Interview with Ritt Momney

Evolution is a tricky topic, especially in Utah. And if you were to name your band after the most famous Mormon in the country, you might assume that a lot of controversy would come with it. But local band Ritt Momney hasn’t found that to be the case. Yet.

With that said, it’s impossible to talk about this indie rock/pop group without noticing the transformations they’ve undergone since the band started 3 years ago. Only one original member remains, they have found a new age niche and taken Spotify’s bedroom pop playlists by storm. K-UTE Radio’s Jackson Card and Max Becker sat down with the up and coming group to talk about the creative process, future plans, and life in general. With a California tour coming up and an album in the works, it looks like this could be a breakout year for Ritt Momney.

New Beginnings

The current iteration of Ritt Momney, consisting of Jack Rutter on vocals/guitar/keys, Jonas Torgersen on guitar, Noah Hamula on bass, Auden Winchester on keys, and Sam Olson on drums, has only been together for a couple months. They found each other in classic Small Lake City fashion: childhood connections and high school parties. As Jack put it, “It was just kind of a string of people pulling each other along.”

Their memorable name came up during a jam session but was not borne of any particular feeling for the former presidential candidate. “It was not thought out at all, whatsoever. If we would have known [the band] was going to be this big of a deal, we definitely would have thought it out more. We like to keep it really neutral. We don’t want to be trashing on him or loving him either.” The name seemed a better fit for their initial style but the group doesn’t mind shaking expectations. “I’d rather have an odd fitting band name than a too fitting band name… It gets people talking about us.”

People are Talking

The hype around Ritt Momney has been growing steadily over the past year. They now have 100,000 monthly listeners (per Spotify) and generate more listeners in Los Angeles and Chicago than in Salt Lake City. Their unique blend of classic indie themes and chord structure, electronic production elements, and Jack’s signature croon has led to an explosion of popularity since “Something, in General” hit streaming services in 2018.

Their music takes on an undeniably endearing quality without being trite and it resonates deeply with listeners. That authenticity stems from their personable songwriting process.

Creating a New Sound

After the initial band left in 2018, Jack realized he could craft the band’s sound in a totally different way than before. “I’d gotten better enough at producing so that I could do my own stuff just on my computer at home. It’s so much easier to just use the electronic stuff because I can’t play drums at all but you can quantize it in logic. So that was somewhat convenience but also taste, I guess. I think we all agree the super basic indie rock feel of “Young Adult” and those earlier songs is just straight down the middle of indie rock. I think we all like the newer stuff better. Like more electronic, more experimental stuff.”

For as much credit as the band wants to give him for his brilliant writing, Jack concedes that he couldn’t do it alone. “Sending it to these guys and having them critique it is such a big part of [the process]… [and] the jam sessions kind of bring the songs life, make them different. When we’re trying a bunch of stuff… everybody’s had their input through just jamming together and thinking up parts.”

Art Over Business

The band runs the gambit on influences (from Feist to King Gizzard to James Blake) so the final output is never what you’d expect but it flows together seamlessly. Even at their live shows, the band doesn’t play exactly what’s on Spotify or Soundcloud. “[The music] kind of changes every show honestly just cause something might sound better the day before the show when we’re practicing it and then we put it in. We don’t have the attention spans to just play the same songs over and over. We kind of just want to switch it up for the sake of switching it up.”

Keeping it fresh is a crucial piece of Ritt Momney; in their music and their shows. They don’t want to sacrifice their creative freedom to appease fans or a label. As idealistic as that sounds, maintaining autonomy over their sound is a main priority for Jack, saying, “I think down the road, I definitely don’t want to ever be business over art.” Their sound is still developing and is going to continue to evolve as the group moves out of their teens and the confines of their hometown. Some A&Rs have reached out but the band isn’t ready to enter that stage of the process just yet. They’ve only just begun exploring what Ritt Momney could be and they don’t want to ruin the magic with industry pressure.

Future Plans

The group has plenty on their plate with four California tour dates this month, a South by Southwest performance in March, an opening gig for Death Cab for Cutie this May, and an album set to be released this summer. Jack’s been working on the album for a while but doesn’t want to commit to a release date just yet.

“I need to stop being such a perfectionist about it cause I just spend way too much time like, ‘Oh no, I need to figure this out’ or ‘I don’t like that anymore, I’ll just scrap it.’ So hopefully the rate at which I’m finishing songs will start picking up. I wouldn’t say we have a timeline but definitely this year. 100% this year. Should be before the end of the summer. Like 95% before the end of the summer.”

