entire weekend downtown SLC has a touch of the artistic taking
The Utah Arts Festival kicked off yesterday afternoon to much fanfare. With artists from all over Utah and beyond, loads of activities, local eats, and of course tons of local music! Way too much to fit into one paragraph, so I'm not even going to try. Let's just say if you're reading this and you're not planning to go... sucks to be you. In the midst of all this I've been running around taking many, many photos and interviewing bands. Today is the first of two days of band interviews from artists performing for the fest, and we kick it off with the soulful blues sound of Kate LeDeuce & The Soul Terminators, and the big British rock invasion of Utah known as Big Gun Baby! ---
Kate LeDeuce & The Soul Terminators (Spencer Kellogg, Jeff Phillips, Kate LeDeuce, Dylan Baker, Brad McCarley, Joe Rudd & Brandon Hansen)
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.
Brad: Collectively, we have 13 good eyes, 14 legs, and 14 arms. We grew up in five different states and two countries. We have two college students, one Associate’s degree, three Bachelor’s degrees, and one Master’s. We weigh close to %uFFFD of a ton. We have one drum kit (with cowbell), one tambourine, one bass guitar, two regular guitars, an alto sax, a tenor sax, a lead singer, and two back up singers. Seven people total: Kate LeDeuce – lead vocals and tambourine, Jeff Phillips – guitar and backing vocals, Dylan Baker – guitar, Brad McCarley – bass and backing vocals, Brandon Hansen – drums, Spencer Kellogg – tenor saxophone, Joe Rudd – alto saxophone.
Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
Brad: I remember being really into ”Way Down” by Elvis Presley and the entire Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits album as a kid. Things changed radically around age 12-14.
Gavin: How did you all get together and form the group?
Brad: Jeff Phillips and I used to work together at a guitar store, I think the Wal-Mart of musical instruments. He and I had talked a lot about putting a band together over the years and we finally did it. He’s played with Brandon for a long time, and we brought him in – at first sort of temporarily, because he’s so busy with other stuff, but he was such a good fit at the time that we kept him on, and now I’m convinced he’s one of the best drummers in town. So the three of us wrote our first five or so tunes and learned some covers. While all of this was going on, I was recording an EP for Kate and asked her to sing with us. She said yes. We weren’t really looking for another guitar player, but Dylan came in and jammed with us. His style complemented Jeff’s so well that we asked him to stay on the first day. Brandon knew Spencer from playing jazz gigs around town, and we got our first horn player. I knew Joe from recording his other band, the Orbit Group. He started out substituting for Spencer at a few gigs, and he just officially joined the band a few months ago. I think we’re done adding people now. I’ve had designs on adding a trumpet player, a baritone saxophone player, and keys, but it’s all pretty hard to coordinate as it is.
Gavin: Not a lot of people have the funk/blues club sound going. What inspired you to head down that route?
Brad: I have to give a lot of credit to Daptone Records in New York for starting sort of a funk/soul revival. I’ve always loved old Stax and Hi Records stuff, and Atlantic Records stuff that was recorded in Memphis and Muscle Shoals in the 60’s and 70’s, but when I heard Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings for the first time I was blown away because it had the sound of those old records, but when I flipped the sleeve over to check out the recording date, it said 2004. It was one of those “hmmm?!” moments.
Gavin: What's been the reaction from people once they hear and see the live show?
Brad: They dance. They clap. They scream. They drink more.
Dylan: With the first couple of songs, everyone sort of gives us this shocked but captivated look. I think we get that because there isn’t really a band in SLC that has our particular sound. With the remainder of our set people really start getting into the music by dancing and experimenting with their unique (and sometimes drunken) dance moves.
Gavin: You recently played the SLUG Localized showcase. What was that experience like for you?
Brad: First of all, it was an honor just to be asked. I would highly recommend it to any local band. Aside from the interview and photo shoot, which were both very cool and painless, they take care of all of the promotion for the show (my least favorite part of being in a band), and they streamed it live on video. Pretty decent video too.
Gavin: I read you'll soon have a 7” EP on the way. What details can you give us on that?
Brad: It’s actually not an EP, but a single. It’ll be 45 rpm with an A side and a B side. It’s how it was done with this kind of music until in 1969 Stax Records proved with Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul that the black record buying public would actually buy full LPs. Before then, the vast majority of soul music was issued as singles, and soul LPs were collections of those singles. The A side will be “Everything I’ve Got”, and we haven’t decided on the B side yet, though we have three different options in the can. It’ll be on a new local label called 7 Inches Of Gold. Digital downloads of the songs will also be available.
