POSTED ON APRIL 14, 2010:
Catching the Big Break
Violence to Vegas scores big with a signing deal and new album in the works
Finding a Rhythm. Mucho Mustachio (above) throws audiences a curveball with a new record and its live performance. Check all of the hubbub out at their Eclipse show on April 21.
Why is it that so many times a band has to leave town or sign a big deal before its hometown crowd catches on? Don't get me wrong: It's not just a Tulsa phenomenon. I've seen it in other cities as well. It's just a nagging question for a situation I've seen occur all too many times.
It's not exclusive to any particular genre, either. I've seen it occur with pop bands, indie acts, jazz artists and hard rock acts. Regardless of the genre, sometimes you've just got to move away or hit it "big" before the people at home seem to notice.
Granted, I can kind of understand it when it's a band that has oversaturated the local market. There's kind of an "Oh -- you mean them?" factor involved with a band that you can see on any given weekend. But when a band is hard working, puts out a series of solid records and tours relentlessly, only plays at home maybe once a quarter, and they still don't get noticed, what's that about?
The reason I ask is one of our own has been touring ruthlessly, seen plenty of acceptance and airplay in Oklahoma City and Texas and even gained traction across the Southwest and into the West coast, but they can't seem to get people to blink here in Tulsa. Now that a major label record deal is on the table, however, I'm hoping that will change.
If you're wondering of who I'm speaking, it's Tulsa-based hard rock act Violence to Vegas (aka V2V).
Yes, after a successful run supporting the band's "debut" disc, Princess to Poison, and going back to the studio to record a follow-up, the band has finally caught a break. Just last week, the group scored that elusive record deal.
Perhaps the irony of it is that the band already had its new album finished. Entitled Santa Carla, V2V recorded the new disc with Adam Watt (who previously managed Closure) and had the package ready to roll, even recording and releasing a video for the single "Beautiful Mistake." Now, with a freshly inked deal with F.O.F./EMI, the disc has been tabled with plans to go back to the studio on EMI's dime and re-record the material and work up a few extra songs.
Still, even as the deal has progressed, Oklahoma City has jumped on the single with "Beautiful Mistake" hitting No. 19 in rotation on The KATT, grabbing airplay and attention on The BUZZ, and already getting spins in Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas as well as a few other key markets.
Even so, I've yet to hear Violence to Vegas get any major airplay or attention at The EDGE or KMOD. Perhaps the band isn't technically modern rock enough for The EDGE demographic, but it still seems some attention on KMOD should be warranted. Either way, I'm betting once the band re-records the disc and EMI gets behind it, we'll be hearing a lot more from and about the band locally.
As for now, however, it's business as usual for Violence to Vegas. The band recently signed with a new booking agency, CAA, which has already been putting key dates together and will keep the band on the road, where it really lives and breathes.
Current plans call for the band to finish up the dates it already has booked, including a key spot on the KATT-Fest lineup in OKC on May 7 with Three Days Grace, Seether, Papa Roach and Puddle of Mudd, then go back to the studio to start re-doing the material for F.O.F./EMI.
After that, the band will return to the road for three to six months, and we'll likely see the new record drop with a major label push in early 2011. That might seem like a long way off for us, but it's a fairly standard plan for a major label and will help build some buzz leading up to the release. Even though the time might pass slowly for local fans waiting for the new tunes, the band will be kept busy enough during the next nine months, I'm sure it will pass in a blur.
For lead singer Jake Williams, who started down this path with Failsafe more than 10 years ago, finally getting signed is almost surreal at this point. "It's kind of weird and hard to explain," he said. "I was 18 when I started and that's a long time. When I look at the evolution of it all, it's insane.
"I think of all the shows we've played, all the labels we've played for and all the things that we've done ... And now, it all resets and starts over for real. This is the opportunity everyone has worked so hard for and what we've always dreamed of -- being able to make music and play rock shows for a living," she said.
Granted, it's been a long road, and V2V isn't the deified indie rock act that many people expected to get signed from Tulsa, but the band is a testament to what hard work, dedication and focus can bring.
If you're looking for a peek of what's to come and get a preview of the new songs, you can always check out the band on MySpace, where a few key songs like "Lost Boys," "Wrong Way to Heaven" and "Beautiful Mistake" have been posted.
Or if you're not familiar with the band and want to see what it's really about, check out the live show when Violence to Vegas returns for a hometown show at The Marquee on Saturday night, April 17. This is a small room for a band that always puts on a lights-out live show, and it should only make the experience more electric and intense.
Current tour mates BrookRoyal and Within Reason are a pair of straight up modern hard rock bands that complement V2V's slightly more aggressive sound and will make for a great bill for fans of the genre. In all honesty, any of the three could slide into radiation on The EDGE or KMOD and fit right in. In fact, both support acts have already been confirmed on the recently restructured Rocklahoma bill in May, so this will be a good preview of them as well.
