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Wednesday, July 9,2014

Lansing rock city

A chat with six up-and-coming local acts

by City Pulse
Lansing’s booming rock scene has thrust several local bands into the national spotlight. Just look at Dominic John Davis: Last year he was rocking the Green Door, this year he performed on the Grammy Awards with Jack White. Local boy rocks hard.

To celebrate the success of Davis and Cheap Girls, which is in the middle of yet another national tour, we tracked down some locals who have either started hitting it big or are knocking on the door. Also: We learned that a band can realistically compare itself to an artichoke without sounding ridiculous. Who knew?

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Q&A: Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

•••••••••••••• interview with joe hertler, 25, Guitar and vocals

How would you describe the Lansing music scene? It’s in its own little bubble. It doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. Lansing’s not really thought of as musical, but there are a lot of really talented bands. I like to be a group that represents that. All people here are really proud to be from and making music in Lansing. It’s a cool place.

What’s the coolest place you’ve been on tour and why? Electric Forest last weekend was pretty frickin' awesome. Nothing beats it. Big festivals mean you’re in for an adventure and that’s what it’s about. It’s getting there and getting to connect with a whole lot of people.

Who is one of your biggest influences musically? We listen to the Kendrick Lamar discography a lot. And D’Angelo. There’s no artist more influential than D’Angelo. Though our music doesn’t sound like it, we listen to a lot of neo-soul and R&B. I like dance, house and techno, and pull a lot from it.

What are you up to next? We’re releasing a record and that will probably be out this fall. Up next is Hoxeyville, Blissfest and Common Ground. We’re perfecting our craft and working our hardest to keep doing this. The next step is turning this part-time job into a full-time job.

Upcoming gig: Common Ground Music Festival, Riverfront Park, Lansing, Sunday, July 13

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Q&A: Frontier Ruckus

••••••• interview with matthew milia, 28, guitar, harmonica, pedal steel, vocals

Best gig in Lansing ever? When we won the MSU Battle of the Bands in 2006. It’s still one of our best days ever. It was immediate success in such a small way, but felt like we were winning the World Cup. We still have the cardboard check they gave us.

How would you describe the Lansing music scene? East Lansing is a college town, so no one sticks around for longer than four years. It continually regenerates itself as the bands move on.

What’s the coolest place you’ve been on tour and why? On our first European tour, our show in Amsterdam got canceled so we ended up booking a weird show at a 14th-century cathedral in a small (Netherlands) farm town, Noordbroek. The whole town came out and bought our CDs, it was great. We always make sure to go back there. On our last tour we played at (Silencio), David Lynch’s club in Paris. It was three stories underground. (There were) French actresses buying us drinks.

What are you up to next? We are doing the East Coast in August. Come November, once the album comes out, we are doing a world tour. I have the next two records written. Having time off means having more songs then we know what to do with.

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Q&A: Wayne Szalinski

•••••••••••••• interview with Andy Milad, 21, vocals

What is the story behind your band name? We named ourselves after Rick Moranis’ character in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” It was chosen rather haphazardly, (but) we’ve come to appreciate (it).

Best gig in Lansing ever? The most recent time we played at (East Lansing’s) Hariet Brown (house). The energy filling that tiny garage was overwhelming.

How would you describe the Lansing music scene? The best aspect of the musical community in Lansing has to be the house shows. There aren’t many, but when we can pack a basement with friends and fellow musicians it’s an absolute treasure.

What are some Lansing area bands /musicians you would recommend? Gue Chevara, Wet T- Shirt Contest, Absolute Boyfriend, alone@home and Anders Mildieu.

What’s your favorite Lansing food spot? Emo’s on Trowbridge when we’re feeling blue, Woody’s Oasis for most other moods. Honorable mention goes to the off-brand Papa John’s on Michigan Avenue.

Upcoming gig: Audiotree Music Festival, District Square, Kalamazoo, Sept. 6

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Q&A: The Devil’s Cut

••••••••• interview with Max Gaugush, 26, acoustic guitar and vocals

What is the story behind your band name?

