Localized: The Insurgency and Hectic Hobo
This month’s Localized, on June 15, showcases two hard-rocking groups of completely different spectrums. Salty old-school punkers The Insurgency and dusty vagabond gypsies Hectic Hobo will share the stage and are sure to generate two sets you can easily jerk your limbs to. To round out the evening, indie-blues cross-pollinators The Red on Black will be opening.
Per usual, the event is 21+ at Urban Lounge, free until 10:30 p.m. then $5 at the door. The show is presented by GigViz.com, the ultimate online-viewing tube for you underage babies, child-addled hermits and those in faraway lands.
Like a true band of misfits, The Insurgency sauntered across The Republican, beers in hand, and introduced themselves with gusto and a few silly jokes. The Insurgency (Doug Walker, vocals; Jeff Kilpatrick, guitar; Jason Heckenible, bass; and Fred Jenkins, percussion) are experienced performers in many walks of music, and have described this particular group, out of all the others they have played with before, as the one that both pushes them the most and works most cooperatively together.
Their hard work has formed a gritty garage punk ensemble that apparently has all the elements—except a steady fanbase. Well, the boys deserve better than that, so let me inform you of the ins and outs of why this band has become another one of my local favorites.
Walker formed The Insurgency more than 10 years ago—the remaining members of the band came together later. “Jeff lives across the street, so he came over and started playing. We lost some members and gained some members … Now, I’m with these guys,” Walker says. When the current lineup began playing together, they all squished claustrophobically into Walker’s basement.
Soon after, they realized Kilpatrick has a large basement that they had been overlooking. It’s been so convenient that, four years later, they’re still playing with the full, live setup at Kilpatrick’s house.
Last December, the band recorded their second album, 121212, and have spent their remaining time playing shows around Salt Lake. “I’ve been in the process of doing all the cover work . We hope to have it all printed up and ready to go for the show in June,” Walker says. The Insurgency tend to pride themselves most on the exceptional sound of their live shows. “A comment that we often get is that the band is really tight.
We rehearse beforehand, so we know what we are going to play before we go on,” Kilpatrick says. At every show, they close with one or two covers, which all members see as important to help give a boost to the bands following them. This rounds out the show, and allows for a reminiscent sense of closure to their set.
“Insurgency” is a loaded word, so I asked Walker to describe to me what his band’s name means to him. “I came up with it with the guy I played with before. To me, it means a rising up or an overcoming,” he says. This weighs heavily on their lyrical content, which tends to be political. “I pull mostly from my school background in political science. I think most of what I have to say has some type of political bend to it—maybe not overtly, but there’s something there,” Walker says.
All four band members adamantly described their music as fast-paced. With their specific focus, The Insurgency feel they can easily set themselves apart in the local music scene. “If you listen to our album and then you listen to us live, you would think either we were better live or just as good as the album,” Walker says. Kilpatrick’s style reinforces the band’s cogent live performance—he says, “I don’t use any guitar pedals or effects.
I plug my guitar straight into the amplifier and go. It doesn’t seem like I see that very often.” According to Jenkins, The Insurgency are multi-dimensional, and are especially good at being obnoxious, in addition to having a “good dynamic range and a real driving feel,” he says. Heckenible, Kilpatrick and Walker played music in Salt Lake long before The Insurgency, so they have a good grasp on how the punk rock scene has changed over the last 10 years.
“Through the years that I’ve played, I’ve noticed a lot of people have matured, and their music has gotten better. There are younger bands coming out, and they’re just kicking our asses, so it’s our job to step it up. Even as a player of my age, I can get a lot of inspiration from the young kids,” Heckenible says. Jenkins has only been in Salt Lake for eight years, but during that time has come to appreciate many things about the local music scene.
He says, “Compared to any place I have ever been, Salt Lake City has an open mind. You can play any type of music here, and often people expect the creativity.” Walker rounds it out with a sentiment I can ALWAYS get behind: “I think Burt’s cleaning up their bathroom has to be the best thing that’s happened to punk rock in the last 10 years … Maybe 20!” he says.