Ritt Momney has shown their ability to evolve and defy expectations, so however long the wait, I’m sure it will be worth it!

The Wacky And Weird You Need to Hear: IRONTOM

First Things First: Why the Wacky and Weird?

Let’s talk about the weird side of music. Those random groups you happen to find while surfing the depths of YouTube. That opener at the concert you went to last week. Yes, even that band your second cousin showed you at your last family reunion. The Wacky and Weird You Need to Hear aims to enlighten you on all things strange and NOT mainstream. This series will set out to open your eyes to the big wide world of music. Music isn’t just today’s top 20 or Cardi B‘s newest album. Music should be something that individuals connect with and can relate to you personally. That’s why we’re here, to enhance your relationship with music. Welcome to the depths of alternative music my friends. Welcome to IRONTOM. 

The indie-rock group debuted in Los Angeles, California in 2012. It’s five members can bring serious hype during their live performances. I saw them at The Complex in Salt Lake City accompanying AWOLNATION at their show in March. It isn’t very often I see openers make a crowd go crazy, but IRONTOM knocked concert junkies’ socks off! Their sound is reminiscent of a classic 90’s garage band mixed in with synthesizers creating a modern vibe. Rehashing old musical themes with modern technology is something that is seen in a good portion of today’s alternative music.

Now, let’s talk about stage presence. As I said earlier these guys have serious skills. Their main vocalist, Harry Hayes, is an INSANE performer. He moved from one end of the stage to another putting his all into the music. His hands flailed about the air and along his body with an amazing energy that showcased the tenacity of IRONTOM. The other band members fed off his energy and before long everyone in the crowd had their hands in the air as IRONTOM rocked the house.

From their eccentric vocalist to their classic 90’s vibe, IRONTOM is one of those groups you find and don’t want to share. Their music is so gold you wanna keep it all to yourself. So listen, don’t tell your friends, and I will hear from you next time.

Song suggestions: “Be Bold Like Elijah”, “Brain Go”, “Hookers”

Reflections of a K-UTE Freshman

Starting a new year at the U

Geoff & Sage (me)

Hello! My Name is Sage Holt, I am a brand new Freshman here at the University of Utah.  And I would love to share my experience working for K-UTE Radio as DJ Bug Bite. Before I jump into it, I feel you should know a little bit about me. Just like many of the incoming students, I was nervous, terrified, and also excited to start college. Like many others, I had little to no friends at the U,  I did what any logical person would do trying to make friends; I signed up to rush. (a choice i’d soon regret). 

DJ Dum Dum Boy

Here Comes K-UTE

Not even halfway through rushing I got sick and had to leave thereby excluding me from being able to join. But little did I know I already had a family on campus, I had just yet to realize it. As a kid I remember my mom always telling me that the friends you make in college are the friends you keep for life. And as a freshman new to the scene of the college radio station, I was meeting people left and right, each one kind in nature with a character all their own.

Gary Potter & Father Cactus

People who would help me and guide me, as if they were my family. Brothers who would protect me and sisters who would lend a shoulder if needed.  Working for the radio has also given me a voice to be heard in the college community, a voice to share my thoughts, ideas and perspectives with my fellow students. Due to K-UTE Radio, I will not be just another student in the classroom. I will have left my mark on this campus as all of us should. Little by little I have come to see that these people have become so much more than my producers, managers and interns; they are some of the greatest friends, giving me memories to last a lifetime.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Workaholic Ethos

“My body’s overworked
It’s just the same I know
When can my body work
Cold static overload?
My body works, I know
It’s just the same, I know
My only difference
Is robot influence”

 

The chorus off of “Robot Stop” from 2016’s Nonagon Infinity is a prophetic statement for 2017. With the band releasing two new songs off of their fifth album this year on Wednesday, the Melbourne based King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is at the tail end of a whirlwind year. Touring across Australia, New Zealand, the U.S (twice) [if you want to see K-UTE’s Jackson Card’s review of their SLC show, check it out here.], and Europe the band has not only focused on tours but recording five different albums and ending the year with a touring music festival across Australia, “Gizzfest.”

A band with this kind of ethos is almost unheard of in 2017.KGATLW have proven that they can deal with a heavy workload and deliver quality music, concerts, and collaborations. What started as a seven member garage rock band from Geelong, Victoria in Australia, KGATLW consistently delivers new albums with new sounds, and 2017 was the band proving themselves to the world.

