Localized: Loom, Bird Eater and The Grimmway – May 2008

SLUG's Localized will always be five bucks no matter what and occurs on the second Friday of every month. This month's Localized will be temporarily moved to the The Broken Record on May 9th. It features the eclectic Loom, the skull bleaching Bird Eater with openers The Grimmway. Don't worry Urban fans, Localized will be back at the Lounge next month. I had the opportunity to hang out with both Loom and Bird Eater to talk about serious business such as their bands, the local scene and what it's like to tour everywhere.

Kel - Drums
Chris - Guitar
Tino – Guitar
Jon Parkin - Bass/Vocals

Utah has much to offer in ways that many will never realize—even to those who have lived here all of their lives. Just outside of our comfortable little Latter-Day Arcology lies vast deserts, jagged and treacherous mountain ranges and one of the largest terminal lakes on the planet. Utah also has a great deal of history, myth, lore and horror surrounding it ... you just have to know where to look. Bird Eater is a project featuring four musicians, from various bands such as Anima Nera, Day of Less, Pilot this Plane Down and Gaza. They explore bleak landscapes and frightening tales both lyrically and musically. My first experience with Bird Eater was reviewing their Utah EP (June 2007), and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it grew on me. The EP has four full songs separated by three shorter tracks, which feature simple, lonely slide guitar. The full package builds a nice 23-minute experience that could be scored easily to a Sergio Leone film.

"Bird Eater is the most focused project that I have been in; in that it is all based on a single idea," Tino explains, "Lyrically, musically and thematically it is all funneled through that idea of Utah as a unique and desolate place." Many of the lyrics are inspired by old tales of desert ghosts and grisly murder. Since Bird Eater is a bit more focused and conceptual, Tino hopes people's reactions are a bit different than what he'd expect to see at a Gaza show, "We hope our shows could incite a mood of playing to a dinner crowd at a Grand Opry," He says.

This intimate and lonely journey is encouraged by some fairly simple touches, most notably, Tino's slide guitar work­­­––featured on three of the seven tracks. "Initially I didn't intend for anyone to ever hear them, but it was my first real attempt at writing music to match what I was feeling at the time, which was sad, lonely and homesick as fuck." Tino had moved to Nevada and worked a complete opposite shift of his wife. They rarely saw each other and he had a lot of time to himself. "When Bird Eater came around those pieces just felt like they belonged on the Utah EP. I am proud that they can evoke that feeling in other people too."

Though the slide pieces are Tino's, the song writing is a much more communal effort. "Chris brings riffs and I bring riffs, but the songs are structured by the group." When the songs were complete, the band entered Andy Patterson's illustrious studio to begin the recording process, which galloped along nicely. "Not much time was spent on the recording process. We actually recorded the EP before we ever played a show and had the record planned out pretty well. The gear we recorded with is what we play live with and that's that," Tino states. Although the few shows Bird Eater has played have been deemed as "terrible" by most of the band for various reasons, they still expect Bird Eater to be a satisfying artistic outlet for some time to come. "We hope that there are some pretty big things in the pipeline, yet we want to be able to keep it personal, without the pressure of being a full time touring band." This lack of pressures and label expectations were mentioned mutually from all of the members, and since Bird Eater may never play across the country, the band seems excited that they don't have to answer to anyone aside from their own inspirations and callings. What about their upcoming record? "Expect Cormac McCarthy and the Coen brothers to be as influential on the next record as Clint Eastwood was on Utah EP," Tino says.

Mike Cundick - guitar, vocals
Kim Pack - violin, vocals
Jarom Bischoff - drums, vocals
John Finnegan - bass, vocals
Josh Devenport - lights, vocals

In my admittedly short experience writing about bands in the local scene there is always one thing that has stuck out beyond the personalities, musicianship, songwriting and performing. This one thing is a completely dedicated enthusiasm that I haven't seen anywhere else. Pair that enthusiasm with a rather unabashed love for other fellow Utah bands, rather than needless drama or competitiveness, and you have our wonderful Utah scene in a nutshell. Loom evokes this more than most bands I've spent time with thus far, because quite frankly, the two times I went to hang out with them, they were somewhat brief with words and mainly just wanted me to hear their music. I appreciated this greatly, even after having seen the bass player's penis in some top secret Loom tour footage.

With one brief EP, a split with Prize Country, and a full length album on the horizon, Loom has already made quite the name for themselves in the short time they've been an official collective. Having already toured across the country and played countless shows, I would have never guessed that they've been at this for just over 18 months. The growth between their material on the Angler EP and the new material they're writing is quite noticeable. "We tried to draw from influences that we did not even listen to at the time we recorded Angler" Bischoff says, "It's just more rock and roll." From late May to early June Loom will be up in Portland recording with Kris Crummett, who has already worked with bands such as Her Candane, I Am the Ocean, Fear Before the March of Flames and Anatomy of a Ghost. "I met Kris a few years ago when he was on tour with Her Candane and playing with Clarity Process," Finnegan says. "We're lucky to have swung that. Kris is amazing," Bischoff says.

Not only does Loom's eclectic style pull from many different influences, but the addition of the violin helps them add another layer of melody and meaning to their songs that most rock bands can't contend with. "I think it adds some emotional intensity usually found in well written classical music. There's a deeper meaning to all of our songs and the violin helps to show that musically," Bischoff says. Finnegan's input on this matter is a bit more impudent, declaring that Kim Pack is "a fucking genius!"

Although the band had recently fallen on some rough times, including bus engine problems and having the entire band fund stolen, it never seemed to get them down or get in their way. Colby Houghton, owner of Exigent Records, was quick to put together a fundraiser show that proved to be a memorable one.

But that was just the start to a rather busy summer schedule, which includes recording the preproduction work, vocal melodies and lyrics with Andy Patterson, a tour starting right after their SLUG Localized performance that will take them around the Northwestern corner of the country, recording in Oregon and continuing to tour for more than a month after that. Taking them on these tours is their mighty bus, Ursula, the queen of the sea. "As we're on the road for day and days, it slowly morphs into Daxter Gordon Trash Can," Bischoff explains.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the dedicated enthusiasm for everything they do, has already brought Loom a great deal of success as a new band. "We're taking it as far as we are able to with the time we have, this is it for us in a lot of ways. I expect we will do well for ourselves," Bishoff says. With their obvious work ethic and "if you want something done right, do it yourself" approach, Loom is clearly doing fantastic for themselves.

Come check out Loom, Bird Eater and openers The Grimmway at The Broken Record on Friday, May 9th.