There’s a process in making whiskey where some of the whiskey gets absorbed into the barrel. That portion of the loss is called “the devil’s cut.”

Best gig in Lansing ever? We did this show with the Goddamn Gallows earlier in the year at the Avenue (Caf'). Fantastic turnout, awesome energy. They had to wrap mattresses around one of the support beams because people kept running into it, we blew out a couple of the house speakers. We needed a couple people from the crowd to run security.

Who is one of your biggest influences musically? Eric Peterson from the band Mischief Brew from Philadelphia. He's a folk/punk musician. He's a fantastic writer. Andrew Jackson Jihad, I've been trying to get together a gig with them, but they are a bunch of busy guys. Against Me! would be another big one. Good on Laura Jane Grace, the shit she must have gone through the past couple years, I don't know how she does it coming out as transgender and touring as a musician at the same time. More power to her.

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Q&A: The Goddamn Gallows

•••••••••••••• interview with fishgutzzz, 33, upright bass

What is the story behind your band name? At first we were just the Gallows, but there was a band in the UK named the Gallows so we changed it out of anger that they had the name already.

How would you describe the Lansing music scene? It’s been great for the most part. There are many great bands in Lansing, but the scene goes up and down at some points.

What are some Lansing area bands/musicians you would recommend? The Hunky Newcomers, the Devil’s Cut and my brother’s band, the Piss Poor Players.

What are you up to next? We just released a new album called “The Maker” and we’re on tour around the country. After that we’re probably going to take a bit of a break then book another tour to kick off the winter. We just got to keep going.

Upcoming gig: The Majesty Complex, Detroit, Saturday, Aug. 23

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Q&A: The People's Temple

•••••••••••••• interview with Alex Szegedy, 25, lead guitarist/vocalist

What is the story behind your band name? We derived it from the Jonestown massacre. (It has a) shock rock value.

Best gig in Lansing? The Broad Art Museum. It was the first time we had our new guitarist with us, Christopher Minarik. For one thing, we were sober. It was outside, so the sound was very odd, but we nailed it. Every aspect you could imagine was perfect and it was a beautiful night. The sun was going down as we played and it couldn’t have been better. We brought some rock and roll to the place.

What’s the coolest place you’ve been on tour and why? We got to tour with the British ‘90s band LOOP, who hadn’t been to the U.S. in 20 years. We hung out with them and got to play some big theaters. The dudes were really cool and ended up really digging our music.

What are you up to next? We (have) an EP in September called “Weekend Times” coming out from a record label in Queens. And then in October we are touring a little more.

Upcoming gig: Common Ground Music Festival, Riverfront Park, Lansing, Saturday, July 12

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Q&A: Dominic John Davis

Dominic John Davis, 38, plays bass in Jack White’s Third Man House Band based in Nashville, Tenn. He is also a former member of Lansing-based band Steppin’ In It.

What was your biggest musical influence growing up in Lansing? Elderly Instruments. I think folks locally don't realize how rare that place is. For a young musician like me who, at an early age, was into the acoustic side of rock ‘n’ roll, Elderly made it easy to dig deeper into acoustic American music and its roots. Everything you needed was there. Books, recordings, instruments. Plus there are always two dozen bands working out of that place. It couldn't help but shape my musical influences.

How is it working with Jack White? Playing with Jack is particularly special. We met in grade school and learned how to play music together as children. We never had a plan or teachers or lessons — just a room full of instruments and a tape recorder and we figured it out eventually. Over the years I've learned to trust him musically and as a performer. With him, music is very alive and constantly changing. Jack grabs the entire band and dives head first into the process and the result is unpredictable and incredibly moving.

What’s up for you next? When I'm home, I do a lot of recording sessions and day-to-day parenting. Jack just released his record in June so we've got quite a few tours coming up. My wife Rachael (Davis) is recording a new record. I've very excited about that one.


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