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The disquietude of Defy You Stars

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“I felt unresolved for a long time and music was this whole new world to me, it made sense to me when nothing else did and it gave me something to work toward.”

Nikk Banos is the frontman for Defy You Stars, which is an up and coming group based out of Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The post-hardcore group has been branching out into styles similar to Indie and Pop Rock, while they continue to play live shows all over Denver. As they are fully emerged in the recording of their debut album, the group’s sound will finally take formation of everything that has influenced them until now, making the DYS style they have long awaited.

“We never know how to describe our genre. We just try to write music we like that is a hybrid of a lot of our influences,” Banos said. “This record is going to be a lot different because we keep learning. Other artists’ music just helps us get excited.”

Banos is essentially what brought this project to life. He started off doing solo gigs as Defy You Stars back in 2009 and eventually wanted to extend it into a group. That’s when everything else fell into place.

After spending most of his childhood in New Orleans, Banos moved to Colorado after hurricane Katrina, and met Nikko Evans, who also plays a role in DYS. Evans is now the bassist, but not until Banos had found the drummer he needed to make DYS a functional band. Throughout the years of playing for different bands, Banos decided to move forward with DYS, and that’s when he added Patrick Milburn, as the drummer, and then Evans as the bassist.

“Nikko was my first real friend that I made in Colorado,” the frontman explained.” We met at this like rock band camp for kids and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since. I met Patrick initially through craigslist but then we played in a few bands and we basically all fell into place together after a bunch of dramatic events.”

Now, Defy You Stars is a fully functional band, making strides with their live performances, while looking for a label.

Though they might not have a lot of recorded material, the group has written songs to perform at their live shows. Now that they are settled on what they want to accomplish as a group, they are working hard on their upcoming debut album. It was originally set to be released sometime in November, but they decided they needed more time. Ultimately giving it everything they got, the release date has been pushed to March.

“As far as the concept for the record, we were trying to capture a lot of the anxiety, angst, and other emotions that came with our formative years,” Banos explained.

Learning from bands like All Time Low, My Chemical Romance, Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil, the band has crafted a melodic and fast-tempo style that really expresses who they are. Then, with the combination of their lyrics, it takes a deeper connection with Banos, while referencing his personal struggle with time and morality. Like most great bands, they have been able to dive into their projects with real emotion.

The band is already recording and the band can see the end product for their album. With all of the planning and writing done for the album, they will be spending the next couple of months getting the sound right in the studio.

Outside of recording, they will continue to play a string of shows up until they release the album. They’ll drop their single around the time they finish the final cut for the record and then it’ll be time for them to start a tour.

“Once it is done, we will drop a single, make pre-orders available, then drop the whole thing.” Banos said.  Shortly after we’ll do like a Colorado tour. From there we will be trying to make it over to the west and south coast.”

When it comes to touring, DYS won’t have to be shown the ropes on how to play big gigs. Performing at places like the Summit Music Hall and The Marquis Theater are just amongst the many places they have played. They’ve also performed with groups like You Me At Six and All Time Low.

With big plans ahead of them, DYS will be able to make a name for themselves. Be on the look out for the band’s name in 2015.

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CO Springs emcee Che Bong goes outer limits on new psychedelic full length

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Electro-Soul Hip Hop | Che Bong – From the dusty ‘Amen break’ heavy loop-gone-psychedelic of album opener Telescope to the lo-fi space rockin’ of album ender The Paradox of Time, CS emcee Che Bong (of Bullhead*ded) has really outdone himself and the genre itself on Telescope to the Heavens. With an album full of immersive and challenging-yet-chill hip hop musicality that owes just as much to free jazz and psychedelic rock as it does to hip hop and neo-soul, Che is on some next level stuff.  Get. On. It.


90’s inspired Alt-Punk | Hooper – “No Monument” from Denver Rock City punkers Hooper does a couple things very well; it provides stellar songwriting and momentum building, gives a healthy shot in the arm of indie-slathered 90s era punk rock, and in doing both provides a direct line to the sonic and perhaps more importantly workhorse aesthetic of the nascent indie punk heyday of the 90s. Trip out on that, holmes!


Blackened Sludge-Punks | Worry – The newest EP from Colorado Springs heavies Worry is not for the faint of heart, smashing heads on the punk rock with a bludgeoning mix of seething sludge metal and intrinsically intense hardcore know-how. Monolithic and absolutely monstrous, the seven raw cuts on A Celebration of Suffering are gloriously bleak, blackened and smolder with an actual extremity that most other “extreme” bands often lack.


