All in the family with Tucson bands Gaza Strip and the Unday
Gaza Strip and The Unday
With the release of their second full-length studio album and a nod as runner-up in the "best punk band" category of the Weekly's "best of" accolades, Tucson band Gaza Strip is getting some overdue recognition these days. But once upon a time, its members were just humble call center workers with rock and roll dreams and zero experience.
When Geremy Cady, Keith Lamott and Javy DeLoera met, they all owned instruments but nobody really knew how to play. In the fine tradition of punk rock bands through the ages, the future members of Gaza Strip didn't let that stop them.
Coworkers at Tucson based call center Teletech, the guys became fast friends and quickly decided to meet up outside work and start jamming. The meetup soon morphed into recurring practice sessions, and eventually original songs and the still unnamed group headed to a mutual friend's house to record their first EP entitled "All About the Lincolns."
Gabriel Trejo, the friend in question, not only lent his guest house and recording set up to the band, though. He also gave them a name: Gaza Strip.
Shortly after this promising beginning, frontman Lamott was deployed to Iraq and the band went on hiatus - seemingly over before it ever began. In the meantime, Cady and DeLeora began playing with Cady's good friend Levi Misner, a budding drummer. By the time Lamott returned from his tour of duty, Misner was solidly rooted as Gaza Strip's drummer and the band had booked its first gig.
Several years, kids, marriages and misadventures later, Gaza Strip is still alive and kicking, about to release their third recording and second full length album, "Listen."
I checked in with drummer Misner to talk about Gaza Strip, past, present and future.
Who's in the band's current lineup?
"Gaza Strip is Keith Lamott on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Geremy Cady on lead guitar and vocals, Daniel “Dang” Hollas Black on bass and vocals, and Levi Misner on drums. We’ve changed bassists like Spinal Tap changes drummers. We’re hoping that this time is our forever home. Moment of silence for Javy, Jen, that-one-guy-I-think-his-name-was-David, one other guy, Brian, Bryan, Brian, and Dan the Iron Man.
Dang is one hell of a musician, person, and friend. We haven’t had the opportunity to write music with him much yet, but that’s about to change. I’ve known him for many years and always wanted to jam with him. Now that it’s happening, I can’t wait to hear his influence he has on our music."
What is the overall band dynamic?
"We’ve always had the same dynamic. If you have an idea, we’ll try it out. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. If it does work, it’s in the rotation. No member is our band leader. Geremy and Keith usually come to practice with the initial riff, and then it grows from there. Each member writes their own part."
What is your live performance philosophy vs recording?
"Live performance is where we live!!!! We’ve played for just two people, and we’ve played for over a hundred. There’s nothing like performing what we’ve created. Getting sweaty, pouring over our instruments. It’s what we do it for.
Recording closes a chapter of our story. When we have enough music to fill an album, we start working our butts off, through gigging, to pay for it. Each album has been a different experience. All About the Lincolns was recorded live, in a friend’s guest house, and mixed on his Mac using Garage Band. Makes No Sense was a big studio experience. What an amazing, fucking experience, indeed! And Listen brought us full circle, recording with Gabriel Trejo, the same guy that recorded the first EP and named the band."
What's in the future for Gaza Strip?
"We’re all very close. Brothers, family, husbands, whatever you wanna call it; we love what we do in the garage or on the stage. Having Dang join the band was like finding a long lost brother to share these moments with. Going forward we plan to write, play more shows, and hug our fans a lot.
How would you describe the relationship between Gaza Strip and fellow band The Unday?
"The Unday and Gaza union started many moons ago. I met all of the Unday members as friends first. I loved them as friends before I worshipped them as musicians.
Dee (The Unday's lead singer/violist, Deanna Cross) sang “At Last” as my wife walked down the aisle, arm in arm with her dad. Shaun (The Unday's bassist, Shaun Botthoff) stood with me as a groomsman. That friendship is still there and will never leave my heart. Both bands share the same philosophy when it comes to writing, “oh, you have a new riff? Let’s play, and see what we can do with it.” That’s about where our similarities stop.
The Unday is like the really smart kid in class. They just make it look effortless. They possess beautiful melodies, changing time signatures in the middle of a damn song. Quite the musicianship. Meanwhile, Gaza’s in the back of the class, working our ass off for a fucking B-. They’re all like 'oh, look at our 4.5 GPA.' And playing together is like a big porch party with a crap ton of friends. We share some fans, because we’re all friends outside of shows.
Gaza Strip and the Unday are like siblings. Unday is the sister: Elegant, beautiful, very intelligent, and complicated. Gaza is more of the brother: a little angsty, kinda rough around the edges, and sophomoric at times. But a friendship that has lasted about 15 years will bring out the best in you, especially when music is a common love."
