down 3rd West, you wouldn’t think much of the area aside
from the fact that it’s become the destination for random
businesses you never knew people needed. Seriously, there’s an
entire store devoted to vacuum cleaner hoses. But amongst the strange
rental places and sign makers is a former bar & grill that’s
recently been making a lot of noise on the local rock scene. The
Broken Record has taken their small underpass location and turned it
into a home for the lost art of alternative rock. Giving some bands a
brand new home and a place to practice their craft, while adding a
new venue to the slowly growing list of places to find a harder
This past Friday I made my way over to take pictures and interview three local rock acts. The ecstatic post-punk Muses Of Bedlam, the dark female quartette Subrosa, and the melodic barrage of Violet Run.
Muses Of Bedlam (Wallace, Curt, Byron and Topher)
Gavin: What did you guys think of the crowd tonight?
Topher: What did we think of the crowd? We love the crowd every night whether there’s half a person there because they were severed at the waist, or whether there’s 48 people which is probably about the biggest crowd we’ve ever played.
Byron: Well said.
Gavin: Tell us a little about yourselves and how you got together as a band.
Topher: That one should probably start with Wallace.
Wallace: Well, I had a show and Byron took off to Europe and ditched me. I had to form a band for a show I had in twenty-two days, and I pulled Topher and Curt in to write a set and perform it. It was interesting. Then Byron came back and we were ten times better with him.
Gavin: Cool. What’s your take on the local scene, both good and bad?
Topher: It’s alive.
Curt: Totally supportive.
Byron: The whole community’s nice, everybody treats each other nicely.
Wallace: It’s a real supportive crowd, basically.
Topher: And just brilliant. I am thrilled every time we play with just incredibly talented musicians. I don’t actually play any instruments myself, but it’s awesome to see that, it just floors me every night to see the talent in this state. That’s the good. I haven’t really experienced much bad myself so it’s hard for me to be objective in that way. I don’t know what these guys think.
Wallace: It’s a self-serve scene, for sure. You gotta get out and do it yourself, there’s really no promoters here to help you. That’s the downfall. And there’s only so far you can go here, the city’s not that big. That’s the only drawback.
Topher: Because your only support network is other bands who are like you, that’s your best support network. And that’s a great support network, but it would also be nice to get more help from promoters and the media.
Gavin: What’s your opinion on the current trends in music now?
(Wallace actively vomits on the ground in disgust.)
Curt: Radio still exists?
Topher: Radio? Oh you mean iPod! The truth is, I haven’t listened to radio, except for NPR and KRCL, in I don’t know how long. It’s really hard for me to say what’s popular because I only ever hear band names and I don’t even know what they sing anymore. And I see photos and I think “that’s a punk-ass poser.”
Curt: I think bands really just need to cheer up, I think that’s the problem with mainstream music. Everyone just need to cheer up, quit wining about their girlfriends-
Wallace: No more girl music for boys.
Curt: Yeah, give them back your girlfriend’s pants and just, you know… rock! You know, the screamer bands of today are like the hair-metal bands of the 80’s. It’s “look good first, sound good second.” There’s no integrity.
Topher: And taste good last! I’d have to say the one thing that bugs the hell out of me, and I’m so sorry if this offends any local bands because this isn’t directed at you guys, but I hate that whiney vocal that’s become so popular that you hear everywhere. The singing out of your nose sound. I didn’t come to hear a kazoo front your band, you know? That’s about it for me. That’s a trend that needs to go.
Gavin: I agree whole heartily with the last one. What are your thoughts on the music industry and the state it’s in?
Byron: It’s gone. I don’t think it’s going to exist down the road. Which is kinda nice, it’s gonna change everything. I think it would be really great if instead of major bands going from city to city, you fill those major arenas with local bands so they could become more popular. I prefer local musicians actually performing instead of the whole corporate style.
