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The Local: Tigerwine

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PULP talks touring, killer van names and that new J. Cole hotness with Colorado Springs very own Tigerwine.

 

I meet up with the members of Tigerwine at a decidedly hip joint called the Principal’s Office, somewhat ironic considering the baby-faced gentlemen comprising Tigerwine don’t look all that far removed from an admonishment in an actual principal’s office.

But looks, as the old saying goes, can be deceiving.

The music of Tigerwine conveys the seemingly endless no-mans land between adolescence and adulthood, the time in life where so many struggle between the push and pull of responsibility vs. freedom. And these boys do it well, almost wearing it like a badge of honor, with monster towering riffs, soaring melodies and lyrical hearts on metaphorical sleeves.

We caught up with them a couple days before they hit the road.

 

PULP: So are you guys excited for this upcoming tour?

Hayden (Trobee/guitar and vocals)  // We are super pumped.

Steve (Lichtenwalter/ drums) // We’re doing like 20 days. Gonna be so fun. Gonna go out the the (West) Coast. I’m real excited.

Sean (McKnight/ bass guitar) //  Oh, yeah. So excited. We’ve done a lot of week long tours, but never anything this long. No A/C in the van.

Hayden: We don’t need it.

Sean: In July, we drove out to Chicago for a show, and it was just 14 hours of the hottest weather ever. We were dying.

Steve: So now this tour we’re gonna drive through Arizona. Oh my God. It’ll be greeeeaat. (entire band laughs)

PULP: You have a cool name for the van?

Hayden: We haven’t even thought about it, have we?

Sean:  I like Van Akroyd a lot.

Hayden: Oh yeah! We have! Or Van Halen. There’s been a million of them though.

PULP: How long has Tigerwine been a band for?

Steve: This band has existed for 3 years, but before then we were a band for about a year called Eyes. But when our buddy left Eyes, we just decided to change it up. Keep going.

Sean: We were all real young. Just like 18, 19, something like that.

PULP: What does Tigerwine even mean?

Sean: Well, I don’t know necessarily what Tigerwine means, but it started when I read this article about people using tigers to make wine somehow. It’s a really messed up process, and it was frustrating to read about. Later on, Hayden and I were talking about it, and then we decided somehow that Tigerwine just sounded cool, even if it is messed up.

Hayden: Also, when we decided on it, we were 2 days from our first show and REALLY needed a name for the flyer.

PULP: So do you FEEL like Tigerwine now?

Sean: Yes. It took a while though.

Hayden: Oh yeah, definitely. We grew into it. At first it was a “just for now” thing, but it stuck. Steve hated it (laughs)

Steve: Ugh, I totally did. I just recently have begun to be okay with it.

 

TIGERMINE_by_Jacki Vitetta_3

PULP: As a band, you guys seem to defy a lot of music genre trappings. Different elements of different types of music. What do you think Tigerwines’ genre is?

Sean: I feel like we’re still trying to figure that out, actually.

Steve: And really, it’s just getting weirder all the time. Because sometimes we all have different ideas of what genres even are to begin with.What’s poppy or maybe sludgy to Sean may be totally different to me, or vice versa.

Hayden: Yeah. I’ve recently started to think is that I feel like we’re a love letter to all of our favorite bands. And I know that may sound really cheesy, but when it all started out, we’d all come together with these different ideas that were so similar to what we were listening to. And it kind of still is. Like a tribute to everything we’ve ever loved.

PULP: How do you feel about not just playing, but living in Colorado Springs?

Sean: Uh oh. Steve?

Steve: (Laughs) To be honest, I hated Springs growing up. and I was wrong. When I moved here from Castle Rock, I didn’t know there was a (music) scene here at all, but I guess I just wasn’t in the right places, because apparently these guys were involved. I always went to bigger shows at the Black Sheep, but I never knew there were awesome local shows too. And now the Black Sheep has been so welcoming to us and a big help.

Hayden: Now the Flux (Capacitor, CO Springs DIY venue) is open too, and they’re great. We love that place. Ostrows, we love you too!

Sean: I feel like we’re really lucky. I grew up in Salida, and from when I moved here 5 years ago, to what it is now, is amazing. It’s starting to get noticed. And there’s a lot of amazing musicians coming from here. Such amazing stuff is coming from here right now. and I feel real fortunate to be a part of it.

PULP: Do you feel the same way about Colorado in general?

Sean: It’s awesome. It always feels unique. When you tell someone you’re from Colorado, it pretty much always starts a conversation. It’s usually about pot, but whatever.

