You know your band is cool when indie folk hero Devendra Banhart "opens" for you at a house party. It was pretty exciting for local rockers The Tremulants, anyway, when they found themselves playing after Banhart in the basement of a Mesa home one Saturday night in early June.
"I was honored to get to play with him, because I love him," says Tremulants singer and guitarist Marco Holt. "He didn't even have a guitar in town, so he had to borrow one of mine, but it was a great time."
It's been a great time in general for The Tremulants lately. The four-piece indie rock band has released two albums (2008's Helicopter Moon and 2010's Bink!), both on Black Cactus Records, a local label Holt helped found. The BCR roster boasts some of the best acts in the Valley; in addition to The Tremulants, BCR is home to raucous alterna-rock bands The Necronauts and Former Friends of Young Americans, hip-hop fusion act The Premiere, and noise pop band Lisa Savidge.
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"It's a great team. I'm really excited about the potential of Black Cactus," Holt says. "I'm glad to be working with people that aren't flaky. None of us have stopped playing because we've gotten girlfriends or whatever. I'm kind of in it for life."
The Tremulants formed as a duo (using electro drums) in 2003. When Holt's partner left, he decided to carry on with a full band. The latest lineup includes drummer Patrick Williams, bassist Isaac Hensleigh, and his brother, guitarist William Hensleigh. "We're more 'volume rock' now," Holt says. "This is the most musically oriented lineup we've ever had."
Two songs with the new Tremulants lineup — "The Body," and "Scared of the Dark" — will be released on an upcoming Black Cactus compilation. Holt says "The Body" sounds like a Built to Spill song and includes a psychedelic instrumental at the end, while "Scared of the Dark" has "a '70s, Marc Bolan-esque feeling to it." When The Tremulants were in the studio recording the song, Holt says the producer asked, "When did you guys get into stoner rock?"
Local music fans can hear the songs live when The Tremulants play Rips Ales & Cocktails on Friday. It'll be the last local gig the band plays before heading out on an eight-date tour of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. Holt says the tour is all part of trying to create a cohesive music community. "We're trying to develop a good rapport [with other bands], to network having a better scene going between the West Coast and here," he says. "We want to help other groups get exposed to audiences. We're trying to make it easier for bands to tour, and enjoy it when they do."