By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
Bldg 5 is not the most serious band in the world. If you spend any time at all with this funky hard-rock quartet, you'll find that practically every topic--from the group's recent road mishaps in snowy Colorado to its contempt for conservative state authorities to its collective appreciation for the sacred herb--is fodder for a few laughs.
But when front man Kevin Dye discusses the upcoming benefit show his band organized to combat domestic violence, his tone changes. Dye seems constitutionally incapable of letting anything get him down for long, but it's clear that one recent event took its toll.
"I had a major deal that started this," he says. "My ex-girlfriend, Nina Albright--we had a son together named Jonathan, and we kept up really good contact--was fucking beat to death, basically, on March 9 in Georgia. Blunt force trauma to the head.
"It was like a crazy thing for all of us. She was totally beat to the head; it wasn't like a car crash or just a death."
Albright's convicted killer was her boyfriend at the time. "He seemed like a nice guy," Dye says. "I met the guy, and now I look back and think, 'Fuck, we should have killed him.' But what do you do? So that's how I sleep at night, knowing that we're trying to do something."
Dye says that for at least a month after Albright's death, he didn't want to do anything. He quit his construction job, and found himself uninterested in creating music. He credits his bandmates with showing patience, until he was ready to play again. When Dye decided to put together a series of benefit shows, he literally thumbed through the phone book and randomly found Autumn House, which provides shelters for domestic-violence victims.
He describes himself as someone who "can't let something go by," who has to respond whenever anything peeves him. That tendency can take the form of something as profound as the Autumn House benefit or as frivolous as the band's new tune, "Traffic," which takes on former Edge DJ Greg Paul for trashing the band's debut CD, Foundation. The song's title mocks Paul's current gig, doing traffic reports on AM radio.
The band's mind-altering tendencies ("We smoke weed, but we're always worried about being classified as a weed band," Dye says) earn a tribute with the song "LT," for the crack-pipe-resembling bong that the band named after former New York Giants star--and repeat drug offender--Lawrence Taylor.
The band's steady gigging over the last year, as well as the addition of multi-instrumentalist Jason Dell since Foundation was recorded, has the members convinced that their second CD will display considerable growth. They enter Mind's Eye Digital on January 23 to begin the project with Larry Elyea.
"We took these songs on the road a couple of times," Dye says. "We play them all the time. The songs are a lot different. Some are heavier, some are more angry, some are funnier in a way."
"It's our style, just more defined," responds bassist David Cortright.
The band's music is defined by radical rhythmic shifts--from funk to jazz to metal to ska--that would tax even the most versatile players. It's an approach that can take some getting used to, but Dye says it's always felt natural to him.
"Isn't that how it is in your life?" he asks. "You don't wake up and have one rhythm all day. You wake up, and you have that wake-up rhythm; next thing you know, you're at work and you're hearing shit like Korn in your head; and then it's the Grateful Dead 'cause you're on lunch; next thing you know, it's Slayer or Celine Dion. Fuck, who knows? We like to mix it up."
Turn the Page: They're gonna put those Les Payne Product guys in the movies, and all they've gotta do is act naturally.
The showmanship-friendly duo recently hooked up with producer Ryan Page of One Tree Films, who made What Is It? with Crispin Glover. Page and his partner Torry Jestadt have now concocted a film idea around the enigmatic glamour that is the Les Payne Product.
Drummer Chris Pomerenke says he and guitarist James Karnes met Page through mutual friends while the producer--a former Valley resident who attended Horizon High--was visiting Phoenix. "He was really interested in us, and he's done some documentaries, so he was thinking of doing something like that. But we talked and ended up deciding on a story, dealing with some of our obsessions."
The film, whose working title is Illuminati, promises to be a loosely scripted affair about freemasonry, trips to the sun, Hopi prophecies, computer chips, "and all kinds of crazy stuff," according to Pomerenke. "It's about the Phoenix bird rising up from the flames." Rest assured, he's not talking about the Cardinals advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Along such locally oriented lines, Pomerenke and Karnes have lined up roles in the film for many of their friends in the Valley music scene, including Trunk Federation's Jim Andreas, Chula's Yolanda Bejarano, and Vic Masters. Sounds a bit like Slacker goes to AZ, don'cha think?
Page's crew will follow the Les Payne boys to San Diego and Los Angeles for scheduled shows--stopping along the way to capture them cavorting in the Yuma desert. But if you want to be a part of the cinematic process, be advised that the group's Thursday, January 28, show at Boston's in Tempe will also be filmed.
Arts Modified: Stinkweeds owner Kimber Lanning is opening up a space for music and art at Fourth Street and Roosevelt, at the site of the old Metropophobobia. The new space, which will be known as Modified, could fill several local voids at once, by offering a place where music, dance and the fine arts can co-exist. Its most practical function will be to allow Lanning to take indie-rock shows that she would ordinarily have to squeeze into her record store, and move them into a more comfortable space where people can sit down and drink coffee.
"The majority of the touring bands that I've been hosting at Stinkweeds will go there," she says. "I can handle more there, plus I can do local bands there, and I can be a little bit more diverse. Here [at Stinkweeds], I probably wouldn't touch an acoustic, folky type thing, whereas there I'd be able to pull it off."
Lanning is renovating the space in anticipation of its Wednesday, February 3, opening. The space will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays, and in addition to music and art will offer movie nights and offbeat experiments like bingo nights. Lanning's hope is that Modified's monthly art openings can simultaneously reach the young crowd, which is enthusiastic but generally doesn't spend on art, and the older art-buying constituency.
"I know I can have it taken seriously on a music level, but having it taken seriously on an art level is my challenge," she says of the new space. "My idea is that we'll have live classical music and wine on the first Friday of the month and try to attract the more serious Scottsdale-type art people; and then the first Saturday of the month we'll have DJs and attract a much younger crowd. That way we'll have two completely different crowds, and I won't be alienating any particular group."
Crash Landing: Promising guitar-pop band Crashbar has broken up, but the loss is mitigated mightily by the fact that founding members Adrian Smith and Sean Gens are mutating back into their previous band, Sugar High.
Gens says that after guitarist/vocalist Brett Hinders left Crashbar, the group was divided over the pop direction he and Smith wanted to pursue and the harder rocking approach favored by the rest of the band. The problem came to a head when Smith and Gens suggested resurrecting some old Sugar High songs, which the other two members resisted.
After a February reunion show with the original Sugar High lineup, Pat McQuigley will switch from his old role of guitar to bass, and his guitar slot will be taken by Jason Garcia, formerly of The Sport Model. Garcia's former band, one of the best practitioners of power pop in the Valley, crumbled when it was dropped by its label, the locally based Pavement Music, which the band members discovered only when label reps stopped returning their phone calls.
Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org