Topher: Yeah, and thinks like YouTube and MySpace and these other various online resources have allowed people to just start contributing and doing their own thing and put it out there. No wonder the record companies are scared, they’re totally losing power. And the more people do things like that the more power they loose, and I say rock on! That’s sweet.
Gavin: So while we’re on the topic, what do you think of MySpace and file sharing?
Topher: I actually used to use Napster a lot before the whole Metallica thing went down. And when that went down I was really outraged, knowing Metallica’s history and how they used to copy records at Hetfield’s apartment and pass them off to each other. What’s the difference? For me personally, if I have a CD and it’s out there and someone wants to share it with another person, I really could care less.
Byron: Once you make an artistic creation, especially music, once you’ve left it and it’s out there it’s not yours anymore. It’s for everybody, it goes everywhere. People are so obsessed with making a bunch of money when they do something, but the creation is the thing. Once you let it go, it’s gone.
Topher: And it’s really hard to swallow it when some dude pulls up in a huge 38-wheel hummer/limo with a jacuzzi and an airport on the roof and says “you know, those kids are stealing from me!” And I’m thinking… you drive around in an aircraft carrier! Do you need more money? I’m eating Ramen with mustard and you’re doing more than well.
Wallace: MySpace is amazing, I have to admit. I just signed myself a gig in New York off MySpace.
Gavin: You’ve got an album out right now, how’s it doing?
Topher: You know, it’s not even really an album. The one thing we have out that’s any sort of recording was recorded live at The Urban Lounge when we were all just completely wasted. It was probably the worst show we ever played. And we are so proud of it! It was like, our third show. I couldn’t even stand up.
Wallace: We have an album sitting, it’s almost done.
Gavin: How’s the progress coming with that one?
Curt: It should be out by the end of this year… hopefully. That’s our goal.
Byron: We think we can do it.
Gavin: Any local acts you’d like to recommend?
Curt: Vile Blue Shades!
Byron: The Purrbats.
Topher: The Violet Run, those four kids going on tonight, they are the heart and soul of our band. They have been with us all along and they have to be in my top 5. Those guys… beautiful.
Curt: …The Osmond’s. (All laugh)
Byron: Eden Express. They’re good, they’re out of Provo.
Subrosa (Bonie, Rebecca, Kim and Leena. Not pictured, violinist Sarah currently in Eurpoe)
Gavin: What did you think of the crowd tonight?
Rebecca: I thought it was amazing, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever played, actually. Everyone was having so much fun.
Bonie: Everyone was having fun.
Rebecca: Everyone was so into it.
Gavin: Tell us a little about how you came together and started performing.
Rebecca: I had an idea to start a band with this sort of music for a few years, and I finally got up the guts to do it three years ago. I started it with Sarah and we started writing demos, and that’s sort of how it began. And then Bonie joined about a month and a half after we formed, and we asked several people to play bass and drums with us and no one would because they hadn’t heard us yet. We've actually been through 6 bassists since we began. It sucks! Our first bassist was actually a guy named Zoe. But then Leena joined us eight months ago.
Bonie: They actually picked me up. I had two lessons with Dave Payne and he recommended me to Rebecca.
Rebecca: Yeah, Dave recommended her to us and it was like “oh cool, a new girl drummer, that’s awesome.” And it worked out, the first time I saw Bonie I could tell that she was a talented girl. She’d only been playing a month but she had it and had a natural gift for it.
Gavin: What’s your opinion on the local scene, both good and bad?
Rebecca: I have nothing but good things to say about the Salt Lake scene. I love it here, it’s the reason I moved to Utah. It’s totally inspiring, I have so many friends in the music scene, just the coolest most inspiring people ever, and I think this scene is one of the best in the nation for sure. I’ve always said that and I still will.
Bonie: I agree. Full heartily.
Gavin: What’s your take on the current trends out in music right now?
