By Josh Mcgillis [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The second Friday of every month, SLUG Magazine hosts Localized, a showcase of Utah’s local music that deserves to be heard. On March 14th, Ogden punks JÜSE and Animus Grin will headline Localized with opening band Spearit! at Urban Lounge, a private club for members—which will prove to be unforgettable. If five dollars could always buy that kind of chaos, civilization would be nothing more than a myth.
Cecil – bass, lead vocals
Jeff – drums
Schuyler – guitar
Gemini – guitar
I rendezvoused with JÜSE at Grounds For Coffee in Ogden. When I arrived, lead vocalist and bassist Cecil was the only member there, although the others were on their way. We talked to pass the time, and Cecil had told me that their drummer, Jeff “Blitzen,” was at work—he delivers pizza at Pizza Runner—and was unsure if he would be able to make it. Shortly after, guitarists Schuyler and Gemini joined us.
JÜSE is one of the few bands left who can actually say they are D.I.Y. When they aren’t playing shows, the members are hard at work, whether that means earning a paycheck, or building their own recording studio. The group is not only building the studio to record their album—they are looking to start their own independent record company, which would allow them to begin to sign other worthwhile local bands.
“It used to be that if you were a decent band, you got noticed and got signed for at least just a little bit,” Cecil said. “Nowadays, you’ve got the Internet, and you can do it all yourself. You can get a home studio in a box.”
The group doesn’t expect any record executives to be out scouting in Ogden, Utah, and know that “you’ve got to do it yourself.”
The plan for their label, Jus-Tus Records, is already well underway. With a number of bands already knocking on the door to be signed, Jus-Tus has the potential to be very successful, but not only as a label. JÜSE is in the process of trying to book their first tour starting mid-May, and with the creation of Jus- Tus, as Gemini pointed out, they can set up gigs as “bookers and promoters [because venues and bars] look at it totally different from just a bass player trying to book a show.”
Although JÜSE is known in Ogden for constantly playing big shows and having a huge following of die-hard fans, the group makes almost no money from the gigs they play. The band rarely plays in venues, but not from a lack of notoriety. “[Playing at a venue] is too impersonal,” Cecil said. “It’s like you don’t have any control; you don’t run the music … and there is a barrier between [us and the crowd].”
“Most the shows we play are free shows,” commented Gemini. Prior to the destruction of Sugar House, JÜSE played a benefit show for Free Speech Zone before they relocated. They had spread the word about the show through fliers and word of mouth. When not playing a show for local businesses, JÜSE is busy playing benefit shows for one cause or another. “We play benefit shows all the damn time,” he continued. At most of the benefit shows, JÜSE invites the people from Free Speech Zone to set up and hand out information on unions and other activist-related materials.
JÜSE is known for their wild house shows. One of their most memorable took place after a cancelled gig at Boom Va. “There were three bands just wanting to play a show,” Schuyler explained, “and everyone was looking for a house and I had a house.” The band managed to squeeze in 100 or so people into Schuyler’s house for the show. “By the end of the night I had people jumping into my ceiling fan, pouring beer on the floor, having sex on the hood of the van in my backyard, our drummer was passed out on the porch, I had to kick a couple people out … and on top of that, I hadn’t been there in a few days because the water had been shut off [so] there was no toilet. It was a really bad time.”
Animus Grin’s three members are so dynamically different that it’s a wonder the band can function. It’s like mixing condiments—usually the contrast can ruin the final product, but occasionally it could be just crazy enough to work (i.e. fry sauce).
Ryan Jones, or “Jonesy,” is the alpha male of the group. Through the interview, Jonesy proceeded to crack jokes and rip on his fellow band members. “We’re trying to get groupies,” he said. “But it’s hard to get groupies when two of the band members are gay.” During the day, Jonesy is the production manager of Wasatch Container, and at night he apprentices at Royal Flush, a tattoo shop in Layton. Following his intense work schedule, he plays music instead of getting some shut-eye. Lyrically, Jonesy’s biggest influence is “Violent Femmes, because their shit is just twisted as hell and it affected [him]”; musically he is influenced by Rancid, Operation Ivy, Catch 22, old Vandals and The Clash.
Dan has only been in the band for about three months, but still holds as much influence over Animus Grin as Jonesy or Sweet. He was invited to join the band after the previous drummer “flaked for a girl.” He had met Sweet at a pizza place that they both worked at, but Dan is now a cop; his rookie phase (which means that he gets “the most fucked up shifts” possible) is coming to an end, so the group can start booking more gigs. After he joined, the group started playing faster because of his drumming style. Dan’s idol is Josh Freese from The Vandals. The Green Day album Dookie is also a heavy influence.
Although Sweet has only being playing bass for about two years, that band says that he’s amazing, and with Matt Freeman and Flea as his biggest influences, he should be. “[Sweet’s playing] walks all over the place for no reason. It doesn’t really go with the song, but it sounds cool, so we let him do it.” He is currently totally broke and unemployed.
Animus Grin plays fast-as-hell punk rock. “We have about an 18- to 20-song set that we can play in about 40 minutes,” Jonesy commented. With the addition of Dan and his style to the band, they play faster now; they can only play about a 12-song set before being wiped out.
“JÜSE and [Animus Grin] don’t really sound all that alike,” said Jonesy. “The only thing we have in common is we both have shitloads of energy, we’re both violent onstage towards our instruments, we like to jump around, yell, scream, have fun and rip on society in general. I mean, that’s what punk is; punk is rebellion.” Since Animus Grin brings that kind of energy to the stage, they expect the crowd to give it back. “We [played] a show with this screamo band from Ogden, Burying Ann Hewitt*, and their fans just kick ass. I don’t care if they’re little emo kids that like cutting themselves or whatever, those little fuckers just want to rock. ” They were running into each other and they were hitting themselves and the band. Jonesy said that after the show he left the stage with bloody fingers, because they got so into it with the crowd. That’s a prime example of the kind of response Animus Grin likes to receive. “It’s no fun when [the crowd] stands there and nod [their heads].” With both JÜSE and Animus Grin known for their stage presence, this month’s Localized will be one hell of a party. Scrape up five dollars and wobble down to the Urban Lounge, because this will be one show that should not be missed.
Editor’s Note: Burying Ann Hewitt is from Brigham City.