Monday, April 13, 2020

MILK MONEY


This band started in 2004, but didn't actually start playing until 2019.

Dan Fletcher joined Cherem in 2004, and one of our first tours was in August of that year. We did a lot of overnight driving back then, because we mostly toured in the summer and our van didn't have A/C. On the way to our first show in Sacramento, I was driving, Dan was riding shotgun and Bill was on the first bench. Everyone else was asleep. My main rule while I was driving was "no hardcore." It made me sleepy for some reason, so I always put on something upbeat—punk, hip-hop, whatever. Dan was looking through my CD case, and put in a mix of old grunge songs. I was happy, because I didn't think anyone else liked that stuff. I know Austin didn't. Clint was pretty indifferent. 

We listened to Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana all night, talking about how much we loved them, and how much fun it would be to play in a band like that. We decided to start one when we got back from tour. We never did.

Dan and I played in a bunch of bands together after that, but nothing like the one we planned on starting that night. 

Cut to 2017, when Dan and I started a group text with our friends Byron and Drew. We were all busy, and none of us had a practice space, but we all wanted to play music. We started trading riffs and ideas, and Dan compiled everything into a SoundCloud. Then we found Will. He wanted to sing for a band, so we told him to pick three songs from the dozen or so that Dan put together, and booked one day of studio time. We set up, ran through the songs together for the first time, and hit record. It was super fun and turned out really good. We put those songs on a 7" and played exactly one show. It was called Potential

Potential fizzled out after that, and we all went on with our lives. Dan was playing solo stuff. Drew and I started doing Tamerlane pretty regularly. But none of us were playing together. Then Byron resurrected the group text.

He wanted to get together for a contest that one his favorite bands was doing. Pup was releasing a new album, and as a promotional idea, they released the lyrics and chord progression to one of their new songs. They encouraged everyone with a band to use it as a template and record their own version. They wanted to post their favorites before unveiling what the song actually sounded like. It was a cool idea, so the four of us got together at Dan's practice space one night. 

Things went sideways almost immediately, and we scrapped the cover song before we even started it. Instead, we started playing around with riffs, and wrote a pretty cool song. Then we wrote another one.

"Did we just start a rock band?" asked Byron.
"Dan and I have been trying to start a 90's style grunge band since like 2004," I said.
"I guess this is it," said Dan.

Songs came together pretty quickly, and they were all really fun to play. We were only getting together about once every two weeks, but after a few months, we had 12 songs and no idea what to do with them. We tossed around the idea of releasing a couple of different EP's, but couldn't decide on anything.

"Fuck it," I said. "If this is a 90's style rock band, let's just come out the gate with a full length."

So we did.

We met up with our friend Wes Johnson for a few days last summer and recorded all twelve songs. It sat on a hard drive for a few months while we tried to come up with a marketing strategy, and figure out the best way to release an album in 2019. Then we got tired of waiting, and just put it up on Spotify in December.

Once January rolled around, we started playing shows, writing more songs, and shooting a video. It was all rolling along, and we were having tons of fun. Then Coronavirus hit and put everything on hold. That's where we are now.

The bright side is that we're still trying to keep busy. We made a quarantine video for the track "Human Spine" last month. We started recording interviews for a Milk Money podcast series. We're trying to figure out how to record some new songs while maintaining social distancing. And we started writing a weekly advice column.

The last one has been my favorite so far. It's hosted by our friends at Gold Blood Collective, and we're trying to get one up every week for the next little while. You should read it.

Here's a bunch of links. It's up on every streaming platform there is, so go to whichever one you use and add us. Listen to the album, tell me if you like it, then come see us play live—if that's ever a thing that people can do again.





Thursday, April 2, 2020

THE EPITAPH RECORDS PLAYLIST GAME


The only regular interaction I get with other people these days is through the Milk Money group text. Some days it's super active, other days not so much—but it's always fun. Lately, we've been making playlists based on record labels that we grew up listening to and posting them to the M$ Twitter account and Facebook page. The group gets pretty active when we do them, and brings back a whole bunch of great memories of when we were younger and music was literally all that mattered.

If you didn't grow up in the punk/hardcore scene—going to shows, buying records, and obsessing over bands—record labels probably have no bearing on your life. But to those that did, you know how crucial it was to have a label that you would basically go to war for.

Dischord started the obsession. SST followed suit. Sub Pop showed everyone how to be big and small at the same time. Fat Wreck Chords was a staple of early 90's punk rock, while Victory and Revelation were the mecca for anyone interested in hardcore. Thousands of discussions were based on what band should be on what label, how crazy it was that a particular band ditched one label for another, and what label's "sound" a smaller, unsigned band encompassed. I'll never forget when Sick of it All signed with Fat Wreck Chords. My friends and I were so confused, because it didn't seem like they fit in at all with the rest of the goofy, fun-loving bands on the label. Then again, we were 18 and didn't know anything anyway.

One of the most influential labels for me personally was Epitaph Records. The label was founded by Brett Gurewitz primarily as a vehicle for releasing albums for his own band—Bad Religion. There weren't a lot of punk rock labels in the early 80's, so DIY was the way to go. The first seven or eight years of the label were mostly Bad Religion albums, until he started signing other acts, most notably NOFX and Pennywise. After that, Epitaph became a huge deal—not just in the punk scene, but the world in general.

