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Gavin's Underground

Jesus Or Genome, Dark Seas

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2012-05-23 -
Last week, there was a big buzz happening around AFLA, better known as Artist For Local Agriculture, and the formal launch of itsorganization. This topic was already covered in last week's City Weekly by Austen Diamond, so rather than rehash the coverage, you can read it here. In support of its efforts, AFLA held seven shows over the course of six days as a fundraising endeavor for select programs.
This past Saturday, we decided to pop in to one of those, specifically the show at Urban Lounge featuring Jesus Or Genome, Dark Seas and Muscle Hawk, with DJ Street Jesus entertaining the crowd between every act. Today, we interview the first two bands, along with photos that you can browse in this gallery here.

Jesus Or Genome (Mike Cundick)

Gavin: Hey, Mike. First of all, how have things been since we last chatted?

Mike: Fairly well ... dealing with quite a bit of stress getting Artists For Local Agriculture off the ground, but have been enjoying the process. Also been very excited about the new music that I will be putting out soon.

Gavin: How have things been going with Loom, and what's the word on the new album?

Mike: We just did a benefit show and are getting geared up to start recording the new album! It should be out in the next few months.
Gavin: How did the idea come about for you to start up a solo project, and where did you get the name from?

Mike: I've been doing Jesus or Genome for over two years now and definitely enjoy the process. I have a history of bipolar disorder, and during my breakdowns I have some of the more spiritual experiences of my life though they don't always end up well. The name of the project came from my first breakdown in the fall of 2010, when I stopped working for SLUG.

Gavin: What made you decide to make it an acoustic project, and what was it like when you started performing under the new name?

Mike: I've always enjoyed playing acoustically, and when the songs started flowing I was glad it did. It's definitely a name that gets a response from people, and I hope through it that it will inspire more creative thinking and a more evolved understanding of spirituality
Gavin: Back in July 2011, you put out your debut release, a 7” vinyl titled The Veil Is Lifting. What was it like for you to record that album on your own as opposed to working with a group?

Mike: Well, I did have cello recorded on those pieces, which I thought added something great. The way I preform has always made it difficult to translate into a band project. My newest album I am going to be recording in the next couple of weeks is going to be entitled The Book Of Michael, and I intend to keep it primarily solo, as well.

Gavin: What made you decide to work with Sacred Plague to put it out, and what did you think of the reception to it when it was released?

Mike: People have always seemed to enjoy my music, and Sacred Plague was a very accommodating and supportive label. My new album will most likely be self-released.
Gavin: Last year, you also started performing weekly at Poplar Street Pub. What has it been like for you committing to a weekly gig like that?

Mike: It's been fantastic so far to have a regular gig that has kept me with a consistent income and always pushes me to write new music, learn new covers, and make connections and give a platform for other acoustic artists to play with me. It would be great to see some of you sluggers there some time.

Gavin: Do you have any plans beyond the full-length album on the way, or are you mainly just playing gigs for now?

Mike: Just the new full length right around the bend. Will be released by July.
Gavin: You've taken on the role of director of AFLA and helped put together the benefit shows at Urban. Tell us a little about AFLA and the goals you have in mind for the organization.

Mike: You can get most of the info off of our website, AFLArevolution.org. I enjoy having a positive organization that can manifest good in this world and gives direction to my music and my life. Very excited about the benefit shows!

Gavin: Moving on to local stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Mike: Very good. I think Salt Lake is finally getting itself put on the map, and I keep running into artists that I respect and enjoy.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Mike: I think focusing on connecting local artists rather than focusing on touring acts would be a good way of developing more community spirit. There are good organizations out there that are working on that, and I think that SLUG has always done a great job, as well at being supportive of the scene. Keep up the good work.

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

Mike: Most recently, I was very blown away by Folk Hogan. I love AFLA's assistant director Dreu Hudson's bands, as well, called Settle Down and I Am The Ocean. Joel Pack is also one of the most committed and amazing artists on the scene, in my opinion.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

Mike: I wish I listened more, but I know KRCL makes a huge effort to involve local artists and I think that it definitely helps. Nothing beats a live performance, though! I think connecting to the energy of the artist in a live setting is what makes music so beautiful.