Hayden: There’s not a ton of bands in Colorado, as opposed to like LA or Nashville or whatever. We’re lucky to be from a place where there isn’t as much music going on all the time. If you’re doing something, it makes it a lot easier to get to know everyone, and to get to know the scene, and start touring and stuff. We are very lucky in that respect.

Steve: Plus, it’s really beautiful here.

PULP: Any plans to do any of the Colorado music festivals any time soon?

Sean: That would be amazing.

Steve: I’ve thought about it a hundred times before, but just never brought it up before. Good thing we’re talking about it right now. Thanks for making us talk about it!

PULP: Here’s some dumb questions; What was the last album you listened to?

Hayden: me and Sean are the same..(Sean and Hayden together) “Dark Sky Paradise” by Big Sean!

Steve: “Show Your Greed” from Axis. All day long today.

Hayden: But before that it was “2014 Forest Hills Drive’’ from J. Cole. I don’t know. We’ve been on a big hip hop kick lately. Oh! And for the millionth time have gone back to “Control” from Pedro the Lion. It’s a perfect album.

PULP: So I was listening to your newest album “Lull” on Spotify on the way over here. How do you guys feel about free streaming services?

Sean: I could give two dumps about it, to be honest, you know?

Steve: Seriously. At this level, you can only be grateful to have any way to get your music out to that many people.

Hayden: When I see bands that are at our same level complain about it, I think they miss the point, you know? The internet has made it so that bands like us can be able to do all the things we do. We’re just grateful when anyone wants to hear our stuff.

Steve: Plus, it pushes you to come up with cooler artwork and cooler shirts and stuff. Find new ways to make money, take it away from just putting out music and playing.

PULP: What do you like about being in a band?

Hayden: It’s a good excuse to hang out with your friends.

Sean: And to travel, too. I’d love to see all of the U.S.

Hayden: Definitely. I’ve always felt like you’re doing a huge disservice if you live here in America and don’t try to see everything we have here.

PULP: Where else would you like to go?

Hayden: I’m the most pumped for when the time comes to go to the East Coast. Maybe Europe. That’d be insane.

Sean: Anywhere? Then Europe for sure. But I’d love the East Coast too. Or Japan.

Steve: We’re going to Bremerton (Washington) on this tour, which is where (pop punk band) MXPX is from, so I’m pretty excited for that.

PULP: So big open ended question time; Why do you even play music?

Sean: Because it feels right. It’s just a passion.

Steve: I’m attracted to it because I feel like it’s something that can be done so right or so wrong. I’ve never felt that way about anything else. I’m attracted to navigating it I guess. It might be weird. I dunno.

Hayden: I’ve always felt like music is the only thing I’ve ever been good at.

Steve: He’s not wrong. (laughs)

Hayden: (laughs) And I feel too like it’s something that I could do for a long time and always be in it for the love of the game, you know? I come from a long line of just incredible musicians, and if I can be half of what they were, then I’ll die happy.

PULP: That’s what’s up. Thanks for talking to me, guys.

for lovers of// As Cities Burn • Converge • Taking Back Sunday

As of this writing, Tigerwine is crossing the country with fellow cool dudes Papertowns in support of their newest album “Lull”,  out now on Blood & Ink Records. Take a listen at tigerwinemusic.bandcamp.com and then order a copy for yourself at bloodandinkrecords.com

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It’s a Punky Reggae Party with Pueblo upstarts Might of Henry

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via Eyeworm Photopraphy

Smooth Ska-Punk | Might of Henry

Like a jump-up jolt of electric shock to the heart, Pueblo’s Might of Henry are here to win hearts and minds with their uplifting jazz-laced ska/reggae consortium. Proudly “Recorded in multiple basements and living rooms” in Pueblo, CO, the Push for Progress E.P., while at times is a touch wanting in clarity, is no less a groove-heavy, well put together and entertaining one way ticket to Jam City, USA.


Darkwave Electronica | Cutworm

Head Trash from Denver’s Cutworm is on some next level ish. At times a touch unsettling in the ears, these seven tracks are the audio equivalent of puttin’ an escape room in a hot nightclub that you’re not sure they’ll let you out of. Dark, pulsating, and heavily distorted, these tracks are an electronic experiment in the macabre meeting the modern club banger, and I’m all in.


Wide-Open Heartland Punk | Sleep Union

Full of big hooks and undeniable sense of resolve, the four tracks on Sleep Union’s Downed in the Harbor dance delicately and defiantly between the indie-fed punk rock charm of early Rise Against and the sharp musicality and bite of Oklahoma City’s best kept punk rock secret Red City Radio, offering huge wide open songs sounding like the alternative-laced punk rock score for your new favorite movie.


