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The Speedways: Radio Sounds For Better Days

The Speedways: Mauro, Kris, Matthew, and Adrian

Since 2018, The Speedways have serenaded rock n’ rollers blinded by the lure of hopeless romanticism. These anthems of youthful heartache are inspired by Matthew Julian’s experience with a “beautiful girl.” Subsequently, this music is brought to life by with the infectious nature of a late 1970’s punk sound twisting into the warm embrace of the forever longing and an ever personal power pop style. This masterful composition approach falls directly in line with groups like Protex, The Nerves, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and even The Ronettes.

The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. Their first record Just Another Regular Summer was written and recorded by Matthew Julian, with the help of Dec Burns. The definitive power pop sounds that came from Just Another Regular Summer (released May 27, 2018) quickly gained notoriety. Matt was soon asked by Mauro Venegas to perform for his Some Weird Sin’s special event Power Pop Weekender in 2018.

To make the performance a reality, Mauro, Adrian Savio and Kris Hood joined the band. Over the last couple years The Speedways have performed countless gigs, toured and recorded new material. They have released three singles and the highly anticipated follow up to Just Another Regular Summer, Radio Sounds, on June 29, 2020.

While Radio Sounds was well received critically, The Speedways were unfortunately unable to celebrate the release because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Despite the setback, The Speedways remain vigilant and have enjoyed popular attention to their records.

On October 17, 2020, The Speedways made a special appearance for Some Weird Sin’s 8th Anniversary Party at Paper Dress Vintage. However, after a lockdown order was put in place, that performance may be their last for 2020. To find more about how The Speedways are doing, I chatted with them about releasing a record during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the evolution from Just Another Regular Summer into Radio Sounds, playing their possible last performance of 2020 and more.

NixBeat: The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. In the bands bio on Facebook The Speedways sound is suggested to be a more personal take on Power Pop, blending elements of Tom Petty, Phil Spector and The Exploding Hearts. What inspired you to write, record and release Just Another Regular Summer?

Matthew: The entire Just Another Regular Summer album (and most of Radio Sounds) was inspired by a beautiful girl. If you take someone on a date to Joe Meeks flat it’s gonna end up in a song (even if “they wouldn’t let us go inside”) But then I got a bit carried away and wrote enough songs about her to make an album (well, two albums). My mate has a little home studio in Nottingham and I recorded it there with him. There were no plans to release it but after I put it on bandcamp I had a few labels contact me. The Diana Dors LP artwork (by my mate Josh) was the icing on the cake. I really love the album.

NixBeat: I understand that the Speedways first concert was to perform at the London club night Some Weird Sin. After accepting Some Weird Sin cofounder Mauro Venegas (The Godfathers, Johnny Cola and The A Grades, Miscalculations) along with Adrian Alfonso (Dead Meat) and Kris Hood (More Kicks, Los Pepes) joined the band. What has it been like to collaborate with this all star cast?

Matthew: It’s been brilliant. I think we’re really well suited and compliment one another in a way that a band should. Of course everyone can play but there’s also a great attitude towards it. We’re all on the same page with the music and presentation which is important. As Mauro once said, the line-up kinda picked itself really, the obvious choices all came onboard. We’ve done a lot in the relatively short time we’ve been going. I reckon we’re a great little band. And yep, the very first gig was for the ‘Some Weird Sin – Power Pop Weekender 2018’ .. off the back of  one and a half rehearsals.

NixBeat: Matt, in an interview with Veglam.com published on July 7th 2020 you mentioned that years ago you frequently visited Some Weird Sin. While attending you had “found your people” after hearing groups like Protex, Hanoi Rocks and The Ronettes. Would you expand on why Some Weird Sin had that impact on you?

Matthew: Five years or so back I was feeling pretty stale and fed up so I began hopping on a train down to London on a regular basis. I’m a record collector and ended up making a few pals who worked in the record shops in Camden. I knew a bit about the scene and had seen the Ten O Sevens a couple of times but I didn’t really know anyone. Anyway, I ended up at Some Weird Sin one night and I met Mauro and Simon who I got on really well with. They were DJ’ing great tunes and the live bands were cool so I went again the following month, and then again the next etc.. Everyone seemed really sound and would get you a beer in. Some of the first people I got to know were Kris, Liam and Bobby from the band Scraps. Liam was at a Shannon & The Clams show in Hackney and he asked me “when are you next in town?” and I said, I’m gonna go to the Crazy Squeeze gig in Camden and he was like “mate, I’m putting that gig on. I’ll list you” ..and that ended up being the first time I met Adrian. The seeds of a power pop fairytale had been well and truly sown.

NixBeat: The Speedways have performed with many notable acts, such as The Briefs, Protex, Baby Shakes and Nikki Corvette. What has been your favorite band to play with and why?

Adrian: I’d personally say Baby Shakes as they’ve been there since day one and it’s always a party with them.

Mauro: Let’s not forget Giuda!  Hard to pick from any of the ones you’ve mentioned though, as they’ve all become lasting friendships, which is fantastic.

Matthew: It was nice to play with them all! Baby Shakes have been mates since they first visited the UK and we just hit it off. They’re a great band and great pals. Protex are a big influence on everyone who plays this style of music, I listened to them a lot when I made the first album so it was so cool when Aiden contacted me to say how much he loved it. The Briefs are one of the best live bands around for sure, Pascal booked our first mini tour of Germany and has been extremely supportive of our music. Nikki is a legend and it was a thrill to play guitar for her. I like to think the Speedways are now her fulltime UK Corvettes! She was great. on top of that, Tommy & The Commies were a personal fave and we’ve opened for The Zeros too who were ace.

NixBeat:  What are some of your favourite London bands to play with?

Matthew: I’d have to say The Kinks.

Mauro: Haha that one’s even harder!  I guess we’ve played with Lucy & the Rats a couple of times and they’re cool.

NixBeat: My favourite track off Just Another Regular Summer is “Reunion In The Rain” What influenced you to write this song?

Matthew: It’s my favourite too. It’s about hoping the day comes that you get to see her again in real life  instead of just in your dreams. It rains during the reunion, because it would wouldn’t it? ..but who’d care? It’s influenced by longing. Musically it’s a kinda Ronettes meets Ramones thing. I can hear Ronnie singing it. I’d love her to sing it.

NixBeat: On July 12, 2019 The Speedways released the “Seen Better Days” single through Snap!! Records. The b-side was “They Don’t Knoworiginally done by Kirsty MacColl in 1979 via Stiff Records. What’s the story behind choosing this song for the b-side of that single?

Matthew: Mauro suggested it. We only had one album out at the time & we needed a cover for the live set to flesh things out a bit. We’d done “Back Of my Hand” by The Jags a couple of times and even though we did it really well it felt a bit obvious. “They Don’t Know” is a great choice because it’s a song we all love and it kinda fits with what we are as a band, but it’s also a little unexpected too. It ended up on the b-side because we needed one, and because we do a decent version. The plan was to do a video for the A and B side of the single, but Kris broke his wrist so we were unable to record the video for “Seen Better Days” ..hence why there’s a video for the B side and not the A side!

