To Denver's music scene, the month before Christmas might be more important than any gifts they'll receive this holiday season. The team at 93.3FM KTCL dawn their holly, their jolly, and hunker down in their secret lair beginning in November to decide which local bands deserve a chance at glory this year. For those of you new to this Denver musical holiday tradition, KTCL's "Hometown For the Holidays" competition is the annual chance for locals to have their music critiqued by many of Denver's tastemakers. Out of the hundreds of song entries received, the top ten tracks as voted by the panel become a part of KTCL's radio rotation for a week, allowing listeners to become familiar with the songs and then vote for their favorites using music surveys. The three bands with the most votes play a show at Cassleman's mid-December for a chance to win $1,000 and the opening slot at next year's "Not So Silent Night". Past winners include Churchill, Air Dubai, The Epilogues, and My Body Sings Electric...that's definitely a club any local band would be honored to be a part of. To help celebrate this season of local music domination, we've dedicated the next two weeks of New Music Tuesdays to bands hoping to make their way into the "top ten". This week we talked to two newcomers to the local scene, Amzy and One Flew West, to introduce our listeners to the bands, and see just what it means to be a part of this competition. (questions from Ultra5280 will be marked with "MC" for Maddie Casey, answers will be marked by the band members name)
AMZY - Denver, CO - talking with lead singer Brennan Johnson.
MC: Amzy is a fresh face in the local music scene this year, but many of you have been playing in different bands for awhile now. What was it like coming up in the Denver music scene, and what led you all to AMZY?
BJ: We love Denver's music scene and have always looked at it as the perfect hotspot for new bands. The locals are very engaging and there's a feeling of community as you stand in the crowd during a show... AMZY originally began as an experimental collaboration project between Sean and I. Nick went to high school with Sean and I and had been in a band with me in 2006, but we asked him to "come out of retirement" to play bass. Wes already has experienced fame as the drummer of Denver locals Fox Field Four and we fully support his efforts to play in both bands at once (but we secretly want him for ourselves)... The sense of community really brings us together and doesn't give way to competition. In the end, everybody has a similar dream and wants to have fun along the way.
MC: You guys won ne of KTCL's Demo Derby's this summer. How was it interacting on such a close level with so many other local artists? Or working with KTCL?
BJ: It was really remarkable for all these great local bands to be in one place together and it gave us an opportunity to discuss music styles and listen to the flavors of the (Denver) scene. Nobody knew who we were and it gave us the opportunity to really put ourselves out there and learn from the bands around us. Working with KTCL is one of those "wouldn't that be awesome?" dreams you have as a struggling local musician. The DJ's have a lot of influence and status in this music scene, but we were gladly surprised by how friendly they were and their eagerness to talk about the "ins" and "outs" of the industry.
MC: Your music has a bit of an eclectic feel to it - do you identify with any particular genre?
BJ: We're afraid of this question. Seriously, whenever somebody asks us what genre we're in we just look at each other and wait for somebody to give it a shot. We have a "musical ADHD" problem and sometimes our ideas come from opposite ends of the spectrum, but we love experimenting and seeing what we end up with.
MC: What was it like recording and writing this first EP?
BJ: We wrote and recorded the EP in a house in Dillon, CO with producer Joe Richmond, formerly of Churchill and current drummer of the band Navy. We brought all the equipment in two vehicles and set up our own private recording studio in a living room and played music for 3 days. The entire experience was unforgettable and the quiet mountain solitude gave us a clear perspective to write and be fully creative.
MC: Tell me a bit about your new single "5 to Midnight" that released this past weekend.
BJ: "5 to Midnight" is a tribute to the perspective we have when we are younger. You're always having fun and tend to live in the moment and assume you'll have a "happily ever after" in your future, but too often the transition into adulthood brings a reality that rarely accomadates a dreamer. So we drop the dreaming, quit pretending, and start planning, but we fail to realize that we can maintain that youthful mindset and allow ourselves to have some fun, dream, and have a "happily ever after".
MC: What's coming up next for AMZY?
BJ: We plan to release another new single in the upcoming weeks leading up to the release off our EP "We Don't Walk We Dance" at the end of the year. We're hoping to celebrate with everyone at our EP Release shows at Moe's BBQ in Englewood on January 23rd.
