Localized – Marinade, Uncle Scam and The Vision

Photo: John Carlisle

This month’s Localized features the female-fronted, male-backed stylings of jammers Marinade, funky-rockers Uncle Scam and opening band The Vision. Come check it out on Friday Nov. 12 at Urban Lounge for only $5.

Talia Keys - Vocals, Drums, Mandolin, Guitar
James ‘The Minister of Meat’ Trevino - Bass, Vocals
Jimmy ‘Rockstar’ Lauscher - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Spencer Kellogg - Saxophone, Guitar
Matt Pizza - Percussion, Dreadlocks

Marinade wants to get you wet. As guitarist Jimmy ‘Rockstar’ Lauscher puts it, Marinade will go “wherever we can go and marinate people ... soak ‘em, make ‘em all wet and juicy.” After over 100 shows in 2010 alone, it’s safe to say that many people reading this have already bathed in Marinade’s melodious musical mixture.

About two years ago, Talia Keys, James Trevino and Matt Pizza got together to play a house party. They realized that they had a real rapport together after that first show, and decided to book a few more shows to see if what they had was as good as it seemed. Lauscher, a graduate from the jazz program at the U and an all-around heavy metal guy, loved Marinade’s bluesy-jammy vibe. He says, “They invited me to come sit in one night. I was thinking it would be for two or three songs, but three hours later I realized we had real chemistry together.” Spencer Kellogg says, “I was just free,” to an eruption of laughter from his bandmates.

When Keys was nine years old, her mom bought her a drum kit from Sears. She says, “I was hitting everything else, and my mom thought, ‘How about we get you something to hit that’s not going to break.’” At 16 she learned to play guitar, then at 21 she picked up the mandolin. There aren’t a lot of drummers on lead vocals, but for Marinade it was a natural choice. For Keys, singing and drumming was just more natural than singing and playing guitar. She’s sort of a Phil Collins, except with hair and soul—Phyllis Collins, maybe.

The members of Marinade are all multi-instrumentalists. Lauscher can play just about anything with strings, as well as the didgeridoo, which he picked up during a month of unemployment and TV-watching. Kellogg plays basically any woodwind instrument. Keys says, “He blows a lot of things.” The band laughs again, proving that they are all good-natured and really enjoy each other, which translates to their great musical chemistry. Pizza garners a lot of respect for his percussive aptitude, but it’s in his wielding of dreadlocks where he really tries to shine. He says, “Turn up the dreadlock? It’s up to 11 all the time.”

It’s not all jokes and jamming for Marinade. This band works hard. You can regularly find the band playing around the state at places like Woody’s Tavern in Moab, the Park City Arts Festival and the Hog Wallow, as well as at nearby festivals like Desert Rocks, Powellapalooza and Boulder’s Big Hootenanny. All of this gigging has helped them accumulate over 10 hours of material, so they can play a different set every night. Yet, their musical relationship is so strong that they really could play the same set differently every night. They say they just play whatever happens, and they make it work.

Speaking of the local music scene, the band agrees that there are a lot of great reggae, psych rock, jazz, blues and jam bands in Utah. Keys says, “I feel like we add bits of each of those genres and just jam all of that out.” Marinade has hopes to tour the northwest next year, but in the meantime, they are reinforcing Salt Lake by playing shows, as well as going to shows, which they feel is really important.

Some of their favorite acts to see and/or share the stage with are Stonefed, Wisebird, The Vision, Dead Horse Anonymous and the Desert Rocks homegrown bands. The band released an EP in May, and has sold all but 12 of the 500 pressings. The band is currently working through their material to find the best songs for their upcoming full-length release.  Keep up with Marinade on their Facebook where all of their shows and plans are continually announced. Keys says, “I whore the shit out of our Facebook.” Realistically though, the band works so hard and plays so often that you’d probably need to put effort into missing Marinade these days, and that’d be wasted effort for sure.

