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Gavin's Underground

H-13, David Williams, Ask The Dust

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2008-02-09 -

Continuing the vive of the newly forming Broadway Strip, Nobrow Coffee is slowly rekindling the once familiar downtown scene of coffee shop underground with candid live performances of music and poetry. Where once stood a framing store across from the YWCA on 3rd South is now a brand new front for artists to strip down their set and become more intimate with their audience.

Such was the case this past Friday night where instead of the one band advertised, we got two more by surprise (including one last minute addition... literally). A studio engineer with his own project called H-13, solo artist Davis Williams, and minus a drummer who apparently hasn't learned to play softly... Ask The Dusk. I took photos of the show that can be found here, and got interviews with all three acts.


H-13 (Steve Davis on right w/ Jeff Cuno)

http://www.myspace.com/hthirteen

Gavin:
What did you think of the crowd tonight?

Steve: I thought it was a really cool crowd. Very intimate. I liked how people were very quiet and respectful. It was very nice.

Gavin: Do you prefer a coffee shop like this as opposed to a venue?

Steve: You know I think I kinda do. It doesn't give me as much anxiety, I don't have to drink as much before. I love acoustic stuff, that's my kind of thing. Just an acoustic guitar and a singer. I love a full band stuff too, when we have a full band we use Pro Tools and really go all out production wise. But there's so much more stress.

Gavin: And you prefer the striped-down vibe.

Steve: Yeah, I prefer that. Even if, God help me, I become crazy successful, I'll still always want to do small coffee shops.

Gavin: Cool. Tell us about yourself and how you got into performing.

Steve: Well, my musical influences back then were sadly Dolly Parton and Michael Bolton, but then I got into The Beatles and that changed everything for me. Grunge music too. I've always lived a very insane life, moved to L.A. When I was seventeen years old and got a job at a recording studio, I learned how to engineer, took some courses and what have you. I was really able to get into my artistic form having the “isobooth” and the high quality condenser microphone, I was able to find this inner spirit if you will. So I got kind of philosophical and life became so mundane and mechanical. I feel like we can transcend into something better creatively.

Gavin: So that's more of what you're aiming for?

Steve: Yeah. And it's hard to know because once you start performing, and I'm only new to this cause I've performed maybe twenty times, but once you have the audience and your out there, it becomes “who are you performing for, who are you writing your music for?” And it becomes very confusing because it's no longer you with your guitar in the basement anymore expressing how pissed off you are about things. Maybe you're supposed to come up with something to inspire people. But the hardest part for me is the audience, it's really hard for me because I care about it and care what people think about me.

Gavin: But you're getting more used to it now.

Steve: Yeah, I only started performing about two years ago and I was terrified. I had to get almost blackout drunk just to do it. But after I did it I knew this was what I was going to do with my life. I'm a performer so I'll perform until I'm dead.

Gavin: So who would you say influences you now?

Steve: I'd say Radiohead, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Primus, and some crazy guys like Nails Climb, The Crazy Guitarists, stuff that sounds like it's coming from outerspace.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the local scene, both good and bad?

Steve: Having grown up in Salt Lake City, I used to hate the scene with a passion. Then I moved away to L.A, but the music scene is really pathetic there right now. People don't really draw crowds. But When I came back I was like “Woah, what happened?! I left for six years and now there's this emo phenomenon.” So I used to think all SLC was emo. But as I went around to the clubs and got familiar with everything, I realized there was so much raw and incredible talent here and I think it's one of the more happening music communities in the United States. So that's the good. I can't really say too much bad about it anymore.

Gavin: So then based off that, what's your opinion of the current trends in music?

Steve: I think it's sad that twelve-year old girls are your target for generating the most money. And so you have to start directing your music to them and start fitting into those roles. I hate how you go to band's MySpace pages and they have that banner across the top and they look all cute and pretty. I want to see people create for the sake of creating and I don't want to see people create to fit trends and fit in and be liked and be popular. So emo bothers me. But there seems to be this new trend of being artistic, and even if people are pretending to be artistic, it's cool that they're at least trying to be something else.