Gavin: Are there any plans for a tour down the road, or mainly playing around locally?
Brad: Yes, we’re currently setting one up for Idaho/Oregon, and I really want to go south this winter.
Dylan: Everyone in the band loves playing around locally because we’re really starting to see a positive reaction. I think within the next year or so we’ll be at a point to tour outside of Utah.
Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Brad: There are lots of great players and bands in this town. It feels like something is starting to happen. I’m really optimistic. Just follow the Craig’s List Musicians classifieds to see some gnarly backstabbing and negativity. I’m pretty confident that that kind of stuff is isolated to a few individuals and not indicative of the Salt Lake music community as whole.
Dylan: There are a lot of talented and unique local artists in Salt Lake. Because the local music scene is a lot smaller than in some other states, people can really start to follow a new and upcoming local band fairly easy. On the other hand, because the local scene is smaller, it’s really up to the bands to market themselves well and play in the right venues.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?
Brad: I’d say that the most that could be done to help Salt Lake’s music scene could be done by the music loving public – make the effort to see one show per month featuring local artists, buy a local record. These are things that help support and nurture a music scene, in both an obvious, financial way, and because musicians play better to a full house than to a half full house. More people in the crowd helps us to play better.
Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
Brad: Well, I should start with this... members of our band play in a lot of other local bands, like the Radio Rhythm Makers, Triggers & Slips, The Orbit Group, Chasing Zen, Takt, The Fevered Lips, and Funk Schwa. I think all of those bands are worth checking out. Beyond that, the scene is bursting with talent. A few notables for me are Pink Lightnin’, 2 %uFFFD White Guys, Vile Blue Shades, Thunderfist, Flash Cabbage, and the Rubes.
Dylan: I really love the bands that have “the groove” flowing through they’re music. Some of those bands are, The Orbit Group, Colin Robison, 2 %uFFFD White Guys, Wisebird, and Funk Schwa.
Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?
Brad: I really don’t spend a lot of time listening to the radio, but when I do, I usually tune in to KRCL, and I think they are right on the mark. I think the current popular culture, celebrity culture etc... is reaching new lows, and that most of the stuff that you hear on Top 40 radio these days is probably tantamount to watching “Rock Of Love” or something.
Dylan: When it comes to the radio, I only listen to KRCL. That station does such a good job playing a wide variety of excellent underground music that’s hard to come by. Most other mainstream radio stations play music that either makes me laugh or gets me irritated because it’s so bad.
Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?
Brad: I’m all for it. Of course, we’re not selling millions of records or anything, but I think it’s better to have people listening to our stuff than not.
Dylan: Having someone listen to our music for free is much better to me than if they didn’t listen to it at all.
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?
Brad: Our first single and maybe our second. A couple of short tours. A lot of nights at Burt’s!
Dylan: A new record and some great soul/funk songs.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Brad: Salt Lake Recording Service. Burt’s Tiki Lounge. Amplify Media.
Gun Baby (Brandon, Graeme, Dude, Jaycee and
Gavin: Hey you two. First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Jaycee: Well I front a post punk/deviant pop band called Big Gun Baby. It’s an evolving animal, I write the lyrics for the tunes and a lot of blood sweat and tears get poured into it.
Graeme: I play bass and write the music for BGB. I am a Scorpio, I like to talk, long walks along the beach with the wind in my hair, and believe in world peace. I own the world’s largest collection of urinals and can write my name in the snow in hieroglyphics. Jaycee and I are both originally from London but have currently made SLC our home. Also in our line up we have a wicked drummer, Brandon, a Seattle native, who is a snowboarding, motorbiking lunatic and a new recruit on keyboards, Jenny, SLC born and bred, a classically trained pianist who could beat most men at an arm wrestle.
Gavin: What got you interested in music and who were some of your favorite acts growing up?
