Cover Story: One Eye
In the mid-to-late eighties, the initial momentum of the original punk rock scene began to wane, squeezed out by the English disco renaissance, mascara-smeared Los Angeles glam pop and vague, wishy-washy “college rock.” The fierceness and rebellion which had marked rock and roll was absent from virtually all radio broadcasts and the “death of rock” was proclaimed by the pop media on both sides of the Atlantic. For the most part, popular music had become a homogenized exercise in mindless prattle. The resulting vacuum left an opening for the rise of bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and Jane’s Addiction, who combined punk integrity with heavy metal riffs to create a hybrid which legitimized rock and roll and allowed the broad acceptance of bands ranging from Alice in Chains to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to, of course, Nirvana.
Salt Lake City’s One Eye fits well in the tradition of those bands. They combine elements of funk, jazz and metal to create an oleo of great guitar rock which is instantly identifiable without being too derivative. Essentially, One Eye is a rock band that you don’t have to be embarrassed to admit you like. I doubt you’ll ever find them hanging with the spandex crowd at Rafters or posing in their leathers at the Heavy Metal Shop. You’d be more likely to find them providing the soundtrack for wherever the best party in town happens to be that night.
Individually, One Eye consists of vocalist Dave H., drummer Randy Wesemann, guitarist Shane Russell and bassist and resident philosopher Rusty Vincent. Over the past year, they have developed a sizeable following, due in large part to the party-like atmosphere surrounding their shows. Describing their sound, Randy says, “It’s all individual; Shane’s really metal-based, I’m kind of jazz-based, and Dave is just based.” One of the best front men in town, Dave is the lead instigator of the dance, telling and drinking crowd response One Eye thrives on. “It’s trippy when people start singing along with you,” Dave says. “Either they know what you mean, or at least they think they know what you mean.”
The general mayhem and loyalty which surrounds their gigs belie themes of regret and loss which permeate the lyrics of songs like “Gone” and “Time.” Dave is just principal lyricist (although Rusty was responsible for their “hit,” “Mr. Richan”) and expressed the process this way: “For me, writing is like therapy, and I hate to say that because it’s such a cliche, but I either write things down or I get a headache.”
Songwriting for One Eye is a collaborative process, with each member adding his own contribution and input to create a holistic sound. “If you have a song all written and expect it to sound a certain way, you’ll be disappointed,” Randy says. “But by the time everyone gets finished with it, it sounds way better than you ever thought it would.”
Dave adds, “Since we started, until now, it’s incredible how much everybody is learning. It starts out dark and works into light and we’re getting there, I think … getting to where we can really play together and talk to each other.”
For the future, One Eye has recorded a few songs and hopes to release a CD soon. They are also optimistic about the Salt Lake scene and the sheer number of talented bands playing around town, although they agree there is not as much camaraderie between local groups as there could be. Still, these guys are hardly the types to brood over local scene politics; they’re more likely to just shrug, crack open another beer and kick into the next song. Or, as Dave aptly puts it, “The whole atmosphere we try to create is just a party and hearing it in the background over a stereo and having a good time … it’s a little bit of the everything from the Jackson Five to the Beatles to Star Trek: The Next Generation with better special effects. I’d just like people to say “One Eye” and describe us like that.”
Check out more from the SLUG Archives:
Cover Story: A.U.
Local Band: Makeshift
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