Slow Burn Indie Rock | Wrinkle – Mind melding and photosynthesizing the big hook power-pop of early Weezer and the Rentals with the wide-eyed indie bend of Neva Dinova and Cursive, Denver’s indie rock supergroup of sorts Wrinkle are a slackers fever dream; a haze of unaffected yet disaffected indie-fed pop rock that first and foremost rules and that is more commercially viable than them nor I would care to admit on their newest offering A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies.


All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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Raw Rock & Roll and dark Blues collide with Denver’s the Velveteers

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At only six tracks long, this brand new self-titled EP via Denver’s the Velveteers (Recorded on warm analog tape at Silo Sound Studios in Denver) is a half-hour long magic spell; a concoction of twisted psychedelic undercurrent and blues-rock guitar histrionics draped in the smoky and arresting vocals of one Demi Demitro. Demi, along with co-founder and multi-instrumentalist John Demitro, conjure the kind of gnarled, foot-stomping rhythms and riffs that have dual citizenship between the acid-laced Led Zeppelin 70’s arena-rock heyday and the modern fuzz drenched, psychedelic revival of now.

Musically, this 2 piece makes quite the racket. Raw rock and roll power and deep, dark blues mystique collide head on. If you want a band that can riff, look no further! You may snap your neck clean off from all the head nodding you’ll involuntarily be doing. Like a confession to the dark lord himself, the Velveteers pen the kind of dirty rock and roll diddies that are a conduit for the heathen in all of us. With lyrical gems like “You know just what your doing to me / but heaven knows what’s up your sleeves” (off of the sublime album midpoint “Bloody Little Secrets”), Velveteers delve into the dark and macabre underbelly of the mind and bring back blues-laced musical treasures for the world to behold. We should be so lucky.


“The Velveteers” is streaming (and for sale hint hint) via Bandcamp now. Live dates and more info on Facebook.

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Building up with Pueblo’s Beyond Bridges

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Reggae is a largely misunderstood musical genre; not only was it not invented solely by Bob Marley in the mid 70’s (who himself had even deeper musical roots with the Wailing Wailers in the early 60’s) like too many think, but it also encompasses an ever-growing and changing past, present and future, including entirely new groups of evolutionary musicians finding new ways to carry the island rhythms forward.

Forging driving and endearing music with reggae at the center, Pueblo’s own Beyond Bridges is at the forefront of such endeavors. Much more than your average reggae act, the band also harnesses elements of heavy So-Cal surf rock and alternative music, at times exploding with overdriven,intertwined and complex soloing a la metal gods Iron Maiden and monster stadium rock choruses. While the juxtaposition on paper seems odd, this quartet navigates such choppy and uncertain waters with ease, heavy riff-laden rock eased up with soothing dubbed-out reggae refrain.

All of this has come to a head with “On My Mind,” the first EP from Beyond Bridges; 5 songs from a formidable band of brothers who are here to have a good time and help you do the same.


John Bueno (PULP): I’m a few listens in to your new EP, and I gotta say, I’m a bit surprised something like this is coming out of Pueblo. Not in a bad way though; it’s just it isn’t something we usually have here.

Adrian Hernandez (bass/vocals): We’re all from here. So we get it. And we all know that there’s a stigma about anything coming out from here. But we’d like to think we can break through that.

Tony Garcia (guitar): I feel like there’s a new generation here; and they’re interested in progressing. It’s not “Pueblo can’t do this” anymore; now it’s more like “Pueblo SHOULD do this.” Kind of go beyond what we are comfortable with.

Speaking of going beyond, does the name Beyond Bridges represent that idea?

TG: Actually, when Kai (Furuto; multi instrumentalist and vocalist of Beyond Bridges) and I started this as a duo act, we would always write songs that would end up having this complex bridge part that would kind of veer off into solos and stuff. So we were looking for something involving bridges. We wanted to call it Bed Bath and Beyond Bridges. (laughs)

AH: It was too hard to license the logo. (laughs)

Your new EP was recorded and produced with Lastleaf Audio here in town; is this your first?

AH: Yes it is.

How was the making of it?

AH: Well, it was my first complete thing, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. But we tried to go into a studio once early on, and maybe it was too early; but working with Matt (Herrera/ Lastleaf engineer) was a totally different experience; much more comfortable this time.

Some producers have a tendency to be a little too hands on or assertive when working with bands; it may sound soft, but most musicians are sensitive. Especially when it comes to something they’ve created. It was great having Matt, because he’s not the type to push you into what he wants you to do; he lets you guide yourself to the best sound and arrangement.

