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.
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
Acoustic heartbreak in the Colorado San Juans with John Statz
Songs about heartbreak should resinate. And with John Statz they do. They’re equally soft and striking.
His new full-length album “Darkness on the San Juans,” available May 11, takes an acoustic turn from his other recent work. Then, he had full bands in studios. With this project, he gathered a few friends in his living room to record.
Like heartbreak itself, the album is more personal, more raw and more intimate. The Wisconsin native who now calls Denver home said he hasn’t done something quite as stripped down in a while, and when it came to get back into songwriting after the release of his last album last summer, there was also a reason to write.
It was the aftermath of a breakup.
“We retrace our steps. We look at what we thought we knew. We ultimately discover and face the truth under the stories we told ourselves along the way,” he says of the album.
In addition to the post-love songs, the album features a few songs Statz previously worked on but didn’t have a place on an album, and songs that are meant to be more acoustic. “Presidential Valet” is the story of Armistead, President John Tyler’s valet, or slave, who died alongside seven others in an explosion after Tyler and members of cabinet were watching the firing of the “peacemaker” in 1844.
So, this album is about heartbreak. Did that change how you wrote or approached the album at all?
Yeah. It just kind of comes out more — I don’t know — when you’re writing about heartbreak it’s just seems like the easiest type of writing. It’s just pouring out of you. You don’t have to come up with a concept or a story or any of that.
In the bio you released ahead of this album, it references a pretty famous Ernest Hemingway quotation: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Maybe as a writer I hear about this all of the time, but there’s definitely a writing style associated with Hemingway — to write very concise and clear. Did you take any of that with you into the songwriting or was it all about the emotion?
You know, it was the emotion part. I didn’t think about that, but the songs are fairly concise and short. So I appreciate that might also be relevant there even though I didn’t intend that.
The title of this album is “Darkness on the San Juans.” Explain that a little bit.
It’s a line in the song “Highways.” Geographical references are all over my songwriting. On every album I’ve ever written. So it’s a song about driving places with someone and either ending up back at those places later and having other memories being their previously. The San Juans was one of those locations that was important.
Why do you think you end up writing about places so much?
I mean, an obvious answer is that I spend a lot of time driving around to gigs, and I’ve been a lot of places because of that. And just for fun. I love roadtripping around Colorado, and camping and that sort of thing. So it’s not a planned thing. I’m living and breathing this lifestyle from A to B to C and that infiltrates the writing. But also, it’s a convenient rhyming scheme. Sometimes it can be hard to find a word, but there’s usually a city that will fill in.
How long did it take you to finish this album, being that the concept is fairly raw?
It all happened pretty fast. The two non-heartbreak songs, “Presidential Valet” and “Old Men Drinking Seagrem’s,” were older. They’re social commentary tunes. But I just hadn’t recorded them to yet and I was waiting for an acoustic album to do that. I started writing in the summer. I decided in December to record them. I called my friend Nate, flew him out in January. And we recorded it in three days in my living room.
Had you recorded like that before?
It’s been a while, but yeah. My first couple albums that I made when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, were like that: recorded at home and more stripped down with the production and just making use of what we had. The last three albums were full bands or went to a really professional studio. This is how I made records way back.
Why did you decide to do it this way?
The songs mostly had an acoustic feel, and I sing in my living room a lot. I have this open, high ceiling. So I play my guitar and sing in my living room a lot. I think it sounds cool in there. I thought we could make a cool recording there. I liked the idea of making this intimate album in my home. It was a comfortable, cozy way to make an album.
So everything about this album seems more intimate that what you’ve done in the last few years.
Yeah. Definitely. Everything is. There’s only four musicians on this album, and one of those is my roommate who did knee slaps.
I also noticed on the album credits was an oatmeal container.
So I bought a plastic egg shaker because I thought I maybe wanted to some percussion. But it just didn’t sound that cool. I was like, well we have oatmeal around the house. There wasn’t much left in one container and so we shook it and it was a way better shaker sound, you know?
The inspiration for these songs were the feelings that linger after a break-up. Was there a cut-off point there since emotions always evolve, especially in these instances?
It’s a process. A relationship ends and we all go through the phases. Months go by and you change how you feel. The me that wrote those songs and recorded them months back is a different person. I’ve evolved in the process.
