Posted // 2011-07-12 -
With Provo's music scene seeing a boom it hasn't had in years, expansion was bound to be in the cards And we're not talking just in the amount of bands coming out of the garages and onto the stages; the amount of venues has picked up as former musicians and promoters are taking a hand in putting together some cash and opening up a new spot for bands of any genre to make their name.
Currently sitting on University Avenue in the former home of Legion Skateboards, The Deathstar has taken up residence as the new home for all things hard rock in Utah County, giving all fans of anything from heavy alternative and up a place to see live music they care about in a county that has a history of shutting down loud venues for obnoxious reasons. I got a chance to chat with co-founder Tyler Foisy about starting up the venue and the progress they've made so far, plus thoughts on the location and local music in general. Along with some pictures taken last month for you to check out here
Gavin: Hey, Tyler. First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Tyler: Well, I am 24 years old and I love music -- any music. I grew up in a small town, about 8,000 people, so getting into music and starting my own venue seemed impossible to me. I have been living in the valley for about two years now and it’s been the best two years of my life. In this time, I’ve come across many friends who have changed me for the better, mainly my “little brother” Grant Barker. Ha! I got you, son!!! But I recently started playing drums in a punk/hardcore band called Here To Stay. It's been one of the funnest things I've done in a while -- right behind running the infamous Deathstar, of course!!! But we’ve been running our venue since Jan.1, and were looking to save the local scene. We’ve had it on the operating table for eight months now trying to save it and breathe new life into it. Our goal has been to give every real musician a place to spill their guts and be who they wanna be. This is me, the man, the legend, the one who will bring dead city back to life!!!
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in music, and what were some early influences on you?
Tyler: I remember being about 19 and getting into harder music, I listened to all the scene metalcore bands and didn’t really go to shows yet. Then I started doing vocals in a band with some friends and this changed everything. I began going to shows and seeing what it was all about. We practiced a ton but never got to play a show together. Since that day, I had the bug, I wanted to play music, be at shows, see my friends and hang out. I knew I wanted to be a part of music someway, somehow. Early influences included bands like Comeback Kid, Evergreen Terrace, Underminded, The Bled, Poison The Well, Rage Against The Machine, Pennywise. All that shit. Without this little bit of music I wouldn’t be here. I connect with it on a cellular level and I couldn’t let go. I knew this music had a place for me.
Gavin: You came out of UVU with a degree in business management. What made you choose UVU and what was the program like for you?
Tyler: I chose UVU because it was a change for me, after living in Wonderland ... for anyone that’s seen the movie. I came from a place full of drugs, sex, dropouts, losers, fakes, posers, and nobodies. I refused to be a nobody and UVU was a beacon of hope for me. I had begun my degree elsewhere but decided to take the chance and move my life to Provo. The program has been absolutely awesome, lots of hard hard work but so worth it. Anybody that says school is dumb is an idiot and should be taken out back and put out of their misery. I’ve had awesome teachers who have helped me get my business off the ground and going. I’ve learned so much about business and how it works and what it takes to really run one. There are still so many things I’ve yet to learn but in time I'll figure it out.
Gavin: When did you originally meet Grant Barker and eventually become friends?
Tyler: Of course, me and Grant met at a show. It was a local show at the Edgemont venue in North Orem -- RIP. I was making weekend trips up here before I moved to kind of check out the scene and the kids and see if it was where I really wanted to go. When I first met Grant, he was straight edge. He rolled with a crew, played in a super-heavy hardcore band and seemed like a total hard ass -- because he was. Ha! But after moving up here and seeing him a few more places, he came into my work at Graywhale. He was looking for the new For Today CD and we began to talk about bands we liked and it grew from there. After some time, Grant broke edge and called me. He was a little lost and needed somebody. Needless to say, me and Grant sat down and talked over things, and we just clicked. We had similar interests and something to offer each other. I had never met anyone as crazy and intense as Grant but I loved the energy that he brought with him. Since then, we’ve been brothers in arms, fighting through life together. We’ve been through countless struggles and trials testing the strength of our friendship, but somehow we are still here, as good of friends as anyone could ever hope to be. To all those fake friends we’ve ever had -- look at us now. DLC4L!
Gavin: How did the idea for Standing Tall come about, and what was it like first getting off the ground?