A breeze drifted over the back porch of The Woodshed as four members of Hectic Hobo sloshed their steins of “hef” (or porter) around and laughed raucously. We decided to sit down on the dusty back stage in a powwow circle to make things more personal. Hectic Hobo (Marcus Stevens, bass; Todd Johnson, drums; Hasen Cone, vocals and rhythm guitar; Nicholas Newberry, accordion and harmonica; Eric Peatross, keys; Sam Osimitz, fiddle and saw; and Ranger, lead guitar and banjo) are a band of semi-reckless individuals who play a grimey, American style of nomad rock.
I’ve seen them live a few times, and subsequently had shots of whiskey placed in my fist by one band member or another until I ran away into the night. With this sort of past experience, I was excited for what the interview had in store.
The band formed in March of 2009 between Johnson and Cone, who went to college together. “Todd and I both went to Utah State for school and we both played in other bands up there. We ended up on a spring break trip together in Mexico, and shit got crazy,” Cone says. Since then, members of both of their previous bands have joined together to create the modern hobo troupe.
Every time I get into a conversation about Hectic Hobo, I hear a different description of their music style. I was interested in what the band had to say about their sound. “In my head, it’s a country band, but I don’t know that people describe it that way. We call it Wild West gypsy rock after several attempts at naming it,” Cone says. Newberry agrees.
He says, “I think it’s a melding of styles. I describe it as the Avett Brothers meets Gogol Bordello, a melding between Americana, folk and bluegrass.” After those descriptions, I’m not surprised fans have a hard time articulating what the Hobos play. They mesh together so many different styles of music that, from song to song, you’re hearing different genres.
One of the most interesting aspects of their music, is their choice of lyrical content. “All of our songs are about mischief and mayhem. There is always an element of defying authority or people going crazy,” Cone says. He pauses, and continues, saying, “Every one of our songs are stories that are semi-autobiographical and also fictional. It’s always about someone snapping and doing crazy shit. It’s my interpretation of the fucked up state of the world.”
Stevens piped in with an even more interesting sentiment: “Murder and insanity, drug abuse,” he says. Cone writes the majority of the music and brings it to band members at practice to write their parts for and collaborate on. Because Cone spearheads the writing process, the band moves cohesively from one song to another.
After a year of touring and playing concerts in Salt Lake City, the boys are ready to start recording another album. “Our first album was in 2010 and our second in 2012, so we’re on target to release another in 2014. This will be the best-sounding and most fun album so far. We’ve done the mixing and mastering ourselves in the past. We need an eighth hobo to step in behind the glass,” Johnson says.
The band has picked up a few new members since the last recording session, and this is sure to modify the tone for their third venture. “We have been writing songs with all seven of us. We were a four piece when we recorded the album last year, and now that we have a bass guitar, keys and a fiddle, we’ve been writing parts and having solos for them,” Johnson says. They already have the music written and ready to go (and even practiced), because they currently play their new music at their shows—they just have to find time in their busy touring schedule to record.
The newest member of the band, Stevens, has a grasp on what it’s like to attend a show both as a musician and as a supporter. He says, “Before I was a member, I was a fan, and I think the shows have a lot of good energy. There’s definitely rock n’ roll elements and a little country feature. There’s folk and minor keys that make you feel like you’re hearing music from the East. It’s an all around good experience. Being onstage is even better.”
Before I let them skip back inside to mingle, I asked how they lived up to what Newberry called the “hobo mystique.” Cone told me that both he and Peatross have experienced the traveling lifestyle. “I have a million hitchhiking experiences in my life. Hitching sounds like a scary thing because of the horror-movie influence in America. Really, anyone that is bold enough to pick up a hitchhiker usually has an open personality and vice-versa. Eric, our keyboard player, is an actual hobo,” Cone says.
After an hour of laughing until my ribs ached and a few screams of “Squirrels are bastards!” from Newberry, we all jaunted back inside for yet another beer. This Localized is going to blow the roof off of Urban, and I can’t wait to see it happen.
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