 

Starting with Flying Microtonal Banana in February, the band introduced a western audience to 24 TET tuning (For the non-musically inclined, these are notes in between notes in western music) which is commonly used in Arabic music. Fusing Psych rock, Krautrock, and Turkish folk music, the band created a sound that has not been seen in western popular music since The Beatles. The album had two singles that got considerable airplay in Australia and some U.S stations, “Rattlesnake” and “Billabong Valley”, the latter being a contemporary Bush Ballad that tells the story of Bushranger Dan “Mad Dog” Morgan.

In June the band released Murder of the Universe, an album that told three different stories through the band’s signature psych/kraut/garage sound. The album was even nominated for the ARIA’s (Australia’s RIAA) “Best Hard Rock Album” of 2017. Featuring Leah Senior’s narration for the first two stories on the album, the band resorted to using a text-to-speech application to narrate the final story. The album did not have any songs that got considerable airplay due to the length of each story, however it is the first time since “Eyes Like the Sky” that KGATLW has used spoken word to guide the structure of the album.

In August the band released Sketches of Brunswick East, a collaboration with U.S based jazz fusion group “Mild High Club.” The album mixes some concepts from “Flying Microtonal Banana” with a looser, improvisational feel ushered by Mild High Club’s involvement. This is some of the most improvisational content that the band has put out and their first foray into jazz. Citing Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” as inspiration for the album name and jazz influence, the band delivers a newer sound that has not been heard in their discography. The album’s big single “Countdown” received heavy airplay in Australia. Again the band shows that they can metamorphose their sound and surprise their audience with new concepts they’ve never explored.

In November the band rolled out with Polygondwanaland. An album that is as fun to listen to as it is to pronounce. Building on the themes explored in “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” and “Nonagon Infinity,” the band produces an album that uses more synthesizer than any of the band’s previous work. The big takeaway from this album however is the band released it entirely for free. The masters and artwork were given to the public for free. The band is stated as saying, “Ever wanted to start your own record label? GO for it! Employ your mates, press wax, pack boxes. We do not own this record. You do. Go forth, share, enjoy.” The band again explores a new concept never seen with their work. The fanbase has already began publishing Polygondwanaland among different labels, creating special editions of the album that are unique to each label. KGATLW shows that there’s always something new up their sleeve. If you want to read more about Polygondwanaland, check out our very own Jackson Card’s review of the album here.

What’s going to be on the fifth album? The band released two singles on Wednesday (You can listen to them below), “Beginners Luck” and “All is Known.” Both singles show an amalgamation of their musical work in 2017. With “Beginners Luck” borrowing the softer sound of “Sketches of Brunswick East” and Beginners Luck taking sounds off “Flying Microtonal Banana” and “Murder of the Universe.” Does this mean the band’s fifth album will be the capstone of their work in 2017? If these singles indicate anything, the answer is yes.

 

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has delivered in 2017, they have come of age. Stu Mackenzie is now Kevin Parker’s biggest threat in terms of the Australian rock scene. In the time that Tame Impala has been quiet,KGATLW has come in and taken the crown from them. KGATLW has become the ruler of the late 2010s in the way that Tame Impala was in the early 2010s. The work they’ve done in 2017 has shown that rock is not dead. The show of pure passion for their content shows off with the band’s fanbase, and by giving their fans Polygondwanaland they’ve developed a new brand of marketing that is so brave in a world where music does not make a living.KGATLW is a force to be reckoned with. Time will show that their efforts are not fruitless and their work ethos in 2017 has sealed them as an influential band of the 2010s.

 

 

Why I Go to Concerts: Beach Fossils at In the Venue

It’s seven thirty on a Saturday night. The doors to In the Venue were supposed to open thirty minutes ago. Instead, the line wraps around the corner and half way down the block. The heat is almost unbearable. The people in line squeeze together trying to hide under any shade they can find.

An hour passes. The heat has somewhat subsided as the sun begins to set, but everyone just wants to get inside. Ablebody begins to play. The sound echoes through the windows with hundreds of people still outside. I hear some voice their frustration saying they came just to see this band. The line slowly begins to move. By the time I get inside, they are wrapping up their set list and I hear only one song.

The second band, She-Devils, only has two members. Their performance struggles to captivate the attention of the audience. The instrumentation sounds disconnected from the vocals and the music unpracticed. Some listen silently while others converse.

The headliner of tonight’s show is Beach Fossils. The indie-pop band from Brooklyn, New York has experienced moderate success since their formation in 2009. They are currently on a world tour showcasing their June release, Somersault.

When Beach Fossils gets on stage, there are issues equalizing the music. Frustration sweeps over their faces as they converse with the engineer. “Can I get some more keyboard in this monitor?” “More guitar over here.” The lead singer, Dustin Payseur, leaves the stage to try and mend the situation.