Gavin: With so many sources out there to get music off the Web, both for publicity and sharing, what are your thoughts on putting out free tracks for anyone to listen to?

Mike: I've recently changed my mind on this. As a musician, I believe that we deserve to be paid for the work we are doing. When I put out my new album, I intend to use sound cloud and will require a minimum donation and ask that my work not be burned.
Gavin: What can we expect from both yourself and Jesus Or Genome over the rest of this year?

Mike: Working hard and trying to stay centered. I consider myself an activist as much as a musician and I want to do everything I can to try and improve the world we live in. As an "artist for local agriculture," I have started a backyard garden and am gonna be getting chickens soon, so keeping life as simple as possible and connecting with the Earth are both very important goals of mine.

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Mike: I think we covered good ground! Thanks, Gavin.


Dark Seas (Rhett Hansen, Dylan Roe, Holland Redd, Irvin Martinez & Kyle Wilcox)

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

Irvin: Well, basically we all kind of know each other because of skating or we went to school together. I know Kyle and Holland through skateboarding and SK801. Then Rhett and I went to school together for like four years. Dylan is the newest one in the band, we met him through mutual friends after we started the band. Now he's playing guitar/pedal steel in our band.
Gavin: How did you all come together to form your first band and eventually turn into Dark Seas?

Kyle: After our last SK801 video came out in August 2009, Diego began playing guitar after meeting our friend Royal, a 50-year-old badass who ripped the guitar. He basically influenced and taught Diego the basic chords. After a few months of playing, he talked Irvin into buying a bass and jamming with him. A couple of weeks later at a random house party, Diego and Irvin ran into Rhett, who they kind of new from high school. He told them he has drums at his house and that they should jam sometime. Since I was always hanging out with Diego and Irvin, but didn't play an instrument, I was kind of forced to sing. I loved getting drunk and singing karaoke, so I figured, fuck it, I'll give it a whirl. Irvin first began learning Joy Division bass riffs, and since we were all fans of there tunes, we had a good time jamming them out. We honestly never planned on playing any shows, we just did it because we were all too fried to skate. We ended up playing our first -- and what we  thought was our last -- show at the SK801 X-Mas party with Max Pain & The Groovies, under the name Third Reich -- we thought that was a clever Joy Division cover-band name; stoops. A month later, T-Coy from The Groovies hit us up about playing a show with them at Kilby Court, but we couldn't play covers. We had 22 days to come up with 5 songs, which isn't bad from dudes -- besides Rhett -- that just started playing, and have never written any of their own tunes. With many hesitations, fights, and stress, we somehow barely pulled it off. A week before the show, we decided to change our name. We threw a few names out, but when Rhett said Dark Seas, it stuck.

Gavin: What was the transition like going from a cover band to writing your own material so quickly, and how many of those original songs did you keep after the first gig?

Kyle: The transition was insanely stressful. When you can barely play covers, it's hard to try and start writing your own material. Our first few songs were definitely Joy Division influenced, with a hint of Led Zeppelin, because Diego was a huge fan. We played those first few songs for a while, till we built up enough of a set list to clip them.
Gavin: Considering the music you played before, what was the major influence behind going more into psychedelic rock?

Kyle: I'ts weird; I don't think we ever intentionally went toward the "psychedelic" sound. It was just a slow process that I guess molded into that. With the kind of post-punk, new wave genre we were playing,  I think Diego wanted to start trying to do more solos, and use more pedal effects, which, I guess, is also where it came from. After adding new members Holland Redd on guitar and Dylan Roe on pedal steel/guitar, they added a new touch to our sound, as well.

Gavin: Back in November, you released your self-titled debut EP. What was it like putting that album together, and what issues did you deal with along the way?

Kyle: We had a really good time working with Kent and Cal down at Midnight Studios. We learned so much about the process that goes into recording an album, that we never knew before. It gives you a new-found respect for every artist -- rap, rock, country, folk, etc. -- who goes into the studio and records. It also makes you respect the dudes behind the board, like Kent and Cal, for putting up and being patient with rookies like us. A lot of things have changed since that EP, so, to me, that doesn't fully express our sound. Like I said before, we recently got two new members, Dylan, and Holland, and our original guitarist, Diego, is now rocking the stage with our main boys Spell Talk.
Gavin: What did you think of both the public reaction and the immediate attention it received when it came out?

