Music Without The Middleman: Visitors, Heartless Breakers, Eidola and Visioneer to Play Urban Lounge

Posted August 20, 2013 in

Eidola will play this locally organized showcase on Aug. 23 with Visioneer, Visitors and Heartless Breakers at Urban Lounge. Paul Black from Black Marble Photography

In a land where music is thriving, flourishing, with shows aplenty and bands sprouting left and right, there's a lot of noise in the air. With so much to listen to and often multiple shows to catch every night, it's a constant game of compromise and discovery, but there's one in particular that I'd like to draw your attention to. On Aug. 23, four hard-working, incredibly-talented local bands are combining their powers into one hell of a bill designed to spread their own particular brands of badassery into the airwaves. I met up with a bunch of these guys at the Beer Hive to get the low-down on the show, and it was a hell of a fun time. Just one conversation with this group, and it's clear that they've got a lot of passion for their craft and a lot of love for the scene. 

Originally spearheaded by Ian Cooperstein of Visitors, the local experimental rock band that I reviewed earlier this year, this show itself is an experiment and a labor of love. The idea itself came from an earlier show with Visitors and Visioneer, a rousing artistic success but mostly enjoyed by an empty room at the end of the night. “When we played a show last time,” says Matt Woodmansee of Visioneer, “I saw [Visitors] and I had fun watching these guys, but I was looking around and thinking, 'Man, I wish somebody saw that shit.'” Cooperstein agrees as he says, “It was the best Visitors show we've ever played, and I was walking around while we were playing with this 90-foot mic cable, walking up to the bar—there was nobody there.” Cooperstein explains that they decided to put together their own show to see if they can nail down the formula to keeping people from wandering out in between sets: “I didn't want to deal with that presale shit. The people that show up are doing it because you basically strong-armed them into coming, and they don't stick around for the other bands. I wanted a show that everyone would enjoy. We didn't do that thing where the promoter sticks [every genre] of band together, and there are four opening bands and none of them fit together. Visitors sat down and handpicked the bands ,” he says.
Playing this gig is more than just doing something cool with bands that fit together. Ditching a promoter and putting the show together themselves means that all of the money goes to the bands, giving some of these smaller bands a chance to leave a legacy. “It's just a way for the bands to get money to make merch and promote themselves and do what they can to record the music that they have,” Cooperstein says. “There are so many bands in Salt Lake that write amazing songs, and shit happens or they can't afford it, and then they break up before they can record anything.” While the show was initially announced as a tour kick-off between Visitors and Eidola, that was more of a marketing trick than anything else. Laughing about the tour falling through, Cooperstein says, “We booked the show at Urban way before that. It wasn't booked as a tour kick-off—we just thought, 'How do we get our friends to come drink with us at this show? OK, we'll say we're leaving for a week!'”
There are plenty of horror stories and bad vibes about promoters treating bands and fans both like shit. Even SLUG's Dear Dickheads article this month mentions a particular bad apple with the “Dick Snoozy-sounding name” who has a nasty habit of ripping people off. With this show doing away with promoters altogether, I figured these were the perfect guys who could explain why people in this town hate promoters so much, but they were first ones to defend the practice—albeit with some caveats. “We're saying promoter like it's a bad word, but it's not,” says Woodmansee. “We need the promoters. We need people that are super-motivated and putting shows together for the right reasons. We're talking about the assholes that come in and look at it as a business opportunity. Promoters kick ass. Lots of them know what's up, and they're trying to make it in music because they love music.” Bryan Lee of both Visitors and Heartless Breakers agrees, saying, “Instead of helping bands, [some promoters] are taking advantage and not holding up their end of the deal. When you have a promoter who is on the same page as the musicians and works just as hard at getting people there, you have a great relationship.” Matt Mascarenas of Heartless Breakers thinks that it's mostly the echoes of old monopolies. “I feel like the reason it was such a big problem was this last-year-or-two cycle where all the bands were getting funneled through the promoters. I think everybody is fending for themselves [now]. I don't think it's hatred— I just don't think they get taken seriously anymore.” David Lindblad of Visioneer laughs and says, “It's ruined their power over it all!”
So what about that handpicked lineup? “I wanted a show that everyone would enjoy,” says Cooperstein. “We've got Bryan's other project, [Heartless Breakers], that's kind of similar, but kind of catchy, and then there's [Visitors], and Eidola is more like Visitors, and Visioneer is kind of in the middle. [They're] bands that we thought kill it live. I didn't want bands that were lazy [performers]—I wanted bands that put on a good show and deliver what they put on CD.” Lee chimes in to say, “And bands that are fans of the other bands.”
