old generic sounds and formulas thats been used since the invention of KORN or 4-Non-Blondes and all the crappy bands before them.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

BQ: We think it's crap. When will we we get over the 80's? It was a crappy time. Give someone a synthesizer and a clap track and ten minutes later they have an album with sub-par lyrics and hours of radio play. The idea of getting big seems to get in the way of making good music to these bands. They put recognition before quality.

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

BQ: Share on! Sharing is caring. The only effect it has on us is we get to watch people have a good time for free.

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

BQ: A full length album and warm hugs!

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, anything you'd like to plug or promote?

BQ: Be excellent to each other, and check out Palace Of Buddies new album!


Vile Blue Shades

http://www.myspace.com/vileblueshades

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

Ryan: Ryan Jensen, alcoholic extraordinaire.

Joe: Joe Giles, the master of ceremonies.
The king of bling, know what I mean?
I sing so good and I sing so well,
everybody else is gonna go to hell.
Here I am, once again, Joe Giles, with a smile.
The king's crown and a big pile of suckers behind me!

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your influences?

Ryan: Right off the bat, I loved Weird Al Yankovic. Then after that there was the Dead Milk Men which were the “gateway drug” for real punk rock music. NOFX, but that ran out of steam real quick. But then I discovered Wire and Pudd, they made me want to be in a band. At the time I was an English major and I thought being part of a band was being a lesser person, thought all they did was fuck around and write lyrics that didn't make sense. But after I got my major it all made sense.

Gavin: What made you want to start up Vile Blue Shades?

Ryan: I hated The Corleones. That's my only reason.

Gavin: All of them, or just one of the incarnations?

Ryan: There was only one version of the Corleonoes, with two new members.

Gavin: Who were some of the first people that got involved, and how many people have you had in total over the years as band members?

Ryan: Well me and Dan agreed to be in a band, but Joe said he wouldn't be in the band because we were writing a sex record.

Joe: I joined the band because the art was cool, but I was going to quit when they made a sex record because I was very innocent and I knew that Ryan was dirty and gross and humps girls. And I was all like “that's gross!”

Gavin: What was it like making the Dark Wizard album?

Ryan: It was heaven. Every morning at nine in the morning, it was awesome. End of sentence.

Gavin: Was it pre-planned to release everything on just vinyl, or just an idea that came along as an afterthought?

Ryan: Anybody who wants to be in a band wants to do something on vinyl. And its so hard! And you want it so bad.

Joe: It was totally planned from day one. I've been in lots of bands and I never wanted to do vinyl, but was part of the prerequisite.

Gavin: How was it making the albums that followed with a full ensemble?

Ryan: It was fuckng hell! Have you ever recorded an album on tape? It's a nightmare!

Gavin: How was it for you playing at the Masonic Temple at October Evening?

Ryan: Super cool.

Gavin: I know critics like to say that the group is just a “jam band”. Do you take offense to that or just take it in stride that its not everyone's taste?

Ryan: Did we jam tonight?

Gavin: No, you played a set.

Ryan: Well there you go.

Gavin: Are there any thoughts right now for the next album or will you just be kicking back and just performing for a while longer?

Ryan: We're always working, never a point where a band stops working. If you stop working... you're retarded.

Gavin: Thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Ryan: The music scene is pretty healthy! I have a person next to me in a cool band. (Reaches over pulls in Matt.) Imagine that. I didn't even have to look far, I didn't have to walk two steps. All I had to do was reach out my arm. Hello Matt Hill.

Matt: Hey, how you doing, man.

Ryan: Who's your band?

Matt: The Tiny Lights.

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

Ryan: More records!

Gavin: Anything you' wanna promote or plug?

Ryan: Our next record.

Joe: By the end of summer we'll have a re-recording of “Dark Wizard” and a new song or two. That's it! Plugged!


Palace Of Buddies (Tim Myers & Nick Foster)

http://www.myspace.com/palaceofbuddies

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

Tim: Hey there. Let's see, I'm Tim Myers, I play guitar/effects/keyboard and sing, while Nick Foster plays drums/keyboards/effects and sings also. We constitute a two piece known as Palace of Buddies.

