Cover Story: A.U.
It’s about time … I finally had an interview and got some information that helped me put together a story about a band. Jon Shuman (singer/guitarist) sat and shot the shit with me before he did an acoustic show last night. Getting information was not the least bit difficult. One thing about him is he has plenty of opinions about music, his band A.U. and the world around us. Nothing about our conversation surprised me, except that we got through the whole thing without one argument.
A.U. came together almost a year ago in Jon and Jamie’s apartment. Jamie Shuman, the latest addition to the band as vocalist, Fisher Price percussionist and co-lyricist, was actually one of the founding members. Since his arrival to the band he has added spontaneity and a whole lot of stage presence to their live act. Jon and Jamie have worked together since the early eighties in Massacre Guys, and again with Boxcar Kids. Now as a duo front team, they create a definite feeling when they play.
Todd Hanson (bass) and John Heuttlinger (drums) pull more than their fair share of the weight as one of the most solid rhythm sections in town. You may have seen John’s drumming with Subject To Change and Boxcar Kids and his drumming has only improved. John joins Jamie as the more passive half of the band, while Jon and Todd are a little more hot headed. It all seems to balance out to make up one of Salt Lake’s more interesting bands.
When I asked Jon what they were trying to do with their music, he said they were Utah’s absolute non-trend band, and he is right. They sing songs criticizing flannel-wearing Seattle types who follow any trend that comes along. Their music is just hard, and at times even abrasive. But as I thought about it, I find they have the same quality as bands like Sonic Youth or The Jesus Lizard. I didn’t like their music at first, but as I listened to it more and more it has really grown on me. I find myself and others talking about that one A.U. song that seems to stick in their heads. The music is hard driving but it has definite underlying melodic qualities that make it interesting.
The only preconceived idea the band had about their music was that they weren’t going to be another white-funk band. Even though they have all heavy funk influences with John, Jon and Jamie all played with Boxcar Kids. Jon feels the music they are doing now is more along the lines of Massacre Guys and will probably continue in that same vein. The lyrics aren’t as harsh as the music. Jon says their lyrics all fall in three categories: one: How fucked up they are; Two: How fucked up everybody else is’. And three beer idiocy and ineptitude. The band steers away from writing real political music. The music is just about being in a fucked up place at a fucked up time and dealing with it. These guys have all been around for a long time and don’t seem to be in any hurry to get out of here. They have all been involved in the Salt Lake music scene for a long time, and A.U. should become a solid part of what is going on here now.
Jon feels like they have a unique sound mostly because they have tried to avoid being another Nirvana be flannel-glam-grunge-galore or wanna-be Bad Yodelers, which he feels is plaguing most of the bands in town right now. His only real complaint about Salt Lake’s music scene is that MouthBreather broke up and he seems to think this is a tragedy of sorts. The band plans to be doing mostly 7″ records and will be hitting the independent labels hard. He seemed quite optimistic about the recordings they just finished and we should see something from them soon.
Immediate plans include performing locally in hopes of getting people to really listen to their music. This summer, they will hit the road for a short while and then head back to Salt Lake to push their music more here.
If you know any of these guys or have seen them play, you will know they are quite serious. They have a laid-back attitude on stage and, claim they are from a small town, in Florida where they all worked for a brewery. But they don’t take what they put into their music lightly. It is a great collection of personalities and talent, and if they make the right moves they could be a very important part of what happens in this town.
Come out and check them out sometime. Don’t let the distortion, volume or screaming put you off. Have a beer, tap your feet and give a listen because you will either love them or hate them. A sure sign of a good band.
Check out more from the SLUG Archives:
Cover Story: Waterfront
Decomposers: Adding Humor to the Intensity of Life
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