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Gavin's Underground

Candy's River House, Big Blue Ox

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2012-09-26 -
This past Saturday was one hell of a busy day for me, running around the valley and covering events left and right along with some music. The two most prominent were the PinkDot Utah event, which you can check out my photos from in this gallery, and the Salt Lake City Film Festival, which you can see my pictures from attending the film Intro at the Tower in this other gallery. But to complete a trifecta of photographed events, I had to attend a music show.
Once the film was done, I walked down to The Woodshed to check out the music playing that night, where I ran into Candy's River House and Big Blue Ox jamming outside on the stage behind the patio. Today, I chat with both bands, matched up with pics of them performing for you to check out here. (For both interviews, the groups chose to answer as a band.)

Candy's River House (Eric Stoye, David McIntire & Jordan Young)

Gavin: Hey, everyone. First thing, tell us a little about yourselves.

CRH: Hey, Gavin. So, Candy's River House as a whole is Jordan Young, Eric Stoye and David McIntire, pretty eclectic group of music nerds who happen to love rocking extremely hard eight days a week. We have all basically been traveling and playing with different groups in different parts of the country and were organized here in Salt Lake in February 2012 by Jordan Young when he moved back here after living in Tennessee -- and a GMC van -- for the last five years. So here we sit, fat and happy in SLC, playin' our rear ends off.

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

CRH: We were all three introduced to music at very young ages. Music has sort of always been in the forefront in our lives individually and remains so today. The funny thing is, we are all, in a way, groove/rhythm-based players, being that Jordan played drums for 10 years before guitar/singing, Dave grew up playin' bass and Eric drums. We all have a very firm grip on groove, timing and creating very thumpy sounds. Early influences range from Deep South hip-hop to 1950s country -- haha -- which we really enjoy about each other. Jordan and Dave share a similar spectrum of rock, blues, metal, where Eric is heavily influenced by hip-hop, jazz and funk. The great thing is that we all listen to every type of music together and love playing all styles. What Candy's River House comes out as is definitely a unique hard-rock tone that smells like blues and a hint of country twang; we can thank Tennessee and South Carolina for the twang.
Gavin: How did the three of you come together to form Candy's River House?

CRH: Well, long story short, Jordan spent the last five years in the South, touring all over the country with different versions of Candy's River House. I started the original group with my two buddies in Tennessee and basically, we ran into a wall of road fatigue. So, after going through a few nasty road trips in early 2011, I ended up moving back to Utah to take a break and spend time with family, where I met Dave and Eric. Dave had just moved to Utah from Charleston, South Carolina, and Eric from Los Angeles, and they were playing together in a couple of projects. I heard about them through a mutual friend, we jammed once and knew we had the potential to really get down and dirty. One of the best parts is that we are all great friends, band aside.

Gavin: What influenced you to create a more bluesy psyche-rock sound, and how hard is it as a trio to make that sound?

CRH: As far as being a trio, we LOVE it. Making a wall of sound with three kids is difficult and we very much embrace and enjoy the challenge. To summarize our sound, I usually come in with a guitar-written song, throw it at Dave and Eric and we sit in the lab and hash it out. All of us being so diverse has been very interesting and always exciting. As far as it coming out bluesy/rocky, well, first of all, we just like to play hard and fast, haha. Secondly, we play very passionately, which we put as priority #1. Straight up, we just give it all we got, all the time, and that’s just the sound we make, but we do have strong southern influence. We are very open in our writing and jam sessions and all three give massive contributions to the noise we create.
Gavin: Early on in your career, you started touring around the western U.S. and have become one of the more frequently touring groups around. What made you want to be one the road so often?

CRH: Touring, touring, touring. Traveling and music are hand-in-hand. We love to travel and make music, there's nothing better. To share culture, meet new people, see new lands and crash random couches is the career of kings, haha. Candy's River House has always been a touring band and we'll keep it that way, we just have that wanderlust. When we were touring really heavily, our slogan on our merch read, "Candy's River House, your home on the road."