Rebecca: I think that there are a lot of exciting things going on right now with what’s going on in certain undergrounds. But the mainstream has just been a shallow pit of cruminess. For man, many, many years and there’s been nothing to bring it back.
Bonie: I feel like it’s going more acoustic indie, and we don’t really approve of that.
Gavin: With that said, what’s your opinion on the music industry and the state it’s in?
Rebecca: Well, there’s good and bad things with the adding of the internet. The good part is that major labels don’t rule the day anymore, they’re not the kings of the castle. But on the other hand, there’s something to be said I think for some kind of filter because it’s just so hard sometimes to wade through millions of bands who are super good at promoting themselves, and find those few that you really connect with. I guess it’s better than worse, but I think bands can still make a living off of touring and stuff like that. It’s just a shift in how they make money.
Bonie: I agree, I don’t think there’s anything I can add to that, really.
Gavin: Keeping on topic with the internet, what’s your opinion on file sharing?
Bonie: You know what, I’m really idealistic so I feel like if I download the artists, I will probably buy the artist later. If I like the art I’ll find a way to support it just because I want to support it. So I’m okay with it. But my brother’s adamantly against it, he works for Columbia Records and doesn’t support the idea of it, and it’s ridiculous to me as I’m the complete opposite. If you download the art then you support the artist, and if you support the art then the art will support you.
Rebecca: I think that Nine Inch Nails set a really good example giving options on getting Ghosts 1-4. You can download it all, or get bonus tracks for money, you can actually buy the CD, or you can buy the huge deluxe set for a large amount. I thought that was an awesome way to approach it because I feel like there’s no way to fight this trend and Trent Reznor is adapting very well and not dissing his fans. He’s respecting them and giving choices and that’s a perfect way to deal with it.
Gavin: And Radiohead did the same thing almost where you download and donate.
Rebecca: And they’re actually getting more than a normal CD. I think the average is $5 a CD. And if they sell a million albums…
Bonie: I used to teach at a Yoga studio, and they switched to just donation. It was one of the best things they ever did and made more money. Whatever they felt the class was worth.
Rebecca: And people tend to give more if you give them a chance. They will.
Gavin: You have a demo out and the official release or it. First, how’s the Red version going, and then tell us a little bit about the new version.
Rebecca: The red album was a limited edition release because we didn’t know if a label wanted to sign us. So we released that and then the label decided they wanted to release it. So they did a second version of it, but they remixed and remastered it with different art. Bonie and I helped with that extensively. It was remixed by Magnus Devo Anderson who was the bassist for Marduk, a black metal band from Sweden, and he did the most amazing job.
Bonie: There’s a really an amazing difference. Given our tracks were recorded in a basement at out friend’s house. He was here tonight.
Rebecca: Yeah, Erik LeCroix did such a good job that when we gave them the recordings to remix, they didn’t have one complaint. This guy just had loads of experience and major equipment and did a great job with it. It sounds louder, fuller, cleaner, it just feels like the muddiness is gone.
Gavin: Any local acts you’d like to recommend?
Rebecca: Oh my gosh, there are so many. Kid Medusa, Gaza, Iota, The Wolves, Red Bennies.
Bonie: For me it’s Red Bennies, The Purrbats, Tolchock Trio, Fews & Two.
Rebecca: There’s just so many.
Violet Run (Randall, Joe, Travis and Rebecca)
Gavin: So what did you think of the crowd tonight?
Travis: It was really good, actually. I was really surprised so many people stayed around for a midnight show. As usual most of them were other bands and our friends, that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Gavin: Tell us a little about yourselves and how you started performing.
Randall: Travis and I had been playing since high school in Spanish Fork. I moved up here and ran into some old friends who hooked me up with Rebecca as a drummer and Sean who was our bassist at the time while Travis was in the Air Force. We played with him until Travis came back, and Sean decided he wanted to leave about the same time, so that’s how it came together that way. We all knew somebody who knew somebody else and it just all came together.