Any parting words?
"Our new album, "Listen," is our best yet. We’re proud of what we created and are hopeful that it touches at least one person in the feels."
You can catch Gaza Strip's album release party at 9 p.m. Friday at the Surly Wench Pub.
Halloween puts the fun in the Unday
Where Gaza Strip is a fun, messy, DIY band family, sister band The Unday is careful and precise. The band's anthemic viola rock symphonies layer soaring vocals and psych-blues soundscapes ala Zeppelin's "Kashmir" over proggy math-rock guitar, all heavily anchored with strong alt-rock and grunge rhythms.
In person, singer/violist Deanna Cross, guitarist Clovis Jako, bassist Shaun Botthoof and the band's newest member, drummer/percussionist Sam Bess, are a warm, funny, tight knit band family, but on stage they are a dynamic force of serious intent and passionate art rock. Serious, that is, until the one day of the year the band members allow themselves to become absolutely ridiculous.
That day is, of course, Halloween, when traditionally the members of The Unday dress in incredibly creative and ludicrous costumes and their furrowed brows and deep concentration give way to sheer goulish joy.
The Unday's Halloween tradition continues Tuesday (Halloween night) at 8 p.m. at The Royal Sun, 1015 N. Stone, just north of Downtown Tucson.
Also happening this week
While the last few weeks in Tucson local rock have been rich with touring artists and pockets full of live gigs throughout the week, this weekend is jam-packed with performances by local bands doing Halloween shows. It's a great time to dress up, head Downtown or into the city and check out some Tucson-based talent you've likely been meaning to see for a while.
Check your local listings...
Friday, October 27
- The Exbats - 9 p.m. at Saint Charles Tavern, 1632 S 4th Ave (Just South Of Downtown)
- Miss Olivia and the Interlopers - 7 p.m. at Crooked Tooth, 228 E. 6th St (Downtown)
- Gaza Strip Album Release Party - 9 p.m. at Surly Wench Pub, 424 N 4th Ave (Downtown)
- Vamp:Gorlesque - 9 p.m. at Flycatcher, 340 E 6th St (Downtown)
- Rock The Hut w/ Gigi & The Glow - 7 p.m. at The Hut, 305 N 4th Ave (Downtown)
- Madeintyo - 8 p.m. at 191 E Toole (Downtown)
- Token (Have You Seen Him?) - 8 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E Congress St (Downtown)
- Douglas Beat Market, The Gunrunners, Dusk 2 Dust - 8 p.m. at The Loudhouse, 915 W Prince Rd (North)
Saturday, October 28
- Bruja and the Coyote, Deschuto, Bryan Thomas Parker - 8:30 p.m. at Danny's Babaquivari, 2910 E Fort Lowell Rd (North)
- Texas Terry Trash - 9 p.m. at Saint Charles Tavern, 1632 S 4th Ave (Just South of Downtown)
- Mother's Lament and M-Q - 9 p.m. at Sky Bar, 536 N 4th Ave (Downtown
- Spacefish & Friends Halloween - 10 p.m. at Che's Lounge, 350 N 4th Ave (Downtown)
- The Witching Hour Revue - 9 p.m. at Flycatcher, 340 E 6th St (Downtown)
- Halloween Block Party: Nightmare On 4th - 7 p.m. at The Hut, 305 N 4th Ave (Downtown)
- Angelz, Bijou & Cizk - 9 p.m. at 191 E Toole (Downtown)
- Cahs'd Out - 7 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E Congress St (Downtown)
- Astronomar - 10 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E Congress St (Downtown)
- The Spacetime Ripples, Manhigh, Kur - 8 p.m. at The Loudhouse, 915 W Prince Rd (North)
Sunday, October 29
- WTF AF w/ Wallpaper Prison and Hannah Yeun - 8 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E Congress St (Downtown)
- Michael Graves - 8 p.m. at The Loudhouse, 915 W Prince Rd (North)
Monday, October 30
- Rosetta & North w/ Brass Tax 8:30 p.m. at Flycatcher, 340 E 6th St (Downtown)
- Marauders w/ Big Brother Beats - 9 p.m. at R Bar, 350 E Congress (Downtown)
Tuesday, October 31
- Halloween with The Unday - 8 p.m. at Royal Sun, 1015 N. Stone (Just North of Downtown)
- Halloween at Club Congress - 8 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E Congress St (Downtown)
- Halloween at Sky Bar w/ Tom Walbank - 6:30 p.m. at Sky Bar, 536 N 4th Ave (Downtown)