Indie rock, Creole and aggressive bluegrass in Breck
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Who: Pan Astral
Where: three20south, Breckenridge
Where’d the name come from? A game of random word association
Home base: Denver
Type of music: Electronic and indie rock. We are Gabriel Otto, Michael Rempel (Lotus guitarist), Ryan Burnett (Signal Path guitarist) and Damon Metzner (Signal Path drummer).
If your music were a tangible item, what would it be, and why? Water, because it always finds its way into your home, somehow.
Why do people love ya? Our music takes a new approach to the fusion of electronic and indie rock music. Unlike most indie rockers, we embrace jam band roots and like to explore a more experimental approach to live music. We are eclectic in our songwriting style, ranging from drum and bass to ambient structures, and that keeps our album engaging to a wide audience.
How do you keep it fresh? We switch up how songs are written, sometimes starting with a beat, sometimes with a phrase or sentence. Ryan, our guitarist and one of the primary songwriters, likes to invite his 1-year old son into his studio to help him upon occasion.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done/weirdest experience? As a band, it’s hard to say. I would venture to believe that our rehearsals are crazier than most bands’.
Who: Toubab Krewe
Where’d the name come from? The band name came from our experience over the years of studying music in West Africa. “Toubabu” is how a foreigner or non-African is addressed over there, but it’s non-derogatory. After associating yourself with a name or title for some time, you begin to refer to yourself that way. We started calling ourselves the Toubab Krewe. It stuck. The “Krewe” spelling is borrowed from the New Orleans tradition.
Home base: Asheville, N.C.
Type of music: We like to say we play Creole music. We have adopted this description because we think it most accurately reflects the nature of our eclectic style. Music reflects the times, and we live in an increasingly knit-together world. Our music is a reflection of how cultures and musical styles from around the planet are blending.
If your music were a tangible item, what would it be, and why? Veggie gumbo.
How do you keep it fresh? It can be difficult to “keep it fresh” on the road. One way to maintain positivity is to try to take care of yourself. The happier and healthier you are while touring in a band, the more productivity is achieved. On the flip side of the coin, the more bonding through partying and listening to music a band does, the more it can be inspired. So, like everything, it’s a balance.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done/weirdest experience? The craziest thing we’ve done as a band is probably the 2007 January trip to the Festival au Desert, in Essakane, Mali. After a harrowing flight aboard an old Russian prop plane – flown by exclusively Russian-speaking, tank-top-wearing ex-pats – that started with a fireball from the engine and ended with a landing that involved a few bounces and in the middle was “food” served a la cockroaches, we took a four-hour Jeep ride through the Sahara to a desert festival oasis attended by sword-brandishing, camel-riding Touaregs who traveled weeks to get there on their camels. Festival security was the iconic Toyota pickup with a mounted machine gun. The music that wafted over the dunes was the most fitting for any setting we had ever been in. Tinariwen, Oumou Sangare, Habib Koite and Vieux Farka Toure were highlights. The crowd embraced our performance in what ended up being the most affirming experience we have had in our careers. And, oh yeah, we met Jimmy Buffet there.
Who: Split Lip Rayfield
Where’d the name come from? Our bass player’s parents went to high school with an unfortunate fellow who had very chapped lips in the winter. His nickname was Split Lip Rayfield. For some crazy reason this stuck with Jeff, and our band has been called this for 14+ years…
Home base: Kansas
Type of music: We play aggressive acoustic music on bluegrass instruments. Our bass is made from the gas tank of an old car and has one string on it (a weedwhacker line). Also, we have banjo and mandolin, plus vocal harmonies. Some people call our music thrashgrass; we have punk and metal influences that creep into our country roots. We are not “traditional” bluegrass, but some of those elements are impossible to escape. The music is fast and aggressive with nice vocal harmonies and an evil streak. Shredding mandolin and banjo are backed by the “stitch-giver,” a one-string bass fashioned from the gas tank of a 1970’s Ford and strung with a weed whacker line. Split Lip Rayfield are your basic Kansas hillbillies who were raised on a steady diet of Slayer, Yngwie, Hee-Haw and Conway Twitty.
If your music were a tangible item, what would it be, and why? It would be a copy of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel “A Game of Thrones,” because that book is kick ass.
Why do people love ya? We are honest in our fervor. We write good songs, sing well and play like demons.
How do you keep it fresh? We just love what we do. We enjoy converting new audiences just as much as connecting with old fans who know every word.
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