Mauro: I just thought it would suit us and be interesting to have it sung from a male perspective, as it’s a traditionally “female” song.  I like how live it comes out a bit more Replacements-y.

NixBeat: What was the process like writing and recording Radio Sounds? How was it different than the work you did with Just Another Regular Summer?

Matthew: A fair few of the songs on Radio Sounds I’d already written around the time of Just Another Regular Summer. I also dug into my song book for older tunes like “This Aint A Radio Sound” and “Good Girls Don’t Break Hearts” ..then there were new songs that I wrote as a response to the first album – “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young..,” “Daydreaming,” “Brown Eyes Look So Blue..,” “This Is About Girl Who Loves The Sun” etc.. So the writing process was more varied than the first record. Obviously with it being a full band this time there was a collaborative effort in terms of arrangement and individual parts which definitely gave the songs more of a band vibe than before. It’s much more satisfying as a song writer to hear other musicians play and interpret your stuff than to do everything yourself. It makes such a difference. Everyone contributed brilliantly in the studio too (including Jez who produced the album). I enjoyed making it & working with everyone. It turned out really well. A step up in quality for sure.

NixBeat: Radio Sounds was released in June 2020 in the midst of the Covid 19 Pandemic. How has Radio Sounds been received? 

Matthew: It’s been received really well, but of course it’s been tough. Like all bands at our level you have your online sales and your gig sales, but there have been no gig sales this year for obvious reasons. I’d say we’ve definitely gone up a level in terms of interest in the band though. Our biggest market in physical record sales has been America again, which is a killer for the buyer because postage costs are insanity, but it’s so great to have fans over there. We’ve done good business in Spain, Scandinavia, UK, Japan and Australia too. People seem to really like it. The pandemic has delayed a few overseas orders of course, so there has been the odd refund and late arrival, but overall it’s gone pretty smooth considering. We’ve had a lot of radio, blog and magazine support which we appreciate so much. It really does help get the word out, especially during this time.

NixBeat: What were you drawing from whilst writing “Kisses Are History?” Tell me about the song.

Matthew: I wrote an early version of it for Just Another Regular Summer ..I had the phrase “once you were a mystery but now your kisses are history” – but the verse lyrics were a bit too self pitying and I couldn’t get beyond that. I wanted it to build gradually to a crescendo like “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison, which I absolutely love (I might steal that technique in the future tbh). Also, I already had a song with the word kiss in the title (“One Kiss Can Lead To Another”) so I shelved it. A few years later when I was writing for Radio Sounds I thought I’d give it another go, so I made it a bit more self confident this time around – “I should have been the one.” I also added some bitterness at the end of the chorus – “if all this was meant to be then so much for love.” It ended up being the first single from the album. Mauro wrote a beautiful guitar solo for it. Never give up on songs that aren’t working out!

NixBeat: What’s the story behind the track “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young”?

Matthew: It’s partly fictional and partly real. The main ‘story’ in the song is wondering if the interesting new person you’ve met could be “something” but then you see her on the 29 bus with her significant other. It’s disappointing but it doesn’t really matter because you’re still in love with the girl in silver shoes in any case. “In a world without love it’s hard to stay young” means it’s hard to have the optimism and positivity of youth if you don’t have love and companionship. It was the last song I wrote for the album and it took ages to finish. The original chorus was really wordy “I fell in love with a girl that I used to know, I was Johnny Ramone and she was Brigitte Bardot, then they all lined up to steal her heart away, a kiss off the back of a few stolen words is a drop in the ocean for bees & for birds, now maybe the bad times will do me some good but in a world without love it’s hard to stay young” I changed it to “I fell in love with a girl wearing silver shoes” repeat x3! Much more impact and less corny! I find lyrics really tough but I’m better at self editing than I used to be. I really like this song. It’s great to play live and it’s the perfect album closer.

NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has seen much of the music world stop in it’s tracks. With bands halting tours and performances, and even many venues closing their doors, how has life been during this for The Speedways?

Mauro: I reckon we’ve taken the bull by the horns in some ways – we’ve kept busy in as much as we’ve been physically able to (even harder with Matt living in a different town to the rest of us), but we’ve been productive lately, shooting videos, recording sessions and even playing live, of course.

Matthew: Yeah, it’s tough in the sense I live up in the Midlands and the rest of the lads are down in London, but we’ve done as much as we possibly can under the circumstances. We went over five months without seeing each other or doing anything, but in August we had a rehearsal, then in September we filmed a couple of videos and recorded a live set for radio, in October we played a show and in November we’ve got a day booked in the studio.. so that’s a decent run. It’s been a fucking rotten year for everyone though of course.

NixBeat: During the Covid 19 Pandemic Bandcamp has had an all sales go directly to artists on the first Friday of the month. What do you think of Bandcamp’s event and has it benefited sales of Speedways records and merchandise?

Matthew: We’ve done ok from it. A few people have been kind enough to order stuff on those particular Fridays. We still need to get some more merchandise done actually. There isn’t any Radio Sounds stuff because obviously we haven’t been able to tour or anything.

NixBeat: On October 17th 2020 The Speedways performed their first show since the onset of Covid 19 in March 2020. The show was to celebrate Some Weird Sin’s 8th birthday party at Paper Dress Vintage. The show emphasized certain restrictions like social distancing and being seated. What was performing this show like in the era of Covid 19?

Mauro: It was GREAT to play live again!  I think we’d all really missed that buzz. We only managed to get together to rehearse once, but it seems like we all know the songs still, so that’s something!  I found I got used to the audience being seated pretty quick, to be honest they were still more lively than some of the London crowds we’d played to before all this anyway, haha!

Adrian: It was a bit stressful given the recent lockdown coming into place, but playing was fun. It was nerve racking to see the seats but once the stage lights go on and the drunk audience start hollering it’s pretty familiar.

Matthew: I really enjoyed it. I mean, obviously the restrictions and limitations were frustrating but after a few beers it didn’t really matter! It was cool to play with the guys again and great to see friends who we hadn’t seen since at least March ffs! We played “Empty Pages” for the first time live which was something I’d been looking forward to. I liked playing two sets in one night actually. Very old school!

NixBeat: What does the future hold for The Speedways?

Matthew: What does the future hold for anyone right now? It’s a tough one to answer. We plan to put one last single out from the Radio Sounds LP pretty soon. Long term of course it’s difficult to say, I mean in theory we’d wanna tour and gig as much as possible, but we’ll have to wait & see. I’ve struggled to write during Covid. Rather than being inspired by the dead time I’ve been stifled and disillusioned by it. My songs are about feelings and personal experiences. Those things have been in short supply during 2020. I probably shouldn’t end on a negative! ..so with my glass half full I’ll say 2021 will be our year and we’ll be able to get back to doing what we love.

