Below The Surface

Girl Wreck Fest; Band Interviews!

Once again the snow is melting, and there’s only a hint of a blizzard every now and then. Slather on your sunscreen and pick up a pack of ear plugs folks (purely to save your ears for when you are all old), because festival season is kicking off this weekend.

Girl Wreck Fest will begin on Friday, May 2nd at the Sidewinder Tavern, and continues the next day at the Oriental Theatre.  I recently sat down with one of the founders of Girl Wreck Fest, Brandy Darling, and a few of the amazing bands playing this show.  Check it out below, and make sure to click those links for the bands!

How was Girl Wreck Fest born?

Brandy Darling: Girl Wreck Fest began as an idea that one of my good friends and volunteers, Eryn Mulloy & I came up with.  We did the 1st Annual Fest at the Lion’s Lair over three nights.  We thought it would be fun to have a showcase of all of the female-fronted bands that I worked with.  Girl Wreck Fest has now evolved to not only include female-fronted acts, but male-fronted acts as well, in order to more accurately reflect the pool of talent that we work with.

What sets GWF apart from other festivals throughout the year in Colorado?

Brandy Darling: Girl Wreck Fest gives us an opportunity to showcase some of the most dynamic bands that have played Girl Wreck Presents shows over the past year in a festival setting.  Girl Wreck Fest is one of the earliest festivals of the year in Denver, kicking off the start of a great summer of shows with Girl Wreck Presents.  Actually, May is looking more like “Girl Wreck Fest Month” with the Fest and Blast-Off Party happening, then BugGirl, The Blackouts, Guns N’ Bitches at The Sidewinder Tavern on Th. 5/8; The-Front, Obsessive Compulsive, 9 Volt Fatale, and Brave The Breakdown at Sidewinder on Fri. 5/16.  We still do like to maintain the female-fronted edge.

Can you tell me what Girl Wreck Presents does for the music scene?

Brandy Darling: Girl Wreck Presents books at multiple Denver venues, and books tours for U.S. and International artists.  In 2013, we booked and/or promoted 219 shows, worked with 254 bands, 15 comedians, and 4 sideshow/special attraction acts.  We worked with a total of 42 venues in the U.S. (and one in Canada), booked or promoted 202 local bands, 52 touring bands that came to Colorado, and tours for 4 bands. Currently our focus is on working closely with local venues, booking tours, and working on marketing projects for certain venues or bands.  We have booked at many Denver bars and venues, and currently mostly focus on shows at Denver venues: The Oriental Theater, 12 Volt Tavern, The Sidewinder Tavern (who was just voted “Best New Venue” by Westword), & 3 Kings Tavern .

 From a booking agent’s perspective, do you have any advice for bands who want to get booked in Colorado?

Brandy Darling: Make sure your pitch is efficient, and be organized & responsive.  Work hard to promote your Colorado show so that you will be invited back!

What lead to starting Girl Wreck Presents?

Brandy Darling: I started GWP while I was booking under the 43rd St. Zoo moniker at the Lion’s Lair.  It just seemed like it was time to make a change, as I was partially running the Zoo with a good friend who relocated to the mountains and wasn’t able to be as involved.  I wanted something that was completely all my own.  I originally started in the music industry with NIPP, working jobs in both front and the back of the house.  I felt like I had enough experience to run my own company.  One of the benefits of the work I did with NIPP was that I was able to gain an understanding of the industry from all perspectives of involved parties, which has proven to be beneficial over time.

Here’s the links for tickets and more info on Girl Wreck Presents shows!

https://www.facebook.com/girlwreckpresents

http://www.girlwreckpresents.com

9volt Fatale:

Do  you have any pre-show rituals or certain things you have to do before you perform?

As long as we can keep Gary sober the show will provide a majestic misanthropic experience.

How long have you been working with Girl Wreck Presents?

Since the beginning when I called Brandy at 3am on Tuesday morning telling her we need to do this thing called GIRL WRECK FEST!!

 Is this your first time playing Girl Wreck Fest?  If not, do you have any stories about previous Girl Wreck Festivals?

 NO! This is our third GWF ….it is a scene on its own. That’s why it has become its own fest.

What advice would you give to newer bands that want to break into the scene here in Denver?

Pick up a guitar and scream. Promo is heart.

 Upcoming Events

We will  melt your face at……………..
April 25th @ Tennyson’s Tap

May 3rd GIRL WRECK FEST @ Oriental Theater

May 16th Sidewinder Tavern

June 12th @ Surfside 7 in Ft. Collins

Links to Noise:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYnCNj9XRXk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3xDkdOIMoI

The Pollution:

How did the band (or members) come to be?   

