hadn’t been out to cover a concert in over a month. I
call it being busy, you call it being lazy. Hey, why we gotta
fight like that? Let's go back to the way things were. So
to get back on track, I thought best to do a rock show with one of
the long standing bands in Utah.
--- Heading over to Urban Lounge this past Friday I was able to get in on the small birthday bash, as well as catch three great rock acts at their best. The experimental sounds of Laserfang, our old friends Tolchick Trio, and the soul rock of Red Bennies. I skipped Tolchock this time around since we’ve already talked to them, but still grab pictures of all three bands after the interviews.
Laserfang (Weston Wulle, Mike Torretta, Shane Asbridge and Stephen Chai)
Gavin: What do you think about the birthday gig?
Shane: It’s awesome because it’s for our really good friends Mike and Dave.
Gavin: I know you guys play in other bands, so how did you decide to form this project.
Shane: Me and Mike have been playing together for years, and this is kind of the remanence of the first band we started.
Mike: We’ve had a few different lineups, but it’s always really been Shane and me. But we really became more of a solid band when we got Wesley and Stephen. It’s the first time everyone really liked the music and had their own part to play. Everyone adds to the music. It’s cool.
Gavin: What’s your opinion of the local music scene as it stands today?
Shane: I think it’s amazing. I think we have a really big group of kinda good bands whoa re all really supportive. Everybody supports the next band instead of being competitive. That helps.
Mike: There’s a huge range of styles of music and everyone is pretty much welcoming to all types of music. There’s so many creative musicians that it makes it super fun to play. I just wish more people would come out to shows, we’ve kinda been put in the light of playing bars, but we just haven’t played too many times at places like Kilby. We want to because there’s a huge underground music scene, and those kids and those people are amazing musicians. So I can’t wait for the next wave of kids to start being in bands and playing at bars. It’ll be awesome.
Gavin: Do you have any complaints or feel there’s anything that could be done to make it bigger?
Shane: Not really a complaint, but just noticing that Salt Lake gets passed over in the national media. It seems to be written off already as a place where nothing cool happens. I think in the longrun that might help us out and keep it underground instead of being stupid and all over the place. Everybody’s working real hard to do cool stuff. Maybe thirty years from now someone will find it and think it’s cool.
Gavin: What’s your take on the current music you hear on radio and whatnot?
Shane: I don’t really listen to it, to be honest. I don’t even know what’s out on the radio right now. I really don’t. I just listen to records and CD’s and stuff like that.
Mike: Yeah, I would agree with Shane on that. I’m not really aware of the Top 40 pop culture music that goes on right now. Not because I don’t like it or anything like that, it just doesn’t seem to fit what I listen to right now or my whole life. Never been a Top 40 type of guy and it’s never really driven me to dislike that music, as more to find a really awesome place where we can fit into the underground scene. I think a lot of people would agree that we can kinda unite that way because everyone has this passion for music and everyone’s trying to do different stuff. We could care less about playing a big show or getting a lot of money or whatever, we really just do it for us and our friends. That’s enough for me.
Gavin: Do you have any thoughts on the record industry and the state it’s in?
Shane: I don’t know everything about it, but I’d be very wary about it if an opportunity came to us. I’d rather seek out a more independent style of record label. We’d probably go broke if they did, they’d give us a bunch of money and our record wouldn’t sell, and then we’d owe them money. That doesn’t sound very fun, I’d rather just cut even rather than make a ton of money. The industry is built more on Britney Spears and the numbers that those guys put up. Rock bands can’t do that anymore.
Gavin: Then do you have any issues with music downloads or do you care all the much about it?
Shane: I’d rather everybody had our music as much as possible.
Mike: It’s an interesting subject, it’s like a whole other beast with these downloadable cards that have everybody’s album on them. Some would rather have the CD or the album, but to each his own, it’s a labor of love. If you want to put time into making a CD, that’s awesome, I’ll keep buying CD’s. But I have no problem with people downloading tunes for free. We just do it for our own releases and enjoyment, so anyone should be able to grab that if they wanted to.
Gavin: Are you looking to do a CD anytime soon?
Mike: We recorded a couple of tunes, then Weston moved away, so we tried to rearrange the type of music. Then he moved back and the pieces fell together, so now we’re ready to record a bunch of demos. But with the stuff we grew up doing, those demos are as good as anything produced CD for us, we’re totally happy just putting those out we just need to get around to doing it. We’re pretty lazy.
