This past weekend I went back out to hit up a local concert, but good hell were there slim pickings on a Friday night. Is there any venue who dares put on an all-local lineup on a weekend? Or are we just so blessed to have so many visiting acts this year that there's no way to do it? In any case we headed to the ever changing decor of The Woodshed, who have repainted the outside yet again, and yes, for those of you asking they have couches now. And to our amazement there was also a surprise birthday party happening. So "Happy Birthday"... whoever you were.
As to the show in question, it was a musical/comedy night headlined by somewhat-political punk band, The Toros, playing throughout the night along with a set of comedians taking the stage at different points in time. Including Alex Kirry, Authur Carter, Troy Talyor, Cody Eden and Levi Rounds. Today we have interviews with The Toros and Levi Rounds, along with plenty of photos from the show for you to check out over here.
The Toros (Paul, Monica, Zak & Michael)
Gavin: Hey Zak, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.
Zak: I am really proud of our band’s diversity. I am white and single. Paul is divorced. Michael is married and Monica is Jewish. They’re all white too. Wait, are Jewish people white?
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
Zak: This answer would be so long! So I’ll give a brief synopsis: Jesus Christ.
Gavin: How did you all meet each other and decide to form The Toros?
Zak: Oh, it was pretty typical. Craigslist. We were all looking for a very specific HJ scenario. We began emailing each other with HJ related questions and decided to meet in a warehouse in South Salt Lake. You know, what masks to wear and whatnot. After a few hours of exercising our sexual demons, we started talking. It turned out we had a lot in common! We had our first practice three days later. Our former fifth member’s past caught up with him and we haven’t seen him in a long time. Nobody has.
Gavin: Considering the music for a moment, what made you decide to take it in a more political direction?
Zak: Are we political? I know one song is, but I usually leave the political stuff out of it. Of course, songs like “Innocence Lost – The Tea Pot Dome Scandal” and “McGovern – What Happened?” do sound political. But they’re both about girls.
Gavin: Do you consider yourselves more of a comedy act or an actual provoking punk band?
Zak: How dare you. We’re a punk band.
Gavin: Recently you released your debut EP, Reading Is Important. What was the recording process like for all of you?
Zak: Andy Patterson is the best. He has this couch I wish I had. But I don’t. It’s an incentive to get back into the studio.
Gavin: What was the public reaction like to the album when it was released?
Zak: There hasn’t been one yet. It’s been more of an individual reaction. That reaction being people pretending they don’t have the cash for a CD on them at the moment.
Gavin: Are there any plans for a full-length in the works, or mainly playing gigs for now?
Zak: I want to do a full length. But, I don’t want to do one for the sake of it. I feel like some bands spend a lot of money on putting out a record no one wants. That’s so depressing. I don’t have the storage.
Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Zak: Bands here take themselves awfully seriously.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Zak: Perhaps we could dress a little better as a whole.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
Zak: I am a big fan of Kurt Bestor’s early stuff. When he was still using.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how it affects local musicians?
Zak: I don’t have an opinion on this. I do know that community radio is very important in farming communities.
Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?
Zak: I think the industry is getting what it deserves. There was no justification in charging $17.99 for a CD. I don’t expect to make any money off the recordings. I would be honored if The Toros record was pirated. As a music lover, I still pay, mostly. The Pirate Bay can be mighty tempting sometimes.
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year and going into next?
Zak: A Christmas Album. We will obviously be using a different drummer.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Zak: Two websites. Our Facebook page, and ESPN.com.
Gavin: Hey Levi First thing, tell us a bit about yourself.
Levi: I have four cats and a girlfriend. Five opinions living in a one bedroom apartment is way to many opinions. So I spend my days contemplating which one to kill. My girlfriend is never on the kill list because she pays rent, but the other four are lucky I know I'm too lazy to do anything about it.
Gavin: What first got you interested in standup comedy, and who were some of your favorite comedians growing up?
Levi: I really don't know what got me into comedy, I just started writing for the fuck of it. I thought it came out pretty funny so I gave it a shot. I never really watched comedy growing up. So I didn't have any favorites. Though after I got started, I listened to people that were telling jokes when I was younger and some of my favorites were... Insert stereotypical comedian response here.
Gavin: What officially brought on the decision for you to attempt it as a career?
Levi: I went to college, because that's what you are supposed to do. I realized it was shit, and I was paying a lot of money to learn shit I really didn't need to know. Not that I'm against an education, I'm just against getting fucked to get one. You can get it for free if you really want. I also really hate waiting on tables. That's the most demoralizing job in the world. People told me I was funny, so I went for it. It still hasn't worked out.
