Localized: Air Vent Dweller
No Such Animal and Air Vent Dweller will co-headline January’s Localized showcase at Kilby Court on Wednesday, January 17 for an unforgettable night of anthemic alternative rock and DIY egg-punk! Doors open at 7 p.m. and grunge-metal group No Jure will kick off the night at 8 p.m. SLUG Localized tickets are $5 and the event is sponsored by Riso-Geist.
“On a YouTube video … somebody commented, ‘This song sounds like a poorly tuned FM radio station. Great job!’ That’s really what we’re going for.” This comment about sums up the music of Air Vent Dweller, the brainchild of bassist Charlie Pell, a multi-instrumentalist and Salt Lake native.
Pell says, “I’ve been trying to make music for a year or two before I actually released something for the first time. From the very beginning, I wanted to make it a punk project … I wanted to do Bauhaus-type stuff, something post-punky, but I found bands like GEE TEE, and I started listening to Devo a lot more. I was just like, ‘this needs to be happening in Salt Lake.’”
“I wanted to do Bauhaus-type stuff, something post-punky, but I found bands like GEE TEE, and I started listening to Devo a lot more. I was just like, ‘this needs to be happening in Salt Lake.’”
The music you hear on their recordings is performed by Pell himself. The live band, however, consists of Pell on bass, Alex Sandoval on keys and guitar, Mikey Sandoval on drums and Snoopy Herron on second guitar. Herron has also produced the bulk of the band’s output, contributing to its signature sound that, on first listen, registers like four-track lofi complete with drum machines and keyboards. It is a sound that has come to be associated with the subgenre “egg-punk.” If you’re unfamiliar, imagine the Zolo stylings of Devo couched in a garage-punk mindset.
It’s this distinctive sound that drew Alex to the band. “I found out about you through Bandcamp,” Alex says on our Zoom call, turning to Pell. “You were the first person in Salt Lake to make egg-punk music and I was like, ‘I need to know that guy.’” Shortly after connecting through Instagram, Alex joined the band along with his brother Mikey on drums. Alex is also the force behind egg-punk outfit Gonk, with whom Air Vent Dweller released a split cassette in March 2023.
Cool and irreverent, Air Vent Dweller’s lyrical themes include cowboys, cannibalism and degrading office work—and the band may or may not have played a gig in a Five Guys Burgers and Fries once. Bracketed with “allegedly,” Pell relates the story to me:
“Me and Snoopy worked at Five Guys for three years. We just quit back in October. But on our last day that we worked there … we allegedly invited the entire store—all of the employees—and we all played a crazy show,” says Pell. Photos from the event show the band members decked out in cherry-red Five Guys shirts, hats and aprons, playing in the sterile, familiar setting of a fast food dining room—a hilariously clean, well-lit place for a punk revue.
“You were the first person in Salt Lake to make egg-punk music and I was like, ‘I need to know that guy.’”
“The show went off without a hitch up until maybe a week after … I posted pictures of it and was being a little ballsier than I maybe should have. I tagged Five Guys’ verified account on the post,” Pell pauses and laughs. “It worked its way up the chain of command and a former manager almost got in a lot of trouble.”
“Allegedly this happened,” I clarify cautiously.
“Allegedly,” the band agrees.
The musical packaging is also the product of a DIY ethos. Pell is the artist behind all of Air Vent Dweller’s covers, two of which have seen physical releases on cassette. The band chalks it up to a retro revival and embraces physical media as an opportunity to extend their artistic intentions and include extra goodies alongside the music—everything from flyers to Pokémon cards. “I’ve sent a couple letters out to, y’know, Germany or Australia,” Pell explains. “Just knowing that there’s some copies just out there … It feels good. Leaving a mark on not only the local scene, but just music in general.”
“Just knowing that there’s some copies just out there … It feels good. Leaving a mark on not only the local scene but just music in general.”
Who knows, maybe next time you’re in Germany or Australia you can pick up an Air Vent Dweller release, or perhaps you’ll see them while you’re waiting in line for a burger. If all else fails, you can catch them in Salt Lake, where they’ve been known to play shows and sell merch at more conventional music venues, too.