Epitaph released some of my favorite punk/hardcore albums of all time from bands like H20, The Bouncing Souls, Rancid, Descendents, and Refused. It's a murderer's row of great music. Brett Gurewitz unknowingly introduced me to bands I still listen to, admire, and play air drums to when I'm walking around my neighborhood in the midst of this global pandemic. He's long been one of my idols, and before the total collapse of the record industry, I wanted to try and follow in his footsteps. He's still someone I look up to, but starting a record label in this era of music is just a terrible idea that no one should do. I have several boxes of unopened, unsold CD's in a closet to back that up.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's on to the game that the title of this post alludes to. I know that was five paragraphs ago, but hopefully you're still reading. I mean, what else are you doing?

If you've suddenly found yourself with an abundance of time, and need a break from binge watching old episodes of The Office, or arguing about TIGER KING on Facebook, give this a shot. You can use pretty much any label, but Epitaph makes it easy because they have all their releases cataloged by year on their website.

Here are the only rules:

1) You can only pick one song for each year.
2) No artist can appear more than once.
*Additional Rule Edit*
3) I'm opening this up to include Epitaph's sister labels, ANTI and Hellcat. It's my game and I'll change the rules to suit my own needs if I want to.

With Epitaph, it got really, really difficult for me between 1996 and 2001. Would I love to have "Rather Be Dead" on this playlist? I sure would, but Everything Sucks by Descendents was released the same year. It's all about making the tough choices. I skipped a few years here and there (mostly between 2008-2015ish because I never listened to a lot of the bands they were releasing), so I'll be revisiting my playlist soon to add a few more.

No one is going to actually do this, because most of you are adults, quarantined with your family or a significant other. But on the off chance that you do find yourself with a little extra time, give it a shot and see what happens—especially if you do Epitaph. I would love to see where you and I differ on these songs.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

HUMAN SPINE

I'll tell you more about Milk Money another day, but I'll start with the video we made the day of the Great Utah Earthquake.

We started shooting a video for another song earlier this month. There's three locations that we wanted to use, but we only got through the first one. It was fun, and in the end, I think it's going to be really awesome. We're shooting with an old friend named John Raftery. He's a tattoo artist at Mercy here in Salt Lake, and has been making movies and short films on the side.

Now that we're all stuck at home, we were forced to abandon the rest of it for the time being. Understandable, but a bummer all at once. I was texting with a friend, who saw little snippets of the first shoot on our Instagram (@MilkMoneyRock), and she asked if everything was on hold. I said that it was, and then she came back with a great idea.
I stole it from her immediately, and hit up the band group text (which is a very comforting thing to have right now as I live alone in a small apartment and haven't seen anyone in days). They loved it, and over the next couple of days, we each filmed our part and sent them to Dan. He's been playing around with Final Cut Pro a lot over the past few months, and had a rough cut ready before I even recorded mine. I recorded mine in the afternoon—which gave me a good reason to change out of sweats for a bit—and Drew finished his later that night. Dan had it ready to go the next morning.

It's pretty rad what you can accomplish when you can't leave your house. Hope you like it. You can find the rest of our stuff on Spotify/Apple Music/Bandcamp/Soundcloud/whatever.

Milk Money


Saturday, March 21, 2020

ARE WE BACK?


Blogging is about to have a massive comeback—for about two months.

I'm on day four of this social distancing/isolated quarantine thing that we're all supposed* to be doing. If you live in Salt Lake City, you had the added bonus of waking up to an earthquake on Wednesday morning, which definitely helped everyone's anxiety. So for a few hours, we all had to worry about getting deathly ill from touching something, and also worry about our houses collapsing on us. It wasn't a great day.

Aside from that (How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?), it's not bad. For me, it's not all that different from what I do during the winter when I'm on sabbatical from work—aka Funemployment. At least this time it's not freezing cold outside, and I can go stand on my porch for a few minutes every couple of hours to get some fresh air.

What I've learned in the past few days is that the internet is fucking boring now. Instagram killed blogging, Facebook is a dumpster fire of conspiracy theories and lies, and Twitter is just depression in real time. There's a lot of people thinking they're going to "beat the algorithm" on Instagram and Facebook by falling for the same old tricks that never work, which is both funny to see and sad at the same time. Those sites are smarter than all of us, and you either have to accept it or get the fuck off. Those are the only two choices, and the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be for all of us going forward. Anyway. Some of the sites I read regularly aren't posting any new content, I don't want to read about the President's incompetency, and sports are gone for a while.

This is why I think blogging is going to have a little bit of a resurgence. Everyone that had one back in 2012 is going to dust it off out of boredom (like me!), and we're going all going to have something to read for a few minutes a day to take our mind off of everything else.

None of them are going to be great, a few of them will be almost good, and most of them are going to be word vomit as a warm-up to whatever actual writing project they have to do that day (me again!).

I really have no idea what people are hoping to get out of these posts—if they get anything at all—but I'll (probably) be posting a couple of times a week for the foreseeable future. I'm still making Spotify playlists, I'll probably tell you about my new band, we can trade Isolation Rituals, and talk about what shows we're watching, and which books we're reading**.

So, I guess add this page to your bookmark bar? Check back every once in a while? It might be fun. I actually have no idea! None of us do! Welcome to 2020.

*I know my neighbor isn't doing any of this because his routine hasn't changed at all. He still leaves with his gym bag, and comes home with a plastic grocery store bag with like two items in it several times a day.
**Don't forget about books! They're great and fun and the perfect escape.