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Westend Recording Studios Presents Amplify KC Vol. 1

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
“Heavier punk or metal is aggressive and comes from a need to tap into that primitive feeling inside of you,” says Justin Mantooth. Mantooth is the house engineer at Westend Recording Studios, a state-of-the-art recording facility tucked into the West Plaza area of town. Westend boasts professional recordings from some of KC’s most well-known rock lineage, from Shiner to Frogpond to Season To Risk, and current groups like Shy Boys, Radkey, and Making Movies. On Monday, the studio released a compilation called Amplify KC Volume 1, featuring some of the city’s heaviest acts.
 
Eleven forceful tracks make up the album, ranging from noise rock to punk to metal to hardcore, skillfully recorded, produced, and mixed by Mantooth and mastered by Mike Nolte (Eureka Mastering). Read our Q&A with Mantooth and get it as a free download here.
 
The Deli: One of the goals of this compilation was to highlight heavy-minded artists. Why do you think these artists tend to be overlooked? 
 
Mantooth: It's not for everyone. It’s less approachable than your electro-pop hipster thing might be to a casual listener. 
 
The Deli: This compilation also showcases the production quality from Westend. Tell us more about the facility.
 
Mantooth: Westend owner Mike Miller has built a professional environment that has a vibe of a time before streaming and MP3s. A time when it was more about the music and not YouTube views. We try to push for "real"-sounding records rather than slick overly produced ones. I take full advantage of new digital tools, don't get me wrong, but my goal isn't to quantize performances into robotic perfection. One thing that may set us apart from other studios is that we still use analog tape often, something that isn't really happening in most studios today. 
 
The Deli: How did you select these particular artists? Highlight a few of them.
 
Mantooth: We put the word out that we wanted to do this compilation and had bands submit to take part. From there I chose the bands I thought I could make a solid production with in a day’s worth of studio time. That wasn't easy to narrow down! I wish I could have recorded 20 bands, but you know it's a lot of work. I'll just highlight the first 3 tracks on the comp because I enjoy everyone on there. 
 
Hyborian: These guys can play and write very slick songs yet keep it heavy. The mix of smooth vocals over raging guitars and big drums is just excellent. 
 
Walking Oceans: Just listen to their entire track. It is a rollercoaster ride of badassery. Instrumental music that doesn't leave you wondering when the vocal section is going to start. Really good band. 
 
Bluehealer: These dudes are young and they play like it. With no fear at all. They throw down. Taking somewhat simple chords and ideas and just thrashing them hard. They remind me of some of my favorite bands and I enjoyed getting that sound for them. 
 
The Deli: What can we in the KC music scene do to support bands in the hardcore/metal/punk/heavy rock scene? What should bands do to get their name out there? 
 
Mantooth: That's a good question. The biggest thing is go out and see bands live. Buy their merch. We live in a time when there are a million reasons to just stay home. We don't have the same attendance at shows that was the norm 15 to 20 years ago. I think one good idea is having more diverse lineups at local shows. We don't need to see 5 similar metal bands at 1 show. I played a show on NYE with Jorge Arana Trio, Sharp Weapons, Sundiver, and Bummer. All very different, but it went really well. People like to hear diversity and sometimes bills are stacked with too much of the same. And usually half of the lineup is terrible just to keep the genres the same. 
 
The Deli: Name a few must-see KC bands that people may not know about. It doesn't have to be limited to bands on this compilation; perhaps even some that didn't make the cut.
 
Mantooth: All of these bands are bands I want people to know about. Bummer is a must see. They always bring the beef. Hammerlord didn't work out as far as being on the compilation, but they are great. 
 
Check out Amplify KC Vol. 1 on Bandcamp!
 
--Michelle Bacon
 

 

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Q&A with Sneaky Creeps' Andrew Erdrich

(Photo by Brittany Ficken) 
 
The self-proclaimed no coast grunge-punk trio making up Sneaky Creeps released their sophomore album Negative Space in the spring, recorded/produced at Element Recording with Joel Nanos. Andrew Erdrich (guitar/vocals) and Max Crutcher (drums/vocals) combine forces in delivering gritty, riff-heavy melodies that pair perfectly with the band's more or less signature yell/talk vocal dynamic, while Isaac Ahloe (bass) holds it down heavy with aggressive yet crisp bass lines.

The first track "Living Beneath," a little under two minutes long, sets off like a firework leading you emphatically into a slower paced, rhythmic anthem "Antisocial," with a catchy, self-titled hook. "D.M.T.N.Y." and "Skeleton Key" really stand out later on, personally piquing my curiosity on the band's live delivery of these particular tracks.

Guitar and vocalist Andrew Erdrich happily obliged to answer some questions earlier this week about the band's latest album and tonight's show.

The Deli: You released Negative Space on 4/20. Is the album just available digitally right now or will there be records for sale?
 
Erdrich: The album is available as an obsolete cassette or CD [and also for sale at sneakycreeps.bandcamp.com].

The Deli: How long did the recording process take you?
 
Erdrich: The recording took about 6 days spread over 2 months.

The Deli: Is this your sophomore album?
 
Erdrich: We consider this our first full-length, but that's debatable.

The Deli: Who's writing the music? Everyone or someone specifically?
 
