CMJ, Spinner The CMJ Music Festival is back! Every year, hundreds of bands…
- Posted on Jan 25th 2011 5:00PM by Colin St. John
Guitarist Trevor Peterson invited Spinner over to his house near downtown Denver to check out the group's recording equipment, hang out with his dog and chat with his bandmates, drummer Eston Lathrop and guitarist/vocalist Mark Demolar, who called in on speakerphone from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. The fourth member and another drummer, Dylan Shumaker, was at his day job.
Can you walk us through a brief history of the band?
Peterson: Well, Eston and I have been playing together since we were kids. We recorded this little EP and we called it Woods Man. Mark and I met in film school shortly after that happened, at UC Denver maybe four years ago. So, Eston moved out here from Minneapolis and I was already living here. We started playing together, I met Mark at film school and we booked a show at the Larimer Lounge. That was three years ago. Eston and I had the intention to just play the two of us but a week after we had it booked, we approached Mark.
Lathrop: We asked Mark if he wanted to play because we didn't have any certain thing we were going to do. It helped because he had played in front of people before and we hadn't -- it was a comfort thing.
What was the recording process for your new full-length?
Lathrop: Most of it was done right here in this house, in front there. I went to school for recording and audio engineering. We have gear so we recorded half of it here in this house and the other half was at our buddy's place down the road a little ways.
Peterson: And we brought in another friend, James Barone, who records a bunch of s--- around town and also plays drums in Tennis and drums in Tjutjuna. We brought him for extra gear and he helped engineer a little bit but for the most part, it's been totally DIY.
How do you guys handle the cross-continental thing?
Demolar: Whenever we book shows, I just fly in. When we recorded the new album, it was five-and-a-half weeks that I was in Denver.
But you identify yourselves more as a Denver band, right?
Peterson: Yeah, for sure. We've been involved here way more.
Demolar: We've played more shows in Denver, for sure, but Trevor and I have made a lot of friends out here, too.
Peterson: I went out to Brooklyn for the month of October and we played something like 12 shows in New York, including CMJ. We did a bunch of random stuff and made a lot of friends. Anytime we go to New York we have a bit of the local band vibe because we know a bunch of people.
Listen to Woodsman's 'Insects'
Peterson: I definitely agree with that statement: New York is the type of town where there's so much going on. Whatever type of style you're playing, you're bound to find a kinship and find bands that are doing the same type of thing you're doing. Denver is a lot more closed off.
Demolar: I don't know if Denver has a specific sound.
Peterson: Whereas New York has a s---load of different sounds happening. Denver is an indie-rock-centric town, I guess. It's harder for weirder music to exist here but there are a few outlets like Rhinoceropolis out on Brighton Boulevard. That's where we came up playing. Places like that, it's wide open out there. We have a show booked there in March. It's like a tour kickoff for us -- we're going down to SXSW to play a few shows afterwards.
Who are your main influences?
Peterson: We all have different influences but there's some common ground for sure. We all love Animal Collective -- not that we try to draw directly from them, but how they structure their songs. We are also really into Krautrock, like Can and Kraftwerk. We like weird free jazz, too, collectively. Obviously, everybody has their own tastes, too.
You guys are pretty tight with Tjutjuna. Are there other Denver bands you're really into?
Peterson: Definitely Gauntlet Hair, watch out for them. They're my roommates and they just signed to Dead Oceans. They're gonna have a big record coming out. Obviously, Tennis.
Demolar: To take a step backwards, I'd like to say that Tjutjuna is a big influence for us.
Peterson: Both of our bands influence each other. We are collectively trying to push each other to take it a step further and write better songs. They're definitely our favorite around here.
Do you guys think you'll stick around Denver?
Peterson: We are all thinking about moving. I know I am probably going to make the move to New York by midsummer. It's just more of a "change of scenery, new head space, new inspiration" thing. I've been in Colorado for so long that I need to experience something new before it's too late. None of us are actually from here -- we all kind of met when we were younger. Dylan and Mark went to high school together in Evergreen, but Mark is originally from California, Dylan is from Ohio. Eston and I are from Iowa, but we've all been here since we were younger. Eston and I have known each other since way back and Dylan and Mark have known each other for a long time, too. We were a two-piece band and they were a two-piece band and then we booked that show and came together.
What other plans do you have for 2011?
Peterson: Touring as much as possible is key right now. In today's music climate where bands are brought up and forgotten about so fast, if you're not on the road and you're not consistently working and recording and putting material out there, your opportunities will diminish really fast.
Are you worried about the blogosphere's ability to make or break a band?
Peterson: For us it's been nothing but good. It helps more people hear your s---.
Demolar: At this point, there's not too much to break.