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The Beautiful Sound | Roo & the Howl

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“I never had a moment where I made a decision to play music, it’s just in me somewhere,” Bekah Wagner explained. “Without music, I would be lost.”

The hidden gem of Colorado Springs is starting to surface. Her name is Bekah Wagner and she’s the life source of Roo & the Howl. I know you’re wondering where the name came from? A childhood nickname “Bekah-roo” makes up the “Roo” part of the name, but the “Howl” just fell into place as time went on.

Recently, she’s played huge concerts, which range from venues in Denver to the SXSW Festival, so there has been a heightened sense of exposure in the last year leading up to her debut album, ME/WE.

She’s bluesy and soulful, and that’s all by choice. She’s a self-taught musician who self-released her debut album, so there’s no one else for her to thank but herself. With some help of studio musicians that she flew in to lay down some tracks on the album, and her co-producer and engineer Michael Rossback, Roo & the Howl is on its way to a potential breakthrough.

“Doing it all on my own is heavy,” Wagner said. “I have my manager and my PR girl, but other than that, it’s just me. The biggest hurdle is that there’s not enough of me to go around.”

It took her a long time to finally decide to record an album, but once she knew it was time, she buckled down.

“It took over a year of writing and working side jobs to save enough money to make it,” she explained. “But when it came to it, we just took four days in the studio, in January, and recorded it live.”

When it came down to discovering her sound, it just happened, so maybe that’s what makes her music interesting.

Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Wagner has decided to stay in Colorado as she travels her journey through music. Though she would enjoy moving to a big city like Nashville, or New York City, she is happy with the roots she has planted in the Rocky Mountains. With Denver being her home away from home, she is constantly traveling there to perform and will set up a gig, once in a while, for the Colorado Springs area, so people don’t have to travel far to hear some great, local talent.

 

“I could see myself living in a lot of places,” she said. “Colorado is great though, it’s beautiful and the people are great, and the beer, too.”rooandthehowl_bekahwagner

Since learning how to play instruments at a very young age and practically coming out singing, she has dipped her toes in different types of music. She grew up in the church, so her music used to be a lot different, not by choice, but she is finally settling in her nest as the songbird of the Midwest. Adapting to the familiar folk sound in Colorado, you can its influence in her music, but that might be coming from her interest in old country tunes that she grew up with too.

When asked what her theme was for the new album, she replied, “Human.”

“Music isn’t supposed to be perfect, it’s meant to be emotive, beautiful and human,” Wagner said. “I think with themes of dying, relationships, spirituality, is again very human.”

She mentioned that she really made it her priority to record this album live. The goal was to capture raw moments. She didn’t go back and re-record her vocals, and she even left in the moments that she felt she was slightly out of tune. Despite any pitch issues she might have had with any illness or sickness, she continued on and finished the entire 10-track album. She was just doing what was best for each song and they were making something they would enjoy.

“I knew it would be dark and I wanted it to sound like me, whatever that sounds like…” Wagner explained. “There was a lot of discovery to this album.”

There were zero rules when it was time to record, and she just wanted to capture the energy of the band playing music together, rather than capture the sound of them as individuals.

Now that Wagner is coming off of her debut album, she is already planning on moving forward to future projects. She wants to remain as Roo & the Howl and there is already talk about writing for a future album.

From here, she’ll go on to do some promotion for her album, while playing a string of concerts throughout the summer. Since she hasn’t been able to write for the past six months, she’s eager to start writing again, so some new tracks could pop up in the year.

“I want to create music over my entire life,” she said. “I want to evolve and let art happen to me, I want to perfect my craft and I want to share it.”

@FazeisFamous

Click here for the ME/WE review!

For more on Roo & the Howl, visit www.rooandthehowl.com

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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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