Did you have to simmer to write these songs or was it immediate?
I wrote the first song like a month after. I was trying to write again because I write in cycles. I had just put out an album at the beginning of last summer and when I’m in album release mode I’m not writing as much. But when that’s over I want to write. This time I wanted to write again and I had a fresh reason. I find it a little uncontrollable. I’ve never not written about any breakup I’ve ever had. It’s just part of the territory of being writer. I haven’t written anymore since I wrote those. I’m in album-release mode. I think I decided I’m done with these songs on this album. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to get it out. This part of my life is completed and now I will write a bunch of songs about U.S. presidents or something like that.
I noticed on your social media you like presidential biographies.
Yeah, I do. My friend Jeffrey Foucault is a songwriter and he gave me a LBJ biography. I really liked it, so I thought I’d give George Washington a try and I just kept going.
How many are you up to?
I’m almost done with Grant, so 18.
So far do you have a favorite based off of biographies?
Grant has been really interesting. Lincoln was fascinating. Martin Van Buren. Great sideburns.
Back to the album. Do you think the listener can hear an evolution throughout the album?
Yeah, those songs were written at different times, so probably. I’d say it’s a snapshot of what somebody goes through, or at least what I went through. But I think what most of us go through after a breakup.I just think most people have been through it so I hope they can identify.
I just think most people have been through it so I hope they can identify.
You can purchase Darkness in the San Juans at johnstatz.com.
Soul mates: An interview with Colorado’s in/Planes
I feel the need to take a quick second to clear something up—I watched the band in/PLANES get married. Not for this article, mind you; the ceremony was years ago. I have been friends with musical and otherwise soulmates Inaiah Lujan and Desirae Garcia for over a decade at this point (due in no small part I’m sure to our mutual enthusiasm and passion for local music). As a result, I have had the opportunity to bear witness as not only their music but also relationship has burst and bloomed into multiple amazing endeavors. Whether it was their passionate and spirited take on Dustbowl-era Americana as members of folk revivalists the Haunted Windchimes or the wonderfully intimate lo-fi solo albums the both of them have released over the years, these two have a continually impressive musical output and a charm that I have always been excited to delve into. Hell, they even played in my basement once upon a time.
But none of them have struck me quite the same way as in/PLANES has. “Radio Wave,” their first full-length offering via Denver indie record label GROUPHUG, is something altogether different; something wondrously unique. It could be their voices. THOSE voices—honeyed and harmonious—especially whilst entwined in the duets that frequent the songs of in/PLANES. It could be the melodies they create—a riding-high blend of 50’s sha-la-la doo-wop, 60’s sunshine pop and indie-birthed soul—that feels distinctly pop without the trappings of sounding glossy or over-produced. Where tons of modern indie acts are ready to make a loud racket, in/PLANES instead opts to let the grooves play out sparsely and intimately, with inviting musicianship and vocal performances that envelop the space surrounding them. Whether live in concert or in the car, the music of in/PLANES holds on tightly and never lets go.
PULP: It’s weird trying to formally interview you guys; being friends makes it weird to ask you questions in a regular way.
Inaiah Lujan (guitar/vocals): That’s okay.
Desirae Garcia (bass guitar/vocals): We’ll be semi-formal.
IL: Business casual. (laughs)
I did do some research though, and I realized that in/PLANES has been around for longer than I remembered. But this new album is your first full length?
IL: Yeah. This is our first formal release that isn’t an EP. And also first physical release. There is some intention with that. You know that we are champions of analog stuff; Cassette tapes are my first love; I grew up making mixtapes. And CD’s have always felt pointless to me, but for so long we played the game because you used to HAVE to have CD’s on the merch table. But this band has been pretty vocal about our disdain for CD’s; “Radio Wave” is only going to be available on cassette. You’ll get a digital download with purchase of the tape.
Speaking of which, what does the name “Radio Wave” mean in regard to the band?
DG: It’s a line from the song “Why Didn’t You,” a song that is actually not on the record. (laughs). But it’s the very first in/PLANES song we ever wrote. We wrote that song, and it felt like it was part of a totally different project; it felt different than anything we were doing. So maybe it’s a nod to the beginning of the project. We like to think of the song as kind of a breadcrumb to where we are at now.