Gavin: Are you aiming for EP or LP?
Mike: I don’t know. It’ll be an LP probably.
Gavin: Who are your favorite bands in the local scene today.
Mike: One of my favorite bands is The Wolves, the Red Bennies I really like, Tolchock Trio. That band Airliner was really good, I don’t think they’re around anymore. The Glinting Gems are awesome. Ether Orchestra and Ether, those bands are top notch.
Shane: Purr Bats are awesome. Vile Blue Shades, the Coyote Shades, there’s a bunch of them that I can’t really think of at the moment.
Red Bennies (Terrence Warburton, Scott Selfridge, Daniel Thomas and David Payne)
Gavin: What do you guys think about doing this birthday show?
David: It’s for me! It’s my birthday. And Mike’s.
Gavin: You like the idea of playing your own music for your birthday?
Scott: Well it kinda sucks to play when it’s your birthday. But once everyone starts buying you drinks, it’s alright to play.
Gavin: You’ve been around since 1994, how did you first get together?
David: Well it wasn’t all of us, it was me and a bunch of other guys. The group’s been around for a long time, it’s just different every three years or so. Not anymore though, we’ve just kinda cooled down and smoothed out. Now that I’m an old man. I was serious about music and wanted to do a really good job to the point where I’d kick people out of the group and straighten them out. But now that I’m a man, we just really want to do a good job. And we usually do a good job when we’re not stressed out about doing a good job.
Gavin: So how did the current lineup join in?
David: Mutual friends, I guess. Saw them play at a club in California.
Scott: It’s a long story, but I ended up just living out here because of the cheap rent.
We became cyber friends. …Cyber lovers.
Scott: He had a huge crush on me.
David: And then Terrence joined in. But it’s been this lineup for a very long time.
Gavin: What was it like back when you started it compared to what it’s like now?
David: The scene back then, we were just totally on the fringe and kind of had a scene going on where if we could find someone else to play a show with, a lot of people would come. It seemed like a post-high school group who all knew each other, and that was viewed as a chance to go party. And on a rare occasion, we’d get to play a bar that was the popular bar where everybody was. And it was this bar (Urban Lounge), and it was cheesy college music.
Scott: That was more of the bands you played with.
David: And it still is! I guess if you saw some group of really young people came in and played something that was really outrageous and ugly and kinda “artish”, but they were really into it… that would be us. And we’re not college enough, we’re not pop enough.
Scott: We’re poppy?
David: We’re the most traditional, I think. When you listen to us, different trends don’t come to mind as much when you listen to us.
Scott: I still think people don’t know what to think of us. It’s always been that way.
David: But the scene now when you get to our age… I’m really curious to know what kind of scene is around for people who are in their twenties. Our scene is old people like us, and I wonder what kind of scene is out there now.
Scott: I wonder if that kind of scene even exists anymore, or existed after ours left. Did it die down, or hibernate for a while? We see bands who are in their twenties and they’re kinda mimicking stuff, they’re always mimicking something they’ve listened to. And we did that to an extent, but our generation was more post grunge.
David: It was kind of defined by the fact that you had to write original music, and to cover someone else’s song was disrespectful. So if you got two chords and you wanna put them together, if you have to do it in a way no one’s ever done it before in order to be legitimate. But that came out of the post grunge era and I think that kind of personality stuck to our roots. I don’t remember any groups that sounded the same, every group had their own kind of unique sound and personality. But this was on the fringe. I remember back then there was a bigger hardcore scene and straightedge scene.
Scott: But that was mainly Utah Valley.
David: But I don’t know if there’s any scene like that anymore. Because it seemed kinda personal, seemed like it was respectful to have your own kind of music, and I think that carried over into the personal relationship of all the people who came to the shows.
Scott: I’m sure they’re there, they dust don’t have anything definable.
David: Yeah, maybe they’re hidden like we were. But I also have the opinion that there’s tons of awesome groups, but I think in that time they were more supportive and generally thought of as “cool”.
Scott: I think it was more thought of as “cool” when the whole Ska thing was big, along with the Straightedge movement. And now you see people talking about bands from Utah Valley as this cool thing who aren’t really that cool. But I believe people got them impression that the Bennies were cool, and now anything from Utah Valley is the best. Now that we’re over that weirdness of people coming from Utah Valley, it’s expected of those bands to be that way. You hear things about this hip new band when really they sound like Joe Schmoe or the CD’s on your record shelf. You’re not really expressing that much and you don’t really know how to control and refine your emotions. No one really thinks about that.
