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Gavin's Underground

Mayson Lee and The Rock & Roll Space Studs, The Tuxedo Tramps

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2011-07-10 -
Oh, how quickly the seasons changed from almost non-stop downpour to muggy and sweaty, and every venue now has to fix their air conditioners. Seriously, you'd think every single venue in SLC would have figured it out by now: Hot lights plus equipment plus bodies equals sweat box. But nope, there are still plenty of owners who stall fixing their systems until the last minute. Here's a clue, owners: Hot venues don't get attention until the fall!
Thankfully, the smart people over at Burt's Tiki Lounge kicked in their cooler early. And that's not all they did. If you haven't been by Burt's recently, they've reconstructed their stage to be bigger, and for some reason they painted it green. But the annoying support beam is still front and center. I popped in for Friday's show featuring Three Bad Jacks from California, but as usual we'll be talking with the two local bands: Mayson Lee and The Rock & Roll Space Studs and The Tuxedo Tramps. All with around 150 pictures for you to check out here.

Mayson Lee and The Rock & Roll Space Studs (Sergio, Brad, Evan, Mason & Beau)

Gavin: Hey, guys! First off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Beau: We’re a rock and roll band from the Bonneville area, Salt Lake/Southern Idaho. We started playing together in late-2009. We’re not out to change the world. We really hate it when bands start their bios with, “We were sick of the state of music and wanted to show the world what real music is supposed to sound like...” We are music fans first. We just like to make music we would listen to and hopefully all of your readers like it, too.

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

Mayson: I caught the bug when I was younger. My mother sang in a bunch of bands performing in Southern Idaho, Nevada and Northern Utah.

Beau: Well, when I was about 11, my dad took me to the Beach Boys. My dad was a big influence. He is an accomplished jazz drummer and really encouraged me to be a musician. He bought me a guitar when I was 12 and introduced me to punk staples like the Ramones and Elvis Costello.
Gavin: How did you all come together to form the MLRRSS?

Beau: Well, it all started with my and Mayson’s relationship. She was attending school at Southern Oregon University in Ashland and working as a show promoter. She booked my pop-rock band, A Cassandra Utterance, to play a festival and we developed a long-distance relationship. I convinced her to move to Salt Lake, and shortly after we wrote some songs and recruited some dudes to form Mayson Lee and the Rock & Roll Space Studs.

Gavin: What influenced you to do a more punk version of rockabilly, and how was it for you nailing down that sound and keeping it unique to that style?

Beau: Mayson has a huge love for old rockabilly. Brad is somewhat all over the place in his tastes, but is big on '80’s New Wave. I am big into psychobilly, pop-punk, and post-hardcore, so this was like a middle-ground between us all. We didn't necessarily set out to be what we are, it’s what we all enjoy performing.
Gavin: Considering that sound, how has it been for you playing the local venues and finding an audience in places with particular tastes?

Beau: We have a more universal rock and roll, albeit a bit rockabilly, sound and have been able to play so many unique venues with diverse performers. So far, it’s really been well received. Burt’s Tiki Lounge -- Jerm, specifically -- has definitely been super supportive. We’ve played with all types of bands from pop to country to metal to hip hop; it’s all been good for us. We’ll play with any sub-sub-genre you can fathom. The way I see it, regardless of your musical tastes, people want to be entertained so you put on the best show you can and people will feel that passion.

Gavin: Just a couple months ago, you released your first EP, The Filthy Touch. What was it like recording that album, and what issues did you have to deal with along the way?

Beau: We recorded with Wes Johnson at Archive Studios here in Salt Lake. It took about a week. For some of us, it was a first- time professional-recording experience, so we dealt with the challenges that go along with that: playing to a metronome, drum tuning, nailing solos 100%, etc. It was a pretty smooth, beer-filled process. A lot of friends and local musicians came down to help out, which made it an incredible experience.
Gavin: What did you think of the reception and attention the album got when it finally came out?