The Pollution is the most recent of a long line of bands/projects/ experiments that Matt, Jeff and I have been involved with. Jeff Derry (drummer) Matt Hurley (Guitarist) and I all met in the 1990’s while working for the US Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Jeff and I met in 1995 and we both met Matt in the summer of 1998. Jeff and I at the time were the rhythm section for the Show band Fuzzy Logic which we formed to provide music for the various Holiday parties and events on station. We’re currently moving up on 20 years as a rhythm duo.  Jeff, Matt and I (Jay Fox- bass player, singer) have been in a variety of bands here in Denver, ( Anesthesia, Bison/ette, Fragments of Divine/Birdmanray, Goiter, Brainbox Pollution, and Twin Chin). We started Brainbox Pollution in April 2012, after our band Bison/ette imploded and ended. We had a bunch of Matt’s songs we’d been playing but  decided it was time to do something new, so we scrapped the whole set and in an attempt to get us moving I dug deep into my past and pulled together a set of ( English Space Rock Pioneers) Hawkwind’s songs, reworked them and we moved into a new direction. Started gigging around Denver in July 2012 with the addition of a second guitarist (Sean Anderson), we ran the Brainbox Pollution show until August 2013 when Sean left the band. At that point we scrapped the Hawkwind set and started The Pollution, which is mostly original music that we had been writing alongside of the Brainbox set. The Pollution did our first show in September of 2013.  So far we’ve been averaging a show a month, playing with lots of great Local acts, and even got to open for former Hawkwind Sax Player Nik Turner and his Space Ritual at the Lions Lair this past fall. We added Ed Marshall (Forests of Azure) on Synthesizer this Spring to help us flesh out the sound, and to play a fully advertised Hawkwind show at Tooeys Off Colfax when the real Hawkwind cancelled they’re American tour.

We’re currently working on demo’s for a possible release on my own Livingnightengale Records. We did just record a two song demo of Gwar/Death Piggy songs as a tribute to the great Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) which we’re releasing this weekend as a Record Store Day freebie.

What about our local scene appeals and doesn’t appeal to you?

Since moving to Denver in 2001 I’ve been totally blown away at how easy it is to get great gigs, with great bands at great clubs. I grew up in the Washington DC music scene which traditionally was very hard to break into, didn’t have many clubs, and was highly competitive.

When your band is competing with groups like Fugazi / Minor Threat you have to really be on your number or you fall off the map immediately. So that said we had to work all the time to get a handful of shows a year. Where here in Denver you can get rolling pretty quickly and get great gigs. I’ve been lucky to have band-mates/friends that all have the same ideas about playing and working as a band so we have done lots of shows in a short amount of time with most every project we’ve started. The booking people here (like Brandy at GW, and Ryan at Tooeys etc.) actively are interested in putting on shows, and working with bands. Giving them opportunities to grow as live acts, not just expecting you to come play bring all your friends and be instant money makers.

Another great thing about Denver is we still have active happening Record Stores, places like WaxTrax, and Twist & Shout keep the music scene fresh by having local and touring acts doing in store shows promoting new release and providing a great service to the local music scene.

The same can be said about rehearsal spaces, lots of great studios around town help bands get going in a professional way, and not being stuck in your mom’s basement etc. All these things add up to help nurture a great music scene, and Denver has one.

How would you describe your band’s sound? More in depth, how does each member contribute to that?

The Pollution’s sound is based on our long history of playing together, playing a variety of different styles of music, and not being hung up about it plus being friends for decades helps.

I feel our current sound is reminiscent of the post hardcore music coming out in 1984-86 on labels like Dischord Records, SST Records, Alternative Tentacles Records , and Crass Records. Very odd flavors, some softer, some louder, some just noise. We took the Hawkwind Space Punk themes and added a good sized dose of American 1980’s style punk and blended them together to create this weird musical soup called The Pollution. Most of our songs have socio political themes, animal rights/suffering, No Nukes, Anti Authority themes. Typical punker stuff. Highbrow intellectual scientific stuff. Big Brain music with short sharp attacks.

As far as each member contributing, we all write our parts together and work them into the Soup.

 As far as upcoming events, we’re always looking for local shows, and taking it to the people.  Next show after Girl Wreck Fest is at the Seventh Circle Music Collective on May 6th.

Come out to the Girl Wreck Fest and support live local music.

