First, some sad news: 2 Tone Lizard Kings will not be playing this Saturday's Strong Beer Festival at Steele Indian School Park. When organizers approached the Mesa ska band that's been getting rave reviews at the festival for four years in a row, they were told the band was already booked.
That's a shame. 2TLK, which released a new record last month, always killed it at the festival, which is why Benjamin Leatherman even asked them about it in a music feature last December.
"Every year, we think there's no way they'll book us, since it gets a little too rowdy and a little out of hand, and they always call us," said one of the guys from the band.
Not this year, folks.
Now that 2TLK is out, another horn-y East Valley group, Captain Squeegee, is the new headliner. What to expect? Well, you can stream an mp3 of their latest single below or read on for an interview with singer/trumpeter Danny Torgersen, trombonist Ryan Sims, guitarist Austen Mack and bassist Tyler Carlblom.
Also worth noting, word around the campfire is that this year's festival may sell out in advance, so get your ticket early.
Up On The Sun: First off, congrats on the gig. The Strong Beer Fest is truly one of the coolest and most unique events in the Valley every year so anyone associated with it gets some props in my book. Have you guys been before or did organizers make you aware of what you're getting yourself into?
Danny: We are most honored to musically accompany this grand appreciation of Beer. Beer has played a special part in all of our lives and it's about time we played in the name our great & fearless leader... BEER! I have never been to the event, but I can only hope that it will feel like a brotherhood, where all patrons are social and care-free, The Bohemian Grove of Booze!
Ryan: I don't think any of us have attended the festival before, but the promoters have given us a hint about it's grandiosity. We are definitely excited to participate this year. It'll be fun to play for a crowd of people that have been consuming delicious beer all day. Perhaps it'll make us sound better to them.
Tyler: Never been before but I'm excited we are going to be performing. Any time beer is the reason for people to congregate you know its gonna be a good time. I have no clue what Im getting myself into... should we be scared? Haha!
UOTS: On that same note, you're filling some big shoes. 2 Tone Lizard Kings were the best beer festival band I've ever seen, and I've seen more than a few. They really have a reputation for owning this event, though you're probably a more established act in general. You're both horn rock acts from the East Valley -- they're more straight-ahead vintage ska, obviously, Do you know them, or have you ever played together, and how confident are you in your ability to woo this crowd?
Danny: Most of our music has a BAC. We write while drinking, play while drinking, and tour while drinking. Our music will surely be enjoyed by the intoxicated, we are from the same planet of fun! We know and love the 2 Tone Lizard Kings, many of us actually schooled together. This year will be a wondrous opportunity for us to add our own twist of mixed meter and psychedelia. We don't just want to make people dance, we want to lead them on a drunken journey into the Mind!"
Ryan: 2 Tone Lizard Kings are definitely a fun band. We do know them, and have shared the stage on numerous occasions. I'm not sure how well we fit into the classification of "beer festival band," but we will definitely find out on Saturday. We have horns, but have definitely strayed from the ska genre almost completely. We've played for many different types of crowd over the years, and have evoked the entire spectrum of responses. The type of music that we are currently playing is varied in itself. But I am confident that people will find something that they enjoy about the set, and hopefully they will pick-up on the common thread that exists amongst the variation. We are definitely attempting to please the crowd but not at the expense of what we are trying to put out their.
Austen: We know a few of the Lizard Kings from ASU's School of Music, and a couple from around the local music scene. Jeremy Lappitt, Matt Ventre, and Evan Rosen are great players and hold it down with the band, as do the rest of them. Squeegee will bring a different vibe than the Kings, but we made sure it's still beer-friendly. Although, when dancing to odd meters you tend to spill more drinks..
Tyler: If we werent confident in our ability to woo a crowd we shouldnt be a band playing the music we play. Not everyone will like us Im sure but thats never the case at a show... especially at a festival. I'm sure this will be a great experience and we will walk away with new fans as well bring some people to the event that otherwise wouldnt have gone.
UOTS: What's the game plan when playing for an audience that's pretty much totally blotto? Is it easy or hard and how do you make it work?"
Danny: If we build it, they will come. It's like that movie.
Ryan: If "blotto" means drunk, then the game plan is to maintain a high level of energy and genuineness with what we are playing. If "blotto" means despondent, then the plan is exactly the same. We love when the crowd is engaged and really enjoying themselves and the people around them. But if they are lacking in some way, we are still playing for it's own sake. A tough crowd sometimes can turn the focus inward on the ourselves, opening up the possibility of more improvisation and liberties taken in the music. All in all, we enjoy playing regardless of the crowd and love when they can enjoy it with us.
Austen: Some of our best friends are drunk people.
UOTS: What's the goal with a gig like this -- are you trying to impress a bunch of people who are understandably more interested in some of the best beer they'll taste all year and get them dancing or do you not even try to compete with Stone's Imperial Russian Stout?"
Danny: We and the Imperial Russians will work together to intoxicate humanity in all ways possible, alcoholically and SONICALLY! We are not focused on the reaction, we are focused on the music, and that will yield the proper reaction.
Ryan: It is hard to compete with good alcohol. That is a fact. We even stutter in our decision making sometimes when the choice is between anything and good beer. But it's definitely not a competition, just a great opportunity to play for a group of people that are enjoying the things around them. Plus, it's generally a bad idea to compete with anything that has in it's name the words "Stone, Russian, Imperial, or Stout".
Austen: We kept the Czar of beers in mind while practicing our set. After all, beer and music have a time-tested relationship and have shaped human history together. Those who wish to dance shall dance!
Tyler: We're not really the type of band that can just be background music. We usually command attention but you cant control that type of stuff. We will show up and play.
UOTS: Will you guys be drinking before or after your set? Does the band have a policy on these things? I imagine it's a challenge to stay professional if you've got any beer snobs in the group. If so, what are you looking forward to trying?"
Danny: We have sworn a band-oath to limit ingestion to ONE beer per song, and I trust my band. I like milky beers, and nutty beers. If there is a Milk-Nut-Beer out there, I will find my new Religion.
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Ryan: We all love beer very very much. With that said, there are not any policies that attempt to control behavior in our band. We all trust each other, and share the same goals. With this mutual recognition amongst all of us, we tend to self regulate pretty well. This does not mean that one, a few, or all of us have never had a little too much fun before the set. But nobody is perfect. We'll probably grab a beer or two to keep us properly hydrated throughout the set. But nothing too crazy. I personally love India Pale Ale's, and anything else that is really hoppy. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for any IPA's that I haven't tried.
Austen: Capn Sqwshbucklr neverd rinkss before3 a shooow@
Tyler: Yes, we will try to stay sober before we play but afterwards its gonna be a disaster. Heads up cab drivers of the greater Phoenix area, you're in for a treat!