After thirty minutes, everything sounds good and the band begins to play. The tired audience has little energy during the first couple songs. After a slow start, a couple people start to dance and their excitement radiates throughout the rest of the crowd. Within seconds the entire vibe changes. “I was wondering when you guys were gonna wake up”, Payseur asks.

I somehow find myself three rows from the stage with nothing to do but enjoy the show. For the next hour, I dissipate into the crowd. I am entranced by the music and the motion of those surrounding me. The outside world seems disconnected and my entire existence seems limited to the five hundred people under the same roof.

Many artists love playing in Utah solely for the passion of the audience. Utahans always show their appreciation for a good performance. Several concertgoers hopped on stage then surfed off into the crowd. While mosh pits may not be customary at indie-pop concerts, in Utah it is expected. When the enthusiasm of the crowd went up so did the band’s. They played a variety of fan favorites including Saint Ivy, Daydream, and This Year.

At the show, I was reminded why I go to concerts. Despite the heat, the long lines, and the problems with the tech, I genuinely enjoyed myself. For a short time, I was able to forget about everything outside of the venue’s walls. I didn’t have to worry about school, work, or the current state of our country. I could just listen to music and dance with my friends.

Album Review – “Bleak Plaza”, A Noisy Burst of a Joy Ride

Bleak Plaza by Bleak Plaza

Hitting play on Bleak Plaza was a good idea. The Denver based group’s debut album kicks off with an immediate hit of energy on the title track “Fire in The Olfactory”, and it doesn’t soon let back on the acceleration. Track 3 “Say It and It Dies” brings a satisfying change of pace via catchy driving beats that transition from garage-y slacker rock to swirling kraut rock. These moods are complimented by clever motifs in the lyrics such as “when we’re dancing in the dark do you really care what the lyrics are…”.

Furthermore, this album will never bore you with stale grooves and patterns. Track 4 “Some Things Happen” starts off with a funky no-wave-esque groove that drops into a agony-tinted heart pounding finish to the song.

The second half of Bleak Plaza continues with the same pattern of passionate noisy pop songs with dynamic genres layered on top. The tight driving feeling of “Night of Vampires” is reminiscent of “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes. It brings a similar lovely feeling of driving in a car in a city filled with neon lights.

The final song “Until I Untie” quickly became my favorite track off the record (because I’m an absolute sucker for any simple powerful pop song such as this). In addition, the guitar tones are on point with perfect EQ, drive, and modulations. This song will make you feel as scared as you did the first time you felt that classic teenage reflex of pure romance squeeze your chest.

Bleak Plaza wastes no time in fulfilling its purpose of delivering an eclectic stream of toe tapping lo-fi power pop that will make you feel like you’re falling backwards into a swimming pool filled with nostalgic goop. I sincerely hope that this Denver based group will come play in SLC soon. This one will definitely be in heavy rotation in the rock/indie and Midday Mix shows right here on K-UTE Radio.

Like them on Facebook here: Bleak Plaza

 

Interview with Bad Suns

As a long time fan of the LA alt-rock band, Bad Suns, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and talk to them about their newest album Disappear Here. Along with that, I was also able to interview the band about their current tour, as well as ask a few questions about their previous album, Language & Perspective.

My first encounter with Bad Suns was in 2014 when I ran into their music online. I quickly fell in love with their songs, and after a couple months I received their Language & Perspective vinyl as a birthday gift. Their catchy hooks and energetic songs make them the perfect band to sit down and jam out to, but they also don’t shy away from music that focuses on more serious issues and contain a lot more lyrical depth.

I met up with the band at The Complex on February 28th; the winter weather was still lingering as fans huddled up in a line outside of the venue. I met up with the band inside where I was able to meet all of the members. I was first introduced to Christo Bowman (Lead vocals and guitar), then Gavin Bennett (Bass), Ray Libby (Guitar), and Miles Morris (Drums).

After we all sat down, I asked the group about their newest album, Disappear Here, and how  their sound has changed and evolved from their first album, Language & Perspective.

“We felt in a lot of ways that Language & Perspective feels like the first couple of dates with a person; you present yourself the best that you can, showing the best sides of yourself, but with Disappear Here it’s kind of a bit more like falling in love…There’s more vulnerability there and it goes a bit deeper, but at the same time it’s still the same person,” Christo explained.

While Language & Perspective is still one of my favorite albums, it’s easy to tell that Disappear Here feels more confident and structured while still maintaining their original sound.