MC: "Hometown for The Holidays" has played a significant role in breaking some of Denver's most promising acts on a national level - what does it feel like to be a part of this event?
BJ: At this point in time nothing as been said in regard to the Top Ten, but we're really happy to have been a part of an event that has so many amazing, talented local bands involved. We'll be there regardless to cheer on the winners!
MC: One last question, so what's AMZY's pre or post-show snack?
BJ: Woah, that's a tricky question. We love to dance with the crowd, so we try to avoid eating anything that would result in a food coma pre-show. However, we can't resist Illegal Pete's and a beer!
ONE FLEW WEST - a chat with lead singer Linden Jackson
MC: You guys have been more or less performing together since 2010, but under a different name until recently. Tell our readers a little bit about your roots, and the bands slow but steady progression to where you are now.
LJ: Well, the whole thing sort of began during freshman year of high school. Jonah (the drummer) and I were both kinda weird kids who hated our school at the time, so when he asked me to be in a band with him I jumped on the opportunity! From there, he introduced me to David and we all just started writing crappy high-schooley rock songs and over the next 5 years, we just worked as hard as we could to make our band the best thing it could be!
MC: From "Continuum" to now “One Flew West”, why’d you guys finally change your name?
LJ: Its kind of funny because I was never a big fan of the name "Continuum" to begin with, but the main reasons that we changed it was one, because John Mayer has an album called Continuum and that made it pretty much impossible for people to find us online, and two, because there were just so many other bands with the same name that promoters would always screw up our links whenever we would play anywhere.
MC: For someone who's never heard your band before, how would you describe your music?
LJ: Our music has changed quite a bit since our last record, but I would describe it as heavy, high energy, folk influenced rock. As a songwriter I take a lot of influence from guys like Frank Turner, The Black Keys, Tom Waits, etc.
MC: You guys have taken advantage of the local music scene here, playing with other local groups big and small, and playing a wide variety of shows and venues. What’s it been like growing up and then growing into Colorado’s music scene?
LJ: Being a part of the Denver/Colorado music scene has been such an insanely rewarding and incredible experience. We have gotten to meet and play with so many talented groups of people, and looking back on the last few years, its so incredible how many people took a chance on us and helped us grow to get where we are at right now.
MC: A few of you are students of the Music & Entertainment Industry Studies program at the University of Colorado Denver…many other local musicians have been a part of that program as well. What’s it like majoring in music in college?
LJ: So far, being a part of the CU Denver music program is by far the most fun and rewarding thing I've ever done. I just recently decided to start studying music business and its incredible how tied in to the community the program is, as well as how many opportunities can sprout from being a part of it.
MC: You guys just finished recording a new album at The Blasting Room - what was that like?
LJ: Recording at the Blasting Room was absolutely out of this world for us. The sound up there is batshit awesome in comparison to anything that we have ever done before, and we ended up with two songs that we are really proud of. Also I've always been into punk rock, so when we first walked in and I saw all those Rise Against and Black Flag records, I was pretty much in heaven.
MC: When can we hear all these new jams?
LJ: We are going to be dropping both of our new songs "Kind Of Love," and "Silhouette," on Dec 6th. The songs are going to be available on itunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, I Heart Radio, and whatever else you can think of!
MC: Hometown For The Holidays is just around the corner. What does it mean to you all to be a part of this competition?
LJ: We are incredibly stoked to be a part of the competition this year! Its our first time entering under our new name and we really tried to write one of the best songs we could, but at this point all we can do is cross our fingers and not stress too hard about it. Also, can we just talk about how awesome it is that the folks at KTCL are willing to go through 300+ submissions a year, and give up valuable radio time just so that some deserving local bands can be heard?!? Thats pretty rad.
MC: Agreed! So much love to the team at KTCL. When can fans see you live next?
LJ: Our Next show is going to be on Friday Dec 6th at the Marquis! We are going to be the direct support for Chemistry Club's CD Release show. Foxfield Four and Bear. are also on the bill for that show. YAY SCIENCE!
MC: and finally, my “Locals Only” question…what is your band’s favorite pre or post-show snack?
LJ: Oooo thats a hard one...if we are in Denver its gotta be Marquis pizza or Two Fisted Marios, if we are in Fort Collins its definitely Canes Chicken Fingers. Anywhere else, Chipotle wins