Kyle: I honestly don't know what people thought about it, but the best thing is we have amazing friends that support us. Everything goes back to skateboarding! Whatever anyone in our crew does, all the homies will support them 150%. Any of the boys could go start a softball team, and everyone would be at every game, the loudest, drunkest, and most obnoxious. Shit, Omar and Brooks would be crowd surfing at the game. I think in return, everyone sees all these crazy motherfuckers having a good time, and want to be a part. That's why we all keep gaining new friends, and growing the party. Everyone loves having a good time, and I think all my boys know how to do it right. In reality, that has been the greatest success for my band and our friends' bands.

Gavin: Are there any plans in the works for a new album or a tour, or are you just playing music around town for now?

Kyle: We have been back at Midnight Studios for a couple of weeks now, working on a new album. We would love to bring it out by the end of summer, at the premiere of the New SK801 video. We're also working on booking the Pillage The Village West Coast skate rock tour sometime in July. We will go skate a city for a couple of days, and play a show. Kill two birds with one stone.
Gavin: Moving on to local stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Kyle: I think we have the most incredible music scene ever!! Every band is super-rad, and we have learned so much from a ton of them. Obviously, Spell Talk and Max Pain & The Groovies have been our bigger brothers, taking us under their wing and teaching us how this shit works. They've helped us get on the best shows and introduced us to other amazing people. Also, Dirty Blonde, Red Dog Revival and The Rugs have been awesome dudes to us. We also have rad venues like Urban Lounge, Kilby Court, the Garage, the Woodshed, and a ton more that allow us to play cool shows with other local dudes, and play with touring acts. Will Sartain and Lance Saunders take really good care of us over at Urban; those dudes are the best. Salt Lake also has SLUG Magazine that gives local bands like us a chance to have interviews and promote upcoming shows. The music scene owes a lot to Angela Brown, Jeanette Moses and the whole SLUG crew. I'm kind of rambling on, but also we have KRCL, which not only plays the best tunes, but DJs like Bad Brad, Ebay, Circus Brown and Mike make it possible for local bands to get their tunes out there, whether they play the CD on air or you get to come in and play live. Salt Lake is a huge family, and everyone seems to be helping everyone. I really can't think of anything bad to say.

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

Kyle: I think it's just a matter of time before more people outside of Salt Lake start to take notice of all the amazing talent out here. Not too mention it has to be a lot of touring bands favorite places to play, due to Salt Lake's good taste in tunes.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Kyle: Ummm, I basically said everyone earlier, but it doesn't hurt to go over it again. We love Max Pain & The Groovies, Spell Talk, Sunset Sisters, Lilly E Grey, The Pick Pockets, Dirty Blonde, Red Dog Revival, The Rugs, The Low Keys, Spectral Skies, Rainbow Black, Fox Van Cleef, Wild Cat Strike, Nonoyesyes, The Wild Ones and the temporary local band The Rising Sun. All those bands are rad, check 'em out!

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

Kyle: Shit, I kinda talked about this one earlier in the interview, too. Basically, community radio and our good friends who help run it really make it possible for people who may never have heard of us before to hear our tunes. KRCL helps out a lot of local bands, including us. We are soooo thankful to those dudes.
Gavin: With so many sources out there to get music off the Web, both for publicity and sharing, what are your thoughts on putting out free tracks for anyone to listen to?

Kyle: Basically, our EP is on Reverb Nation for FREE download, so we're pretty much for it. Maybe we will try selling our next CD, but we usually get drunk and give them away anyway. We're working on getting better with the merch.

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

Kyle: We're gonna continue to do what we love -- make music, skate, and party with our friends. Everyone is invited -- let's rage!
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Kyle: Most importantly, SK801, and all the homies/skate shops that support!!!  Go buy SK801 gear at your local skate shops! Skateboarders! Our drunk "road head manager" J West! DIE HIGH HELL RIDE mothafucka! Watch out for Colton Ericksen and Joey Sandoval's new skate videos with all duh homies, dropping the end of summer. We love you all, HELLZ BELLZ!


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