Revenge of the art rock bands: Switch Affect and Everyone Is Dirty
Usually when a Tucson band hits the road for good, they head for big cities like Seattle, New York or L.A. to try their luck in the "traditional" music industry. The former Tucsonans behind Switch Affect made a different kind of move altogether, and the results are a bit of genius.
Founded in 2016 by Tucson native Juliana Warkentin and East Coast transplant Jacob Booth, Switch Affect's first album "The Absence Of" combines the dark rich shoegaze of bands like Portishead and Hooverphonic with the avant-garde electronic synth rock of Bjork or Brian Eno. Playing local venues like Flycatcher and the now defunct Screening Room, the band grew a steady base of Tucson followers in their short time as part of the local music landscape.
When the band announced plans to move to Booth's West Virginia home town, local fans helped the two raise more than $2,000 towards the move in a crowdfunding effort, avidly following social media updates of the pair's adventure and misadventure-filled cross-country road trip to their new home base.
Booth grew up in West Virginia. The relative quiet and isolation of its small towns provides its artists and musicians with a close-knit community and creative respite, not to mention a deep well of Appalachian and Southern musical tradition that quickly sparks new ideas and unexplored layers in existing music.
"Believe it or not, there's a larger music community that's bigger here than [in Tucson.] Most of the arts communities around here and most of the people I know play music, and most people I know are seriously good at multiple styles and multiple genres," he said.
"There's something really nice about being in a small town," says Warkentin, a Tucson native. "To be right in the middle of the wilderness and have a moment to be and to soak things in. I thought I was a city gal, but there's something really special about this setting."
Meanwhile, the larger network of roots based folk, rock and Americana bands along the \Southeastern seaboard operates much like a larger urban music scene, with tons of opportunities for live gigs, mini tours and collaboration with other artists.
One of those collaborations reached a bit beyond the band's new Mid-Atlantic base, but resulted in maybe the band's most fruitful and interesting work so far.
A longtime friend and musical partner of Booth, drummer/percussionist Chris Gartmann, was living in New York City around the time that Booth and Warkentin made their way east. Like Booth, Gartmann was also working with a musical soulmate and collaborator, bassist Alana Orchid.
The two couples began collaborating via Skype and the new rhythm section proved to be an excellent musical foil for Warkentin's deep-honeyed vocals and keys and Booth's innovative effects guitar, synthesizer tones and live looping. Soon after, they began meeting partway for in-person full band performances.
"There was definitely some overlap of style," says Gartmann, about the group's initial virtual meetings. "Juliana's vocals are completely unique and all four of us are seriously enriched" by the collaboration. "Everything fits together and adds color to the [existing] sound, adds Booth. "Everything can work kind of symbiotically together. Chris and Alana have always been my favorite bassist and drummer to record with ever and to add that to what Julianna and I were doing is a dream come true."
The newest incarnation of Switch Affect combines the postmodern harmonic edge and fluid digital soundscapes of their first recordings with the diverse, roots-based influences of their new locale. The band hopes to record soon and will eventually make their way beyond the Eastern Seaboard. Stay tuned, as they intend to make their way to Tucson on future excursions.
Look for Switch Affect's full-length release "The Absence Of" on Spotify and at local independent record stores like Wooden Tooth and Old Paint Records.
Everyone Is Dirty's post-Bowie art rock invasion
In a world of neo-psych and retro garage bands, not everybody can be The Velvet Underground. Eventually somebody's going to be Roxy Music instead.
The art rock/post new wave/neo glam/Bowie-meets-Ferry-meets-Cheap Trick-meets-Eno-in-a-dark-alley-somewhere aesthetic of Bay area band Everyone Is Dirty quite nicely fills the niche.
Formed in 2013 by vocalist/electric violinist Sivan Lioncub and guitarist and sound engineer Chris Daddio, bassist Tyler English responded to an open call for bassists, having learned the duo's entire catalog of songs to date by the time he showed up to audition. Hard-hitting tireless drummer Tony Sales joined soon after, pushing the band toward an edgier and louder sound and futher developing their sense of aggressive, gorgeous weird. The band soon gained a reputation for their high energy live shows and joyous, chaotic glam rock vibe, becoming darlings of the Oakland and Bay Area music scenes as well as playing several West Coast music festivals and striking out on a couple of national tours.
In the summer of 2015, the band's bright future came to a seeming halt when front woman and primary songwriter Lioncub contracted a rare and nearly fatal reaction to a common antibiotic, resulting in nearly six months of hospitalization for liver failure.
Soon after she recovered, Lioncub found herself contemplating mortality once again with the unexpected death of one of her musical heroes.