Modern Alt-Rockers | The Timberline

Alternately sweet and sultry, Autopilot from Fort Collins three-piece, Timberline, is a shot in the arm of alternative-minded indie rock and modern pop-punk swagger, funneled through some seriously great songwriting and sharp production destined for bigger radio audiences and tons of airplay if they keep this up!

 

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

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Stand By This Man: A Talk with Andy Hamilton & the Rocky Mountain Contraband

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It’s no secret to anyone listening that country music, once a proud American traditional style made up of Appalachian roots, blues, and European folk traditions, just ain’t the same. Gone are the homespun recordings and the cowboy tales. In its wake, a new version oft dubbed pop or “crossover” country has taken its place and taken over the charts, largely while eliminating many of the tenets and traditions that made this uniquely American art form what it was.

But there are still plenty of artists interested in country music as a continuation of tradition. While not technically or sonically as rudimentary as early country acts sounded, (his music has the twang and production of late 60’s and 70’s legends Merle, Waylon and Willie) Denver based Andy Hamilton and his Rocky Mountain Contraband have serious chops and a back-to-basics approach all their own. Taking sounds and cues from those AM radio crooners and American outlaws and bringing them into our modern conscience with an updated sense of humor is more than enough for me. The superb songs on their newest self-titled offering bear that out, but Andy Hamilton and Co. have something even more important. Something that’s absent in the modern era of auto-tuned artists and hick-hop charlatans masquerading as country music: real soul, undeniable musicality, and songs made with honesty and heart.


How did you get your start in country music? Was the genre something you always enjoyed, or did you come to it later in life?

Andy Hamilton (guitar/vocals): I grew up hearing country and southern gospel from my granddad; he was a southern Baptist preacher and used to have a radio show in Knoxville, TN. It always gave me some kind of sentimental feeling hearing that music, but it wasn’t ‘til I was in my 20s that I really discovered an appreciation for it. Over the years I had written a handful of country songs, never expecting to do anything with them. But then maybe five years back a good buddy of mine got cancer and when I was asked to contribute a tune for a benefit compilation, I recorded this sorta gunfighter ballad I used to play. After the comp came out I got a slew of emails from venues wanting to book us, so I figured alright, maybe it’s time to put together a country band.

Have you played any other styles before country? Do you think they’ve informed your music now?

Oh yeah, I played in rock-n-roll bands since I was a teenager. I studied classical piano and jazz guitar ‘til I was maybe 16, then I hit that point in my life when I needed the exact opposite. I found myself totally enamored by all the classic rock riffs and just couldn’t get enough. Still to this day when I hear a Zeppelin tune or some Creedence I can’t help but crank it up. Just the other day The Rolling Stones came on in my truck; that opening riff in “Brown Sugar” and I got thinking how many hundreds of times have I listened to this tune and it’s still so damn good!

I hear old country greats like Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, and the Flying Burrito Brothers in your sound; but are there any modern practitioners and musicians you take from, country or not?

There are some really amazing singers and musicians doing it right: Zephaniah Ohora is a country singer out of Brooklyn, of all places. He just released one of the best country records, hands down. My buddy turned me on to John Moreland a few years ago. John writes some of the most heartbreakingly honest songs and delivers them in such a way that you gotta have a heart of stone not to feel something.

Your music seems to take a lot from older country and western acts rather than modern ones. Do you feel you have any relationship to the modern country aesthetic or scene?

Classic country resonates with me more than anything. We like to draw from the old greats, then make it our own. I’m a huge fan of Faron Young, Roger Miller, Moe Bandy, Willie and Merle, of course. There are a handful of newer country artists who are keeping it honest; Zephaniah, as I mentioned, Amber Digby, Casey James Prestwood. I know a handful of players in the modern country scene; they’re all really great people.

How do you feel about the sound and style of modern country music?

Man, drum machines and autotune have no business in country music. I have to say this, there is a lot of music that’s churned out and mislabeled as “country”…it’s being marketed by the powers-that-be as something it’s really not. I’m not gonna name names, but I think it’s pretty apparent when some pop artist just bought a pair of boots and a new hat. Then there’s the recipe for writing modern country songs that just sounds like bros at a frat party: it’s so transparent and soulless. But some folks really like that stuff. I mean REALLY like it. It’s just not for me.

Can you tell me a bit about the Rocky Mountain Contraband? They’re an exceptional bunch of musicians. Where/when did they come into the fold?

