By the Numbers

A conversation with local rockers Fourbanger, Fivespeed and Sixth Year Senior

"I don't want to work!" cries Brendan McFarlan, Sixth Year Senior's guitarist, who teaches tennis during the day to support his musical habits. "No, it's cool to hear bands get signed that have actually worked for a while when you hear stuff about bands who were just kind of thrown together . . . on Thursday night and they're on TRL on Friday."

Well, now there's a thinly veiled shot. The Format is in a situation much like the one McFarlan complains about. Although the duo had been members of a band called Nevergonnascore when they decided to branch off and play their own music, they had yet to play a live show together when their preliminary recordings began to receive attention from record companies and radio executives. In the Format's case, local rock station KEDJ-FM has been a faithful supporter.

"[The station] just basically took this band out of a rehearsal space and put them right on the radio," Martin explains. "Whereas there's a lot of bands that play together forever and ever will fight to get played once a week. There's no kind of regular rotation for bands like us." And this comes from the guy with the deal.

You can count on it: Here, Sixth Year Senior bashes away.
You can count on it: Here, Sixth Year Senior bashes away.

"When you guys got signed to Virgin, there wasn't a race between the two of us. It wasn't like, Okay, it's going to be between the two of them,'" offers McFarlan, addressing Fivespeed. "It just seems like when they make the battle of the bands stuff or when shit like that gets involved, it [competitiveness] does get involved because it's like, Oh. How'd they win?' And winning something like that doesn't put you any closer to signing a record deal."

"We try to always keep good vibes with every band that we play with," DiToma says. "But in the same breath, everybody out there in our genre is absolutely competitive, and it's absolutely another band that's going to take the attention or turn the eye of another label that I want to go to."

Yet for as competitive as the scene may be as the national spotlight grows, the bands find themselves in a precarious time for the local club scene. The mathematics of the situation is simple: More bands + less clubs = sad musicians sitting at home on a Saturday night. But, as Woosley points out, for every Nile Theater or Electric Ballroom or Beeloe's that closes down, there's always hope for new ground.

"Have you guys seen the new Nita's? That place rules," Woosley says. "Plus, you know the new Coyotes stadium is going to be opening up in Glendale, and if you don't think there's going to be a bunch of clubs that pop up down there, you're crazy."

There's also the option of getting creative, which brings to mind another equation: Supply + demand among the kids = odd venues.

"Once we showed up to a laser tag arena," recalls Sixth Year Senior's McFarlan. "We had never played there before, and we walk up stairs and there is a built-in crowd of 300 kids there."

"We played there one night and you could see the vans pull up and you see the kids pop out. At laser tag, dude, they're all 12," adds Fourbanger's Eric Huffaker, whose boyish mug might lend to the misconception that he was chauffeured in by a soccer mom. "And they've all got $40 to burn in their pocket."

All this talk about younger listeners leaves Fivespeed feeling left out. "We get bill collectors coming to our show," jokes Martin.

"I think my grandfather had Fivespeed's record on his CD player," says McFarlan. " I think he referred to them as fine young crooners."

Although they are poking fun at each other, any psychologist would tell you that this is none other than a sure-fire sign of male bonding.

"I give mad props to any group of individuals who get together and spend enough time by themselves with their musical instruments to create music and enough music to the point where they can go on a stage in front of a bunch of people they've never met and be like, This is what we're about,'" says DiToma. "Because I straight up threw up the first time we ever played a show."

Woosley tells DiToma to "just let it all out," and, had this been a real therapy session, a group hug might ensue. But this ain't no exercise in Gestalt, and the night ends with the words of wisdom from the guy who got the night's whole brotherly love thing rolling.

"The basic rule of thumb is that every time you piss someone off, you make about 10 enemies," says Durham. "And every time you make a friend, you make three more."

Or four, or five, or perhaps six . . .

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