Kyle Spinuzzi (drums): We did drums the first day, and it was super easy. Matt is so great to work with. His place was comfortable to produce in and I went in confident. Plus it’s nice to do this in our hometown; not everyone gets that opportunity.

TG: It was really interesting for me. I do and run sound a lot, but it’s a totally different thing from raw live sound to the mixing and mastering stage; I knew what our sound was and what we could do, but it was really cool to turn that into an end result. It was a learning process the whole way.

I like that Matt didn’t autotune a thing, either. There’s very little correction on anything. We got a raw sound from him. There were a lot of takes involved to do that, though.

AH: Mostly because I was moving my feet while recording.

TG: But Matt wanted that to be us, in our raw stage, maybe with a little more sparkle. Moving forward,  I’ll take all of this in for our next recording as a guide for sure.

That’s a definite plus to do all the recording and mastering in town. Way easier I would think. You don’t have to rush it.

TG: We did it over the holidays, right when everyone was already busy.

AH: Oh yeah; the time span was over like 4 months or so. There was no big rush with Matt; he was never standing over us looking at his watch saying “you got a half hour” or anything like that. We were able to go over every song layer by layer, instrument by instrument, until we felt great about all of it. We were able to stay in a creative mindset that way.

It was also done like, 2 blocks from my childhood home. Which is pretty cool. (laughs)

AH: Also Kai, who is not here, is a big part of the sound too. He plays a bit of everything on the record, helped write the songs. He is our firecracker!

When it comes out, what do you hope listeners come away with from the after hearing it?

TG: Our music comes from a lot of different places; we aren’t gonna stick to a single musical genre. We like to use different genres like spices, you know? We’re not strictly a reggae band. We’ll use reggae as a spice, ska as a spice, rock and alternative as a spice; but the end product is a natural recording of who we are as a unit. The exact tones from that album are the same ones coming from my guitar; Adrian’s voice is pure and clean and beautiful. Kyle’s drumming is to a click. (laughs)

AH: There’s always some vulnerability to releasing something that you’ve worked on, you know? That’s another plus for working with Matt. I was talking to my dad today and I told him that good or bad, it’s gonna be out there; and it’s good to know that during the process of making the album the person you’re doing it with is making everyone comfortable with your creativity. You need to be wholehearted for it to come out organically.

Do you feel like Colorado is warm to you as a band?

AH: I think we are lucky to be from here; and Pueblo is lucky to be here right now. The reggae scene is absolutely flourishing right now, which is probably in no small part to the marijuana industry. But that’s another story. But that niche audience lives in Colorado; we’re able to be who we are as a band and still have these great opportunities, which is not something a lot of people get to say. We are able to fit in with bands all over the reggae spectrum because we don’t just stick to a sound; we like to just write songs, however they come out as individual creations.

So Colorado is a good home base then?

TG: Colorado is my base for sure. I am always down for it. I love it here.

AH: Absolutely. I think this is the most beautiful state in the country; I may have only been to like 12 other states, so I’m no almanac (laughs). But I feel proud and extremely lucky to be here, especially as a musician. This may be silly to some, but the idea that one day I might get to play at Red Rocks (Amphitheatre) is a huge driving force and motivation to keep doing what we’re doing.

That’s quite the goal!

AH: Baby steps, man.

Anything you’d like to see done differently here in the area as far as the music scene goes?

TG: It would be nice if Pueblo helped build its’ music scene. There aren’t too many live music venues here, but maybe the culture just isn’t quite there yet.

AH: I think it would be in Pueblo’s best interest to grab hold onto the artists we already have here. We could have a renaissance of sorts! It’s something we’ve talked about probably since I was a kid, but harnessing that artist energy from the area and giving more avenues to come out would do a lot, especially in this downtown area. But as is, I love this town right now too. It doesn’t get enough love or credit. We just wanna show people part of the arts that have always been here.

As a band, you maintain a pretty consistent live schedule, though. Any plans on taking it on the road more?

TG: Definitely. We’d like to create more small tours with bands that come through. Over the last year and half or so, we’ve had the chance to watch and learn from so many different bands. We get to see bands from all spectrums, and we would just to learn more from other groups and follow their lead a bit. Right now, we’re a great 30 minute band; but to put on a full 90 minute headlining set is a whole different beast. We want to learn under these smaller bands and create something special.


“On My Mind” from Beyond Bridges is available for pre-order now on iTunes, with a full release March 16th. For this and more, head to beyondbridgesmusic.com

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