For more about The Speedways check them out on Facebook or Bandcamp!

Hyperloop Records

Glyn Bowen

As a record collector, Glyn Bowen has always had an ear for interesting ,and hard to get.  He comes from comes from a rich musical history. This is largely thanks to the influences of his parents, broadcasts from pirate radio stations, and religiously attending gigs and music festivals. In recent years, Bowen took the next step to share his passion with the world, by founding Hyperloop Records.  

Hyperloop Records has steadily become renowned for their reissues. It’s a label that places an emphasis on reissues of garage rock, surf and psych records. Through Hyperloop Records, these gems are given new life and made affordable. Pressed as 7” records, they are perfect for the DJ and collector alike.  Among the growing catalogue of records includes songs by Ruperts People, The Quests and Art Guy.

The newest release to join this impressive catalogue is Sunshine Theatre’s “Mountain.” It was reissued on October 23,2020. To learn more about Hyperloop Records, I caught up with Bowen and chatted about his passion for record collecting, founding his label and what records we can expect to be given new life thanks to his label.   

NixBeat: As record collector since the age of 11, you say that have not lost the love for the 7” record. What attracts you to this format?

Bowen: Probably as this was the first format I owned as a youngster. Whilst there were LP’s. In the house at the time they were likely easier to handle!

NixBeat: In a previous conversation we discussed that your parents influenced your music taste. They introduced you to the Beatles through the “For Sale” LP via  Dansette Record player. What other groups did they introduce you to? 

Bowen: My father was into most types of Jazz. He really liked Benny Goodman ,Count Basie, Duke Ellington. My mother liked female singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Dionne Warwick, Eartha Kitt, Sarah Vaughn, and Billie Halliday.

NixBeat: You have attained quite the collection of the Dansette record players. Why do have such the soft spot for them?

Bowen: Ahh yes the collection of old record players. I let a collection go some years ago, but I keep finding them. It is pure nostalgia really. I still like to play 60’s 45’s on them just to get an idea of how they would have sounded at the time. I am slowly getting better at repairing them now. I love the smell too!

NixBeat: Growing up, you were exposed to the Pirate Radio Radio Luxembourg. How did this experience shape your musical upbringing?

Bowen: My father was in the forces and I was shipped off to boarding school. Luckily I had a small pocket transistor radio with a single earpiece and you could just about pick up Luxembourg. I remember Rob Jones and Tony Prince DJ’s.

NixBeat: What do you find has changed about accessing music since the days of listening to Radio Luxembourg?

Bowen: Accessing music today is so easy compared to then. You can pretty much immerse yourself in every music style from all over the world in a couple of clicks. I think YouTube is one of the best inventions of the modern world.

NixBeat: You’ve mentioned you’ve spent time going to gigs and festivals. What has been your favorite gig to date?

Bowen: As regards gigs and festivals. I used to go and see lots of rock bands in my teenage years—UFO Scorpions, GillanGirlschool  Hawkwind  and Thin Lizzy. Then into bands like U2, Big Country, Alarm, and Big Audio Dynamite. I missed out on lots of punk bands but did manage to see Joe Strummer and the Latino Rebel War. I have to say that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard on a boat called The Thekla in Bristol harbour was memorable. His was just before they were getting big so to see them in a small venue was great.

NixBeat: Hyperloop Records was formed in to coincide with the release of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard’s Polygondwanaland. How did this partnership come to be and what inspired the creation of Hyperloop Records?

Bowen: I was buying lots of King Gizzard albums from their Flightless Label in Australia and one night I thought I would check out if they had any new releases coming out. I found out they had a new LP but they were giving it away free to anyone who wanted to release it. I had recently seen an advert for a chap who had a lathe cutting machine 345.RPM in the UK. I got in touch with him and got 50 copies “Cut”. I got a printer to make me a small run of sleeves, had some posters/photos made .I had always wanted to write sleeve notes but my desktop publishing skill are terrible ,so I wrote all the lyrics and credits by hand. All my releases so far still owe a huge debt to the kindness of the Aussie boys by giving away this album to the masses . I was also buying Carlo Vivary King Gizzard Posters, who gave me permission to use one of his images for the centre label. For his assistance I commissioned him to do the cover for The Bit A Sweet 45.

NixBeat: Where did the name Hyperloop come from?

Bowen: The name Hyperloop came about when Phil Macy from the Lathe cutting service asked me what my label was called, it had not given much thought up until then. I was watching CNN and at that moment a film was being made about a new transport system called Hyperloop, I thought that sounded good so I borrowed it from Elon Musk!

NixBeat: Since Hyperloop reissues obscure releases of 1960’s music on a 7” format, what kind of clientele does Hyperloop Records attract?

Bowen: I think most of my customers seem to be DJ’s from all across the globe, then record collectors who like me just can’t afford the original versions and would like the chance to spin them at home.

NixBeat: Since 2016 Hyperloop Records has released several 45s since 2017. These include Ruperts People, The Quests and Art Guy. What criteria do you look for when choosing a record to reissue?

Bowen: My golden rule about choosing the songs is a simple one. I really have to love it, it has to be love and first listen, sometimes it is love within the first few notes. I then explore the availability and then access databases to try and find the rights owners etc.

NixBeat: What was the process like to get Rupert’s People “Dream On My Mind” released?

Bowen: I was lucky enough to find the rights holders to Rupert’s People “Dream on My Mind”, a  UK company called Angel Air. The chap who ran it was really helpful and full of great advice.  A few signatures on a licensing agreement and a payment I was away.

NixBeat: Have you encountered any complications with reissuing records?

Bowen: I was pretty naive when it came to licensing before the Rupert’s People 45 and did run into some problems with my previous release  The Paragons/Snapshots split 45. I did register the release with MCPS/PRS but should have made a bigger attempt to contact the owners of the “master” recordings. I did however make it clear on my sales adverts for the owners to contact me. I made my peace with Danny Huntley from the Paragons .He was kind enough to sign a few copies for me. I  had to write a very apologetic letter to the Sony Corporation regarding The Snapshots .I have to say it was the best lesson I have learnt and serves as great reminder to do things more thoroughly in the future.

NixBeat: The Art Guy “Where You Gonna Go” reissue has a certain condition of agreement with Art Guy to not have “Teenage Millionaire” on the b-side. What prompted this decision?

Bowen: As regards the Art Guy “Where You Gonna Go” and the flipside “Teenage Millionaire.” I don’t think Art Guy ever liked the song and was not taken with his drumming on that track. It was also co penned by Dorinda Morgan ( Original Beach Boys Producer) which would have caused difficulties with licensing perhaps.

NixBeat: To date Hyperloop Records has released six records. What has been your most popular release so far and why do you think that is?