Beau: Initially, we weren’t planning on having a big release because we just wanted to get it out. We didn’t expect as much attention as was received. Jerm caught wind of us completing the record and offered to host our release party. It was an unforgettable night with some really awesome bands and super fans.

Gavin: Are there any plans for a full-length release or another EP on the way?

Beau: There’s nothing concrete. As musicians and performers, we’re always writing new material, and we really enjoy playing fresh tunes. There isn’t a whole lot of pressure to record and release anything immediately.
Gavin: Do you have any plans in the works for a tour or mainly sticking to Utah for now?

Beau: We’re actually taking our act up to Portland in the fall to make connections and be able to run back and forth on sustainable tours. Utah will always be home to me and we have a lot of bonds to the scene here -- we can’t ever truly leave. Hopefully, that doesn’t come across narcissistic but moreso personally connected to the crews.

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

Beau: Without a doubt, there is strong camaraderie within the local music scene, and Utah has some of the hardest working performers. Its tough to get new ears in the doors of the rock and roll clubs with expensive drinks and covers; at no fault to club promoters or owners, its just a downfall to the dry laws here.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Beau: Yes, next time you go to a concert, bring a new person.

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

Mayson: Tuxedo Tramps, Mason Jones & The Get Togethers and Utah County Swillers.

Brad: Secret Abilities, Kiliona and Spooky Moon.

Beau: The Trademark, Blackhounds, The Fucktards... Does Get Scared count?
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

Beau: Oh, man, KRCL plays the best garage/second wave British invasion in the afternoon. They rotate locals in with the normal playlist and you’re certainly going to hear something new and enjoyable that was born from the Deseret. Also, props to X96 for re-starting their local showcase, not quite community radio but whatever, they have tons of listeners. Shout out to UtahFM.org, too.

Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?

Beau: I love it. I have submitted my music to a number of blogs that feature my CD for free download against national acts. It brings in new listeners -- yes, potentially at a lost sale, but it’s worth more for someone in Tallahassee to cop our record for free than never listening to it at all. Great exposure, for sure. Plus on the same sites, I can get The Story So Far’s new CD... is that bad?
Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of this year?

Beau: Like I said, we’re getting ready to hit the Northwest. We’re not ditching out on Salt Lake; it is, of course, home. Regardless, new songs, new members, new poop in the chute, etc., etc.

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

Beau: The source for the most up-to-date info is, of course, our Facebook page and the record is at our Bandcamp wesbite.


The Tuxedo Tramps (Carl, Krystal, Jake & Rhett)

For this interview, the band chose to answer both as individual members and as a group.

Gavin: Hey, guys! First off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Tramps: We’re a rock and roll band that has roots-base influences -- rockabilly, garage, blues and punk. Rhett and myself started the band as a two-piece side project as they were playing in a rockabilly band before and expanded to add what we now have with Krystal and Jake as a four piece. The goal we have is to be open to any type of music that sounds good and gets us tapping our feet. We want to make sure we keep it a creative outlet by not taking on any specific genre.
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Carl: When I was in about 4th grade I remember seeing on MTV some hard rock guitar player playing and I just knew from that moment on that that’s what I was going to do. He was playing some awesome guitar solo … possibly Van Halen? I like to think it was Whitesnake, ha! I got into the Sex Pistols and New York Dolls and AC/DC, and knew I wanted to play guitar and make a rock and roll/punk band someday. Later, I found rockabilly, garage and psychobilly and fell in love with it. I started playing in different bands like The Scoffed, The Shakes and The Cobras. I also played upright bass in the Slappin Echoes. I have always loved writing songs. I was also lucky enough to find a great guitar teacher, Shorty from Voodoo Swing that was very influential on my style.

Rhett: Ever since I can remember, my parents would blast their stereo and always just loved good music: The Smiths, classic rock like the Eagles and Led Zeppelin. When I was four, I remember watching a Ninja Turtles movie and they were playing their musical instruments. I asked my mom for a keyboard and learned to play drums through that. When I was 11, I got my first guitar for my birthday, and a few months later, I got a drum set from my dad's worker. I got it because it was cheap and I could play as soon as I sat down. My favorite bands are Sublime, The Smiths, NoFX, and oldies and indie with girl singers. I continue to play music because I love it. I also play in a band called the Plasturds. It's a punk rock band and I play guitar, write music and sing in that band. I love rockabilly, reggae, and punk; those are my top three favorites, and Bob Marley.