David: That little spark of originality, I think it only really happened during the early 90’s, and I don’t think it’s happened since, I don’t really think it happened before. I know a lot of teenagers now who are really creative kids, but they can’t hold groups together and the only reason is it’s not that fun to be in a group. There’s stuff that’s more fun. When I was a teenager, if you were in a band, you were the coolest person in the universe, it was so validating and you couldn’t do anything better than to get a band together. Nowadays all the teenagers I know, it’s just one of many cool things to do and it’s not that big of a deal.
Scott: Now there’s Rock Band and Guitar Hero and all this video game crap that’s mocking our hard work to make a band.
David: Yeah. Taking the idea of making a band and just making it another fun thing to do.
Gavin: Bringing up the record industry, what’s your thoughts on the current state it’s in right now?
David: I think that the things that has value is a live concert. Music is very devalued, it’s only valuable on a personal level. Because you don’t have to buy CD’s, you can have them for free. Industry wise, I do believe the music does not have a monetary value. Maybe an increase of happiness value because you can enjoy it, but you can’t rea;ly pay money for it.
Scott: The value is in the identity of the music itself. Like, this band that’s this way, their music rocks this way. And there’s money to be made in that.
David: Yeah. If I was gonna sell a band, I wouldn’t sell the music. Because the music is free. You’d have to find something else to sell.
Scott: It’s like bands saying “we’re gonna make it!” What a bunch of B.S. It seriously is the stupidest thing that I hear. You’re gonna make what? You’re gonna work your tail off, you’re gonna get sick of each other because you plan on making it, and then you’re gonna break up. You’re either a lifer and you just play, or you’re not going to make it. There’s nothing to make! There’s nobody there to support you.
David: I haven’t sold a CD at a concert in over five years. I could care less.
Gavin: So of the bands that do “make it”, what do you think of the current music you hear on radio?
David: I think it’s just interesting because it’s music. I think there’s so many crappy bands in the studio and on the stage, it’s crazy.
Scott: The record industry is full of sales people. If you wanna make money, you’re a salesmen. Whether you’re selling the band, selling their T-shirt, selling their CD, doesn’t matter. If you can sell a song, you can sell that whole album because you have that one song on there. If you have the backbone and the financial support, you can make millions of dollars. Someone is behind that band pushing them so far to make money off that band. For bands, you can’t really make it to the level of having millions of dollars unless you got someone behind the scenes doing all the hard work for you.
Gavin: You said the music is pretty much free anyway, so how do you feel about downloads in general when it comes to your music?
David: I put all our stuff on the internet just for download. After a long time of not selling anything I just let them have it. It’s not about the money anyway. I don’t want $20 every year. I don’t have any download programs because I’m scared I’d get a virus, and I’m not computer savvy. But if there’s something I like, I’d pay for it because that’s the sort of appreciation I give, just for them to have a dollar. That’s the attitude I have towards it. I think it’s a good thing because I think what makes music good is the personality of the music and how close it’s connected to the person and the person making it. But like I said, I think the only way for us to make money is to play concerts and have people pay $5 to come see the concerts.
Scott: I know some people aren’t savvy with downloading free music, but I think that’s the way it’s going to go sooner or later. It’s inevitable. I don’t think I’m jumping the gun on that too much.
Gavin: Who do you think are some of the best bands in the scene now?
David: Red Bennies, Purr Bats, Glinting Gems, Early Birds, Ether Orchestra, and Sleeping Bag. Just all the bands that I am in, because I like the stuff we’re doing. (Scott laughs) Other than that, my next set would be all of Scott’s bands, and all of my friends bands. I always thought the Chinese Stars were cool, I always like The Wolves a lot, I like Laserfang. I know that list is tainted because we know them all, but that’s the way I feel.
Scott: In our scene there’s absolutely no competition whatsoever. I might have a small problem with anger, but if we ever come in contact with bands who feel they need to push their weight and demand to play second or need to do something specific or “we’re from here”, I get really upset and do something nasty. It’s just unnecessary. If you’re so good, then you could go on first, and everyone will be so pissed because you were so amazing and everyone has to follow going on after you. Set the tone!
Gavin: Are you guy working on an album or just doing your own thing at the moment?
David: We’re working on a new album. Since our last album we got a bunch of new songs that we’re going to start working on right away. It’s called Glass Hands, it’ll be out in maybe six months. It will be a hi-fi album, at least.