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

Tim: I suppose that the Genesis of the story can be traced back to the 1990's. Nick and I met in 7th grade at Albion Middle School. We both played the drums and were more or less into the same music. Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and other music that was popular during the early to mid 1990's.

Gavin: How did the two of you get together to form Palace Of Buddies?

Tim: We would often talk music and would hang out on occasion and play drums/music together (Nick was always a little bit better at the drums than I was). When High School rolled around, I moved away from playing the kit to playing bass and guitar and began to play in little punk rock/hardcore groups that would play around the city, while Nick was playing in indie rock groups such as My Density, Timid Robot, and a few others that I can't recall the names of right now. Anywho, towards the end of high school, Nick and I would talk about wanting to start a more experimental heavy band. I had been playing drums in a band called Tempered and the guys that were I playing with wanted to do the same. In 1999-2000 we formed a band called, Pushing Up Daisies. I played guitar, and Nick played the kit. The other members we played with would later on go off to form Glacial, El Toro, and Tamerlane. Pushing up Daisies had mild success, went on to record/tour. We started experimenting at this time with different instruments such as theremins, old synths, and different effects (it was really getting out of control. Way too many pedals), which would stay as a staple in our music. I left the band in 2002 and went on a mormon mission. Nick left Pushing Up Daisies shortly after. Nick went on to pursue a degree in music composition from the U and became much more involved in electronic music. In 2005, with a few friends, I formed a band called Airliner. We played for a year or so and disbanded. The members went on to play in the Brobecks and Birthquake. At this time, Nick was finishing up school and had some free time to play music. We initially would get together and jam, but soon found ourselves getting more involved in this two piece project. Our influences began to bleed together. Nick was writing really experimental electronic music and was listening to lots of classical work/experimental compositions. I was listening to a lot of Blonde Redhead, Crystal Skulls, Sonic Youth, lots of Motown and Stax artists (which I don't really think influenced our sound a ton, but was definitely a big influence in motivating me to play and promote music).

Gavin: Do you find it easier or harder as a duo?

Tim: Playing as a two piece was really hard at first. The sound spectrum wasn't really as full as when playing with two or three others, which led us to brainstorm how we could fill the sound out. We began to incorporate additional instruments and amplifiers and different ways of playing them. We wanted to stay far away from the "press play and play along" type music that we were seeing with two piece groups. Essentially what it has evolved into is a multi-task rock/electronic mess. Playing live can be difficult, because looping a sample in real time does not always play back in sync with the other sounds, which gives our live shows an element of uniqueness, because they will never be exactly the same.

Gavin: How did you go about developing your sound and how it would work out live?

Tim: The song writing process is never the same. A lot of the time we will have ideas and then try to flesh them out. A lot of the time we jam together and something comes up that we decided to keep. It is a lot easier to work with just one musician, especially if you have known that musician for a long time. Each song is a little bit different, because we have to figure out how we are going to play the song (will Nick play the keys and drum at the same time? Will I play midi bass and guitar. Will we use a sample and if so, how are we going to trigger it?). It seems that just recently we have gotten to the point in which we have enough gear that we can write a new song without having to buy a certain type of pedal or piece of equipment to add the sound we are envisioning.

Gavin: You've got a new album out. What was the recording process like?

Tim: We started to play shows in late 2006 and in 2007 we finally wrote enough songs that we felt good about to complete a full length. We started to record them at Nick's home during the winter or 2007-2008 (it took way too long to complete). It was really nice to record at Nick's house, we could take our time and record the album however we really wanted. Nick did the mixing and would spend hours and hours in the mix. I think that the recording shows this. We spent a good amount of time doing this, and finally decided that we would never finish it unless we made a date as to when we would be done. This sorta lit a fire under us and we finished with enough time to get it mastered and pressed.

Gavin: What drew you to release it on Kilby Records?

