If you’ve never met Utah Brewers Cooperative Business Manager Cindi Robinson, then you have never seen such a passion for local music. Having grown up a straight edge kid who started going to hardcore shows at the age of 12 in 1992, she has certainly established a solid foothold in the Salt Lake music scene. The local shows she went to often featured Clear, Triphammer, Waterfront and The Stench at extinct venues like Playscool and The Zephyr. From tabling at shows for animal-activism promotion to organizing bake sales for bands to raise money to go on tour, Robinson now continues her superlative enthusiasm for the local music scene on a day-to-day basis at UBC, as she has surrounded herself with notable local musicians by hiring them to work for the brewery. Regarding this employment phenomenon, she says, “I’ve always been involved [with music]. All of my friends happened to be musicians from that point on, so I’ve just been [with local music] forever.”
As many straight edge kids are wont to do, Robinson broke edge at 21. A couple years later, in 2003, she remembers being “hired [while] on my couch in my living room,” by her buddy, Matt Biggins, who “used to work here … I happened to be unemployed at the time, and was just like, ‘Whoo! I totally want to work at a brewery!’” She was hired and worked her way up from The Beer Store to business manager, which, of course, included hiring new people when needed. Robinson has been able to cultivate her ideal working environment based on the characteristics she had experienced with her friends in the scene. She says, “You’ve got to have a good sense of humor and bust ass, and it just so happens that the majority of musicians that I know are hard-working motherfuckers … and have shitloads of skills.” Robinson draws parallels between working for UBC and being used to the tedium of loading equipment in, setting up, rocking out, breaking down and loading back up.
“Usually, there’s a lot of people in that world that like to bust ass and drink beer,” Robinson says. “Go to a show—you gotta drink some beers! It goes hand in hand—it’s part of the same beast.” With the perfect ends for the grueling means, the like-minded workers of the UBC seem to stick: According to Robinson, the turnover rate at UBC is low, as these folks like their jobs and working with each other. If there ever is an opening at the brewery, somehow, somebody seems to show up at the right time to fill the void.
Darren Hutchison worked at Brewvies five years ago, and some of the guys from RedRock would frequent his former place of work. After noticing how happy those brewery workers were, he started researching the trade. After jamming with Andy Patterson, who is married to Robinson, Hutchison came in to ask for a job. He says, “I just talked to Cindi. I kept coming down. I had the fucking green hair rocking and everything—I never thought I’d get the job.” It seems that, on the contrary, the green punk rock hair landed him a spot in the UBC family. Ever since, Hutchison has filled a few different occupations in the business—he has been a box truck driver, a brewer and now “runs the labeling machine,” he says. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had … The people are great. There’s days that are crazy busy and we have to stay late, but it doesn’t matter—we’re working with beer.” He praises the change that has occurred with his bands’ drinking habits: Where they used to guzzle Natty Lights, they now enjoy beer with more refined palates, and have more tolerance for the high-point stuff, too. Surely, in relation to their name, this provides more street cred for Hutchison’s longest-running band, the Utah County Swillers, for whom he plays bass. Hutchison also plays bass in two other bands currently, Corvid and Jealous (with Patterson and Eli Morrison). You can find the Swillers’ and Corvid’s music at their shows, and keep your eye out for a new Jealous demo coming soon.
To complement the music-playing half of Hutchison’s life, his job at UBC allows him to make a decent living. He says, “It’s taken care of me and my daughter. I’ve kept a house. That’s where I practice.” Working a job that feeds mouths and pays the bills likely contributes to the healthy spirit of UBC personnel overall. In regard to the people with whom he works, Hutchison says, “They’re just dedicated people—seriously dedicated to what they’re doing, their art of making beer and making it the best they can.” Being among musicians who gel together, Robinson and the gang have concocted a theoretical (and tentative) UBC-employee band lineup with Hutchison on bass, Mikey T. on drums, Dave Moss on guitar, and Chopper on vocals—their usual instruments. “We want Chopper to sing again, really bad,” says Hutchison. “God, he was great in Decomposers back in the day.” Chopper has also been in Black Hole, The Protocol, Hot Rocks, Tommy Gun Killers and The Switch in his 23-year tenure in the Salt Lake music scene, though he is not currently in any bands. More recently, on April 20, 2011, Chopper began working for UBC, and as the Warehouse Manager, he mainly runs inventory. Chopper feels content and elated being in the UBC family: “When I got this job, my spirit lifted. I feel more free to do what I want. I’m accepted by everyone around here, no matter what I wear or what I have on my body or what comes out of my mouth,” he says. Chopper currently has a solo acoustic-electric project he’s working on called Mañanero where he sings and plays guitar and lap-steel guitar. “It’ll be kind of pretty, but kind of bluesy, folky, dirty punk,” he says. He plans to record and perform before an audience once he feels the motivation. In regard to the UBC supergroup, he says, “Let’s bring it on. It better be loud n’ proud.”
Chopper enjoys reminiscing with Hutchison about the good ol’ days of the SLC punk rebellion, though the most ubiquitous pieces of conversation are probably the UBC employees shit-talkin’ with one another. Chopper says, “You can’t take anything too serious around here because, one day, people are giving me shit—the next day it gets dumped onto them.” Mikey T. points out a picture he snapped of Chopper in Denver, naked and passed out. “Fitting in is just being able to bullshit with somebody, really,” Mikey says. Mikey started at UBC around this time two years ago, after Robinson called him up one day and told him to be there, and he is now a kegger. He, too, has been in his fair share of Salt Lake rock acts in his 15 years in the music scene—Killbot, Negative Charge, Stark Raving Mad and Juke Joint 45—but his current, sole project is his NWOBHM-style heavy metal band, Visigoth, whose tunes you can find on Bandcamp for free (with a suggested donation), or on Facebook, with a link to an online store for vinyl. He concurs that music is a usual conversational fixture between him and his work buddies, along with what shows they’re going to—there’s a HUGE calendar that includes all the employees’ upcoming shows hanging on the wall! Mikey says, “Everybody listens to everybody’s bands and goes to each other’s shows. It makes you feel kind of good … It’s like a big orgy of music.”