Bowen: “Where You Gonna Go” has been my most popular release by way of sales within the first few weeks, having said that The Quests “Shadows in the Night” is doing really well. I have not many copies left of either. I have unfinished business with The Quests, they have a song called “That’s My Dream” which was originally planned as a 45 but due to the Vietnam War and college commitments it never happened. I aim to put that right very soon.

NixBeat: What future records can readers expect to come from Hyperloop Records?

Bowen: Also in the pipeline is another love affair which I have been having for some time. The band were called Sunshine Theatre from Wales UK. The song is called “Mountain.”  I owe a debt to Oscar Richt aka Oscarowski for putting some outstanding songs on You Tube, without him I would not have ever heard this. I come from a Welsh background so I am pleased to be able to release this one. Also in the pipeline is another garage fuzz song, Backgrounds “Day Breaks At Dawn.”  I am also having a conversation with Ted Munda from The Enfields regarding a few of his songs. I have also got another iron in the fire but I am keeping that one close to my chest for now.

For more about Hyperloop Records, check out their Discogs page and Facebook Page!

Faz Waltz — Rebel Kicks

Faz Waltz

Rebel Kicks

Spaghetty Town Records

Street: 04/20/2020

Since 2007, Faz Waltz have been releasing hit maker records meant for another era. Each one of their new albums are tighter than the last. However, their 7th album Rebel Kicks is the Crème de la crème. Released on a pandemic ridden world this is music that uplifts and provides a much needed relief. Within this records grooves fans will hear the familiar influences of T-Rex  and David Bowie glam twisting the night away with late Beatles inspired rock n’ roll. Rebel Kick’s superbly demonstrates Faz Waltz’s maturing style and masterful pop-sensible hooks that makes their unique take on a 1970’s inspired rock n’ roll sound.

With Rebel Kicks, Faz Waltz bring forth a nostalgic style meant to tug on youthful determination to inspire the soul. This is demonstrated with the first track, “Grown Up Guy.” This is a song about empowerment in a crazy world where the right time simply exist is always challenged by the powers that be. It’s a killer song that grabs a hold of the listener with an infectious, yet punchy feel. “Grown Up Guy” is also the A-side to the single released on February 21,2020. 

The title track “Rebel Kicks” is a feelgood kind of track. It’s a fast and upbeat rebel anthem. Not surprising since that’s what Faz Waltz is good at knocking. out. Still this one is fun thanks to a strong back beat and Jerry Lewis-like piano playing. Play this loud and the result should motivate it’s listeners to bounce around.

The tracks that stand out on this record are “Got Me Goin,” “Rock n’ Roll Is Tough” and “Do You Remember.” “Got Me Goin” is a mid-tempo groover. It boasts certain junkshop sensibilities that ought to make ones head bop.  I would not be surprised if this tune is dug up in 40 years and placed on a glam rock revival comp meant to commemorate the 2020’s bovver revival with the purpose to initiate the next generation of glitter rockers. 

“Rock N’ Roll Is Tough” could almost be lumped into the standard section of rock song begging for for the golden days of rock music.  This number is meant to be played loud and be danced too.With this track Faz Waltz deliver an almost Hector-like approach by blending a joyous rock n’ roll feeling with a fresh sense of sentimentality. This is done in large part thanks to the lyrics, which are catchy as hell.

“Do You Remember” is a track that tugs on the heart strings. It brings forth Faz Waltz’s T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust operatic influence to the forefront.  Musically and lyrically, it captures a sense of yearning for the past. By doing this, it becomes a song that one would play in dark lit bar to conjure memories of those not present. If you needed a glam track to get you in the feels, “Do You Remember” is it.  

Other songs worthy of note are “Last Train To Nowhere,” “Born In The Wrong Time,” and “Is it Love.” “Last Train To Nowhere” is a true and blue rock n’ roll number. It’s a fast retro-rock number very much in the same vain as somethings recorded by Mud or Showaddywaddy—just minus the doo wop.  “Born In The Wrong Time” is an entertaining track that celebrates a well-covered theme of being born in the wrong decade.

“Is It Love” is a great track to conclude this album with.  If there was a sound that was ever meant to be a homage to Marc Bolan’s style of glam, this is it. “Is It Love” is a smooth and track that treads around the feelings of insecurity surrounding love. It’s glam rock that invites it’s listeners to sway to a mid-tempo beat and fuzz guitar.

Overall, Rebel Kicks is a record full of hits and arguably no misses. Faz Waltz knocks out every number flawlessly. These are the kind of tunes that demand one to get up, move and groove to sounds meant to invigorate the wayward soul. It’s the kind of music that offers a renewed imagination to the forever youthful rebellion evoked by over 70 years of rock n’ roll music.

Rebel Kicks ought to be listened thoroughly to by anyone daring to have dedication to being a rock n’ roller. This record shows off a decade worth of consistent hard work. Their dedication to their craft is almost second to none. Furthermore, Faz Waltz’s material is not the simply regurgitated stuff made by imitators. These guys are the real deal and they bring to the table sounds that are truly exiting. Now go pick up this record and kick out some jams.

Worst Horse — Self-Titled

Worst Horse

Self-Titled

Self-Released

Released : 4/05/2020

Worst Horse, aka Margot Apricot, is an artist who boasts many talents. These are found, but not limited through their unique screen printed designs, paintings and of course through their music. Formerly Apricot was known for performing in the multi-genre’d Lube and the noise-punk outfit Brain Bagz. Now, under the name Worst Horse, they have released the first album from their solo work. Consequently this is also the album name. The overwhelming feeling that Worst Horse betrays is a demand of being unforgivingly introspective. It  blends notions of haunted isolation with a kind simplicity, but unique 1980’s electronic vibrancy.

Lyrically, Worst Horse sings about themes of hurt with a kind poetic disassociation.  Musically, it’s twisting styles of electro-art-punk with obsessive droning and a  definitive beat. This is of course a courtesy of the hollowness of a drum machine. It is particularly evident when listening to tracks like “Cleansing Breath” or “Past Needles.”

Other notable tracks such as “Left A Mark” carry with the sermonizing style of beat poetry. In this song, Worst Horse speaks about sobering reflections of a life of struggle and pain.Combined with the electronic noise reminiscent of a Blade Runner like film score, the song has an overwhelming, yet alien feel. It’s short and sweet, but quite sobering.

In Worst Horse,  there are also notable covers from artists such as Rabbit’s “Calcifer” and The Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your love.” In their own way Worst Horse pays a ultimate homage to these artists. They uniquely perform these songs with a certain delight. With “Calcifer,” the original captures the essence of playful indie-folk with impunity. Worst Horse’s version is heavy with a sorrowful orchestral flair.

The original version of the Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love” is among the iconic songs of the 1970’s disco era. It’s a song that is moderately upbeat, cheesy and meant for the dance floor of  a Saturday night boogie. When Worst Horse performs this song, the trajectory is different, but with some striking similarities. 

