Tuesday, July 06, 2010

(No Interview With) Streetlight Manifesto

A couple of years ago, I had a chance to do an interview with one of my fav bands, Streetlight Manifesto. It was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've ever done and, as such, I was going to write a detailed blog about it. But with details, comes my desire to avoid them. The band rarely does interviews, which made the experience even more memorable for me.

They're playing here again tomorrow night and their publicist reached out to me about covering the show. I was stoked about the opportunity to interview with them again, but alas, I was told they're not doing interviews. (Instead I'll be reviewing the concert.)

I decided to write a show preview anyway. Here's a little trip down one of my many musical memory lanes.

(Forever indebted to Ty's A&R work in discovering Catch 22.)

Streetlight Manifesto - Everything Went Numb (YouTube)

Streetlight Manifesto
July 7, 2010
In The Venue

Everyone has at least one "record that changed my life." I've certainly got a bunch of 'em but there's only one that almost changed my life.

I was 18 when I first heard Catch 22's "Keasbey Nights." From the opening notes of "Dear Sergio," I was hooked -- the rapid-fire vocals, the tight horn section, and the bulletproof vest-related singalongs were perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Promptly after releasing the record, singer/guitarist/songwriter Tomas Kalnoky decided to leave the band. Catch 22 soldiered on without him and, before heading out on their first national tour, they posted a message on their website that they were looking for a new singer, guitarist, and trombone player. (Had I been better at any of those positions, I definitely would have applied.)

By the time the Catch 22 made it to their Salt Lake City show in the basement of the now-defunct Club DV8, the band had filled all of its empty slots. After they burned through their set, I stole a chance to grab an interview with the band (my very first interview) for the Utah State University school paper.

I asked them something along the lines of "So you've got a bunch of new guys in the band now, eh?"

"Yeah, but we're still looking for someone to drive the van. You got a license?"

I did have a license. And summer was right around the corner, so I wouldn't miss a lot of school. And maybe if the guitar player got sick I could fill in, and maybe if the singer ... and ... and ... and...

I was still thinking of my reply long after the van took off without me. And I kept thinking about it for the next two years. Every time I was questioning my life path, I'd ask myself, "Why am I doing this? I could be a greasy roadie right now."

Though their follow up to "Keasbey" was OK, Catch 22 just wasn't the same without Kalnoky. By their third record, I had lost faith in the band.

And then it happened. After years of silence, Kalnoky re-emerged with Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution and then Streetlight Manifesto. The records picked up right where "Keasbey" left off. I couldn't have been happier.

But then I was.

In 2008, I had the chance to spend a half hour or so on the phone with Kalnoky. We chatted about the rift with Catch 22 (now mended), his aversion to doing interviews (preferring to let the music speak for itself), and the band's upcoming plans (a goal to release eight albums of cover songs between Streetlight and the Acoustic Bandits).

As an added bonus, I was invited to hang out with the band in the tour bus before their show at the Avalon. The guys couldn't have been more friendly. But as I was taking in the moment, I couldn't help but glance at the driver's seat a time or two. I had just one thought.

I could be driving this bus.

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