Gavin: Okay, so what would your opinion be of the industry and the state it's in?

Steve: Oh man, I love it. I think we're in the midst of an independent artist revolution. If you look at the major labels, they're fusing and others have gone bankrupt. They're trying to hold onto their old dinosaur ideals rather than embrace these new technologies. If you look you'll see that indie labels are making more money than they ever have before historically and the major labels are suffering. It's amazing. I think it will allow for more humble, more honest artwork, real creation. And allow for artists to support themselves and make a living off it. I think the industry is open for anything to happen at this point.

Gavin: You talked a little on MySpace, how do you feel about file sharing?

Steve: I actually am for it. There was a time I used to do portraits on the street of people, and a couple people would walk by and say it was amazing and I was like “here, take it!” If you like it and you're gonna hang it on your wall, then please do because that's what I live for.

Gavin: Are you working on anything yourself?

Steve: Yes, I am. Right now I'm working on a full length album called Atavism. It's going to include over thirteen people. I'm going back to my roots, tuning my guitars to standard tune, playing power chords, and being very simple to try to achieve a very old standard album. Probably more artists, overly produced, probably hard to replicate live, but every performance will be different and that's what I hope people can expect from H-13.

Gavin: So it's kind of like a Reznor/NIN type of project.

Steve: Yeah. Reznor has always been like a father to me. He has other projects and bands he plays with but Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor, just as H-13 is Steve Davis and all the people who work with me. It's not really the concept of a band, you either play with me or you're not.

Gavin: Any local artists you recommend?

Steve: Truthfully, I haven't met too many that I would recommend. It makes me sad to say that. The artists I've mostly seen haven't been local, they've just been passing through. There still seems like this sheltered vibe among a lot of artists that happens here. There's a lot of bands who's names I can't remember but they just blow my mind. Best I can think of at the moment, Cuno and Scraping 101.


David Williams

http://www.myspace.com/daviwilliams

Gavin:  What did you think of the crowd tonight?

David: Great. The crowd at Nobrow is always wonderful. I've played here several times and I've just enjoyed it.

Gavin: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into performing.

David: I started playing guitar when I was sixteen, and just have been in love with music my whole life, played for years. Finally I got around to recording and releasing a CD called Summer.

Gavin: Who are some artists who have influenced you?

David: I'd say Neutral Nuke Hotel and Magnolia Electric Company.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the local scene, both good and bad?

David: To me it's amazing right now. It feels like a community of people just creating and helping themselves. Which is a nice change because in the 90's we expected other people to do it for us, there wasn't really much of a scene. Now Slowtrain is really doing well and helping get locals music out there.

Gavin: What's your opinion of the current trends?

David: I really don't know anything about pop culture at the moment. Haven't really watched television or listened to radio.

Gavin: You have an album out right now. Tell us a little about that, and are you working on new material or just enjoying playing right now?

David: I'm always recording new material, and I just released the new CD “Summer”. That CD was recorded in my living room on an 8-Track tape recorded because I prefer the sound of tape. Then I took it into a studio called the Pit Farm and remixed it, and released it through AMS in Salt Lake City.

Gavin: Any local artists you recommend?

David: Glade, The Black Hens, Band Of Annuals, Dead Horse Point, Chaz Pinerick, Katherine Coals. So many amazing bands, I can't think of them all.


Ask The Dust (Matt, Linnea, Lamar, Joel, and Jared in spirit)

http://www.myspace.com/askthedustband

Gavin:
What did you guys think of the turnout tonight?

Lamar: It was good.

Matt: Very intimate.

Lamar: Little sexy.

Linnea: Good lighting... for the sexy.

Joel: Pretty.

Gavin: So tell us a little about how you came together as a band.

Matt: Me and Lamar had tried to put something together for a while and we couldn't find anything really, then I tried to play drums and it didn't work out. Then we met Jared and got him in on it.

Lamar: Then Linnea fell out of the sky and we were all like “What is that, a star?” But no, it was Linnea. And she was like “If you guys ever need a cello player” so stuck stuck around.

