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Soundcheck It

Talking (and drinking) local music with KBER’s Helmut Von Schmidt at the Jackalope.



It’s been a long time since the last installment of FUBAR, wherein the author goes drinking in bars and then masterfully relates it to a local-music topic. Oh, I’ve been drinking'just not professionally.


Last week, FUBAR drinking companion Natalie, of liquor-distro company Future Brands, picked up the tab (off the clock, of course) for sit-down/drink-up with KBER 101 weekend DJ Helmut Von Schmidt at the Jackalope Lounge'which, by the way, is a thousandfold improvement over previous incarnations of the club at 372 S. State; don’t be afraid, it’s quite swank now.


Von Schmidt is also the host of the Salt Lake Soundcheck, a Saturday-night local-music show that also puts on semi-regular showcases for the bands he spins. In honor of the next installment at Club Vegas on Friday, FUBAR talked tunes with the man over beers, as well as a few shots of Absolut and Jim Beam (product placement accomplished, Natalie).

City Weekly: What’s your usual drink of choice?
Helmut Von Schmidt: Beer. If not beer, then whiskey; I’m old-school like that. Beer is my day job'I’m an area supervisor for the local Coors distributor'so I’m a beer guy.

CW: So that’s why we’re drinking Killian’s. How long have you been doing the Salt Lake Soundcheck on KBER?
HVS: About two and a half years now. Originally, it was just a half-hour long and four songs'you’d take a bathroom break and miss it. But now we have a full hour, more time for songs, and to have bands play in the studio.

CW: Do you solicit bands for your show, or do you go looking for them?
HVS: I get stuff sent to the station, and if I see a good band live, I’ll hit ’em up for a CD. I also find them on MySpace'wherever I can get it, I’ll take it. [You can find Von Schmidt at, FYI.]

CW: Does it have to be music you can rock a mullet to, or is it open to any genre?
HVS: I play mostly rock stuff'but I get mostly rock stuff, so stands to reason. I want anything and everything; I just want to spotlight local music. The boss man at KBER told me, “You deal with it, it’s all you.” It’s nice to have the reins like that, no constraints.

CW: But the Soundcheck is sort of off-schedule at the moment.
HVS: Yes, KBER is carrying Jazz games in beautiful FM stereo for the season'a lot of those games start at 7 o’clock, so we’ve moved from our regular 7-8 p.m. slot to 6-7 Saturday nights.

CW: Is an hour long enough for the show?
HVS: I definitely want to take it to two hours'I’ll wait until the Jazz season is over and see if the Powers That Be will let me go from 6 to 8. Even though I’ve been there a while, I’m still a part-time guy, so I don’t go demanding anything.

CW: Who’s playing the Soundcheck showcase this weekend?
HVS: We’ll have Under Radar, a fine local band; The Unread out of Idaho, a rockin’ band I really like so I thought I’d invite them down; and The Monarch, a Salt Lake band I’ve had play the Soundcheck before, big fan of theirs.

CW: How long have you been doing the showcases?
HVS: Almost a year. The first few were at Club Vegas'the owner, Dusty, is just a really cool guy; great to me, great to the bands. Plus, it’s a good hard rock and heavy metal joint. We did a couple of shows elsewhere over the summer, but now Dusty’s accepted us back at Club Vegas. [Laughs]

CW: As a rock DJ, any songs you never want to play again?
HVS: Scorpions'the whole gamut. Sure, I dug “The Zoo” when I was a kid, and I’d “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” I don’t know how many times I’ve played the Scorpions over the last 14 years, but I’m done with ’em.

ttClub Vegas
tt451 S. 400 West
ttFriday, Dec. 29
tt9 p.m.