Mike Jourgensen -- who operates both Noise Tent Studios and DU Records and serves as songwriter/guitarist for Abdomen -- likes farm animals. Perhaps more so than the average person over five. And though he likes pigs, cats and turtles, fuzzy little lambs seem to be his favorite of all of Gaia's creatures. When it came time to pick a logo for Noise Tent, for example, he chose an image of a lamb reclining in a neon-green Boy Scout tent. Last year, when he released the Noise Tent '99 Spring Sampler -- a nine-song compilation that featured tracks from local artists including the Geds, the First Class Chokers and the Ray-Ons -- the cover featured a photo of an abandoned building that appeared to have been vandalized by a wild pack of preschool graffiti artists. And just what do you think those naughty rugrats spray-painted there? A lamb, of course, as well as pictures of a cat with a gun and a tough-lookin' turtle.
"I was bit by one at a petting zoo, but I've always liked them," Jourgensen says. "They always look like they're smiling. I would love to have a petting zoo at a show sometime, but it would have to be over before the music started, because lambs don't respond well to loud music. It would turn into a biting zoo."
Jourgensen has just released another compilation, the aptly titled Noise Tent 2000 Spring Sampler. (No lamb on the cover this time; instead, we have an illustration of a pig jumping into a marsh -- it could've been lifted from Charlotte's Web.) While the lineup for last year's sampler was chosen by a mysterious local Noise Tent affiliate known only as TKS, Jourgensen culled the tracks for the 2000 disc from recording sessions with the diverse group of artists that frequents his downtown studio. Released April 5, Noise Tent is a chance for some of the area's lesser known or underrepresented bands to achieve some exposure -- in the local market at least. Compared to some comps that focus on a particular genre or on similarly minded acts, Noise Tent is a schizophrenic -- and noisy -- addition to local record bins. The power-pop punk of bands like Negative Man ("Fun & Games") and the garagey, catchy-as-hell clamor of the Dumbass Brothers ("Delighted") share disc space with the roller-derby pop of the Maybellines ("Bright Eyes") and the aggro faux-French vocals and dreamy orchestration of Bio-Bitch ("Song X"). It's an immensely enjoyable disc, in large part for its eclecticism. Where else can an instrumental soundscape from Mike Serviolo and Mark Stoookesbury ("Guitar Study #3") appear just two songs after a 53-second offering from the Blast-Off Heads ("Love Boat 2000"), wherein vocalist Dan "Shaggy" McDermott channels Sam Kinnison and wonders "Where's fucking Isaac?/I need a drink" with a throat-scraping shriek?
"I don't even really like compilations," says Jourgensen, who in the past year has recorded a full-length album for the Perry Weissman 3, a split seven-inch for the Maybellines and the Pin-Downs and other projects, including a full-length Abdomen disc to see release in July. "But I think this one has a little something for the people of Colorado. I think all the songs I picked were good. You could definitely do worse for Denver bands. It's not a disservice."
Jourgensen is a modest little lamb. Noise Tent 2000 Spring Sampler, available at local record stores or via www.noisetent.com, is not a disservice. It's a welcome addition to the smattering of local comps released lately.
Sadly, the aforementioned guitarist Mike Serviolo has left the Perry Weissman 3, to which he has made artful, post-modern punk and jazz contributions since its formation in 1995. None of the remaining 3 (or four, actually: guitarist Brian Murphy, bassist Dane Terry, drummer/flautist Merisa Bissinger, trombonist Rick Benjamin) or Serviolo himself are offering comments about the circumstances of the split. Serviolo says only that he hopes to get to work on some new projects as soon as possible. Though the PW3 seems poised to carry on (for one, they are still participating in this year's Westword Music Showcase; see the pull-out supplement in the center of this issue for details), it seems a blow to a creative and boundary-pushing band whose primary strength seems to be the interactivity and connectedness of its players. Why can't we all just get along?
Another local player who's removed himself from the performance fray -- at least temporarily -- is longtime drummer Bob Rupp, the owner of Rupp's Drums, who's toiled in Denver bands for two decades and has been a member of a metric crapload of them, including Fear of Sleep, Love Garage, Wanker and the Rumble, an '80s-era mod squad that enjoyed some success outside of Colorado. About six years ago, Rupp began serving as skinsman for Vinyl Oyster, a rock band with psychedelic tendencies that would undergo a format change and become Paul Galaxy and the Galactix. In the past year or so, Rupp says, the band's increased popularity in local and national rockabilly circles has meant lengthy tours and a relentless gig schedule -- great news for a band hoping to make it, but perhaps too much for a small-business owner to keep up with.
"In one aspect, it's an ideal situation for the band," says Rupp, 43. "The Galactix are one of the hardest-working bands locally. But when that happens, it takes on a life of its own, which is great if you don't already have a job that demands all of your time. I got to the point where I was worrying about my business -- and as it's growing, it's getting busier and busier, it's insane -- and then worrying about the band. I had to ask myself, 'What do I enjoy most in life?' It's playing, but when it started to wear on me and my health, I just knew I had to make some life changes."
Rupp, who recently suffered from a minor ulcer but has since changed his diet and lifestyle, played his last show with the Galactix last month at Herman's Hideaway (a benefit concert for Judge Roughneck's Byron Shaw, who is still recovering from a broken jaw he received at the hands of muggers). And while Rupp says he'll consider playing locally for fun in another year or so, he remains involved in local music through outlets like the Colorado Music Association and the Capitol Hill People's Fair. Last week, Rupp organized a small drum circle that took place at Clement Park on April 20, the anniversary of you know what. He might not be gigging, but he ain't resting on his laurels, either.
"Sometimes I find it hard to relax," he says. "When I have two or three nights off, it's like, 'What am I going to do with myself?' The right answer would probably be 'nothing.' I'm trying to go to the mountains more, not have a schedule. I can't make any promises. If the Rolling Stones call tomorrow, I'll most likely say yes."
The Rolling Stones are one of the few bands you're not likely to hear in regular rotation on Radio 1190, the AM station affiliated with University of Colorado at Boulder. Bands like Papas Fritas, Tin Hat Trio and Blackalicious are among the long list of progressive, eclectic, usually enjoyable artists the station is most concerned with. Station staffers are hoping that sometime this summer its emissions will reach listeners with an improved sound quality, thanks to a new solid-state transmitter that station heads hope to buy. "The kind we have now is the old-fashioned kind with tubes and stuff," says John Quigley, KVCU's interim general manager now that longtime station operator Jim Musil has left for a position with the Internet radio company www.gogoga.com. Quigley says that if the station can round up fifty or sixty grand, it will begin emitting cleaner transmissions and will be poised for the day when it officially files for an increase in wattage or FM status. And how does a poor college station round up that kind of cash? The same way poor college students do: by asking for it. The station kicks off "Watt Attack," its spring fund drive, on April 24. The drive will run through May 5. Please don't forget to tip your DJ.
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