Heavy Construction

Down With Buildings and Seven Storey rise up to claim the mantle of Valley indie rock

While Valley stalwarts Les Payne Product will be saying farewell this week (see Payne-Less) with a show at Nita's Hideaway, some familiar names will be using the concert bill -- which features a handful of top local indie acts including Reuben's Accomplice and the Slowdown, among others -- to debut a pair of new projects.

One of those is former Trunk Federation frontman Jim Andreas. Though Trunk Fed never officially announced a breakup, the group dissolved not long after the release of 2000's Lay the Hip.

"We were playing so infrequently it wasn't like we were really a band anymore," says Andreas. "Then pretty much everyone moved and I decided to settle down."

Down With Buildings -- featuring former Trunk 
Federation members Jim Andreas and Chris Kennedy 
-- debuts this weekend.
Down With Buildings -- featuring former Trunk Federation members Jim Andreas and Chris Kennedy -- debuts this weekend.
The Impossible Ones mix it up at Boston's on Friday, 
June 1.
Hector Acuña
The Impossible Ones mix it up at Boston's on Friday, June 1.

Since the band fizzled last year, Andreas tied the knot, bought a house and started a family (the singer and his wife are expecting their first child in September). Meanwhile, bassist Bob Smith moved to New York to pursue an acting career, while guitarist Jason Sanford relocated to Utah to open a restaurant in the skiing community of Park City.

Last fall, Andreas and longtime Trunk Fed drummer Chris Kennedy decided to form a new outfit. Hooking up with bassist Tim Brink (late of 100 Iced Animals) and Employee of the Moth guitarist Jesse Maxwell, the group began woodshedding throughout the latter part of 2000 and into the new year.

The group, dubbed Down With Buildings, offers a brand of music not entirely dissimilar to the tuneful psychedelia of Trunk Fed. Andreas says the new band's sound will draw on many of the same pop influences as his former group -- Beatles, Bowie, Pixies etc. -- but will be less ornate sonically.

"If you have the same person singing, it's going to sound the same to a certain degree. I think the main difference is that we've simplified things musically. In Trunk Federation, Bob [Smith] had a degree in music theory, so a lot of the more complex stuff was coming from him -- whereas I don't have that kind of background. This band is a little more minimalist in that way."

Andreas adds that he's penned 15 new songs with DWB and plans to head to the Old Pueblo to record several cuts with noted Tucson producer Jim Waters (who also helmed Lay the Hip).

Trunk Fed -- which recorded its first two albums for Alias Records and a final effort for North Carolina-based Plastique -- still has enough of a national reputation that Andreas has already generated interest among a number of industry contacts.

"Over the years touring with Trunk Federation, we met a lot of people," he says. "A few of them have expressed an interest, so we're going to record some songs with Jim, send it out and see what happens -- we're not going to push it too hard, though."

While Andreas' attitude toward securing a record deal is casual, the timing for the group's live debut was the result of a far more calculated decision.

"We really wanted be a part of this show," he says, "We thought it'd be fitting since Trunk Federation played a lot of shows with Les Payne as well as Reuben's Accomplice. And even though the Slowdown is a new band, we also played a lot of gigs with [singer Yolanda Bejarano's previous groups] like Slugger and Chula, so this seemed like the right time to do it. It's kind of a nostalgic thing in a way to have all these bands together again."

Despite the high-profile debut, don't expect Down With Buildings to become a live fixture anytime soon.

"I don't think we're going to be doing a lot of shows. This [group] is such a no-pressure thing, I'm really enjoying it. I think we're just going to take it nice and easy."

Also performing as part of the June 2 extravaganza is Lance Lammers' revamped and renamed Seven Storey Mountain. Performing under the shortened Seven Storey moniker, this is the band's "official" debut; the group quietly played its first gig this past weekend at the Emerald Lounge with Flagstaff's the On Seduction.

Seven Storey's current lineup includes Lammers, former Five Speed drummer Chad Kinney and bassist Dave Norwood. Most recently, Norwood was a member of Circle of Willis, but his relationship with Lammers dates back a good decade when the two were part of a high school punk band called the Disturbed Businessmen.

Lammers' new Seven Storey first surfaced as part of Modified's Not One Light Red compilation, released in February. The song included on the comp, "Second Rome," was just one of several dozen that Lammers had written and recorded in his bedroom since the demise of SSM early last year (A side note: An old Seven Story Mountain track was featured in a recent episode of VH1's insufferable reality rock series, Bands on the Run; the song is far and away the best thing to emerge from the musical hackfest so far.)

Now, a collection of other songs from those "bedroom sessions" is set to be released under the Seven Storey moniker on the Deep Elm imprint. The full-length disc, titled Dividing by Zero, is tentatively slated to hit stores in August. Lammers then plans to hit the road with his new combo for a string of live dates.

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