When this year's Absolute Best of Tulsa ballots came back they left me a bit bewildered. Something or someone new pops up every year, but a young band that didn't even exist a year prior came out of left field to dominate the runoff ballot for the music awards.
Sure, we'd seen the band's name pop up all over town. The group has played anywhere they could get a toe in the door, from house parties to Soundpony, Mercury Lounge and The Marquee.
Still, even amidst the swirl of activity over the fall and winter, no one really knew much about the band nor expected it to find nominations in an unprecedented six categories, landing in everything from best Indie Rock and Male Vocals to Album and Song of the Year, Live Performance and possibly the most appropriate nomination: (NewVo) Newcomer of the Year.
If you haven't seen the band that everyone seems to be buzzing about yet, never fear. Surely, all of the attention with the music awards will open more doors for the band this fall, but you can also see the group this weekend when it plays The Soundpony this Friday, July 1 with Miraloma and Bad Vibes.
When catching up with Rude Amps singer and guitarist Lisandro BouxRude last week, we discussed the flurry of activity that makes up the band's past and future. If you feel like the band appeared out of nowhere, you're not altogether wrong. Although the groundwork was laid for the group when BouxRude and Jordan McLeod put together the core of a band called Enemy Lightening a few years back, but the timing just wasn't right.
BouxRude is actually an artist with dual callings, with his first love being film. After spending eight years working on independent films, he got into writing music to score a film under deadline. Those tracks were recorded acoustically on a home computer.
"A lot of people were more impressed with the music than the movie," the front man said with a laugh.
Still, Rude Amps didn't come together until BouxRude submitted some tracks he had recorded to Free Tulsa last summer and was accepted to play the festival. At that point, however, he didn't have a band, so Rude Amps was formed with less than a month to learn the songs and get ready for its live debut.
The band immediately received a warm reception and almost literally exploded on the local music scene, playing shows wherever and whenever possible. Of course, indie rock haven The Soundpony has been a cornerstone of the band's live shows, but the group hasn't closed itself to other performance opportunities.
The frenetic pace continued as the band entered Valcour Studios with producer Hank Charles and kicked out the tracks for what would become its debut album, Vicious Wave, in a mere four-hour session. BouxRude admitted that was partially because of the band's tight budget at the time, but it's also how the band functions: tight and efficiently, with an amazing focus.
Initially, I lumped Rude Amps in with the current movement of indie/punk acts on the scene, but upon closer listen, the band definitely stands apart. While acts like Lizard Police and Bearhug bring a more hardcore edge to their punk sound, Rude Amps brings a more melodic approach and tight song structures that align it more with classic punk bands such as The Ramones and The Clash.
"When this started, I really didn't have any favorite bands that I was emulating so when people said, 'Oh, you sound like... ,' I'd go check those bands out," BouxRude admitted. "I've always been a fan of The Beatles and Beach Boys."
BouxRude's love of those bands certainly explains Rude Amps' more melodic bent, even if it occurs more in the song structures than the vocals. He does openly chuckle, however, when following up on recommendations and seeing how much his band does sound like other reference points, especially when unintended.
The band itself is a tight knit unit with BouxRude on guitar and vocals, Cameron Clouser on Drums and Art Jiminez on bass. Catlin Owens joined the group in February as lead guitarist, expanding it to a four-piece and adding a bit more punch to the live delivery.
When asked about the band's tight delivery and succinct song structures, BeauxRude said "We have to be. Art (Jiminez) learned to play bass specifically for Enemy Lightening and when I put this band together, I naturally called him.
"We're not the kind of band to jam," he continued. "We sit down, write a song and work out all the parts until we have it down."
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Rude Amps has been how prolific the young band is. Not able to sit still, the band not only cranked out Vicious Wave last October, but is already entering the studio to do pre-production work on its next album, which BouxRude tentatively plans to release in August.
"We've written songs that have already disappeared because we didn't get a chance to record them," he said. "I watch bands play so much and play the same songs, but I have to keep moving or I get bored. That's why I write so much. We've written a lot of songs that will go unseen or unheard, just because we've already moved on."
Even so, Rude Amps still has a plethora of material to draw from for the new disc.
"Before stating this new album, I sat down with about two albums worth of scratch tracks and basic song structures to work from," BouxRude said. "Now it's just a matter of picking the ones that stand out."
After a flurry of activity in the fall and winter, Rude Amps consciously slowed down a bit over the spring to avoid burnout, but the band is springing back to life with a summer schedule that continues to grow. According to BeauxRude, the band has never lacked shows, but never had to go digging to find them either. Instead, the band has picked up nearly every show by request, form house parties to sharing the bill with Broncho at Mercury Lounge and even opening for Peelander-Z and Anamanaguchi (one of the band's favorite shows) this past spring.
With only a pair of shows outside of Tulsa, the opportunity to play elsewhere certainly appeals to BeauxRude and his band mates, but he's confident to take things one step at a time and let it grow organically.
"This is our only band," he noted. "That keeps all of us focused and I think that's why we grew so big so quickly."
With a staggering six ABoT Music award nominations, Rude Amps has certainly grown quickly in popularity, but the band's focus promises the best is still yet to come. Be sure to catch them this weekend at Soundpony on Friday, July 1, to get a glimpse before the Music Awards are handed out at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on July 16.
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