It's not everyday that a band's first gig is also its CD release show. It's rarer still that such a gig would take place at Tempe's Clubhouse Music Venue, a 600-capacity venue that typically plays host to up-and-coming national touring acts. Then again, The Artifact isn't your typical wet-behind-the-ears local band.
The Artifact formed in early 2010 from the ashes of two established bands in the local metalcore scene. Guitarist Brandon Roberts, bassist Ryan Murgatroyd, keyboardist Colby Sixx, and drummer John Toth are all former members of IWATCHEDHERDIE. Shortly after recording instrumental tracks for a new IWHD album, the band's vocalist left the group on amicable terms.
Around the same time, fellow local act March Against Fear called it a day, and the remaining members of IWHD recruited MAF vocalist Nate Butcher as their new singer. Butcher wrote new lyrics for the album and began recording them at former MAF guitarist Adam Teller's Avalon Audio studios. Before long, Teller had joined the group as well, and The Artifact was born. It was a natural fit, since the two former bands had played together often and were already friends.
The Artifact is scheduled to perform on Saturday, April 23, at The Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe.
"I think even when we weren't playing shows together, we were hanging out," Teller says. "I was always over at John and Colby's house, or vice versa, Colby would be hanging out at my house. It was always almost like a joke, like, 'Hey, we should start a band.'"
The band ultimately decided to change their name to The Artifact, but they haven't completely left the past behind.
"We're gonna play IWATCHEDHERDIE's songs, at least a couple of them, just 'cause they're solid songs," Butcher says. "There's a lot of fans that will love to hear those songs again, even under a new name and everything . . . We have tossed around the idea of playing March Against Fear songs. Learning a couple, too, if that's what the audience wants."
Still, the band's focus is on a fresh start, which is a primary reason Butcher rewrote all the lyrics for the new album Eternal Dreams and What Could Be.
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"[The album] has a lot to do with perseverance and stickin' with it and believing in yourself and believing in the people around you," Butcher says. "As long as you've got your eye on the prize, fateful things happen, and it's defining itself right now with the record and where we are. It's spiced with emotion, too — friendship emotion and relationship emotion."
While music is the band's main focus, they also acknowledge the importance of image in today's oversaturated music landscape.
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"I think a lot of kids, when they look at music now, they want the complete package," Teller says. "They want a good-looking [website], attractive songs, a good photo of the band. They want the complete package; otherwise, they won't even look at you. They won't even listen to you. So I think it's just important for this band that we try to present ourselves in the best way possible in every aspect, whether it be image, songs, our MySpace, our Facebook, whatever. We just want to make sure it comes out looking as professional as possible."
"The saturation of the market has defined how extreme you have to go with your professionalism," Butcher adds. "I think one thing that has been a stamp of this band, and something that we have all said to each other, is that we just wanna go big."
When we point out that this flies in the face of typical local-band clichés — like not caring about fame and just wanting to make enough money to make a living playing music — Butcher is unapologetic.
"Why go small, man? Go big or go home. That is the definition of my life, that's for damn sure."