Tyler: Well, Standing Tall came to me one day driving home from work. I was actually thinking a lot about my parents and how they felt about me, the way they viewed me and the way they were treating me. I came from a family of all LDS people, heavily influenced. And when I didn’t turn out “right” by their standards, everyone kind of turned their backs on me. Or at least that how I felt. But it hit me, I need to stand tall and be who I am -- not who they would like me to be because this is my life and I have the right to be happy living it how I WANT!!! And this just played into every other aspect of my life, not just family, but friends, music, work, relationships, everything. It applied: the idea of standing tall and being your own person in this crazy fucked up world we live in where everyone thinks you should turn out a certain way or look a certain way, or work a certain job. They want you to take the safe route, and I've never been one to take the safe route. To all you lost kids out there reading this, you're not lost, you're lucky, and remember you are who you are and you have every opportunity to do whatever you choose!!! We are the youth, and it's our turn now!!!
Gavin: What made you both decide to open up a hardcore music venue in Utah County?
Tyler: Well, a very long list of things went into this decision. But SLC was full of crew drama, greedy promoters, fake-ass venues booking straight-edge shows at night then doing a rave next door at the same time. No need to mention names. But we wanted to start something new, something interesting for kids. We wanted to give kids a place to literally be themselves and let loose from the stress life puts on them. Life is not easy, we all know that, so this was the release for them. We wanted to control the environment and make it more positive. Not one revolving around violence and tough guys. Yeah, kids dance and get down at The Deathstar, but they don’t come looking for fights, they know it's neutral ground and everybody’s friends. We wanted to reshape the way kids and people in general viewed the hardcore scene. It deserves a good name, not a bad one. When I needed it most, hardcore saved me, and continues to save me -- thank God for hardcore!
Gavin: When looking for space, how did you eventually land the old Legion shop on University Ave?
Tyler: What better place to open a venue with no credibility, no money, not a lot of promoting knowledge than right next door to two other venues? Haha, we're the grenade in the flower patch. The name “The Deathstar” represents the dark side of local music, not just the happy pretty music kids get at Velour, and we thought our genre and our music deserved to be properly represented on that block in Provo where music happens. I wanted people to see us and not be able to avoid us. And we got exactly what we wanted.
Gavin: Considering the spot is literally between Velour and Muse Music, two of the highest-profiled venues in the city, what was your reaction to being in that spot?
Tyler: Well, to be honest, everyone hated us at first for reasons unbeknownst to me. If anything, we were gonna bring a new group of people to Provo and expose them to everything this city has to offer, musically; opening a doorway to play bigger shows and bigger venues around. I feel like being where we are has changed the way the other venue owners do things. We are competition, don’t get that wrong, but healthy competition for the area. We each kind of have our own little niche and appeal to different kids. Like I said earlier, grenade in the flower patch. Ha! Change isn’t bad, people.
Gavin: What was it like taking over the place and essentially stripping it down to a bare-bones venue?
Tyler: It was hard. We worked for month getting the place up to fire code. The fire inspector probably wanted to kill us by the time we passed. But persistence pays off, I guess. Ha! Our carpentry and electrical knowhow jumped through the roof. We learned a ton of things we never would have known without going through it. Gives me more confidence in my ability to make things work and actually run a working venue. Countless nights were spent hanging drywall and mudding it together, installing junction boxes and running wires everywhere. But it was worth every second of work we put in.
Gavin: When you finally opened up, what were the first few shows like and how was the reaction from the musicians and patrons?
Tyler: The very first show was October 31 last year, a Halloween hardcore show. We had signed the lease two days earlier and acquired a PA and did this Halloween hardcore show. It was so much fun. We had, like, 50 kids packed into the back garage, all of us there in love of the music. Next, we did Hundredth on November 14 for my birthday. We had a tiny PA, no lights, no heat in the building, cold as shit, but kids still there screaming their lungs out loving it. Our patrons understood, -- they weren’t paying for a warm venue and a place to sit, they were paying to see an awesome band! The musicians also understood we were a couple kids running a DIY hardcore venue, doing what we can with what we got.
Gavin: I know over the past few months there have been some groups giving you grief or looking for ways to shut you down. What's your interaction been like with the city and those who make it known that they don't “approve” of the music?
Tyler: Well, we don’t really care about those groups or those people; that's not who were doing this for, we're doing it for the kids who have nowhere else to go, for the kids whose scene needs a home. Every kid deserves a place to go and have fun. Just because my venue isn’t up to BYU standards doesn’t mean it deserves scrutiny from others.