Probably the catchiest selection on the bill, Heartless Breakers are also the most recently formed, performing their debut show at the Shred Shed on May 29 and releasing their EP on July 23. After the demise of Daytrader, Mascerenas decided to fly back home and start a new band with vocalist Chase Griffis, who suggested rounding out the group with Lee as a guitarist. “We talked about it for a few weeks before I moved back, and the first time we met up we wrote “Bitter Melodies” and just kept doing it,” says Mascerenas. “[Heartless Breakers] wasn't super premeditated with an ultimate goal right away. We took our time [to] play together and started liking what we were doing, gaining direction as we were going.” Recording as a three-piece, Heartless Breakers normally plays live as a six-piece, including Chris Farnworth on bass. There was a plan of attack to add new members to the band, planning on planting seeds and slowly convincing each member to join, but partying at the Shred Shed derailed it a bit. Farnworth laughs as Mascerenas recounts the story: “One night drunk at the Shred Shred, I was like, 'You should be our bassist.' I showed up the next day, [had to tell the guys] 'Hey, I asked Chris—did not go with our plan. Sorry, I was drunk.' It worked out.”
Already a project started by Daniel Burt and Ian Hilton before adding the rest of the group, Visitors slowly trickled a lineup together before hitting the sweet spot. “I knew of Visitors before it was Visitors—I think even before Bryan joined it,” says Cooperstein. Despite digging the demos they sent him, it took a while to convince Cooperstein to join, not wanting to commit to a new project that still needed half its members. “When I found out Bryan joined [to play drums]—our old bands had played some shows together – I [decided] I could hang with that,” he says. Bringing over Cameron Jorgenson, drummer from Dustbloom, wasn't originally the plan, but Cooperstein explains that it was pretty hard to resist his enthusiasm: “Cameron would show up to Dustbloom practice every day, trying to drop all these subtle hints. 'Dude, I've been playing bass—I've been playing bass, you guys.'” While Visitors already had a bassist, it never felt like the right fit, especially with a commitment to a family and kids on the side. After giving Jorgenson a shot, it ended up being the perfect way to round out the lineup. “I should have [brought him] sooner—he's just awesome,” says Cooperstein.
Sometimes it's not old friends that end up starting a band, but old enemies—such is the case with Eidola. “My guitarist [Matthew Dommer] and I were in two separate bands, and he fucking hated me in high school,” says Wells, laughing. “I was that weird kid that played in the hall and didn't talk to anybody.” When Dommer's band broke up and Wells moved back to Utah after a brief stint playing in Boston, it only took a few random jamming sessions for old enemies to end up new friends. Recruiting James Johnson on bass and eventually picking up drummer Matt Hansen, Eidola finally found themselves with a stable lineup to start exploring their new sound. Wells says, “After [finding Hansen], we worked on a full-length for about a year, basically recording it ourselves with a friend who did it for free. We paid him in beer, sexual favors, all sorts of things. It was a fun process.”
Visioneer formed even more organically, starting out with Woodmansee and Lindblad jamming in a basement with friends and other local musicians. “I met [Woodmansee] through recording, a long time ago, doing some rough tracks for him and the band A Skeleton's Novel,” says Lindblad. After a brief period of revolving musicians with all sorts of different styles, Visioneer ended up forming into what it is now and becoming an official thing. Well aware of the tight-knit musical community in SLC, Woodmansee laughs about the process of forming bands. “It's 'Small Lake City', you just run into people,” he says.
Leaving room for a final marketing pitch, I'll let the bands sum it all up. “If you show up with the intention of drinking and hanging out, you're going to have a good time. At the worst, you might listen to a couple songs and then go back to talking with your friends,” says Cooperstein. Woodmansee drives the point home, saying, “If you like musicianship and this kind of loud music, you're going to enjoy the whole ride … [Visitors] found the right guys.”
With four great bands at a venue as chill as the Urban Lounge and a $5 cover charge at the door, there's no reason to miss this show. Come check it out this Friday (Aug. 23), and also check out the Facebook event page to RSVP and grab links to music from each of the bands.


Eidola will play this locally organized showcase on Aug. 23 with Visioneer, Visitors and Heartless Breakers at Urban Lounge. Paul Black from Black Marble Photography Visioneer's Matt Woodmansee is one of the many playing the part of promoter for this show. Recently formed Heartless Breakers will fill Urban Lounge with catchy tunes. Photo: Everett Fitch Visitors' Ian Cooperstein helped spearhead this labor-of-love local show. Photo: Gavan Nelson