Live Music Is Better!

https://www.facebook.com/ThePollutionband?ref=hl

Sparkle Jetts:

How would you describe your band’s sound? More in depth, how does each member contribute to that?

Blues-Based, Glam-Loving, Star-Powered Rock n’ Roll!

Whitney Rehr (guitar/vocals), vocal/guitar goddess and one of Denver’s most underrated performers, also plays in Gata Negra, I’m A Boy, and Meta Lark. Arlo White (lead vocals), flat-footed, rock and roll mephisto, formed DEADBUBBLES and The Pretty Sure, and currently hosts Radio 1190’s Hypnotic Turtle Radio. Hope Bertsch (drums), crazed, primal powerhouse, also plays in The Blackouts and The 250s. Chris Keift (bass), lays down the low end with post-punk devotion, was the bassist for The Dirty Lookers

Do you have any pre-show rituals or certain things you have to do before you perform?

Shots!

How did the band (or members) come to be?

We’ve all been around the Denver music scene for a long time, playing in various bands, and the stars finally aligned. Our uniting of superpowers came about almost a year ago, and we’re now ready to use our powers for good!

Is this your first time playing Girl Wreck Fest?  If not, do you have any stories about previous Girl Wreck Festivals?

Sparkle Jetts is excited to make our official debut at Girl Wreck Fest!

What about our local scene appeals and doesn’t appeal to you?

Denver has one of the best music scenes in the country! Great bands, awesome venues . . . the talent level here, across genres, is amazing!

What advice would you give to newer bands that want to break into the scene here in Denver

Just get out there and do it! It’s one of the easier cities to get gigs. They may not be the most glamorous, but any band can play here, somewhere.

As musicians, what makes a good performance? (In terms of walking off the stage, and knowing that you nailed it, versus leaving the stage wanting to scream.)

Passion, soul, magic. . .

After Girl Wreck Fest, Sparkle Jetts will be all over Denver city and beyond . . .we will next appear:

Friday, May 30th at the first annual Hypnotic Turtle Radio Bacchanal! @ 3 Kings with The Buckingham Squares, The Howling Hex, and Diablo Montalban

Monday, June 30th on the KGNU Kabaret, 7 pm @ 88.5 FM or 1390 AM or kgnu.org

Links:

www.facebook.com/sparklejetts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjdJmtX_WmY&list=PLOb0fAjjKm_oPgQkni0LdK5-gyzWpav9h

www.hypnoticturtle.com

Letters From Space:

 How would you describe your band’s sound? More in depth, how does each member contribute to that? 

We are influenced by the music of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Neil comes from a thrash and metal background, Brian has a rock/funk and R&B approach to the bass, Patrick brings rock, pop and metal influence while Mike plays an alt rock and post grunge style of guitar.  Vocally we try to add to every song not only with pertinent or interesting lyrics, but a strong melody to carry the song.

This mix of backgrounds and style has proven to be very interesting in terms of songwriting and delivery.  We’ve found it hard to categorize the music we’re creating now. Let’s say…we’re not a boy band, but we’re willing to learn.  🙂

How did the band ( or members) Come to be?

Mike and Neil were working as a two piece project about 4 years ago.  Brian joined for a short period on bass after about a year, but had to leave the project for personal reasons.  Pat joined to play bass after Brian left and has been in that position until January.  We felt like the power trio formation may not be giving us the flexibility that we wanted in order to expand the sound.  I ran into Brian at a part and he expressed an interest in sitting in.  So in January we had a meeting and Brian, with Patrick’s blessing took over full time on bass.  Patrick has always been a guitar player so it’s a natural move for him. We’re very excited about the possibilities this gives the band in terms of songwriting and sound.

Are there any people out there who have inspired you in your career as an artist? 

Slayer, Melvins, Devo, Pixies, Talking Heads, Mike Patton, Oingo Boingo, and the list is long and covers every genre. Locally we’re into Hooper, The Sonic Archers, 9 Volt Fatale, Deadwolf. This is just of the top of my head, Denver has so many great local bands.  The Sonic Archers and 9Volt Fatale are playing Girl Wreck Fest this year also. We are super excited to be playing with both of them again.  Incidentally, Mike was in a project with 9 Volt Fatale front woman, Erin a few years back.  9 Volt Fatale kills, you need to see them.

What advice would you give to newer bands that want to break into the scene here in Denver?

Practice till you have something then get out and play.  The key is to find your audience.  Every band has a period of ‘audience discovery’, as we call it. In fact, with the lineup changes in the band we’re currently in our ‘audience discovery’ phase…again.