Gavin: Now that you've been around for a while, what's the reaction been like from both your neighboring venues, and the music community as a whole?
Tyler: I think they are lightening up a bit, getting more comfortable with us and our presence. We came in peace, really, and I think Muse and Velour see that now. I wanted to build a positive relationship with them, not keep up a constant battle. But I think the music community is seeing us as a friend to the scene. We’ve done nothing but build the scene up. We still see the same kids coming to shows now as we did at first, but we're getting new faces there all the time. It’s all about building a reputation and trust. We are a music venue, and we book shows, come to one and see what it’s all about. Who cares if you’ve heard the name, come see what this place has to offer.
Gavin: Are there any immediate plans to expand beyond what you're doing, or are you sticking to what works for now?
Tyler: We've got our eye on the horizon and looking to expand. We also run a clothing line called Stand Tall Apparel. We are working with many bands trying to get our clothing out there. We have a positive message and something that every kid can relate to, not just hardcore kids. We are also looking a venue spaces in Salt Lake City to do the same thing were doing here. I feel like we pull kids from there anyway, so it makes sense. We are also looking at St. George as a possible place to open another venue. Kids there need what we've got to offer.
Gavin: Moving onto statewide stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Tyler: Like I said, every place has potential, but really Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden have something going on. There should be a local scene in every city in Utah -- kids should want to play music. Kids in small towns, like my hometown, deserve to have the same experiences I do. I would love to book bands from all over the state here, and show touring bands what all of Utah has to offer. But at the same time, there is a lot of animosity, between bands, between crews, between kids. I would love to see that eliminated, and kids getting along all over, not just always trying to be the tough guys.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Tyler: Yeah, booking more shows, promoting more and getting all the kids more involved. I think there is a separation between kids and venue owners. Let's close that gap and let the kids who make shows happen feel like they are a part of them... like because of them the shows happened. Because its totally true. Without your supporters, you have no attendance and no show.
Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now, from any genre?
Tyler: Well, I would have to say Despite Despair... Hahaah! Their drummer is the vocalist in my band Here To Stay so I gotta show love to those dudes, they have been working hard have have stuck around for years. Props to those guys. Also, I have found a liking in a fairly new band called Hitchhiker. They have member of the band current and play a different style of hardcore, its way good, those kids are super cool too. Big shout out. Also bands such as Gunner, Steadfast, Throwing Bricks, Problem Daughter, Bombsquid. All these bands are doing things and making progression. That’s what I like in a band, the drive to be better musicians and play good music. Respect to all these dudes putting in the work.
Gavin: What can we expect from both yourself and The Deathstar over the rest of this year?
Tyler: Well, expect to see good shows, lots of them, we got some really good stuff coming in August and playing some big shows in October. Just keep an eye on The Deathstar and what we got going on. Our schedule is on Facebook and hopefully in your next issue of SLUG, look for it, and look for us booking shows in your area, Deathstar Productions.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Tyler: How much room do I have? Hahaha! I got a whole list of cool as people I've met, people who have helped us, and people who are supporting what were doing. First off, our website
. It should be up and running soon, check it out and give us your feedback. Also, look up Stand Tall Apparel on Facebook. Also, look up The Deathstar on Facebook
and also my band, Here To Stay
. like our pages and support us. Also, the bands It Prevails, Lionheart, and Heavenside. Look them up on Facebook. Stand Tall Apparel just recently endorsed them and they all have been repping our shit hard and helping us get the name out there. Also, Pitbull Dan and MDK. The band Washington Square Park, a pop punk band from New Jersey, some of the coolest dudes I’ve met since I’ve been doin' this. Our boys from Hammerfist and the 924 house in Anaheim, California. Adam G. from Good Times Tattoo for doing our tattoo work and supporting us since day one. Ernest and the crew over at Death Or Glory in Provo. Also the local band, In Words Of The Mute for pulling through for us when other bands had bailed out. Also Hitchhiker for being total bros and letting us use their gear when we needed it. Scum City Clothing and Salt City Tattoo. Also a big shout out to Brent Brown Toyota and the Scion Club for helping us out and hooking us up when we needed it, without them this place wouldn’t exist. Go buy a new Scion everybody!!!! Hahaha! And a big shout out to every kid who has been to a show and enjoyed it, to every kid that’s said thanks and been grateful for this place. We salute you guys.
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