For this cover, Worst Horse evokes a style that is different. It celebrates the primitive sensibilities with the numbing sensations of disco twisting into a new wave-like flair. Although this cover has a kind of melancholy  about it,  Apricot still knocks this number out.  That being said, if listeners want to rave on with “How Deep Is Your Love” the assistance of substances for this gothic-esque cover might allow for some slow grooving fun.

The album as a whole is a trip. It’s got the psychedelic notions that with under the right conditions will evoke a out of mind experience.  Songs like “Let The Pain In” carry on the introspective nature that defines this work. It’s mellow, but subtly provoking. This is the same with the track “House of Bees.” Though in contrast, this song has more of the dissociated feel that is also found in Worst Horse.

When listening to Worst Horst the result is like being taken on quite the dynamic trip. This should not be a surprise given the caliber of the Worst Horse’s artistic ability. As seen with their body of work, it blazes past any limitations.   

However, with this release, one may tread with some caution. This album may take a special if not sobering frame of mind to digest. One should be ready to let go of their inhabitations and be ready for songs that beg one to look deep into their soul. If that soul is troubled then this album may hit home in the most profound ways.

Capturing the Moment with Michael Kunde

Photo: Chad Kirkland

Michael Kunde is a professional commercial and advertising photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. His work and personal talents take him both across the United States and internationally. Some of his clients include Adobe and Chrysler. Apart from an impressive commercial portfolio, Kunde also boasts personal photography work that includes unique takes from his travels. Some of his more distinguished work contain his striking themes, such as those found in rural areas of the United States….

Read the full article at @SLUG Magazine!!

Preaching The Gospel of Blues Trash with Reverend Beat-Man

Reverend Beat-Man

For over 30 years Reverend Beat-Man has practiced and preached the gospel of blues trash.  His gospel is not limited by the decadence of sex and drugs; rather it’s a philosophy that celebrates rock n’ roll and how it bridges cultural divides to connect people in a worldwide community. For Beat-Man, rock n’ roll music provides the same power of belonging that helped break down walls for American black and white teenagers in the mid-20th century. Furthermore, he believes that rock n’ roll is not just for the fashion rockers or mods. It’s for people who see that rock n roll was and still is a relevant, worldwide music revolution. Beat-Man says, “It’s a music for old and young, for black and white, for everybody and it’s not polka or Mozart. It’s now music.”

Throughout his life, Beat-Man has been a lifelong devotee to the musical world.  As a musician his relentless touring and out of this world performances leave a mark on all who witness them. Not only that, but he also runs his own label for like-minded music fanatics.   Beat-Man founded Voodoo Rhythm Records in 1992 and has since then provided a home for the strange and risky music not likely to air on the pop-centric controlled radio stations of the world.  Some impressive and unique acts to be found on Voodoo Rhythm Records include The Jackets, The Sex Organs, ET Explore Me, The Giant Robots ,and The Devils.

His passion for the weird and obscure also fuels his record collecting. Armed with a storied library of records, Beat-Man occasionally DJ;s at bars and venues.  His sets vary from Rhythm & Blues groovers to music more on the eclectic side. He hopes that his selections of music will introduce inspiring sounds to patrons looking to explore music through another dimension.  “I know people want to party and they want to dance, drink and get wasted, fuck on the toilette.” Beat-Man says, ““I’ve had that so many times I want something different.  So, I make strange music DJ sets.” During these DJ nights, one can hear bands such as The Shags, Yoko Ono, Free Jazz or even Talk records from the 1920’s. When not DJing venues, Beat-Man posts his sets on his Mixcloud.

Beat-Man’s talents for music really shines when he performs, such as playing as a solo artist, with the Monsters, collaborating with Nicole Isobel Garcia and more recently recording with the one-time project Reverend Beat-Man and The New Wave. With The New Wave, Beat-Man released the one time album Blues Trash in 2018 through Voodoo Rhythm Records.

Blues Trash combines many different sounds and genres within its grooves. Some tracks betray recognizable notions of primitive garage punk.  Other songs carry styles invoking a distinct layering of darkness with the emotional heaviness of the real folk-blues. 

The process for recording the new record provided a challenge for the musicians involved. Prior to recording, Beat-Man had all the songs written and ready to go.  All he needed to complete the project was a backing band.  To complete this album, he assembled a group comprised of some of his favorite musicians. They were Mario Batkovic, a classically trained accordionist, the drummer Julian Sartrius, and the multi-instrumentalist Resli Burri

The rest of the band were not privy to the material before recording.  Beat-Man wanted them to feel it out as they went along.  “I wanted to see what they do with what I give them,” Beat-Man says, “I gave ourselves two or three takes, but first I played it with my guitar only. I explained them what’s going on in this song and told them the feeling that you have to get if you hear that song.”

Songs like “I’ve Had Enough” and “Then We All Gonna Die” stand out on the album. “I’ve Had Enough” is a kind of political song.  Beat-Man was influenced by being fed up with the constant bombarded of ads from politicians and insurance companies trying to sell him something. Beat-Man says, “One day I just had enough. After over 53 years living in such a profit-oriented community as we are living in, one day you just see this is all a big lie.”

“Then We All Gonna Die” is a song Beat-Man spent 15 years writing and re-writing. It’s meant to be a kind of hymn sung from the perspective of Sensenmann. In the song, Sensenmann sings about what their victims did wrong in their lives. The mood of the song is heavy, with a kind of apocalyptic tone , mixing with a folk-blues trash feel.

To promote Blues Trash and Baile Bruja Muertoan album he worked on with Nicole Isobel Garcia—Beat-Man embarked on several tours between 2018 and 2019. Beat-Man is no stranger to hitting the road to perform. His dedication to his music has taken him beyond the snowy mountains of Switzerland and all over the word.  He says, “I want to explore, I want to see the world and the connections we all people have with each other.” Historically the Swiss are known for remaining isolated; however Beat-Man seeks to move past the limitations of national borders and meet others who are like-minded.

In April 2018, Beat-Man played Slovenly Recordings Debauch-A-Reno, as well as touring the United States. On April 22nd, 2018 Beat-Man and Isabel Nicole Garcia graced Salt Lake City, Utah. Beat-Man appreciated that Salt Lake City was kind of familiar to his home country. “I first thought, ‘I’m in Switzerland.’ It’s all very clean and people are pretty organized—even the homeless looked kinda healthy.” He says, “It’s small and probably everybody knows everybody. I like that. It opens your own horizon in your musical taste if you know people from the electro or hardcore or art scene.”

The show itself was a welcome surprise. The Garage On Beck had a pleasant feel of authenticity for Beat-Man. He says, “It was a club what the European American Fans try to rebuild in Europe but mostly fail.”  However, what struck him most about the show was the opening acts, Jacob T. Skeen and Los YaYaz.  “There were two opening bands. First there was a One Man band, that was fucking amazing— very unique sound and great songs” says Beat-Man. “Then the garage fuck ups from Los YaYaz . They were super cool. Just like garage punk has to be. They are terrible on the instruments and they love rock n’ roll.”