Jake: My love for music started on Saturday-morning cleanups at the house. My mom put on old records like John Denver, Carol King, Commodores, and Roger Miller and the Beach Boys. I really loved the Beach Boys. In 4th or 5th grade, I’d sit in the corner and play air guitar. I didn’t know what a bass was until I was 17 and I wanted to play a banjo and one of my friends had a bass he would sell me, so I bought it. So I accidentally started playing. Once I got it, I wanted to start playing in bands. I played in Apocalypse Radio, which fell through. Then I got married, and I stopped playing in bands for a while, then I played in Elliott's Assassin and joined a band called Cornwall Chee. I moved up to Logan and joined Resistor Radio and later met Carl at the Art City Music Festival and made a band called Junkbot 7.12. We played one song there and we talked about playing together. My influences over the years have been the Beach Boys, Rancid, and all sorts of different punk and '70s ska stuff like The Specials, Selector, and I like The Clash. Now I am open to anything with a good bass groove. I love the '60s R&B like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, all the Motown and Stax records early stuff, and other things.

Krystal: Music was the one thing that nobody could take away from me. Growing up, I always watched my dad play guitar at night and hated that I was too little to play his electric acoustic (those things are huge when you're little!). Around the beginning of 6th grade, I started picking up things that he would play and just watch and memorize it. I already knew how to play piano from elementary school sometime and was starting to understand how it translated onto guitar. I played in various garage bands (you know, the ones everyone tries to make work in junior high and high school but everyone's too busy chasing girls and being hooligans). I worked for a music company back home and promoted their "school of rock" through performances and interviews when I was about 14. I got my first taste of what professional recording was like around that time and had a blast doing it. I've tried to dabble in different styles from performing a Joan Jett song at the Hard Rock to karaoke-ing Alicia Keys (that's right, Alicia Keys). I can't say exactly when I started wanting to play music and perform, I can only say I don't remember a time when I didn't. I do remember the first guitar riffs that made me giddy was Tesla's "Modern Day Cowboy."
Krystal: When I think of what kind of music has influenced me, it started off with classical and expanded into nearly everything. I listened to a lot of the old and new punk. Stuff like Oi Polloi, The English Dogs, and Against All Authority, while at the same time volunteering at jazz festivals in gothic dresses. I had a blast getting into everything. You could almost always find me out in the local 801 scene always trying to find new bands and support the ones I already knew. I always enjoyed jamming blues with people but struggled finding people closer to my age that liked to, too. When I moved to Utah, I slowly found the right places to look and met some great musicians and am more than happy to play the music I've always loved.

Gavin: How did you all get together to form The Tuxedo Tramps?

Carl: Rhett and I were playing in a rockabilly band (Slappin’ Echoes) and had been jamming out tunes on the side just for fun, when we got offered a show that the Slappin’ Echoes couldn’t do. I remember asking Rhett if he would be down to play the show as a two piece and he said something like, “Dude, I am always down to play music. I don’t play video games, I don’t watch sports. I play music.” We just had so much fun that we started booking shows. At some point, we decided to add bass and another guitar. I had been writing songs that required two guitars and a bass so ... We knew Krystal, she was already our friend, and we had jammed with her and knew she was a good guitar player, so I asked her if she wanted to play with us. She said something like,“I’m not sure if I can fit a band in my schedule,” I told her that if she didn’t make it to practices, or shows or whatnot, it wouldn’t be a big deal because we’re just in this for fun. She decided to do it. She hasn’t missed any shows and has become a very valuable asset. Jake, I had met at the Art City Music festival. This is a music fest where musicians/songwriters come together to form a band for the day and write a song. Later that night you perform. We made a band called Junkbot 712, we had fun, we made friends, we always talked of jamming and making a band together and when we were in need of a bass player I didn’t think of anyone else.
Gavin: What was it like for all of you to come together and create your own sound?

