Joe Luis – Vocals
Shredd – Guitar
Skunk – Guitar
Nate Wilson – Bass
Dave Motiee – Drums
Salt Lake City’s Desolate embody an authentic thrash-punk casserole with their lineup of musicians, young and old, who’ve all played in a laundry list of current and former punk bands. Each member of the group sports an eclectic assemblage of sonic influences. The band initially formed in 2008 as a side project for guys in various acts (Skint, Dubbed, Repeat Offender and Shackleton to name only a few) to get together and make brutal noise, but it soon grew into something more. “When people first saw us play, they recognized us all from these different projects and got really confused,” says singer Joe Luis. Somehow, the mish-mash of ingredients congealed and they’ve since become a tightly volatile entity in their own right, taking the caustic gut-shot sounds of Nausea, Conflict and Dayglo Abortions and filtering them through the light-speed crossover thrash of D.R.I.
The gelling process wasn’t immediate, though. “We didn’t necessarily set out to play a particular style,” says bassist Nate Wilson, citing the diverse musical background of the group. “It wasn’t until later that someone heard us and said ‘you’re a thrash band!’” Regardless, the band resists any rigid characterization. “We’ve got something for everyone,” says lead guitarist Shredd, who notes the presence of punks, longhairs, metalheads and even (to the chagrin of many) Juggalos in their audience. He credits this to the band’s propensity to shed traditional punk time signatures in exchange for something more complex and melodious.
Still, Desolate’s sound is unpredictable and aggressive, features that they enjoy. “Someone made the comment that we were all ‘bananas,’” says Shredd with a laugh, a description they’ve taken to heart in naming their new record Potassium Fueled Death Rock. The album is complete and they want to get it out to the fans so much that they’re willing to bootleg a burned copy for anyone who wants it. “We’ll give it to anybody, but we made a blood-pact that we were only going to sell it on vinyl,” says Wilson. To raise money for the pressing, the band is organizing two vinyl pre-release shows and is distributing patches and pins through Raunch Records. To put some unspent culinary energy to use, they’ve even considered selling some potassium-fueled baked goods, including homemade banana bread, at their shows. However, due to certain issues of legality, they’ve opted out of it. “We don’t have food handler’s permits,” says drummer Dave Motiee with a shrug.
Nevertheless, the band has already been privileged to share bills with legendary punk bands including Dr. Know, M.D.C., Agent Orange and Battalion of Saints. Live shows are a release for them on all counts, and they thrive on crowd energy. Luis appreciates the lack of pretension that accompanies an all-ages show. “At those shows, kids go crazy. They’re not worried about spilling their beer or anything like that.”
At its core, Desolate is a band with a desire to play loud, abrasive music that people can connect with. Motiee, a member with some “senior” status, has seen the Salt Lake punk scene flourish since the ’80s. “It has ebbs and flows, of course,” he says, but ultimately he feels that the scene has been a constant source for new and exciting bands to form.
Rhythm guitarist Skunk identifies the scene’s accommodating nature and applauds the supportive approach that bands exhibit towards each other, even across genre boundary lines. “I’ve heard that other scenes are cliquey,” he says. “It’s not like that here. I hate Utah in general, but I love this city.”
It’s this prevailing synergistic attitude that unifies not only the Salt Lake punk scene, but the band itself. The diversity in ages, backgrounds and influences doesn’t present any creative obstacles, only fuel to write music that brings different people out of the woodwork together to share something. “That’s the cool thing about the punk scene,” Luis says. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from … as long as you’re respectful, then it doesn’t matter.”
Having spent time living and playing music in other states, Shredd, the band’s other “senior,” describes the Salt Lake punk scene as a “family” that he’s failed to find in any other scene. “Generally, it just seems like there aren’t as many dickheads here,” he says.
Encouraged and cultivated by a stimulating independent scene, endowed with the combined experiences of five guys who’ve done plenty of punk-rock time and were weaned on a steady diet of potassium and thrash, Desolate is a coherent, explosive band ready to unleash their unholy musical concoction upon eager ears at this month’s Localized showcase … but please remember to bring your own cookies.