The remainder of 2018 was busy with gigs and touring. This constant playing extended into 2019 when Beat-Man found himself playing with psychobilly outfit The Monsters for another Slovenly Recordings event. This time for the We’re Loud Festival in Vietnam. The Monsters are bit different from the New Wave or his collaboration with Nicole Isobel Garcia. They are a trash rock n’ roll band, with a primitive-bluesy, yet with sonic-splitting abrasive sound. Think of them boasting a wild, caveman stomp psychobilly style, but with definitive blues trash flair.

The festival was a hit. Although rock n’ roll was admittedly not as popular in Vietnam, there were many local acts to play the festival. They included hardcore and metal bands from Vietnam and Indonesia.  “This was a blast.” Beat-Man says, “Pete from Slovenly tried to attract as many local persons as possible.”

After a brief tour in Japan with The Cavemen, Beat-Man was back in Switzerland. Not long after, the Covid 19 pandemic began occurring worldwide and lockdowns began happening in cities all over.  Keenly aware of the worsening pandemic in Italy, the Swiss government quickly acknowledged that without a cure for the virus, measures needed to be taken. On March 19, 2020, a lockdown order was issued for the Swiss population.

 While the population was ordered to be sheltered, the Swiss National TV began reaching out to local musicians to participate in the Living Room Showcase series.  Beat-Man says, “It was a job from the Swiss National TV, they told me and many other Pop Starlets and mainstream Artists in Switzerland to contribute 15-minute showcases from the living room.” What the Swiss National TV did not quite appreciate was that Beat-Man isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as his mainstream counterparts.

Prior to the Beat-Man man’s performance played on air, he caught the interviewer by surprise. He suggested that the lockdowns caused by a virus could give humanity a chance to slow down and think about its collective future.  “I had a live interview in front of my clip and I said that the virus is more a blessing that a punishment,” says Beat-Man. “Anyway the interviewer —I heard he is very famous in Switzerland— was very upset and as well the guy who placed me in the show.”

Beat-Man’s clip was allowed to play on National TV, but was then stopped after two minutes.  Not to be deterred, Beat-Man then released the full clip online. That way everyone could see it. In the clip, Beat-Man performs in his living room, changes into various outfits and plays unique renditions of his material, including “I’ve Had Enough.” 

Beat-Man, being fully aware of the wider implications of the pandemic, sees that Covid 19 is an extreme virus that can severely affect the elderly and those with health conditions. Unfortunately, the economic consequences of the shelter in place means businesses ,like Voodoo Rhythm Records brick and mortar shop, have to temporarily close their doors and musicians like Beat-Man’s performances are currently on hold. Needing to pay rent, Beat-Man’s ability to bring income is challenged. He says, “For me its financially very bad.  I play about 200 shows a year, 70% of my income is because of my shows, and 30% is from the label.”

During the lockdown, there are ways to support the label, which include ordering records and merchandise online, through the Voodoo Rhythm Records Facebook Page, or donating here: https://voodoorhythm.ch/.  Speaking of the support he has experienced from the wider rock n’ roll community, Beat-Man says, “Everywhere I go on this planet I see those people. It’s a good virus and it’s that virus we need at the moment.”

Not to be deterred by the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Beat-Man remains busy with his label. When things open up again, Voodoo Rhythm Records is expecting to release records by Bad Mojo’s, The Sex Organs and Trixie and The Trainwrecks.  On May 14th, Voodoo Rhythm Records will cautiously open their doors. The idea is to start allowing a limited number of people at a time into to shop. For him, this is a hopeful sign that things will begin to return to a sense of normality.


Wading Through Rock N’ Roll and Natural Disasters With Los Vigilantes

Hailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Los Vigilantes have made their mark on the rock n’ roll world. Since their inception, they toured extensively, worked with labels like Slovenly Recordings and Mandinga Records ,and gained an international following. They have released two albums, Los Vigilantes (2011) and Al Fin (2014), plus a plethora of singles. In their records and on stage they sing in Spanish and play music influenced by styles such as bossa nova, lo-fi, and pop. The result is a unique and exciting take on garage rock.

To learn more, I sat down with the lads of Los Vigilantes. Recently, they have been enduring the conditions of quarantine in Puerto Rico due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We chatted about the music scene in San Juan, playing Funtastic Dracula Carnival (2019), a new single being released digitally and how the recent string of natural disasters hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemicshave affected life in Puerto Rico.

NixBeat: Los Vigilantes combines the talents of Jorge “Jota” Mundo, Javier Garrote, Pepe Carballido, and Rafael Diaz. I’ve read in staugustine.com on February 29, 2012 they you all have a different background in music tastes. However, together you all bring a Spanish twist to garage rock by singing in Spanish and introducing elements of hardcore, lofi, fun and bossa nova. What prompted you to draw on these influences and how did they inform you to form Los Vigilantes?

Los Vigilantes: We all grew up with different musical backgrounds so it was kind of inevitable that those influences would seep into our music. It’s like when you hear mashups of songs. “Seasons in the Abyss” and “Careless Whisper” is a perfect example of how things that don’t seem to go together do. If you haven’t heard it, look for it online. It’s amazing!

NixBeat:  What’s the garage punk scene like in San Juan and how has it changed over the years?

Los Vigliantes:  There’s a rock and roll scene. I wouldn’t call it a garage scene necessarily. When we were kids it was all hardcore and metal Lopo Drido, La Experiencia, and Tropiezo for example. In the late 90’s/00’s it started to become more popish with bands like Toy Gun, Pepiniyoz, Jenny Fatale y Los Degolladroes, and all the Bayamón scene. From 2010 on there was a boom of garage rock with Davila 666, Ardillas, Reanimadores, and us. Now I feel like it’s changing again. It seems to be getting darker. New bands like Deshauciados, EspaZmos, La Moral, Bajo Mundo and Trueno Video are painting beautiful things with bleak colors.

NixBeat: If readers wanted to check out the music scene in Puerto Rico, where should they go?

Los Vigilantes: Deshauciados, Bajo Mundo, Campo Formio, EspaZmos, Juventud Crasa, La Moral, Fantasmes, Las Abejas, Ardillas, Re-Animadores, Pepiniyoz, All have stuff out there you can check out.

NixBeat:  Los Vigilantes have toured extensively, playing in Europe, The United States and South America.  How do you find the garage punk scenes differ in some of these places compared to in San Juan and the rest of Puerto Rico?

Los Vigliantes: The garage scene is pretty the same everywhere, and it is like a family. Musically I think with San Juan, Mexico, and Spain there’s a little bit more cross pollination of different styles which we personally like better.