Everyone is Dirty has always had a deep connection to the music of the Thin White Duke. In addition to Lioncub's lifelong fandom (she lists the video to "Look Back In Anger" as one of her all-time favorite rock performances) drummer Sales is the son of bassist Hunt Sales and nephew of his namesake, drummer Tony Sales. The brothers formed the rhythm section for Bowie's rock band side project Tin Machine and the Bowie-produced Iggy Pop albums Lust For Life and The Idiot.
"We played our first Bowie set on Halloween 2015," says Lioncub. "After Bowie passed away we got approached by Northpop Festival to host a David Bowie tribute and screen Ziggy Stardust. It was really magical." she says. "Learning the set after he died and listening to Blackstar floored us. The way that he left this world...it was unimaginable."
The band ultimately covered the title track to that album at the sold-out festival, called Everyone Is Bowie. "Blackstar was definitely the hardest tune that we've learned of his, or anyone else's."
The parallel of Bowie's death and Lioncub's own near death ordeal inspired the song "Wax Mannequin Mode," one of the most intriguing tracks on Everyone Is Dirty's latest release, "My Neon's Dead." During the slow, surreal, morphine haze of recovery, and its aftemath, Lioncub gathered her band and turned her experience into music, forming the bones of the songs that would make up the core of the album's tracks.
The resulting record is equal parts deeply introspective and joyfully absurd, with surreal lyrics, bright melodic hooks, trippy dreamscapes and contrasting rock and roll edge. Daddio's effects laden guitar and English's subliminally melodic basslines weave and parry with Sales' heavy but masterful percussive attack all woven together by Lioncub's sometimes dramatic, sometimes droll vocal delivery and wild, untamable electric violin.
You can check out the band's live show this Saturday night along with your favorite Bisbee-based Bowery Punk duo the Exbats and a maybe-not-so-rare-anymore appearance of Tucson indie-psych elder statesmen The Resonars.
Everyone Is Dirty will play a free show with The Exbats and The Resonars, 10 p.m. Saturday at Bar Passe.
Check your local listings...
Friday, October 6
- Black Joe Lewis with Kacy & Clayton - 7 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. (Downtown)
- Born2Death, Sanctvs MRTVM, Ijustsawyoudie, Snackbirdy - 9 p.m. at Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St. (Downtown)
- The Determined Luddites and John Clark - 9 p.m. at St. Charles Tavern, 1632 S. 4th Ave. (Just south of Downtown)
- Orange Blossom Special, The Minds, ThenWhen - 8 p.m. at The Loudhouse, 915 W. Prince Rd. (North)
- Davai, Bryan Thomas Parker, Technical Difficulties - 8 p.m. at Brodies Tavern, 2449 N. Stone Ave. (N of Downtown)
- Burlesque Brouhaha! - 9 p.m. at Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)
- Naim Amor - 7 p.m. at Bar Passe, 417 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)
Saturday, October 7
- Hank Topless - 11:00 am The Coronet, 402 E. 9th St. (Downtown)
- Peter Dalton Ronstadt y Los Tucsonenses - 7 p.m. at Club Congress (Downtown)
- Pushing Buttons 9 p.m. at Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Prison Band 9 p.m. at St. Charles Tavern (Just south of Downtown)
- The Resonars, Everyone Is Dirty, The Exbats - 10 p.m. at Bar Passe
- Infinite Beauties, In Lessons - 9 p.m. at Sky Bar 536 N. 4th Ave. (Downtown)
Sunday, October 8
- The Swamp Meet - 8 a.m. at Bar Passe (Downtown)
- Dead Rider with New Doubt - 8 p.m. at Club Congress (Downtown)
Monday, October 9
- Caustic Casanova, Carbon Canyon, Dayak - 7 p.m. at Club Congress (Downtown)
- The Mercury Tree, Azfarat, Brid Violence - 9 p.m. at Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Miss Olivia and The Interlopers - 7 p.m. at The Parish, 6453 N. Oracle Rd. (North)
Wednesday, October 11
- The Chamanas, Sur Block, El Tambo - 7 p.m. at Club Congress (Downtown)
- Ladytowne Live (featuring live music by Leila Lopez) 9:30 p.m. at Flycatcher (Downtown)
- Miss Olivia and The Interlopers - 10 p.m. at Tough Luck Club, 101 E. Pennington St. (Downtown)
- Jim Howell Band - 7 p.m. at Public Brewhouse, 209 N. Hoff Ave. (Central)
- Weekend Lovers 1st with Cool Funeral & Silver Cloud Express - 8:30 p.m. at Flycatcher
- RV Music - 7 p.m. at Tap and Bottle, 403 N. 6th Ave. (Downtown)