I started this band a few years back with my good friend, Dave Barker. He’s a killer drummer and had been playing pedal steel guitar a few years. We wrote and recorded a full album, then ditched it. Playing country music is a different animal and we realized if we were gonna do this right, we had to really study the music and learn how to play our instruments. We didn’t want to come off as rock musicians “playing country.” You know? We didn’t want to fake it. Both of us play with Casey James Prestwood & the Burning Angels as their hired guns. That gig has opened some doors to studying under some really big names in the genre. I feel really fortunate for that opportunity and how it’s forced us to progress as musicians.

How long have you played in the Colorado scene?

In Colorado alone I’ve been playing since the late 90s. I was in a handful of rock, metal and psych rock bands. Here in Denver I had a band called Houses that was one of my favorite bands I’ve ever played in. There was some real magic there.

Do you enjoy it?

I really like playing in Colorado. People don’t come out to dance like in Austin or Nashville, but man, there’s so much opportunity to experiment with new sounds onstage and the crowds are really accepting.

Anything you’d like to see more or less of in Colorado music?

I would love to see more country players. We live in the West; this is it, man! But where are the country players? We’ve got a good collection of bands here, some are more true to classic country and some are doing their own thing. I just hope it continues to grow.

This album was recorded all over Denver in various studios. Was this happenstance or something you were actively going for?

It really came down to time and money. We did a couple tunes with our buddy, Chris Fogal at Black In Bluhm. Chris has a great ear and is fun to work with. The Christmas tunes we threw together pretty last minute, so we recorded those with our own gear at Dave’s shop. In the future I would like to spend a good week in the studio, getting sounds we like and really crafting songs.

 

 

How long did it take to come together? And how was the recording experience for this batch of songs?

All in all it was a few days. We had a couple guest musicians, so some of the instruments were tracked in Nashville, then sent back to us. The overall experience was a little disjointed. I really like to connect with the people I’m recording with as much as possible, and that proves challenging when we’re working all over the place. But everyone was super easy going through the whole deal and I think it all came together nicely.

What would you like listeners to come away with after listening to this EP?

Well, I hope listeners can hear the effort we put in and appreciate the musicianship. I would love more people to discover a love for country music. There’s so much more than the tripe what’s fed to us on the radio and sadly, much of that gets overlooked because people don’t know where to find it. But it’s out there.

Any release / show plans here in Colorado?

No release shows for this EP. We did just play a couple weeks ago and I failed to mention we had new tunes out. I’m not great with self-promotion. My plan for this year is to write, record, and release as much music as I can when I’m not out on the road. I’ll book a release show when we put out our first vinyl.

Sounds like a plan!


If you can’t wait for the vinyl from Andy Hamilton & the Rocky Mountain Contraband, head over to rockymountaincontraband.bandcamp.com to nab the digital release to hold you over.

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Denver’s SPELLS are the only Rock N’ Roll Juggernaut that can save you now.

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All Live Photos by: Seth McConnell. Promo Shots by: Crystal Allen

Now at an astounding mix of 14 singles, splits EPs and full length records over a paltry 5 years, Denver’s Vacation Rock crushers SPELLS (yeah, you heard me, all caps) are back on their proverbial bullshit again with their newest ripper Big Boring Meeting. From day one, SPELLS has excelled at bringing forth the kind of frenetic and feverishly revved up garage punk that makes their records and live events a high energy dance party for anyone within earshot, and Big Boring Meeting ain’t changin’ a damn thing.

All Live Photos by: Seth McConnell. Promo Shots by: Crystal Allen

Live Photo by Seth McConnell / Promo Shots via Crystal Allen

From the initial pummeling of its’ first track Deceiver, the tempo and intensity of this record is full throttle; an unstoppable amalgamation of Pop-fury and unchained melody intertwined. The EP, which clocks in at just under the 10 minute mark, is a controlled chaos of surf rock and garage punk gut punch delivered straight to the solar plexus.

 

 

But what also bears repeating is the underlying power pop-ness of it all; for all it’s rock n’ roll savagery, the music of SPELLS is just as catchy and fun as they come. With a constant driving rhythm section and call and response vocals from the entire band (and lyricism from the acerbic-laced caustic resonation of vocalist L’il Stevie Shithead) the entire band rides the line between hardcore punk and jagged pop with an unholy gusto that dares you to keep up!


Bonus Alert! Right now, SPELLS is offering their entire discography for $9.25 via their label Snappy Little Numbers and Bandcamp, which is too much killer rock n’ roll for most to handle. Don’t be scared. (spellsrules.bandcamp.com)

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