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Framed

When it comes to musical stagnation, Laymen Terms pleads innocent.

"It's really easy to hate your home town," notes Blair. "I don't know if it's a maturity thing or what's happened, but I finally have a lot of pride in the scene in Colorado Springs."

"I think our fans are growing up with us," Thompson says. "Their interests are changing with ours."

And yet, almost as a concession -- or perhaps a eulogy -- to Laymen Terms' old sound, the last song on 3 Weeks is an amped-up echo of the outfit's early uproar. Dubbed "Perfect World," it's one of the toughest things the band had ever committed to disc, an almost metallic juggernaut replete with full-on rock leads and a chorus that could level skylines. In contrast, the record is rounded out by a somber reading of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that, while overreaching a tad, is lush with shades of piano and violin.

Speaking plainly: Justin Blair (from left), Andy Tanner, 
Seth Thompson and Jameson Becker are Laymen 
Terms.
Noah Winningham
Speaking plainly: Justin Blair (from left), Andy Tanner, Seth Thompson and Jameson Becker are Laymen Terms.

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With Drag the River, Love Me Destroyer and Cost of Living, 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 20, Rock Island, 1614 15th Street, $8, 303-572-7625

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"I guess the pop songs are from when we're drunk as fuck and we want to have fun and break stuff," Tanner muses, "and the dark songs are from when we haven't jacked off for a week."

Picking the Beatles to cover, however, was not just an act of inspirational masturbation. Tanner and Jameson are rabid Beatles buffs and recently converted Thompson and Blair to the Fab Four faith. But regardless of their reverence toward the kings of pop, Tanner and crew manage to put their own spin on the epic George Harrison-penned oldie -- especially considering that it takes their keyboard-heavy rendition a full two minutes of melancholy plunking before the guitar even comes in.

"It's more like 'While My PianoGently Weeps,'" jokes Tanner. "I think that's what we want when we cover songs; we want to it to sound nothing like the original. It's an amazing song already, but if you're going to do a cover, you'd better at least try to make it fucking better."

"Or at least do it justice," says Blair. "I was scared to do that song."

When pressed to name his favorite Beatle, Tanner looks like a pontiff who was just asked which he loves more -- the Father, the Son or the Holy Ghost. "I like them all," he answers after half a minute of deep reflection. "Well, except maybe for Ringo. He's just a lucky fucking bastard."

Ringo's not the only one. As Blair is quick to acknowledge, he feels pretty lucky himself -- especially seeing as how he regularly appears on stage opening for huge acts like Unwritten Law and Sum 41. "I always wanted to be in a band, but it never seemed very feasible when I was younger," says the bassist, a longtime fan of Laymen Terms who dropped his life in Scottsdale, Arizona, and returned to Colorado the second he found out the group had a vacancy two years ago. "I always thought it was kind of a long shot to be in a band that gets to play in front of a thousand people. I never, ever thought that would happen. We're at the lower level of what we want to be doing right now, but it still feels like it's a huge accomplishment."

Thompson, though, expresses an even deeper gratitude toward the group. "I didn't have any friends when I was younger," he says," so I just played guitar all the time. I was in my first band when I was fifteen. We were terrible, but for me, it was such an outlet. I'm not an angry teen anymore, but I used to be. I was pissed, and I wanted to get into trouble. Music definitely drained off a lot of that. I did a lot of other stuff, like skateboarding, but music was the thing that really did it. Playing music is more of an escape than any kind of drug could ever be. Seriously, if I hadn't played music, I would have been in jail."

Speaking of jails and escapes, exactly how did Tanner beat that robbery rap in Laramie and avoid getting punked out in some maximum-security Wyoming Oz? According to him, his Kafkaesque run-in with the deputies of blind justice wound up being -- just like the pop-punk pigeonhole his band is constantly trying to dodge -- a matter of mere misperception.

"So the cop put me in handcuffs and drove me down to the convenience store that got robbed," Tanner says with a smirk. "The guy who worked there had to convince him I wasn't the robber. I didn't know what the hell was going on the whole time; when you're on tour, you're already delirious as fuck. I was like, 'I'm going to jail? Oh, well -- it's a place to sleep.'"

Case closed.

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