Travis: I actually moved back from Florida to join this band. I remember talking to Randall about Sean wanting to get out and was like “Sweet… you need a bass player?!” I was all over that. And I remember getting the first live show on a tape that Randall made, it was awesome and I was really impressed with the music so far, so I really wanted to join this band. I was psyched when they asked me to join.
Gavin: Nice. What’s your opinion both good and bad on the local scene?
Travis: The only scenes I’ve really dubbed into are the indie rock and alt rock scenes. A lot of the older bands like the Red Bennies and The Wolves and Tolchock Trio are the ones I’ve really been impressed with. I came back to Utah to find The Alchemy had broken up and I was really bummed about that, I was a huge fan of theirs. But I’ve been checking out the metal scene lately and a lot of the upcoming bands like Gaza and Loom who are really good We actually have a large pool of talent here, it’s kinda sad it hasn’t been tapped as much as it has. We’ve got a few bands who are signed, but that’s about it.
Gavin: It feels like dead water?
Travis: Kinda, yeah. I think people think of Salt Lake City as “Mormonville” and they don’t wanna sign bands here. So I think they’re turned off by it because they’re afraid it’s going to be Tabernacle Choir or some solo artist with a guitar. That’s just my opinion, but there’s a good pool of talent out here, I’ve been really impressed by it.
Randall: I guess the pros and cons of the local scene. Pros… definitely is most everyone really gets along. When you’re playing a show like this especially, you’ve got Eric who is in Fews & Two. Everyone here in the bands that played tonight are such good friends with him, he really can just walk up on stage and start messing with our amps and no one cares! We’re like “yeah, he’s cool, don’t worry about it.” And I love that, one of the really good things is that people are so tight in the scene. As far as the drawbacks, it’s really hard to get people out to the shows. Unless there’s some crazy publicity or there’s a mainstream band, you’re not going to have a huge crowd, it doesn’t happen that often. Some bands are getting a better crowd, like Redemption and Tragic Black within the goth scene. But when you’re not catering to a niche, it’s really hard to get a crowd out. That would be my biggest complaint.
Travis: Another pro I want to add is that I like a lot of the venues we have out here. When they get a national act they tack on local acts. Like Club Vegas and Avalon Theater. We opened for VAST at Avalon Theater, 400 people which was pretty fantastic and amazing. It was a good crowd too. And we just recently played with another band called Letters To Scarlett over at The Outer Rim, and we opened for Rookie Of The Year which was a pretty good draw. So it’s pretty nice that people came to see them and got to see this other band. Get comments like “Oh, you’re local? You sound like a national band.” I like that because it’s a really good way to get exposure.
Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music?
Travis: I don’t listen to the radio. I seriously listen to an MP3 mix of Tori Amos and Cannibal Corpse. I did notice when I was looking at City Weekly we were competing against Ministry, Berlin and My Chemical Romance. I’ve never heard Chemical but I know they’re a big band.
Randall: I don’t listen to the radio as much as much as I can possibly handle. If you’re stuck in the car with no CD’s or an MP3 player, you’re stuck! I still think there’s some creative bands coming out that are a lot harder to find. I guess I listen to some pretty eclectic stuff. Fews & Two, love those guys, and Lamb Of God. Whatever sounds good is good and there’s so much crap out there it takes too much time to sift through it.
Travis: It gets over-saturated. You get one band that defines a certain genre, and suddenly you have fifteen to twenty different knockoffs. I remember jumping on the whole Lamb Of God/Killswitch/Shadows Fall bandwagon, and now all of a sudden there are fifty different bands that I’ve never even heard of and they all kinda sound the same. Then I listen to those bands and lose interest in the original bands and now it all sounds the same. But I tend to stick with the original bands for history. As far as popular music goes at this point, it’s like Randall said. There are a few select acts that are really good but it gets over-saturated in one genre and you kinda loose interest because it all sounds alike.