Erdrich: Max and I write the music and Isaac writes the vast majority of his bass lines. Max and I collaborate on lyrics.

The Deli: Where do your inspirations for song writing/sound/content come from?
 
Erdrich: I tend to write more directly and Max tends to be a bit more poetic. The content usually reflects our lives: frustrations, sleeping (or lack thereof), questions of technology, social economy, and values. We stay away from melodrama and emphasize ennui.

The Deli: Tell us about the show tonight at The Middle East.
 
Erdrich: We're playing with a band called Bad History Month. Max found them online and sought them out to play a show. They're from Massachusetts, touring with another band from Indiana named Dust From 1000 Years.
 
The Deli: What are your upcoming tour plans?
 
Erdrich: Tour plans for October and we have tapes and CDs for sale at Mills Record Company, Zebedee's and Vinyl Renaissance.
 
Erdrich also adds that the band plans to hit the road in October.
 
--Leslie Kinsman
 
Leslie Kinsman is a freelance writer and blogger, most recently contributing for The Pitch. A founding member of the music venue FOKL Center, Kinsman also runs her own blog wunderhub, where she features local fashion, music and art pieces. Keep your eye out for wunderhub Radio, a weekly collaborated playlist released for free by Rory Cameron of The Conquerors.
 
 
 

Be sure to catch Sneaky Creeps live at The Middle East tonight (59th and Spruce), show starts at 8 pm. Facebook event page. Also, you can pick up a copy of Negative Space at Mills Record Company, Zebedee’s, and Vinyl Renaissance

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Album review: Red Kate/The Bad Ideas split 7" record

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
The sound of rock ‘n roll, serious dyed in the wool; real rock ‘n roll blasting through my speakers rejuvenates my tattered and weary soul. I’ve grown tired of the indie/college rock/shoegaze types; to me, music (rock especially) should be like sex: I’ll take a quick five-minute explosion of passion and true power over an hour of half-hearted posturing mediocrity any day.
 
The upcoming split single from KC bands Red Kate (pictured above) and The Bad Ideas, being released by Mills Record Company, is anything but a boring rock roll in the hay; it is rock ‘n roll laid out by two bands that clearly know how it is done.
 
Red Kate, the pinko commies from the Heartland whose sound is equal parts The Clash, The Saints, and Chuck Berry, continually put out music that is catchy, thought-provoking and top shelf. Its two offerings to the 7” are no exception. They are exactly what you would expect from Shawn and Company: fast and as invigorating as Bruce Lee kicking you straight into an ice-covered lake.
 
“On My Mind” is good ol’ sing-along punk rock. Red Kate gets to the point and breaks down the key ingredient of what makes music so addictive, how you should be as a player, someone that people will always follow: “Keep moving forward / leave them wanting more.” Rock steady drum, silky smooth bass, flamethrower guitar, and a run time of just over two minutes is a recipe for success in this ADHD world.
 
“I got new dreams and I’m gonna make ‘em real” is the fuse that light’s “New Dreams.” Repeating that line over and over as the band plays at breakneck speed, “New Dreams” molds itself into a mantra that becomes part of your brain, making you believe that these guys truly know what they want and where they’re going, and you buy what they’re selling. Red Kate clearly knows what it wants, has its convictions, and is willing to put it all out there. Lucky for us, the group is willing to lay it down on wax too. Editor’s note: “New Dreams” is originally a Naked Raygun song, written by Santiago Durango.
 
Since first hearing Patti Smith first belt out “Piss Factory,” Ann Wilson blowing my doors off with “Barracuda,” Kathleen Hanna singing about a “Rebel Girl,” or PJ Harvey saying she’s “Man Size,” I’ve thought women fronting bands—punk rock bands especially—is incredible and hot. Sure, that statement will probably get me shit for being chauvinist or whatever but I don’t care. A woman laying it all out there is amazing. Breaka Dawn of The Bad Ideas certainly will continue my fascination with frontwomen. The Bad Ideas’ contributions “Apocalypse Detroit” and “I’m Stuck” show that, like their partners in crime, they speak what they believe. They don’t play pretend when they play punk rock, they ARE punk rock.
 
The drums, guitar, and bass are as wild, hectic, and ramshackle as the subject matter. It’s two minutes and six seconds of chaos and anarchy. Quality punk rock visiting time-tested themes of punk: a system collapsing upon itself, choosing what side to be on, standing up for yourself, it’s all there and it’s done well.
 
“I’m Stuck,” the other is a California hardcore at its finest. It’s fast, disaffected, and bitches about the way people are treated in America. In short, it’s about being stuck in a rut dug by society. I’m sure we’ve all been there once or twice.
 
This split 7” shows that, even in America’s Heartland, people can be pissed, disillusioned, bored, and generally defeated by life. The key is to turn that into gnashing of teeth and let it boil over into creativity. These bands have certainly done that.
 
--Danny R. Phillips
 
Danny has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others.
 
 
Join Red Kate and The Bad Ideas at the album release party this Saturday at Harling’s. Faultfinder, Bruiser Queen (St. Louis), and Crushed Out (Brooklyn) will also play. Starts at 8 p.m. Facebook event page.

 

 

 

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