NixBeat:  In November 2019, Los Vigilantes played the Funtastic Dracula Carnival in Benidorm. Spain. The lineup was extensive and included Tommy and The Commies, The Night Times, Davila 666 and many others. What was it like to play Funtastic Dracula Carnival?

Los Viglialantes: It was a lot of fun… I remember Angelito from Davila fell two stories from a balcony and we found him wandering through a closed off construction site thanks to the glitter on his shoes. I’ll never forget it. It was great.

NixBeat: On July 18,2019, Los Vigilantes released the “Quo Descaro”/”Tus Cartas LLegan” 7”. What are you drawing from for the track “Quo Descaro?

Los Vigilantes: A really bad break up. There’s no trick to that one.

NixBeat:  What inspired the track “Tus Cartas LLegan?”

Los Vigilantes: Tus Cartas Llegan is a cover of a Dominican Bachata song by Ramón Torres. We hear that everywhere in San Juan so we figured we’d pay homage to it in our own way.

NixBeat: Your latest 7” was released through the Brazilian label Mandinga Records. How did you get involved with this label?

Los Vigilantes: Pedrinho wrote to us saying he was interested we got a few songs together and that was that. He’s been great to us. We went to Sao Paolo for a few weeks to play and had a great time. Good people.

NixBeat: Can readers expect another album in the works from Los Vigilantes?

Los Vigilantes: We’re releasing a single called Yo No Quiero Ver a Nadie Hoy digitally this week, and we have a lot of songs in our bag so anything is possible. We’re always working.

NixBeat:  What are Los Vigilantes plans for the remainder of 2020?

Los Vigilantes: We had plans to tour that fell through because of the outbreak. So for now, we’re writing and recording as much as we can. We’re trying to turn this isolation in our favor and have music out for when we can play shows. And we are oh so ready to play some fucking shows.

NixBeat:  Much of the world has been in lockdown to the Coronavirus pandemic. These lockdowns have affected music scenes all over, with gigs being cancelled, shops closing and nightlife suspended.   How has Puerto Rico been effected by the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Los Vigilantes: Yeah well we have the strictest lockdown out of all the US. Everything is closed and Marshall Law goes into effect every night and 7pm and no one can leave their house until 5am the next morning. And on Sundays you can’t even buy cigarettes, alcohol or groceries. Only premade food. There is still no reliable testing. The government has been caught twice doing shady things with the tests. The Federal Aid that has been granted to Americans in the mainland has not arrived here, so people are getting desperate. Today, May 1, the government revoked the right to protest, people went out anyway. But it gives you an idea of the climate we’re dealing with.

NixBeat: In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by two major hurricanes Irma and Maria. The result was massive damage to the Puerto Ricans infrastructure and access to resources, as well as poor recovery efforts from the mainland of the United States. How the music scene was particularly affected by the hurricanes’ destruction and the shortcomings of the subsequent recovery efforts?

Los Vigilantes: Yes the hurricanes were horrible, the government was probably worse. Late in 2019 we also got hit by a series of earthquakes with equally dismal response, there are still people displaced from those. Now, like the rest of the world we’re dealing with Covid. Even though last summer we held historic protests and ousted the governor responsible for the mishandling of the hurricane recovery, the unelected governor that got put in charge of the earthquake recovery and the virus seems to be equally as inept and callous as her predecessor. I think this is creating an atmosphere of anger and resentment that is permeating everything. A lot of the newer bands that we’ve mentioned seem to be reflecting this. Right now there is nothing happening musically other than bands releasing music, but any scene needs live shows to grow and evolve.

Fore more about Los Vigilantes, check out their FaceBook and Bandcamp!

The Scaners X Ray Glasses: On 7”

The Scaners

X Ray Glasses: On 7”

Spaghetty Town Records

Street: February 12, 2020

Blasting off into outer space are the gonzo space rock n’ rollers The Scaners. From Lyon France, their mission is to abduct and assimilate the uninitiated with their electro-punk sound. It’s an alien technique meant for the supersonic and intergalactic minded weirdos of this third rock from the sun. Think of their music concoction as boasting a mix of Readymades sprinkled in with Miscalculations and the hollowness of Gary Numan’s  Tubeway Army.  

The Scaners no doubt have an impressive sound and it shows in their recordings. The A-side’s “X-Ray Glasses: On” captures their tenacity. This track is pretty straight forward.  It starts off with a synth heavy intro that leads into an abrasive beat. “X-Ray Glasse: On” is perfect to sway and lose one’s the mind to. Lyrically this ditty is simple and repetitive. However, what makes it is the disembodied vocals on top of the hollowness of the electro-punk sound, which is like hearing a cyborg play with a distorted 1970’s punk style.

“Alien Boy” is a fast and furious tune. This is the track that is over as soon as it begins.  It follows the same method of electric desolation as previous Scaners material, albeit with a more primitive feel.  Think of it as Germs-esque, but electrified.

“I Really Want To Know” has a mode that carries a little more familiarity with tracks like “X-Ray Glasses:On.” It’s fast and frantic as though being like being shocked alive on a live wire. This tune boasts a definable punk spite style. If listeners don’t find themselves pogoing like a mother fucker then something is wrong with the stereo.  

These tunes don’t betray notions of a cheap parlor trick or a punk rock sound done repeatedly to death. Quite the opposite, The Scaners inspire signs of life into the spirit of punk with something discernibly exciting. This record invokes a style that is rapid and vibrant. It’s an approach that The Scaners very much their own. Nonetheless, it hints toward the playful line of The Briefs but with a synthetic nature of The Marked Men or Radioactivity.

Even though my favorite track on this record is X-Ray “Glasses:On.” As a whole though, this 7” is some brilliant work. Mind you, this is not music for the faint hearted, but for the stargazed rockers of this age. If anything is to evidenced by this record, this is strong material and I have yet to hear anything to the contrary. Don’t waste time. Be sure to get this record.

Dancing Through The Evolution with Jeffery Hacker

Jeffery Hacker, Ashley Mietus and Scarlett Hacker. Photo by Clayton Holyoak (aka Goose) at Crucialfest

Jeffery Hacker has long been involved with shaping Salt Lake City’s Music Scene. His passionate presence is widely felt, whether it’s through Djing his famed Dance Evolution parties as DJ DJ/DC,  bartending and managing at Metro Music Hall, or by his enthusiastic and constant promotion of local and touring acts. For these reasons, he has earned a place as a staple in Salt Lake City’s growing underground music community.

Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus pandemic there is a necessity for the implementation of a Statewide lockdown and quarantine. One of the consequences is Salt Lake’s nightlife coming to a complete and sudden halt. Among the many industries affected by these measure is entertainment, with venues like Metro Music Hall temporally shuttering it’s doors.

For the first time since 2004, Hacker has had to find a new gig to sustain himself and his family until Metro Music Hall opens up again. I caught up with Hacker to see how things are going. We discussed his legendary DJ nights, the importance of Salt Lake City’s nightlife, managing Metro Music Hall, meeting Peter Hook and more.