IL: The benefit of this band is getting to take our time with things; to be more intentional. So now we have been releasing stuff retroactively. The EP we released just last month is stuff we had recorded from our apartment; “Radio Wave” is stuff we put together with Adam Hawkins from Right Heel Music and our drummer Carl Sorensen, and we already have another album in the works.
For me, it also has dual meaning; in/PLANES seems to always create this kind of duality. “Radio Wave” also musically reminds me of when people were only listening to the radio. It kind of plays to idea of this vintage-pop genre we’re kind of going with.
DG: That’s also the music that this record is really inspired by.
IL: The EP feels like kind of a sampler or mixtape for what we’re all about, but this full length is more focused; a little more of that classic pop sound. It’s a fitting title for sure.
DG: Also it’s 1,000,000% love songs; which is bad and good. (laughs)
When you wrote “Why Didn’t You,” did it feel like a song intentionally for a new project?
IL: I think it just presented itself that way; I had been toying around with some chords, and I had been trying to write a song and I didn’t know where to start with melody or lyrics, so I had Desi help me out and it came together really quickly.
In doing so, we realized that we hadn’t collaborated in that way with just the two of us since the beginning of the Haunted Windchimes. At that point, the ‘Chimes had already become four contributing songwriters and had developed a strong formula; in that way it felt like not exactly a departure, but something new that we could try and explore on our own.
DG: It came out really naturally and organically. And it didn’t fit anywhere, either with the ‘Chimes songs or solo songs.
Do you feel like fans of the ‘Chimes and your solo efforts are following you down this path?
IL: I think so. We are all taking a break with the ‘Chimes for now, but we haven’t officially announced that to our fans, so sometimes we’ll get messages asking where we’ve been and why haven’t they heard any news about the band. So maybe some people are a little resistant to it. I don’t know.
DG: It sounds different enough so that some people aren’t going to be into it, which is okay. The other day, someone left a comment on the Windchimes Facebook page asking about us, and another person commented back saying “you should check out in/PLANES and (Haunted Windchimes member Mike Clark’s) the River Arkansas” and the first person commented back “We just like ‘Chimes’ style music,” which is okay! You don’t have to follow us everywhere.
IL: The great thing about being an artist and a musician is the ability to shift gears and follow rabbits down different holes. And with in/PLANES, we’re already trying to get out of our own box and comfort zone. But the common thread that ties it all is that we write all of the songs together, and we wear our influences on our sleeves.
So if you had to explain what you think in/PLANES sounds like, what would you say?
DG: That is my least favorite question, because it’s so hard to explain. The shortcut i usually go for is throwback, vintage pop with some rock tendencies. And if they’re listening after that, then I’ll just keep talking until they walk away, because it’s so difficult to answer.
But like to go with vintage-pop, because if someone says rock & roll, I don’t feel attached to that. We write pop music; all the formulas, the lack of formulas…
IL: It does feel like something you would turn on the radio and hear in the 50’ or 60’s to me, but our modern influences still sneak in; we’re both big fans of hip-hop and country music, and it all gets in one way or another.
DG: Digital drums are where we lose a lot of people. They’re like “WHAT? Is that a digital drum?” And I’m like, “Yup, it is.” (laughs) It’s those 808 beats.
The electronics are really subtle in your songs though.
IL: I think so too. I think we just want to be able to write a song without putting it in a box, you know? But at the same time, making sure to trim all of the fat; which may be contradictory.
We’re not trying to write complex songs. I don’t like to have any rules, but I do like to set limitations on myself; almost like limiting your color pallette if you’re a painter.
DG: Not to be pigeonholed, but also maintain some cohesion. Present yourself in a way people can understand. I don’t like to tell people what genre of music we are, but it is helpful for us; it makes us more focused.
IL: Knowing where the line or limitation is and knowing how far we can push it over causes a tension we like to work under. It’s good tension.
DG: You can’t put me in a box—only I can put me in a box!
“Radio Wave” from in/PLANES is out 5/3 on cassette via GROUPHUG records, with a slew of release shows and a digital release to come soon thereafter. For full dates and info, head to inPlanes.com
CO Springs emcee Che Bong goes outer limits on new psychedelic full length
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!