Uncle Scam
Raffi Shahinian - Guitar
Drew Gingell - Drums

Ryan Brown - Bass/Vocals
Ischa - Vocals

Uncle Scam is a band with a lot to say—not just lyrically, but conversationally as well. Within just a few minutes they talked about cocaine, metal (both as an alloy and a genre), Freddie Mercury, sex and Zoroastrianism. Raffi Shahinian, Drew Gingell, Ryan Brown and Ischa are random, diverse and articulate—much like their songs.

Redneck Funeral, the band’s recent release, has elements of funk, rock and metal, but the band has a few ideas about how to describe their sound. Gingell says, “We’re definitely rock music, and a lot of our songs talk about sex or politics. I’d call us political-sex-rock.” Brown says they are funky-sex-rock. Shahinian digests these ideas and says, “We’re sexy-funky-poli-rock.” Heads nod all around the table. That works.

Shahinian and Gingell began jamming guitar and drums together in 1994. They started Uncle Scam and the Current Administration in 2005, but according to Shahinian the real Uncle Scam didn’t come together until November 2009 when Ischa joined the band. Ischa says, “To be fair, back then it was called ‘Uncle Scam and the Current Administration,’ but now it’s just called ‘Uncle Scam’ because you’ve found your PRESIDENT.” Before Ischa, they had members coming and going. But they realized that with Ischa they had a fresh start.

Uncle Scam has influences across the spectrum, from Annie Lennox to Clutch to Scars on Broadway. But when asked about what they are listening to, across the board the band says “Uncle Scam.” No, not because they are completely self-absorbed, but because they record every one of their band practices in Cool Edit Pro, and then make sure each member leaves with a burned copy of that night’s rehearsal. This disciplined work ethic has led to an absolute wealth of material for the band to draw from live, as well as a lot of opportunities to record.

Earlier this year the band hooked up with Bruce Kirby at Boho Digitalia to record Redneck Funeral. Throughout the album, Ischa sings, speaks and squeals about different societal issues that stick out to the band. Ischa says, “I think that we’re more of a commentary ... like we’re saying, ‘This is the way the world is, huh? What do you think about that?’” While they do appreciate living in America, they express concern about a society that they feel undervalues non-straight, non-Caucasian non-Christians. Shahinian says the band isn’t aiming to become the next Rage Against the Machine, but is more interested in presenting the contradictions that exist in our country.

You can see the band playing around town at some of their favorite venues, like Five Monkeys, Bar Deluxe and Club Vegas, as well as at good old-fashioned house shows. Uncle Scam enjoys playing with a variety of other bands, such as Funk Fu and 60 Watt, but also enjoys implementing non-traditional elements into the evening—like having belly dancers perform. Ischa says, “I would love for us to have shows where we have a comedian who comes in and does a 20 minute set. We like the idea of mixing up the night a little bit, and if we can, we want to give other people the opportunity to put their art out there.”

The band enjoys working with themes at their shows, like camouflage, matching colors and glam, a concept that was spearheaded by Ischa when she joined the band. Brown feels like this gives something visually tantalizing for the audience to connect with. Shahinian says, “Let’s face it, we’re there to entertain people. It’s a show.”

In reference to the Salt Lake scene in general, Uncle Scam wants to network and connect with other bands in the valley, even if it’s just to set up a show in the park or collaborate on some projects. The band just wants to play shows and fortify the musical arena in which we live. The members of Uncle Scam are great examples of not taking themselves too seriously while taking what they do very seriously, and they are sure to have some fun in the process. Keep up with Uncle Scam on Facebook, and at unclescamrocks.com, where you can purchase their album and download some free music.

Be at Urban Lounge on Nov 12th for Marinade, Uncle Scam and openers The Vision. You can call it Girl Power Night, but you’d be smarter to simply call it Great Music Night. As always, just $5.

Photo: John Carlisle Photo: John Carlisle