Gavin: With that said, what’s your take on the music industry and its current state?
Randall: They know that change is inevitable; they know that what’s happening now can’t remain. As much as you want to promote your favorite band, sometimes you just don’t have the cash. You’re gonna download it. There was a trend about 4-5 years ago where the labels started adding profit percentages to merchandising and touring, which used to belong exclusively to the bands. Sales would come all to the label and anything earned on the tour and merchandise would go to the band, but that changed. And I think that’s changed even more that labels are just trying to market the hell out of the band, squeeze every dime out of whatever else they can do with the band.
Travis: The records labels are just kind of a failing dinosaur at this point, they don’t try to catch up. They see a venue that they’re not using and automatically they try to ban it and put a stop to it. Digital media, people have been jumping onto iTunes for the past couple years, downloading goes all the way back to Napster, it was a fantastic way of sharing music and no one was really taking advantage of it except for the people ripping CD’s. The labels should have been jumping on that immediately, instead they just felt they needed to put a stop to it immediately. It took them years to develop that and now they’re just barely starting to jump on board. Now you’re starting to see a lot more digital media, sites like MySpace where bands are promoting their albums online and sell it there. The CD is kind of fading into obscurity at this point and the labels are holding onto it while it’s going the way of LP’s. CD’s are not really a viable format anymore. It’s kind of cool to buy a CD sometimes, but I can’t remember the last time I listened to a CD. Like maybe three years ago. I listen to local CD’s, but I just rip them onto my computer and I’m done. Put the CD away.
Randall: I think what it's turning into now is that the label is simply distribution. The bands can set something up to distribute the music themselves. They can make the music and find someone to do a half decent recording themselves and it's just the label that's doing the promotion, and that's all that's left. I think that the label needs to be the one to innovate. Make the promotion part of the media getting out there, that's what needs to happen.
Gavin: So do you approve of file sharing or what's your take on it having albums yourselves.
Travis: That's like asking a fish if he approves of water. It is a necessary evil. There's so many bands I would have discovered without downloading their album at some point. But if there was a better option for purchasing the album online, I would totally do it. But as far as subscribing to iTunes, I don't really care that much. But I like MP3 over CD anyway.
Randall: As far as file sharing goes, I'll take whatever I can steal! I have no qualms about it. I realize that most of these bands are doing it for their living and that sucks, and I"m trying to make some good music and I'd love to get paid for it. But the whole music industry has changed so much that for the most part, those people aren't looking for a really intriguing band, they're looking to just sell the hell out of music. I feel like our band doesn't have a place in the music industry right now, you know?
Travis: The day I can download a hoodie, I'm downloading hoodies! As soon as I can get a 3D printer, damn right.
Gavin: You played some new material tonight. Are you working on a new CD or have one coming? What's the word on that?
Randall: We've been working on a new CD for nearly three years now. And we've got roughly 30 tracks that are in various states of completion.
Gavin: You got enough for a double album!
Travis: Exactly! I'm so pushing for a double album, I would love to have a double album out! The last album we did was a five track EP, it would be great to go from that five track EP to a double album.
Randall: So we're definitely working on stuff and it should be out soon.
Travis: We hope. We're recording some scratch demo stuff and hope to be going into the studio soon and we'll actually have Erik LeCroix there to help mix and master the album. That's what we're looking at, total DIY.
Gavin: Any local acts you'd like to promote?
Travis: Muses Of Bedlam, I gotta say are the most obscure, overlooked band in all of Salt Lake. They're just fantastic musicians. I wish more people would come see them. Fews & Two, I'm a big fan of those guys.
Randall: Absolutely love Muses and Fews. I'm getting into Gaza more.
Travis: I've really been getting into Loom lately.
Randall: I'd say Alchemy but they're gone, so that's not cool.
Travis: I'm gonna list two bands that are gone. Alchemy and Stiletto. I miss Stiletto.