I then asked the band about the album title itself, Disappear Here, and how the name came about.

Christo explained, “We were in the studio and I was reading the book Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which is one of my favorites, and there’s a billboard that appears in the narrative a few times that says ‘Disappear Here.’ I remember we were thinking of album titles…and it kind of encapsulated everything we wanted it to. It’s like instructions too, to an extent, it’s like sit down, put your headphones on, and disappear here.”  

For myself, music has always felt like an escape, but with the track list for Disappear Here it’s very easy to follow the album’s directions; just sit back and get lost in the music.

Lastly, I talked to Bad Suns about their most recent tour. Coincidentally, Salt Lake City was their first show on the list, so I asked them about what they all looked forward to the most when performing live on their tours.

“I was talking to my uncle just the other day about this. It’s a really cool real life manifestation of your hard work. It manifests itself into people physically spending their time to go buy a ticket or drive to the show; it’s really encouraging.” Ray explained.

Christo chimed in, “Yeah it feels like the reward aspect of what we do…It’s one thing when we put a record out, and it’s great to see that people are listening to it…but you don’t really get the full picture until you come to a show and you see a room full of people singing along to the entire record and you go ‘Oh wow, this is real, these people are actually spending time with our music,’ and that’s just an incredible feeling.”

It was definitely really nice to see how humbled the band was to be playing live, and as a fan, I was definitely humbled to be able to sit and interview them.

If you’ve never listened to Bad Suns before, make sure to check out the song below. Sadly, they’ve already passed through Utah, but if you’d like to see them in the future during the rest of their tour, be sure to check out their tour dates for this Summer!

 

Moon Duo – Occult Architecture Vol. 1

This first release of the two volumes, which will be catalogued together as the band’s fourth record, takes on the Yin of Chinese philosophy – the Yang to be taken care of in vol. 2. Roughly translating to “the shady side of the hill,” the Yin in vol. 1 is used as a vessel to take on a more grim subject matter, moving through night and dark, bumping into ideas like how vague and black the world can be. This is all according to the duo themselves, Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada. They found themselves in the darkness of a Portland winter at the start of making this record, and having ended in the season of infectious scents that is a northwestern spring, they thought it would only make sense to evolve this record as winter to spring, night to day, dark to light – Yin to Yang.

Pigeonholing themselves in the genre of what they call “repeat-o rock” (their incessant repetition and uncompromising loop of riffs provides a cadence that probably first attributes to punk legends, Suicide) they surface their dark contemplations, batting off with “The Death Set.” Setting the stage for rest of the record’s ambience, the track contains relentless fuzzed out guitar, a beat you can coolly nod your head back and forth to, synths attacking from all directions and soft, yet demented, gospel-like vocals that keep you in tune with the evolution taking place. “Cold Fear” and “Will of the Devil” bring on more of the same allowing the band to flex their commitment and show that if something gets stuck in their heads it won’t be over for at least another five minutes. But it’s when we get to “Creepin” that perspective shifts a bit and listening to it you feel like you could be on some coastal highway zipping along the beach in a convertible. Ironically, given the dark tones and discrepancy of light within the rest of the album, this will probably be the composition that sticks with you come the end of the album. However, I might only think that because we are in the dead of winter and I could really use a beach. “Cross-Town Fade” and “Cult of Moloch” are great tracks that alleviate the bite from a cold breeze; the former surfaces the likely influence of Suicide bringing out old-school drum machines that compliment the playful synthesizers that might sound familiar if you’re into the Brooklyn art project Japanther, and the latter elevates the band to their most tenacious mode demonstrating a duel of two soloing guitars above the atmosphere of drum machines and fuzzed-out-guitars-on-repeat.

Vol. 1 comes to its conclusion, and where it will pivot to the Yang and sunny skies in Vol. 2, in “White Rose.” The track channels in with sound of ambient winds, almost like air moving through an indefinite valley, void of time and consequence, until the beat kicks in and you remember that you’re listening to a song. The song itself moves in and out of its gospel, clashing synths and guitar solos, but never let’s that beat stop. Not for a second. Not until the ambient winds return after 10 minutes and it fades away under the stiff breeze, and you’re once again lost. The winds push through the valley, revealing to your mind that they will come again, like all seasons – winter, spring, summer, fall, winter again – and that life is just a repetition of rotation of earth. Like the beat, the winds fade away and you’re back from void, but with all of this still realized, and it’s the moment this record ends that you understand that a good life isn’t a lack of repetition, but rather, an excess of variation that you can fade in and out of.