NixBeat:  You used to run a weekly DJ night called Dance Evolution. How did this night start and what kind of music did you play?

Hacker: At the time it started out of necessity.  We wanted to dance to all kinds of music and the only thing available in SLC at the time were dedicated genre nights.  Going out and hearing everything from The Faint to Usher sounded like a great time, so we just did it ourselves.  Every night always started out as indie as possible, morphing into more of a pop night around 11 and ending with as much punk, emo and metal as the crowd would let me get away with for giant sing-a-longs.  It was awesome seeing people from different social groups meeting each other and becoming friends.  We actually hosted several “DE TATTOO” days where we partnered with Goodtimes Tattoo and they just tattooed DE logos on everyone.  Seeing all the different types of people coming in bonding with their new friends is something I don’t think any of us will ever forget.

NixBeat: In a Facebook post from December 8th, 2016, it was mentioned Dance Evolution went through a lot of changes, including jail time. How did Dance Dance Evolution Evolve over time?

Hacker: As the night got bigger I always ended up catering to the masses more.  Honestly that’s my biggest regret over the years.  I think what made the night special was exposing people to music they didn’t know and changing that up to keep up with random requests took the soul of the night away.  It was still super fun, but I think the night should have gone the other direction and become 100% indie dance.  I did have a stint on house arrest for a DUI (don’t drink and drive kids) but luckily DE had built up enough DJ’s over the years to have plenty of people fill in.  I actually moved to Denver for a year as well, and even though I managed to fly back to SLC almost every week for the party. There were still some shows I wasn’t able to make it.  Thankfully Brenton Leu, Justin Hollister, Tyler Lusk and Erik Olsen came into my life and became the best party throwers this city has ever seen.  They held down the fort just fine.

NixBeat: In the same Facebook Event Post, the description mentioned that Dance Dance Evolution helped bridge communities in Salt Lake City. How did Dance Dance Evolution accomplish this?

Hacker: We threw a weekly party for over 13 years, in that time we were lucky enough to meet what feels like just about everyone in SLC.  I think our specialty was focusing on crossing genres not just in what music I played but also what guests we would bring in.  One of my favorite memories of all time was one of our infamous water slide parties.  During the summer we would get a giant 33 foot tall water slide set up on the patio and people would just go insane.  At one of these parties we had a touring death metal package performing alongside the legendary drag performer Ursula Major.  Needless to say every single person looked insanely confused as they arrived but by the end of the night literally every single person in the venue was just having a blast on the water slide with their new best friends.  It wasn’t all debauchery though, we also were lucky enough to be at the right place and right time to help some people out in need.  We’ve hosted countless benefits which really shined a light on how amazing the people in this city are, and seeing people at their best always breaks down barriers and helps people come together.  

NixBeat:  What about DJ nights do you think are important to a music community?

Hacker: I’m from a generation where “going dancing” was everything.  I met all my friends at a dance night.  I met my wife at Area 51, and hit on her by getting Max the DJ to play her song next.  I think for a lot of people going dancing at a club playing a specific type of music is how they find “their people”.  Once they become a regular they know they’ve found their home.  It becomes a part of their routine and in a lot of ways it’s their singular release from the day to day grind of their lives.  Dance nights are VITAL to the music community as a whole because they become the primary source of in-person networking.  I can’t count how many shows were booked and planned out on the patio of metro at a DE party. 

NixBeat: How did you become involved with operating Metro Music Hall and what kind of changes have you seen it go through?

Hacker: Super long and confusing story so here is a short version:  Years ago we were at the Trapp Door (which is where the Metro is currently located) and the staff was treated very unfairly by the owner so 100% of us left and went to take over a venue called Club Edge.  About two years after we took over Edge, the owners sold it and the new owners kept all of us on.  After a while there the new owners wanted a better location, so we moved to the 200 S. location and changed the name to the Metro Bar.  Again a few years later they decided they wanted a bigger location so we came full circle and moved back to the original location of the Trapp Door.  These owners eventually decided to sell as well so I begged them to sell to Will Sartain and Lance Saunders with S&S Presents.  They obliged and now I work with the best team this city has ever seen.  Slowly but surely they’ve transformed the newly named Metro Music Hall into what I honestly believe to be the greatest venue in Salt Lake.  Full circle.

NixBeat:  What kind of clientele typically attends concerts at Metro Music Hall?

Hacker: Honestly?  Every type you can imagine.  We host all manner of events so the age range varies from 21-80.  I would say the regulars could be described as open minded and enthusiastic music lovers.  It doesn’t matter what the show is, they will always be there with open ears.

NixBeat:  Metro Music hall has attracted big name and local acts to play there. Some of these acts include MC5, The Black Lips and Gary Neumann. What has been your favorite show(s) at Metro Music Hall?

Hacker: My absolute #1 show will probably forever be Peter Hook.  I get star struck super easy and usually I will shy away from acts I’m super into, but Peter was just the nicest guy ever.  Realizing I was having a normal conversation with a living legend to this day gives me butterflies.  Death From Above 1979 was another act I couldn’t believe played here.  I’ve played them multiple times a night, every night I’ve dj’d and here they were on our stage.  I felt the same way about The Faint, The PresetsCut/Copy and dozens of others.  We’ve hosted Doyle and Michael Graves of The Misfits several times too.  If 15 year old me knew that one day I’d be eating birthday cake with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein I would have died. 

NixBeat: What are some Salt Lake City bands you are currently enjoying and what about them makes them stand out?

Hacker: Choir Boy is pretty much my favorite band right now in general, so it helps that not only are they from here but several of the members work at Metro from time to time.  Mortigi Tempo, Lord Vox, Violet Temper and NVM are bringing a whole new scene to the city I think on top of being the most consistently impressive bands I’ve seen. 

NixBeat: With the onset of the Coronavirus, a lockdown order has been issued on Salt Lake City’s venues, bars and restaurants. How has this affected Salt Lake City’s nightlife and music community?

Hacker: It drove a stake through our hearts.  Right now there is absolutely nothing to be done though.

NixBeat: How are you and the rest of employees of Metro Music Hall coping with the lockdown?

Hacker: Some of us found new jobs to fill the gap until we can open again.  I luckily snagged a spot at Amazon which is my first new job since 2004, so it’s kind of fun.

NixBeat:  Are you seeing any attempts to rally behind those affected by the Coronavirus Lockdown?

Hacker: I think right now it feels like a lot of help is up in the air.  I’ve seen many groups pop up attempting to set up financial aid for musicians and serve industry people but I think right now most people are waiting on the government to figure something out. 

NixBeat: Do you think Salt Lake City’s nightlife and music scene will be able to recover from the effects of the Coronavirus?

Hacker: 100% I know we will recover fully.  Unfortunately though, I think it will take a lot longer than we might think.  I don’t want to speculate and risk being wrong, so I’ll just say it can’t come quickly enough.