Tim: Around this time our good friend, Will Sartain approached us and asked us if we would like to release the album on his and Lance Sanders record label, Kilby Records. We had been playing many shows at their clubs, Kilby Court and the Urban Lounge, and I suppose that they liked what they heard/saw. We finished the recording in January of 2009 and had it mastered in Feb 2009 by Carl Saff (Saff Mastering-Chicago). It will be released on March 21st and will be available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Digstation, and many other places.

Gavin: I understand you're planning out a tour this summer. What have you got planned for that?

Tim: We will be promoting it with a West Coast tour this May, which should be really fun. That brings us up this point, I suppose.

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

Tim: The music scene is Salt Lake is amazing. There are so many up and coming bands/musicians that are
truly amazing. What I really enjoy about the music scene in Salt Lake is the contributions to the community that many bands/musicians give. Groups are always willing to help each other out by filling in to play a show, spending time to help each other record or jam. I think that in many cases there is a desire to put Utah on the map with many artists here, so the unity in helping each other out is big.

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

Tim: If there was anything I think that could make the music scene better here is for artists to keep playing and writing. The only thing that kills a music scene is when the music get stagnant and uninteresting, usually through laziness. I think that a constant progression of new music will only help the music scene in Utah. I always love hearing new bands emerge, and older bands write new music and release new records. It makes being a part of the music community that much more enjoyable.

Gavin: Who would you say are your top five favorite acts in the scene right now?

Tim: I am not sure if I could narrow a list down to a top 5, but there are many amazing bands in Salt Lake that I am extremely fond of and love to see play. Nick plays in a band called Ether, which has been around since the mid 1990's. When I was in high school I thought that this band was one of the best acts to come out of Utah. I still think so. Birthquake is probably one of the most entertaining bands I have ever seen. Their sound is unlike anything in Utah. Lazerfang is another amazing group that I love to see. Tolchock Trio is always great. Future of the Ghost, Nolens Volens, VCR5, Aye Aye, GIANT, Form Of Rocket, Nonnon, Taught Me. I probably forgot to mention others, but you get the idea, there are soo many good bands in Utah.

Gavin: Moving to the music industry, tell us what your thoughts are on it in general and the current state it's in?

Tim:
Since the starting of the music downloading revolution, the music industry, in my opinion, has opened up for smaller record labels and smaller groups to emerge. Bigger record labels are beginning to lose their gross incomes by not being able to capture the sales from physical albums like they use to. People are downloading and file sharing more often than actually purchasing records from stores. This can be problematic for bigger, popular bands who have been experiencing high returns on album sales. they now have to tour more frequently, if they are wanting to make money. For smaller groups, greater exposure without having to market themselves as highly, is now attainable through file sharing and music downloading. So I believe that file sharing is a rather good thing for our band, in that regard and smaller bands in general. I also think that with more media outlets such as internet radio, and other web based media-marketing, bands have a great opportunity to reach a bigger audience, when in the past, this required many more hoops to jump through, and miles of red tape. So, with this being said, I honestly think that the music industry and music in general has the opportunity to become less
homogenized than the past, if listeners choose to explore their music taste. It has never been easier to discover new music, but it requires a little work in exploring. I think that this is an exciting time for music history.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Tim: As far as trends in radio, I really don't know what they are. I can probably speak for the both of us in that neither of us really listen to popular radio. I think that in many cases popular radio dictates to the listener the types of music they "should" be listening to. Popular radio makes choices for the listener, and further
sterilizes music progression. But that is just my opinion. I have a few gripes with mass media, so my opinion might sound one sided. So as far as trends in radio music I really am not sure. When I listen to the radio I tend to listen to NPR, KRCL and other public radio programs. I do however, listen to internet radio, which can really be controlled by what type of music you would like to listen to. This is great for discovering new artists.

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

Tim: I think that this pretty much sums things up. We will be touring in May and again this fall to promote the new record, which we are extremely excited for. We have started to write new music which will most likely result in studio time this fall and a release of our second full length album next year.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Tim: Thanks to Gavin's Underground, Kilby Records and all our friends in Salt Lake.

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