The concept of living a Kerouac-inspired lifestyle will, at some point, seem attractive to even the most jaded readers of On the Road, a tome that extolls the virtues and pitfalls of years spent doing just that. For Chris Rutledge of Antique Scream, this nomadic spirit is less a passing thought and more an ideal. Originally from Phoenix, having left for Seattle for a stint and returning about a year ago, the frontman behind the genre-blurring rock act plays almost 300 shows a year -- a pace he's maintained for the better part of seven years, and a pace that doesn't seem to be tapering off soon.
"It takes about a week before I start getting wanderlust again," Rutledge says. "I'm going to take a year off in about five years, when I turn 35, and I'm going to take some classical guitar, recording school. But until then, I plan on continuing what I do. I figure by then I'll deserve a break -- that will be 13 years on the road straight."
After spending five years of what Rutledge describes as couch-surfing in Washington in the midst of his constant touring schedule, and a failed relationship with the now-defunct Concealed Records, he felt it was time to return to the Valley and set down some roots. With his return to Phoenix, the original trio of Antique Scream was pared down to a two-piece act with Rutledge at the helm playing guitar and singing and drummer William Fees holding down the rhythm section.
"It's actually a little less challenging," Rutledge says. "I use a lot of bass amps now; I usually play through three cabs. It's a lot fuller now and we've changed quite a bit, but it's still rock 'n' roll. Guitar solos are definitely a lot shorter [laughs]."
Despite the lineup change, Antique Scream's sound is as driving as ever, its self-described "'70s metal" sound plodding forward with a weight that sounds far more expansive than just a two-piece act. Though there has been refinement of both the band's sound and membership, Rutledge looks back on Antique Scream's formative years with a less-than-fond scope.
"There was three of us. We had a Dodge Caravan and we didn't have a trailer, and there were three of us living in that," he says. "The tours were about three to four months at a time before we could even see home again, and we were new, so we didn't know people. We found a house we could stay in maybe two or three times a month."
Harrowing days such as those are long over for Antique Scream, as Rutledge fondly describes a vast network of friends across the country who provide a helping hand when he needs it. In a similar vein, he's looking to give back as well, right here at home, and make an impact in the Phoenix community.
On December 5 at the Yucca Tap Room, along with Oak & Stone, Sons of Providence, and Dead Canyon, Antique Scream will hold its first Toys for Tots charity drive concert, with all the bands' payout going directly to the Madison Street Veterans Association. For Rutledge, it's just one way for his restless spirit to leave some sort of legacy, even if his feet can't stay still.
"I've been at this my whole life and I'm fucking broke. I could use some money, too, but you know, fuck it," he says. "Who gives a shit about money? You can't take it with you, and there's people out there much worse off than myself."
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