POSTED ON OCTOBER 20, 2010:
Having is fun a priority for Promo Dave & the Haters
All About Music. “The idea behind the music is to make it easy to digest and like right away,” Dave Hays said of his approach to songwriting. “Some bands are more into heavy instrumentation and arrangements, but our focus is to get your attention right away and make the show fun to watch.”
Although I'm an unabashed fan of singer-songwriter types and love more progressive bands such as Muse and Rush that make you stop and think, sometimes I just want to relax, cut loose and have fun with what I listen to. Occasionally, that will take me down a punk or metal path, but other times, I want something a little less intense. After all, everyone loves a good party, and therefore loves a good party band, right?
Unfortunately, not all good party bands can translate that energy and vibe to their CDs. When keeping things fun and stress-free is a focal point for a band, however, it makes it easier for that care-free vibe to carry over onto disc.
Throughout the past couple of years, Promo Dave and the Haters have developed into one of the more entertaining party-vibe bands, quietly building a fan base without oversaturating the local live scene by playing too often.
When discussing the band with its namesake and defacto leader, "Promo" Dave Hays, he shared that one of his primary objectives with the band is for it to not feel like an obligation or hassle to any of the members of the group. "This is really just a group of friends that gets together and everybody has a lot going on," he shared. "K.C. (keyboardist, K.C. Lupp) is on the radio, Kokomo (drummer Chris "Kokomo" Gann) is a pilot, and Ted (Scott, guitarist) and I are both in a handful of other bands. I just want everyone to be glad that they spent the time rehearsing and playing together."
When looking back, even the formation of the group wasn't a deliberate or preconceived notion. While playing bass in Band Camp, drummer Robbie Merrick's original project, Odd Man In, was preparing for its CD release and needed an opener. At that point, Hays had been writing his own material, but more as a personal outlet and hobby than with any focus on playing and releasing it. When Merrick inquired if he would like to open for the CD Release show, however, Hays called in a group of buddies and worked up a set of originals and covers to effectively launch The Haters.
Since that time, the band lineup has shifted slightly, but the focus hasn't: keep it fun, make it catchy and keep people's attention.
"The idea behind the music is to make it easy to digest and like right away," Hays said of his approach to songwriting. "Some bands are more into heavy instrumentation and arrangements, but our focus is to get your attention right away and make the show fun to watch."
While a night with The Haters includes a fistful of covers, instead of covering all the standards, Hays picks songs that make sense within the context of what his group is doing, adding tunes by artists such as Citizen Cope, White Stripes and Black Keys to the mix. In the process, he also picks tunes that leave themselves open to interpretation and allow the band to improvise within the framework of the song.
When writing original material, however, accessibility is the key. "I want it (the music) to be accessible on the first listen, especially during the live show," Hays said. "In the long run, I think that just makes it easier on yourself, especially in Tulsa."
On the creative side of the equation, while Hays is the primary songwriter, each song is still a band collaboration, as he brings his song ideas to the group for input and to flesh out to completion.
After building up a small catalogue of demos, the band traveled down to Austin earlier in the year to commit the tunes to tape with Dave Perceful at the new Yellow Dog Studios. The resulting EP, Everybody's Busy, provides a quick snapshot of the band and its overall vibe: Not brainless party rock, but definitely groove oriented tunes that immediately get you bobbing your head and falling into the chorus.
Accessible? Catchy? Both missions are accomplished with the five-song disc. And while the band has mostly kept focus with the songs it committed to disc, you can still feel where the songs leave themselves open to live interpretation and improvisation. I wouldn't call Promo Dave and the Haters a jam band, by any means, but the group definitely has an element of that and with the musicianship on display, you want to hear the group expand on the hooks a bit more in a live setting.
"Not Enough to Go Around," in particular, serves to play upon all of the band's strengths in one set piece. Clocking in at a little over seven minutes, the short and sweet element is thrown out the window, but an urgent guitar progression immediately draws you in then the band shifts gears. The band's dynamic interplay is key to the track and shows hints of jam band and progressive rock influences as well as the more commercial and immediate appeal of bands such as Blue October and Finger Eleven.
