Over the past 18 months, Desert Noises have put over 84,000 miles on their trusty tour van, which will take them to SXSW this March. Photo: Jaclyn Campanaro
Desert Noises are a band that were born to perform. While some local bands are content with an occasional show at Kilby or Velour, these guys have been traveling from one corner of the country to another, loading and unloading their mini-van for shows they booked themselves. Just look at their Tumblr and see how riddled it is with tour announcements, updates from the road and “dates added.”
The four-piece plays folk-inspired indie rock with enough rhythm, reverb and harmony to fill vast, open spaces. After some changes in the past, the band’s current lineup is Kyle Henderson (vocals/guitar), Tyler Osmond (bass), Patrick Boyer (guitar) and Brennan Allen (drums). All four are bonafide Utah Valley boys who came together after playing in separate bands for some time. They released an EP (2009) and their excellent first album, Mountain Sea (2011), on Northplatte Records.
For all four members, growing up around the Provo music scene has been the biggest motivator to become musicians themselves. “You could easily go to any show down here and you’ll find someone that will inspire you,” Osmond says, “or you would see something that would just blow your mind—there’s so many good musicians around here.” All throughout high school, they would hit up the venues for shows over the weekend. Allen ponders the scene’s influence: “All of [the venues] were really good stomping grounds, good places to be almost raised by live music. It probably has something to do with why we love touring so much and playing live shows—we’ve always been around that,” he says.
Desert Noises have made touring their Number One priority for a long time now. Until their most recent tour, they had been booking all of their own shows, too. Their first tour came as a risk, says Allen: “We quit our jobs, moved out of our houses, took out a loan, got a van and went.” Because they didn’t know anyone in the cities they played, they were forced to meet and hang out with new people, which has made subsequent tours much easier to book because most venues want them back, and they have friends to reconnect with at each stop. Since that first tour, they haven’t slowed down. Just in the past year and a half, they have put 84,000 miles on their Chevy Venture. They calculated it out: That’s more than three times around the earth’s equator. The van actually brought them to notoriety. Henderson says, “It is what we were known for. It’s your typical Mormon-mom car.” They traveled with the maybe-a-little-too-cozy arrangement of five guys plus all of their gear in the van, without a trailer. To some relief, they recently were able to upgrade to a new, 11-seater van.
Last November, the band released a raw, three-song mini-EP called I Won’t See You. In describing how the recording came together, Henderson says, “I don’t think it was necessarily supposed to happen. We recorded some demos and liked them, and it was something to represent the four of us because nothing we had written together had ever come out.” They hand-packaged and stamped the recordings as a 7” themselves, seeing it as a souvenir for fans to take something home after seeing their show. It was released on the band’s newly created record label, Kid Canvas Records, and the title track, “I Won’t See You,” was featured on MTV Hive. The beautifully rough, rock n’ roll sound of the EP is a taste of what is to come from a new record. The band says that they have enough songs written for a new album, but are waiting for the right time.
The big news of late is that the band got an invite to play at SXSW this March. SXSW takes over Austin, Texas each spring and is one of the nation’s largest music festivals. Brennan looks forward to the event. “It sounds like it’s going to be pretty wild from what everybody tells us. Just busy—busy playing shows. We’ll be probably playing, like, 10 shows in three days,” he says. They are excited to be playing so much there, but are probably more excited to meet up with friends they have met out on the road who will also be playing there. “Tons of different bands that we have met on the road are going to be there. So it’s like a giant gathering place of bands that we know, and, hopefully, we’ll run into them and meet some of their friends,” says Henderson.
To the band, the opportunity to play at SXSW, which takes place March 12-17, is much appreciated and exciting, but they are also almost nonchalant about it. After all, it comes in the middle of yet another of their tours. Henderson shrugs it off—“It’s just one of the stops,” he says.