Anyone who's tried coming up with an irresistible band handle knows it's tough sledding -- just ask the Unsavory Gastrointestinal Effects! So many odorous, odd and frankly silly band names can be traced back to a night of extreme duress in a sweaty, non-air-conditioned rehearsal space. After five or six nights of brainstorming every conceivable combination of nouns, verbs and adjectives, everyone's had it. Tensions boil over, insults are exchanged, chairs get kicked around the room until finally someone throws his arms up in disgust and says, "Fine! Call the fucking band Jars of Clay for all I care!"
Luckily, hundreds more stupid names get nipped in the bud before the official tee-shirt stage. French Cut Lowride was one such dire moniker, proposed in a moment of exasperation by guitarists Marco Holt and Matt Bannister two years ago. Drummer Steve Glickman joined up too late to have any say in the matter, but, to his credit, he didn't flinch for the eight months that followed.
Two bass players passed through French Cut Lowride before new recruit Jeff Gonzales convinced les garçons that the name sucked the wazoo and sucked it mightily. After some intense deliberation, the fellowship opted to change its name to the Loud Americans, thereby providing every cretinous goon in the Valley a reason to go up to the stage and suggest that the band "turn down, man."
"It's not a name to be taken literally, but that's ultimately the impression most people come away with," says Gonzales. "That's all right, we're up front about it."
"I don't think we're that loud," asserts Glickman, "it's just Marco and Matt's amps that are really shrill." Holt laughs, countering that there isn't a knob to turn Glickman down. "He's a loud drummer. He just likes to deny it has anything to do with him and places the blame on anybody else he can."
But let's be reasonable. You wouldn't invite the Angry Samoans to dinner and expect them to be civil, so why do people demand fewer decibels from a band called the Loud Americans? There's gotta be dozens of local groups that could make mincemeat out of an eardrum faster than these boys can, but a series of mismatched gigs almost cemented the group's reputation as a band with an overly voluminous sound.
One of the band's earliest shows was at the Jamaican Blue Coffee House in Scottsdale, of all places. There, some java jockey actually had the effrontery to tell the members, in Romper Room fashion, "You guys have got to learn to play to your space." Then there was an ear-shattering show at the now-defunct Bojo's in Tempe where a combination of talent, timbre and tiles proved near fatal. Recalls Glickman, "With the Bojo's thing, we were in a tiled room. There's no way to turn down in those places."
The pragmatic Glickman now handles the band's scheduling. Holt, a nice guy by nature, formerly booked many of their early "character building" shows, and his inability to say "no" also led Loud Americans to play a wedding (where the band went over surprisingly well) and a Horizon High School Valentine's Day dance.
"There's a group of young fans who always come to see us whenever we play all-ages shows," explains Holt. "They were in charge of organizing this dance, so I said, 'Sure.' There was gonna be a DJ -- which turned out to be a $50 boom box -- and us."
Not surprisingly, on a night where the Backstreet Boys, 'N SYNC and Sisqó kept playing every 15 minutes, the Loud Americans were able to confound the kids without too much of a struggle. Most of the TRL-loving teens were probably left asking, "Like, what are those things around their necks?"
"The kids who stayed inside during our set were mostly doing this," says Glickman, who demonstrates eardrum protection move number seven. "Most of them went outside. After we were done, some came up to the stage and said, 'I like your band a lot, but you guys have got to turn down.'" Glickman shakes his head. "We were even too loud for the kids. It was like playing for our parents."
"We're not very good playing to our space," adds guitarist Bannister, the Jamaican Blue review apparently still dogging them like a bad report card. Fortunately, there are a couple of rooms in town where the band does play to its space, and brilliantly, too. There's Nita's Hideaway, the Lucky Dragon and Modified, where the band played a blistering set the previous night.
The following evening, the Loud Americans reconvene at Glickman and Bannister's house in Tempe. Until a few hours ago, their living room was doubling as sleeping quarters for the touring band they shared the bill with at Modified. Bannister aired out the living room an hour ago and wonders if you can still smell anything, since two of the group's members were staging a contest to see who could wear the same tee shirt the longest.