Localized: The Warlocks and The Black Angels – June 2008

SLUG Localized is back home at the Urban Lounge, BUT we gave up our second Friday slot so that two of our favorite bands The Warlocks and The Black Angels could rock this town. Take note and mark those calendars, though. Localized will transpire the very next evening—the second Saturday of the month, June 14 so write it down somewhere where you won’t forget and (as always) is just five bucks at the door. June features two bands with a collective resume long enough to fill a whole page, and two completely different styles: Minerva takes it back to the basics, and Invaders throw the basics completely out the window and assault your ear drums. Danny Vesper opens the showcase.

Photo: Raji Barbir

Jason Knott- Guitar/Vocals
Sean McClaugherty- Bass
Gavin Hoffman- Drums

Started in the fall of 2006, Minerva is far from what you’d expect from the three members. Minerva takes a completely different turn from anything its members have done before and kicks it back to the basic concepts of simple songs and catchy melodies. The band started after Clear, a former project for both Knott and McClaugherty, broke up, but both knew they didn’t want to continue in that same direction. “Historically we all played punk rock, hardcore or metal,” McClaugherty says, “Just more aggressive music, so we tried to strip out everything we thought about songwriting in the past and just do a simple song structure.”

“If the band’s going to break up, and I’m going to do another one, it’s not going to sound like the band I just did,” says Knott, “With bands like Clear and The Kill, they were really complicated. They had a lot of rifts going on and I got really sick of that. I just wanted to dumb it down. We’re just keeping it simple; as simple as we can.”

Having been strictly a vocalist for his entire musical career, it was only two years ago when Minerva began that Knott decided to try something new. “Really early it came from the frustrations of just being a singer,” he says, “The lack of respect, just the whole: ‘What do you know? You’re not a musician.’ I would verbally try to write music with people, and I think that’s what pissed them off the most. It was like I was stepping on their toes. It was like it wasn’t good enough just to be a singer. I’d had about 10 years of that, and I had to do something else. So I picked up a guitar.”

It was the first time Knott had ever played guitar, or any other instrument, but that has become part of what really defines Minerva as a band. “I think there’s a lot of stuff that comes out subconsciously that I don’t really know about,” Knott says. “I ended up playing guitar the way that this band ended up sounding. It’s just how I naturally liked playing it and it sounded good to me; it’s weird that the bands we’ve all done before, none of them were like this. None of us have played music like this.”

What comes out is a Nirvana-esque simplicity with Ramones-catchy melodies. With Knott only having started playing within the last two years, the band has evolved and fast. “It’s definitely been a progression,” McClaugherty says, “We’re making our breakthroughs, but we’re not putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. We just want to get better as a band, Jason wants to get better at what he does, we want to get better at what we do, and in the meantime we’re just writing songs and we feel like the songs we write are just better than the ones before.”

But with all the growth in the band, they worry early concert-goers may have gotten the wrong impression. Having been out of the scene for six months to rework songs and write new ones, Minerva is considering Localized their first real show, and hopes to prove themselves to the Salt Lake audience. “A lot of the shows we’ve played in the past, a lot of them have been on the sketchy side,” says Hoffman, “I think we kind of rushed ourselves, started doing things a little too soon. So people that have seen us in the past might have gotten a bad impression, which is really too bad because I think personally, considering all the stuff I’ve done, this is one of the best things that I’ve done musically.”

“We like playing music, because it’s what we love to do,” McClaugherty says with a grin, “We don’t really care if anyone comes to see us, we’ll still play.” Hoffman laughs and with a nod says: “Just come to the damn show.”

Photo: Raji Barbir

Phillip White- Throat
Dave Moss- Guitar
Sean McClaugherty- Bass
Gavin Hoffman- Drums

Invaders is a band that, by all rights, should never have existed, and exists due to sheer luck, or as some of their members might put it, fate. “If I believed in God, I’d call it a blessing,” says White. With all members having known each other for a collective of more than 10 years, none of them ever expected they’d be together in a band, playing the music they’ve been wanting to play for years. But somehow their paths all crossed at just the right moment, and Invaders was born.

“Invaders is kinda my little brainchild,” Hoffman says after much heckling from White. “About the same time Minerva was starting, I just had a bug up my ass and I wanted to do a project like this. I ended up talking to Dave about it one night. We were drunk and hanging out at a bar, and he ended up talking to our friend Weston to play bass.”

The result was Spur, a short-lived three-piece band that ended when the group was left without a bass. Afterwards, both Moss and Hoffman knew they wanted to take the group in a different, somewhat heavier direction. With Spur sharing practice space with Minerva, Moss and Hoffman invited McClaugherty to give them a listen.

Rewind 12 years to McClaugherty’s former project and meet White, who would later become the group’s vocalist. “When Jason (Minerva) and I were with Clear,” McCloughtery begins, “Phil used to come out on the road with us and drive our van. On one of our tours, Phil introduced us to this group called Iron Monkey that I immediately … wanted to be in, and I said that if there was ever a time I was not doing [Clear], this is what I want to do. Phil and I talked about it: ‘Yeah, it will be awesome! Let’s do something like that.’ Well, we lived in Utah, he lived in California.”

At the time White was doing his own project, a group called God’s Iron Tooth, “which should have been a much bigger band than it ever was,” McClaugherty adds. Between White working with his band and McClaughtery playing in a similar project, Hammergun, the best the two could do was to agree that if there was ever a chance for them to play together, they would take it.

Fast-forward to the beginning of Invaders: McClaugherty joins on as the band’s bass just as White decides to move to Salt Lake. “When I decided to move out here was when they decided to do this,” White says, “They had this project forming, Sean and I had already talked about doing a band like this, and it was kinda fate.” Within the first week of White’s move, they were starting practice. “He didn’t try out,” Hoffman says with a laugh, “It was more like, ‘Hey! You wanna do this? Sweet. Phil’s moving to Salt Lake, we’ve got a singer!’”

A band that started with every intention to become the loudest, ugliest, heaviest band to have ever walked the earth, and they strike damn close to the mark. “Rather than just getting out there and making noise, we wanted to get to the point where earplugs are a necessity,” Hoffman says, “where it bowls people over because it’s so much for them to take.”

With so many kids picking up on the style, more often than not, a band ends up just making noise and nothing else. “Which is amazing,” White adds with a laugh, “It shouldn’t be that easy to fuck up Black Sabbath and Black Flag.” But he knows exactly what he wants from the band. “I’m that dude in the front when I see Motorhead play. I gotta be so close because they’re so loud, so obnoxious, and it rocks me.”

“I don’t want you to enjoy our show,” he says. “I want people to be at that threshold of, ‘I can’t fucking take it anymore, but I’m going to stomach it, because it’s either this or I leave.’ And you’ll get out of the bar, and you’ll still hear it. You’ll have to get in your car and go home. Just give me three of my friends, a shitload of beer, some whiskey and we’re going to write some badass music,” White smiles and grabs another beer. “We’re not reinventing the wheel… but we’re definitely destroying it.”

Come check out Minerva and Invaders along with Danny Vesper on Saturday, June 14 at Urban Lounge.