Gavin: Do you find it harder or easier being a trio, both musically when performing and as a touring group?

CRH: Harder or easier being a trio? Well, we find it very comfortable. Easy to travel, easy to get along, easy to manage and no battling guitar players, haha. Again, we LOVE being a trio.
Gavin: You've been together nearly three years but haven't put out an album yet. Is there anything in the works, or are you enjoying just playing for now?

CRH: So, we actually HAVE recorded an album, it just wasn’t seen much in Utah. I recorded a full-length album in Nashville with a different crew of Candy's River House and it actually received really great reviews out east, I am proud to say. As far as recording in Utah, we are right in the middle of finishing a nine-song dealio that we are really stoked about. We are definitely coming into our own as a group and are proud of our music and each other.

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

CRH: The local scene here in Utah is another thing we are very proud of. In our opinion, it's blossoming here into something very impressive and inspiring as hell! Kids are good -- talented, unique. Its really fun to be competitive and be a part of the market.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

CRH: The only thing we think that could really help the scene even more is just more venues, venues with distinct plans in mind. Specific music bars and stages create new genres of music. More country bars, more country. More juke joints, more blues. More road houses, more raw rock & roll, etc. Salt Lake is very young so it can only go up from here.

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

CRH: This question is great; we have very different opinions on this. We'll just spit it out: Tony Holiday, Marinade, The Chickens, Heaps & Heaps, Red Dog Revival, The Rugs, Dylan Roe & Nathan Spencer, Holy Water Buffalo, Triggers & Slips and The Pour Horse. How's that?!
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

CRH: The community radio here is great -- broad spectrum of genres, great support for local bands and shows and pretty much just really cool, chill DJs. It has a huge affect on local music when any community media gets involved.

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

CRH: Well, file sharing is one thing that sorta just flies over our heads. Honestly, I still listen to vinyl most of the time, and Dave and Eric are pretty much the same; lots of CDs, the occasional borrowed iPod, haha. As long as the artist is getting what they deserve, what else can ya say? You can get music absolutely everywhere and anywhere nowadays, and for free, too.
Gavin: What can we expect from all of you over the rest of this year?

CRH: The one major thing everyone can expect from us is that we will continue working tirelessly, on- and offstage. That's one quality we all seem to share, for sure, diving head first into our project together and consistently striving to become better musicians individually and as a group. We love to sweat, and something a southern farmer told me one time rings true: "If you don’t bleed on your land, then you're liable to let anyone just come up and take it from ya."

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

CRH: The thing we really would like to promote is our massive Halloween Bash at The Hog Wallow, Oct. 27. Bring yo costume and yo best dancin' shoes! And the only other thing we'd like to say is that we are proud to be bringin back the lost art of four-on-the-floor rock & soul music. AC/DC did it, ZZ Top did, too, and we'd like to think that's what we do. Cheers!!


Big Blue Ox (George Simon, Ben Turner, Wachira Waigwastone & Mason Petersen)

Gavin: Hey, everyone. First thing, tell us a little about yourselves.

BBO: We're a bunch of dudes tryin' to spread some funky love in and around your earhole.

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

BBO: We all started playing around with musical instruments as kids and were constantly introduced to new types of music from friends and relatives. Over the years, we've been influenced by many styles including rock, blues, jazz, funk, hip-hop, reggae, EDM and much more. Some of our favorite artists include, but are not limited to, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Pink Floyd, Funkadelic, Michael Jackson, John Zorn, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Soulive, Galactic, Orgone, The Budos Band, Groundation, Wu-Tang Clan, Pretty Lights, Karl Denson ...
Gavin: How did the four of you come together to form Big Blue Ox?

BBO: We met in the School of Music at the University of Utah and started a jazz combo there where we played arrangements of jazz standards. We began to write our own material, and after a few coffee house and wedding gigs, we decided it was time to start a band and move away from our beloved jazz standards.

Gavin: What made you decide to do a kind of acid-jazz/soul band, and what was it like coming together to make that sound?

