Muscle Hawk with live drummer Clinton Holyoak. Photo: Martin S Rivero
I’m going to be honest—when I first heard Muscle Hawk a few years ago, I didn’t know they were locals. Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to review some of the songs in their recent canon. I was beyond impressed. I even showed a few songs to my friend from LA who listens to nothing but electronica and has been to more warehouse parties than the average American to McDonalds. He was also beyond impressed. The duo, Greg Bower and Jasper Spellcaster (Josh Holyoak), returned to the Utah Arts Festival this year to close it out with their highly lionized style of electro-thrash. We had the fortunate opportunity to interview this duo and gain their perspectives on art.
SLUG: Describe the music you play using “art” terms?
Spellcaster: Hmm, I would call it disco-thrash. I kinda think our music sounds like a wet spaceship.
SLUG: What attracted you guys to playing the Arts Festival?
Spellcaster: The Arts Festival is one of our favorite shows to play. We get to play to such a broad audience at Arts Fest. We get to reach every age group and make them all dance together. It’s beautiful to look out at the crowd and see 7 year olds trying out breakdance moves right next to a group of 60+ year olds bustin’ out some old-school jigs.
Bower: We've played twice before. The first was in 2010. We were on a pretty small stage, but it really went off and we drew a huge crowd. Then in 2011, it was an even bigger success, so we knew it could only get better. This year was definitely the most hype it's been so far. We really appreciate the chance to be able to play it again.
SLUG: How does art influence your music?
Spellcaster: I like to have some Mark Rothco paintings hanging around in the studio. Huge fan! I think it reminds me of the importance of simplicity. Also Dr. Seuss is a roll model for how I live my life and the music I make. I think his work spans all of the age groups. Everyone young and old can take a unique, positive message from every piece of his work. That’s what I try to do in some form.
SLUG: What other artistic intrigues/hobbies do you have besides music?
Spellcaster: I enjoy working with/editing film and photography. I like building snowmen in the winter times.
Bower: I like to burn images of the Virgin Mary into pieces of toast.
SLUG: What's the creative process you use to come up with material?
Spellcaster: There are some key episodes of Adventure Time that I’ll watch, followed by competing in hula-hoop contests while listening to Ministry. One time I drank over 1,000 Yakults and when I woke up I was made of solid light. I wrote the coolest 8-bar loop of my life after that.
Bower: Make several large pots of coffee and stay up for days and really utilize the delirium from lack of sleep. Oh, and play non-stop Patsy Cline in the background.
SLUG: What's the longest time ever you kept a crowd dancing?
Spellcaster: Gonzaga University flew us out to Washington to play some wild end-of-year hoorah … Things got a bit out of hand. Afterward, there were bodily fluids all over the ground. Bower: Probably about five minutes.
SLUG: Any advice for future aspiring artists and musicians?
Spellcaster: Just listen to your internal Tom-Tom. You can make anything you want. Get comfortable trusting yourself and don’t worry so much about what others think, especially about your creative process.
Bower: Don't be afraid to be ridiculous.
SLUG: Any upcoming gigs we can promote?
Bower: We’re playing June 29 at Urban Lounge for Crucial Fest. Come check ‘er out. Everybody needs to get out and support local! Reindeer pull-ups.
Check out more photos of Muscle Hawk’s show at the Utah Arts Festival here. Find more info and dates on the band by following their Facebook or Reverb Nation.