Take the opportunity to check them all out, make Violence to Vegas proud and turn this show into a celebration party for the band to turn a page into its next chapter.
I got a call from Dylan Hartgrave (AKA DJ Dilation) a couple weeks back letting me know his band, Mucho Mustachio, has a new CD done and ready for release, so I had to check it out. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.
A preview download of the disc and a visit to the band's rehearsal threw me a bit of a curve. While the tracks on the CD are well structured with a lot of samples, the band really steps it up live.
My only problem is, I'm not sure what to call it: Indie/Funk/Jam/Stoner Rock, maybe? Seriously, it's all over the board, with touches of indie rock, hints of Queens of the Stone Age and enough of a Jam Band and electronic vibe to remind me of STS9.
Even so, all of the tracks are concise (only three of the 10 tracks go past three minutes), and the band keeps them focused in the live set as well.
Actually, it's a brilliant move: hit your groove, make your point and move on, leaving the audience wanting more. Hopefully, it will translate as well in front of a full audience.
Maybe the reason it all works is because of the band chemistry: four guys of varying ages with differing backgrounds and musical tastes but open minds. Drummer Ben Munkholm has been playing for 16 years and grew up listening to punk rock, while Hartgrave has been playing for 10 years and has listened to everything but obviously wandered into DJ-ing and electronic.
Meanwhile, guitarist Matt Oliver cut his teeth on Led Zeppelin and classic and Prog-rock, while bassist Andrew Howard described his taste and background nonchalantly as, "Yeah, yeah ... Blah, blah, blah. Take what they all said and put it in a blender -- it's all the same!"
Maybe it is, maybe not. I do know what Mucho Mustachio ISN'T, however: It's not at all what you expect.
If you're ready for a left field surprise, make sure and look them up. You can preview the tunes at muchomsutachio.com or pick up the disc for $5 when the band holds its CD release party at Eclipse Wednesday night, April 21. There's no cover, Night of the Comet will open, and DJ Dilation will be spinning before and after.
The local scene just continues to light up with the spring, whether it's from bands getting signed, CD releases or everyone coming through town. As always, there's plenty to choose from, so here are a few highlights to get you started.
You know, there's always something cool happening on Thursday evening to jump start the weekend, and I've usually got a few different suggestions. This week, though, I'd recommend you try a different angle and hit Ida Red on Brookside. Besides being a very cool rock-themed storefront boutique, the shop also hosts smaller shows, including this week's gig by Sleeping at Last on Thursday evening. The Chicago-based trio has a load of indie and alt-rock credibility, at least in the Midwest, and is currently on a cross-country tour. The stop at Ida Red will likely be one of the most private and intimate gigs of the run. Chris McLeod opens at 8pm, and tickets are $10 at the door.
Of course, the other really cool show for Christian music fans is a co-headliner with Jennifer Knapp and Derek Webb at Cain's Ballroom on April 15. This one should be a great display of songwriting at an under-publicized show.
Friday night's real highlight is the return of Jason Boland and the Stragglers to Cain's Ballroom for the CD release party for his latest, High in the Rockies. Boland continues to develop as an artist, and this disc might be his best yet. Aaron Watson and Kyle Park open the show for a Tulsa favorite.
Saturday's big concert is a showcase for Christian music fans at BOK Center. The Rock & Worship Roadshow spotlights Mercy Me, David Crowder Band, Family Force 5, Francesca Battistelli, Remedy Drive and Sidewalk Prophets all on one bill for only $10 at the door. Doors open at 4:30pm and the show starts at 6pm. Arrive early and expect to see a lot of local youth groups out. I'll tell you now: More people might know Mercy Me's name, but Crowder is the best of the bunch and Family Force 5 will be the crowd favorite.
Elsewhere around town on April 17, Larry the Cable Guy headlines two shows at Osage Event Center at 6pm and 9pm for blue-collar comedy fans, Sam and the Stylees will change the pace and vibe at Mercury Lounge and Soundpony has the indie crowd covered with Barf Makeout, Lizard Police, Bearhug and The Normandys. You can also check out an acoustic RadioRadio gig at The Hunt Club.
Sunday night's best show is easily the return of The Whigs to Bob's on April 18. High energy, from the gut indie rock is the rule with these guys and they even let locals such as The Red Alert and Wighead open the show.
If you want to know what's on the D/L on 4-20, check out our sidebar on page 46, otherwise the week wraps up with the previously mentioned Mucho Mustachio show at Eclipse or buzz band Rogue Wave at Bob's with Man/Miracle and JBM, both on Wednesday night.
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