This is the period in the beginning where you determine if you’re playing at the right venues, with the right bands and targeting the right people to come to your shows.  If it’s a bust, tweak some things and do it again, soon.  Play any venue you can, expose people to your music, gather the feedback and repeat.

This is how you find your fan base.  And once you’ve found a few early hardcore fans coming to every show (not your mom and brother! Ha ha) the momentum will drive more listeners who, if you’re treating them right with more great music and an ability to connect with the band on some level, will become fans. I don’t mean sacrifice your vision or sound based on what the fans want, but you’ll know when you’ve found your audience because they’ll start to find you.

There are so many great venues in this town and a ton of great bands to work with.  Partner up and play often.

And then…Yahtzee! You’ve broken into the scene!  See you next year at Girl Wreck Fest 4.  🙂

As musicians, what makes a good performance? ( in terms of walking off the stage, and knowing that you nailed it, versus leaving the stage wanting to scream.) 

As a musician you can feel it when you’re playing.  Is everyone in the band ‘on it’? Are the songs tight?  Am nailing my parts? – etc.

But more importantly, have we connected with the audience? If the people in the audience are having a good time, moving to the sound , responding to comments from stage, smiling. Basically, when the audience is completely engaged then we know the show is a success.
Of course it’s always great when fans or new listeners come to us after the show tell us what they liked (dare I say loved?) about the show, we know we’re on to something.

What about our local scene appeals and doesn’t appeal to you? 

We like that there is such a wide range of genres. On any given night you can go see a Metal show, a Folk show, an Open-mic night, or Jazz and that’s all at the same bar!  There are so many talented bands in Denver right now and so many great people.  The venues are open to all kinds of music and are willing to give bands a show on great nights of the week. Indie promoters and support like Brandy and Girl Wreck, Marcus with Literati Records,  Jennifer and MileHI Music.  And of course, the fans.  The Denver scene is so packed with people that seek out new and independent music.  Without them there is no scene. It’s really amazing and we’re stoked to be a part of it.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/LettersfromSpace

WhiteCatPink:

How would you describe your band’s sound? More in depth, how does each member contribute to that?

My music is an integrated blend of Krautrock elements, Glam and European Electronica with live drums and vocals.   If Brian Eno were on a spaceship with Serge Gainsbourg entertaining a host of beautiful models and Kraftwerk manning the controls, that’s what I sound like.  I am the only member of the band, and I have contributed the blood, sweat, tears, and soul to the work.  I have dedicated time to carefully crafting the electronic elements of the music in Ableton Live, and then set them to my drumming and singing.

Do you have any pre-show rituals or certain things you have to do before you perform?

Before I perform, I am applying makeup and getting the Cat costume together, as well as mentally preparing myself to deliver a killer set.  I do not partake of drugs, cigarettes or alcohol – I will often blend up a Macrobiotic drink with dino kale, lemon, raw honey, and berries and drink this instead.   In order to clear the channels and place my playing on a higher plane, I also give thanks to my Higher Power for the talents to play music and invite it into the center of my performance.   It’s rather an alchemical process, I suppose.

Are there any people out there who have inspired you in your career as an artist?

I draw heavy inspiration musically from Yellowman (the albino reggae phenom), Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel in the old Genesis days, David Bowie, Sun Ra, Fela Kuti, and everyone who dared to do anything that was unusual and outside of the box.

What advice would you give to newer bands that want to break into the scene here in Denver?

Be on time or ten minutes early to your show.  Better yet, if you are not opening, show up early and support the other bands you are playing with.  Nothing is more obnoxious than a band that refuses to enter the venue until their setup time, and then acts like everybody owes them something.  Be nice to all the people you work with; this mean Promoter, Sound Guy/Girl, Venue Owners, etc.  Being nice has gotten me 80% of the work that I am involved with and has opened the door to a wealth of connections.  Word of mouth carries both ways.  You always draw more flies with honey.

Links:

 www.whitecatpink.com

www.facebook.com/whitecatpink

www.soundcloud.com/whitecatpink
http://whitecatpink.bandcamp.com/

Thanks for reading!

Jennifer Kerber

About Jennifer Kerber

I am a current student at the Univeristy of Colorado at Denver for Music Business/Recording Arts. I love music, and everything that comes with it! Live theatre was what first introduced me to the entertainment world and music. Since then I have developed a passion for the music business and am the founder of GigAid LLC. As for MilehiMusic, there is nothing better than to come home and write about some good tunes.

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