Although everyone in the band is indeed busy with multiple projects, each makes it a priority to fit Promo Dave and The Haters into their schedule as the band plays around Tulsa roughly once a month. This weekend, that commitment to the band pays off as the group holds the CD release party for Everybody's Busy at The Hunt Club on Saturday night, Oct. 23. There's no cover and it's a full night with The Haters, so come out early and plan on spending the evening relaxing on the patio with the band and settling into the groove.
The band will play multiple sets over the course of the evening, likely playing the entire EP and a few more originals during the first set, then working through a mix of originals and covers for the remainder of the evening. Regardless of when you arrive, however, the focus will remain the same: Keeping things fun and engaging the audience.
Sure, it's the band's recorded debut and Hays and his buddies are proud of the outcome, but Everybody's Busy is just the tip of the iceburg and a mere hint of what the band can do. So long as they continue to keep it fun for both the band members and the audience, there's surely much more on the horizon for these guys, so join the party early, if you haven't already.
Festival Season Still?
Shouldn't festival season finally be coming to a close? Even though the good weather has held out and extended into October, I can't help but think it's been one long summer and the festivals can come to a close. Before it's over, however, we've got two more coming out this weekend.
Most obvious is Oktoberfest, which has become a Tulsa tradition out at River Parks West. Beer, brats, beer, the chicken dance and more beer are all on tap this weekend, beginning Thursday night and extending through the weekend. I know you don't really need a reminder, but it can't go without a mention and with artists such as Red Dirt Rangers, Chloe Johns, Crossland and Brandon Clark Band making appearances throughout the weekend, you can get your music fix while overloading on Oktober-ness.
Perhaps the last festival of the season, however, helps us wrap up the season as the inaugural Be-Fest invades Chandler Park with frisbee golf, rock climbing and a ton of live music. You can register for rock climbing classes and each Frisbee golf tournament will have its own registration fee, ranging between $3-5, and you can camp out all weekend for an additional $5 camping fee. Otherwise, you can just come to hang out and enjoy the live music, which will feature acts like The Rest Orchestra, The Move, The Real Grown Ups, 100 Bones Band, Revival Drive, Hi-Pop and a roster of DJ's throughout the weekend. More details are available at befestival2010.com.
As always, regardless of the festivals, we've got a lot going on around Tulsa this week and plenty to choose from. If you need a little direction to help get you pointed out the door, read on for the highlights before you head out to your favorite haunts.
Thursdays never fail to be a big night to kick off the weekend and this week is no exception with three big shows covering all angles on Oct. 21. First up, perennial Christian music giant Amy Grant makes an appearance at Broken Arrow's new performing Arts Center working her way through a 30-year catalogue of songs. Meanwhile, out in Bixby, SpiritBank Event Center continues to step up its game under new management by welcoming the CMT country tour with Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Josh Kelley. If you don't feel like travelling south, however, Cain's Ballroom can also feed your country fix with Casey Donahew Band, Rich O'Toole and 2 Steps Back.
Friday night's biggest show is a sold out Hall and Oates reunion at The Joint at the Hard Rock Casino. If you're looking for local tunes, however, you can check out Sam and the Stylees and Hunt Club, What's That at The Colony, and Paul Benjaman Band at Arnie's.
Also on Friday, Oct. 22, Downtown Lounge welcomes Thunderosa from Austin, TX and Cain's Ballroom hosts Lotus with Mux Mool and J. Wail.
On Saturday night, Oct. 23, if you aren't enjoying the party with Promo Dave and the Haters, you can get your indie-electronic fix at Soundpony with Bruder and Kite Flying Robots, get your blues on with Steve Pryor at Arnie's or get your speedgrass fix with Skillbillies at The Colony.
He rest of the week is rounded out with touring acts as Five Finger Death Punch headlines Cain's on Sunday, Oct. 24, with Mercy Street and Severmind opening while Powerman 5000 headlines at The Marquee on the same evening.
Cain's Ballroom wraps up the week with Pretty Lights and Vibesquad on Wednesday, Oct. 27, but not before Minus the Bear and Tim Asher (of Cursive) play The Marquee on Tuesday, Oct. 26 -- potentially one of the best club shows flying under the radar this month. Don't miss it.
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