Gavin: How was it for you breaking into the local lineups and getting gigs?
Levi: Breaking into the local lineups isn't too hard. Sign up for an open mic. Go to as many shows as you can. Getting gigs is a bit different. When I started we were doing quite a few bar shows. You either set them up yourself or they ask you to come back and open for some band. You've got to be persistent. They'll invite you back if they think you're any good.
Gavin: When you first started out, what were some of the lessons you learned about performing?
Levi: Don't pander to the crowd. Say whatever the fuck you want to say. If they hate you, they hate you. If they love you, they love you. Either way, they're going to tell their friends about it. Even if they hate you, they've got a friend that's into you, and is excited to hear you're out there. If they just kind of liked you, they aren't telling a fucking soul.
Gavin: What's it like for you personally coming up with material and decided what works and doesn't?
Levi: What works and what doesn't is kind of different for me. I tend to write about touchy subjects. One night it'll work wonderfully and another night, a guy will try to stab me. Ultimately I write for myself. If I feel like if it works for me, then it works. Someone out there will like it.
Gavin: How is it for you interacting with other local comedians, both as friends and competitors?
Levi: I lie to them allot. Make passive aggressive threats, and keep my enemies close.
Gavin: Over the years you've becomes one of the bigger names in the comedy circuit, taken home some awards for it too. What are your feelings about rising through the ranks to where you are now?
Levi: I'm not at all where I'd like to be. Being a comedian is allot like going to Medical School, but it's allot riskier. It takes like 15 years to finally be able to pay all your bills with it, but unlike if you graduate from med school, you're not guaranteed a job.
Gavin: Are there any plans down the road for you to tour or are you sticking to Utah for now?
Levi: I've actually got a guy booking me shows out of town right now. So that's what I'm concentrating on. I do Mo's on Sunday night every week to work on shit, and have the occasional show idea that I try to do, but I like to get out of town more.
Gavin: Moving onto local stuff, what's your take on the standup scene, both good and bad?
Levi: There's a lot of great comedy here. Cody Eden, Arthur Carter, Christopher Stephenson, Toys Soup, Ryan Doud. All great. There's a lot of drama though too. Really there's only one fucking comedy club in town, what we need is another. That would really cultivate the local talent. The club right now, can pick and choose who they like, but if there were another club for the comics to choose, the clubs would try to get the best, and not just their favorites.
Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it more prominent?
Levi: Comics are notoriously lazy. They bitch about not enough stage time, all the time. If they got out there and really hassled places to let them go on they'd get more. That's what I did at first.
Gavin: Aside yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?
Levi: Beside the people I mentioned above, go see Blake Bard and Guy Seidel. They're both fucking funny.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on the clubs that provide standups a forum to perform, and the work they do to help bring in audiences?
Levi: Mo's has been great to us over the years. They let us get up every week and say what we want, how we want to say it. As long as people show up. The other club in town, well, it's a business. They have a certain clientle to please, and they have to please them. They bring in the audiences that are just going to show up, pay at the door, buy some pot stickers and diet coke and then leave. The sad thing about comedy is that everyone thinks that their sense of humor is the only thing that's funny. Nobody shows up to a music venue, and expects it to miraculously be the music they're into. "Oh, music! I love Enya!" If it happens to be Cannibal Corpse and they fill out a comment card, nobody gives a shit, because they should have done their research. If people aren't really into stand up comedy they aren't going to research it. They are just going to go to the comedy club and expect someone to be just like Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, or whatever their favorite family friendly, easy comic is. The club has to cater to those people. I don't blame the club, but it still sucks.
Gavin: Whats your opinion of national standups coming through town and what that does for the local scene?
Levi: If I like someone, I'll go see them. As long as it isn't more than twenty bucks. As far as what it does for the local scene. Nothing. Nobody goes to see Louis CK, and walks out thinking, "We should go seek out good local talent." People like to be told what to like, and none of us are on TV.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year and going into next?
Levi: Drunken Facebook posts, and maybe a skin cancer scare. I've got a weird mole.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Levi: Mo's on Sundays at 10:00PM. 350 South West Temple. Come to any show I'm in called "Controlled Heckling". The Complex is starting to do a lot for local comedy. Look 'em up on Facebook. Oh, and you should really check out Mo's on Saturday Oct. 16th, or A Bar Named Sue on Sunday the 17th. Great comics from Portland are coming into town. Whitney Streed, James Torres, and Jimmy Newstetter will be here. Cody Eden came up with a great show swapping idea. We bring in some of the best from another town, and they take us in later. Very smart guy, and attractive.
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