Matt: And Joel showed up to our first live show and set up his bass before we even played and played for the opening band. And they said “that guy could play with you.”

Joel: A lot of people thought it was Les Claypool, but it was me.

Gavin: So what artists influenced you all?

Matt: Anybody with a heart. Is that okay to say?

Linnea: We have very different interest in music and I think that's what makes our music best. A very wide range of stuff.

Gavin: So what's your opinion of the local scene both good and bad?

Lamar: I think it's been crazy for a while. I think it's nuts people just living here and trying to make the most of everything. But I think now it's just getting the recognition from other states. I think it's going really good. It's nice to see that the scene is going somewhere, even if it's just to Albertsons.

Matt: I think Salt Lake was in a rut for a while and everyone was kind of copying each other, but now everyone has moved past that and the local bands that I see now who are new are very inspiring and willing to be unique and not afraid to abuse the scene.

Linnea: I think it started out as the scene it was a couple years ago with all the hardcore bands, all the teenagers who were all angry and depressed. Every band was kind of like “Eh, we're too tired of this” and everyone split off into other bands and did better stuff.

Joel: My concept of the scene is a little different than theirs. I think we are the scene right now. Not just us, not just Ask The Dust “we”. Any musician who plays in a little coffee shop like this or big venue like In The Venue, we make up the scene. The scene's rocking right now, and we just need to keep the love going.

Matt: I feel like there's a lot more love at shows now too. It used to be depressing, which is okay when you have that angst. But eventually people try to put a good foot forward and try to be positive.

Gavin: So what would be your opinion of the current trends out right now?

Linnea: Nothing.

Matt: I think it's harder in some ways just to find good music, but I think it's because people are looking below the mainstream now. I think the music scene and the industry is changing right now, so you can get the word out easily and people are searching harder for music. You don't have to be a polished radio rock band.

Lamar: Radio rock killed the radio star!

Gavin: So you think the industry is turning into a new kind of machine now?

Lamar: I don't know, the major record labels aren't providing as much as they could because they're probably sad in their hearts. So I think kids are just putting out their own stuff and doing it themselves. I think it's happening a lot more because of the labels.

Gavin: Real quick, what's your opinion on file sharing?

Joel: All about it.

Matt: For sure.

Linnea: It's all about the message and getting it out.

Joel: If you're that secure in what you're doing, you shouldn't be afraid of file sharing. People who are afraid of it are people who are afraid of losing money. That only happens with bands who are huge though. File sharing had made a whole different kind of underground that's never happened before.

Linnea: Plus if you got friends who are like “you totally have to check these guys out” and they bring you a burned CD or you copy something and listen to it and you suddenly love those guys. Then you go to their shows and buy their albums all from that one act.

Lamar: Like my good friend Tammy says, “Sharing time is happy time!”

Linnea: And who can afford to go buy every CD that they like? Or every song? Like I can't afford CD's.

Matt: We can't even afford to put them out.

Gavin: Speaking of which, you're putting together an EP, how's that coming along?

Matt: It sounds great, we only have a couple more days until it's finished. And then we just have to do artwork and we're putting it out ourselves.

Lamar: Doing what we can. A lot of drunken nights and good times. Doing it all at Summit Studios.

Linnea: Steve Davis is helping us put it together. Wonderful engineer, wonderful artist.

Lamar: And I gotta say, with all this going on with out band and all these great local bands, and Steve recording like he does, you Gavin doing this interview, we're talking of starting our own record label, and anyone who reads this or hears about it and wants to be involved. If you have any interest in starting a record label or helping out, get a hold of us. The more people involved, the better. We'd like to make this kind of thing something you can make a living off of.

Gavin: Last question, any local artists you recommend?

Lamar: Loom, God's Revolver, High Energy.

Linnea: Spiratic Eratica.

Matt: The Hotness. H-13. Mesa Drive.

Joel: The Black Hens. Too many to name.

Lamar: The scene kinda died for a bit, not too many shows, not many people having fun. We need to get back to holding hands and singing at the top of our lungs again! Make something happen because it's all up to us. If you don't like your scene, then it's your fault, get out and do something.

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