Jake: It’s great, because we all like very similar styles of music but we all definitely have individual tastes. Each of us know what our role is in the band musically and let each other bring their flavor to it. That being said, we also are open to each other's feedback; if one of us has an idea that could propel the song, we put it out there. It's really great being in a band where we are all friends and also there are no egos getting in the way of making good, fun music.

Carl: I agree with Jake and would like to add that with this band everything just comes easy. I think it’s cause we’re having so much fun together.

Gavin: Being relatively new as a group, how has it been for you playing around the state and hearing the crowd reactions to you?

Tramps: It’s always great to see how we are received each show and meet new people and other bands. There are a lot of great bands out there and to hear that people are enjoying what we are creating is a really good feeling. Everywhere we have played has been really good and the people working the venues have been rad to work with also. But when it all comes down to it, if people didn’t enjoy it we wouldn’t be able to keep playing, so it's awesome to keep getting invited to play shows.
Gavin: Are there any plans in the works for recording an album or an EP yet?

Carl: Yes, we are going to start recording as soon as we slow down on shows. Hopefully, we will have something out by September. But I am kinda lazy so…

Gavin: Have you given any thought to touring out of state, or are you sticking to home for now?

Tramps: For right now, we are sticking in-state, but if the opportunity came and we could work it out it would be a lot of fun.
Gavin: Moving onto statewide stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Jake: Having watched the scene since the '90s, it definitely has its ebbs and flows. It would be awesome if there were more people getting out to see more live local music; like we said earlier, there are a lot of great bands. A lot of people around here tend to get into certain types of music and stick to just those certain genres; it's up to the bands to mix it up and invite each other to play mixed- genre shows to have more of a music community.

Carl: I love the Utah music scene. We have something special. I think it’s because a lot of us know that we are all in this together, and if we don’t make a scene, then who will?

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

Carl: Mostly, I think if we work together more and keep from having the mentality and small-minded idea that only one genre is worth supporting, then we will thrive. We also should embrace the fact that we are from Utah. Utah has some of the coolest things to offer and we are definitely original.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Carl: My favorite local band Is Black Hole, but I like so many; Tupelo Moan, Mayson Lee and The Rock & Roll Space Studs, Red Bennies, The Rubes, The Purrbats, John-Ross Boys & His Troubles, The Ugly Valley Boys, Plasturds, etc. There are so many good ones.

Jake: All my favorites are mostly bands I have been in: Apocalypse Radio from Orem, Resistor Radio from Logan, and as for ones I’ve not been a part of, to be completely honest, between my job and kids I don’t get out much to see local acts unless we are playing with them. Every band that we’ve played with has been awesome.

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

Carl: I love KRCL. Bad Brad is what a DJ should be -- a musician and someone who goes out and supports local music. How it affects us? It gives us hope. It lets you know that some people do appreciate local songwriters and bands.
Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and as music lovers?

Jake: It’s definitely a double-edged sword. It’s a great source of free publicity, and on the other hand, there are the musicians that make their living on sales. If it were a perfect world and more people came out to see live music, I don’t think it would make a difference to the working musician. It would just be more exposure for them but the record companies would take the biggest hit and still probably do.

Carl: I think it's karma for how these record industries try to serve us music as if it’s just a cheeseburger at a fast-food joint. They just want to push what is sellable, in their eyes. They want to blame the people who take the free music, and at the same time only offer another best-of album from some artist that has amazing music to offer. They repackage and resell the same trash. Now if you are downloading music from a touring band that is trying so hard just to make ends meet, then that’s not cool.

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

Tramps: Shows, shows and more shows. We will most likely get some recording done too so these good times can be remembered.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Tramps: We have a Facebook page, so look us up and become a fan on there. We keep it up to date so all our shows will be listed on there. And come out to see a show and please talk to us. Nothing we like better than being able to talk to people who come see us.


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