BBO: It kinda just happened. We were all into enriching our musical vocabulary through various jazz idioms of rhythm and harmony but also loved the sexy bottom end of funk and soul music. Being that we're not exactly "purists" of any one genre, we feel free to experiment with various combinations of musical idioms. Although some of our music might relate to the "acid-jazz/soul" scene, we also play with elements of hip-hop, rock and psychedelic music. Our sound is constantly evolving so we try not to assign ourselves to a specific genre.
Gavin: In 2010, you recorded your self-titled debut EP. What was it like for you recording that album, and what issues did you deal with along the way?

BBO: It was very educational. Although we had some great material, we didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to record our music live with two sax players, alto and tenor. By the nature of woodwind instruments, we had some intonation issues that could've been controlled if we had recorded the horns separately. However, we had a limited budget so we did what we could afford. There were some good moments on that EP, but we learned that playing to a click track and separately tracking each instrument was the way to go for our music. Big ups to Brad McCarley at Salt Lake Recording Service for his patience, knowledge and love for his craft!

Gavin: What was the reaction like from the public when it first came out, and what did you think of the fan base you were building at the time?

BBO: People dug it, but our music has always spoken loudest at our live shows. We seem to resonate the most with the festival crowd: chill folks that are down with unpredictable, experimental improvised music that doesn’t fit the mold of the contemporary mainstream.
Gavin: Over the past year or so, you've kinda turned more into a big live band with extended sets and hitting more outdoor festivals. What made you want to expand and get out of the clubs?

BBO: Clubs are fun, but festivals are a nice way to break loose from the familiar bar scene. Festivals are a great opportunity to meet new fans and take risks with your set -- impromptu jams, guest performers, etc. People are there specifically for music and so, generally, are more open-minded and appreciative of your performance.

Gavin: Do you have any plans for a new album in the works or are you mainly playing around the state for now?

BBO: We’re currently working on a single at Salt Lake Recording Service. We’re using the lessons learned from our EP and taking our time with this one. Dan Nelson and Josh Francis from The Chickens are lending us their talents for some of the horn parts. Stay tuned for a much more polished BBO recorded sound, along with some new tunes, in the near future.
Gavin: Now that you've started hitting up more venues beyond the Wasatch Front, have you given any thought to touring outside the state?

BBO: We have some friends in neighboring states that have been trying to get us out there to play some shows. Two of us are still in school so that makes it tough to travel out of state but once we're all graduated, we will definitely be looking into some out of state shows.

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

BBO: Salt Lake has some incredibly talented musicians. The numerous weekly jam sessions and open mics around town make it really easy to play with and get to know Salt Lake's finest.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

BBO: I think an active musician's union would bring the musical community closer together. An active union would encourage more competitive pay and promotion from venues, which could boost the standards and expectations for local music. Salt Lake definitely has the potential to be more of a national hub for great music.

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

BBO: Shaky Trade, The Chickens, Holy Water Buffalo, Marinade, The Pour Horse, Candy's River House, Wafer, Zach Hillyard Band, Sofa Sly, Red Dog Revival, Dumb Luck, Grimblee, Mr Vandal, Raw Fidelity, and many others!
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how it affects local musicians?

BBO: KRCL does a great job of picking some of the best up-and-coming local artists. It’s a really important part of our community that provides a much better alternative to some of the bullshit on most other mainstream radio stations. It’s a great opportunity for serious musicians to get heard around here.

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

BBO: File sharing is easy, inevitable and a great way to quickly find new music. It’s a simple tool that every band should utilize to get their ideas out there. But, as great as free music sounds, it wasn’t made for free. It’s important that fans support bands they love by buying their albums, merchandise and going to their shows.
Gavin: What can we expect from all of you over the rest of this year?

BBO: New single coming out, new songs, more local and regional.

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

BBO: We're selling awesome Big Blue Ox T-shirts to raise money for a full album. We've also got a great show at The Hog Wallow on Thursday, Oct. 18, so come groove out with your favorite funky bovine!


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