Jaycee: I was always round' a lot of music from young, we had a lot of parties at our house where bands would come and play, my sister and brother were always bombarding me with their taste which I must say were pretty good. As you do though, I went through loads of musical phases from blasting Primus, Nirvana and Sonic Youth to the mellower side of things like late 80’s early 90’s indie band from Manchester called the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Madness was also a staple of my musical diet. Also you got to have a bit of The Specials, The Jam, Pink Floyd that’s all I can think of for now but. I was on the mod scene from young listening to Northern Soul. My sister used to take me to a wicked little club in Camden, London called The Wag. I spent a lot of time there watching neat little turned out girls and boys with symmetrical hair dancing to funky shit! That gave me my soulfulness and Johnny Rotten gave me what I needed for the sneering anger side of things. I don’t mind a bit of Louis Armstrong or Jimmy Reid either when I’m in the mood…
Graeme: I grew up in a very musical environment, we hardly ever watched TV, the radio was always on or we’d listen to my parent’s Beatles, Rolling Stones, jazz and old rock’n’roll albums. My parents dragged me along to lots of parties when I was young that were pretty wild affairs with musicians and artists so I was always surrounded by music. I first picked up the bass when I was 17 and instantly fell in love with it, I taught myself to play by listening along to Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles etc. I’ve always had a very diverse taste in music, I love everything from punk to jazz to reggae, basically anything that’s played with feeling or has a good groove or rhythm. As far as writing goes, I’d have to say my influences range from The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Gang Of Four to Buzzcocks, Nirvana, Jane's Addiction, Blur and Franz Ferdinand to The Smiths, The Kills, The Stranglers, Suede etc... There’s just too many to name.
Gavin: How did you first get into the London music scene?
Jaycee: I was round a lot of bands playing at my house and then I just started venturing out to pubs to go and watch them, which you do a lot earlier in England than you do here. Drinking is a requirement of being English. When I was out at the pub I’d see bands and think I want to be up there! I always wrote a lot of poems and lyrics and eventually succumbed to getting a guitar and doing some open mic nights around the place. Through that I met more musicians, and went from there really.
Graeme: I started out in a band called Descent, we sounded like Fugazi meets Smashing Pumkpkins. We toured all around the UK and supported several well known British bands including Placebo. We got a lot of recognition and radio play but never quite made it to the "big league." The English music scene is hard, you can fit the whole of England into Utah but it has a population of over 50 million and so there’s just too many bands vying for the spotlight and so it’s basically a game of chance and luck. More often it’s not what you know but who you know and if you happen to be playing the style of music that happens to be the flavor of the month, it’s a very fickle industry, but it’s a lot of fun. I played in a number of other bands as well, everything from punk to blues to acid jazz, some were better than others but I just love to play and I think if you want to be a good musician you have to be eclectically minded and experiment with every style of music.
Gavin: What was your time like there with the bands you were part of?
Jaycee: I was mainly solo doing my acoustic thing, with a couple of duo projects depending on who I met up with who was up for it, nothing ever lasted long. I was in a band called Trapse which was funny can't even remember what we played, and a girly band out of Soho called the Panda Pop Girls that was bloody awful. We had one good song but there was a couple of German girls in it who insisted on chattin' about me in German which pissed me off so I left. Good job really! Mine and Graemes musical background are very different but we compliment each other, he puts together wicked tunes in completely different ways. I've written a few nice tunes that we re gonna be doing more of now we re a bit more dancey. but he s the accomplished musician and I provide the lyrics and melodies.
Graeme: I had a great time, the scene is totally chaotic, there’s so many great pubs, clubs and music venues. England has a very strong pub culture and many bars are generally packed every night of the week, everyone goes down to the pub, it’s just what you do. It’s in our genes, we come from a very old culture where for nearly two thousand years all you could drink was alcohol. The water was riddled with disease and tea and coffee, which didn’t appear until the 1600’s, were only drunk by the very wealthy, so basically everyone drank beer, wine and liquor all day and night and with every meal. At any given time I’d say that over half the population are either drunk or high. Like I said, I had a great time but in the end it does take it’s toll on you.
Gavin: How did you get together to form Big Gun Baby?
Jaycee: Graeme rented a room in the house where I was. He was fresh from the mental home and I was getting out of the Soho scene trying to be a good girl but my head was still there. I seen him play in his bands and known him from around for a while. At night times we used to talk about shit and music, have a smoke and corrupt each other and somewhere along the line we started playin' music together, the tunes I’d written over the last few years. He gave me the confidence to play again after a long while that was the start of our collaboration, but unfortunately ended pretty quickly because we started living the rock star life too much and forgetting to make any music!
Graeme: Like she said, too much partying took it’s toll and I decided to escape to the States to try and clean myself up a bit and ended up staying here. We kept in contact though and a few years later we met up again in late 2006 when Jaycee was traveling through America. I had a load of songs I’d been writing and when I played them to her she was inspired to start writing lyrics and melodies for them, so she stayed and BGB was formed.