Localized: PERSONA 749
Don’t miss the latest edition of SLUG’s Localized concert series at Kilby Court on Thursday, July 13! Find a winning trio of rock artists in co-headliners Jon Bean & the Eyerollers and Persona 749 and opener Health Care. Doors are at 7, music starts at 8 and Localized is sponsored by Riso-Geist. A thank you to Handlebar for allowing us to shoot the photos there.
Sitting down with PERSONA 749 was a full display of “bromance”—the lounging, party-rocking cast of characters (including myself) treats this interview more as a basement hangout than “getting down to brass tacks.” Although this session reminds me of summer nights of harmless mischief with the boys, I feel somewhat underdressed for the occasion: Lead singer/guitarist Che Landikusic and keyboardist Landon Langenbrunner wear tucked-in dress shirts and slacks, bassist Michael Bloom dons a Top Gun–style bomber jacket and drummer Ryan Ross wears a silk dress for comfort and style. The only one missing from the rogue gallery is their guitarist Lyman Gatz, who was away during this interview.
PERSONA 749 is one of those Salt Lake bands that is heavily intertwined with its homegrown roots through background and lyrics. The band’s name itself takes inspiration from Landikusic’s childhood home address. “I was super into electronic music when we first started … 749 sounded really interesting,” he says. “My mom loves that we included it.”
“I was super into electronic music when we first started … 749 sounded really interesting,” he says. “My mom loves that we included it.”
The band’s humble beginning started when Landikusic met Langenbrunner on the University of Utah hockey team. “We started to pick [playing music] up by going to boring parties … We played a couple of shows as a two-piece,” Landikusic says. One hazy night at a party during their freshman year, Gatz would meet the two and the trio would join forces for garages, basements and house parties to come. The three recruited Ross a few months later. Now with percussion to back up the band, the final missing piece came last September. Bloom, who played in the Arizona band Dole Whip, moved to the Beehive State and joined PERSONA 749 as bassist (and roommate).
The five members are still on the path of sonic self discovery. “I don’t think we’ve found our style yet … we’re still growing,” says Landikusic. There is a touch of melodic indie rock here, a microdose of alt-electronic pop there and a splash of punk ballads constantly intermixed. You can hear these experimental vibes in their single “Rum-Soaked Haircuts” with cover art featuring Hunter S. Thompson’s symbol of his infamous, crimson double-thumb fist. “That’s a deep cut right there,” says Landikusic, who doesn’t seem to even remember making or recording.
“Bands used to release records because that’s how you did it—going into a studio and producing it—but now you can just basically press a button to release a song.”
Their crawfish boil of sights and sounds became more apparent when the band posed a provocation for themselves to craft 15 songs in 15 weeks. Many of these singles had been on the back burner, resting on an archived laptop hard drive for months. It was this “creative cleanse” that opened up the group’s range. Listeners were kept on their toes every Saturday as the band bent between genres upon each single release. “One week, it would be this really punky track. The next, there would be one that can be described as written poetry,” Ross says. Most days were spent in a time crunch with slight rewrites, full re-recordings and last-minute bolt tightenings. “Those were some stressful weeks,” says Langenbrunner. “Some nights, you were up until four in the morning just trying to get it finished.” Those 15 weeks might’ve been anxiety-inducing, but it’s a time the group think about fondly.
As July’s Localized inches closer, the band seems to have a lax authenticity to their expected performance. PERSONA 749 has changed scenery from hockey pads and pucks to rocking out on stage, but this fresh start, along with the high-speed streaming services of today, have inspired these tinkering musicians to take a risk. “Bands used to release records because that’s how you did it—going into a studio and producing it—but now you can just basically press a button to release a song,” Landikusic says. “So, I think we just looked at each other thinking, ‘Why aren’t we doing that?’”