Parting words: A Q&A with Sauna before its farewell show tonight at the Larimer Lounge
Sauna played its first show just before Christmas 2010 opening for Lust-Cats of the Gutters. At that time, guitarist C.J. Macleod, bassist Ethan Hill, drummer Samantha Davis and lead vocalist Molly Bartlett were juniors in high school. Since then, Sauna has ventured out on three tours out west, issued a handful of releases, and opened for a ton of national acts, including the B-52s last year at the Ogden. As a result, the outfit has earned widespread acclaim across the scene.
Sauna is playing its last show tonight for at least a while as its members head in different directions and go off to college. We had a chance to sit down with the always-engaging and intelligent quartet and spoke about some of the more amusing aspects of its songs and what the musicians have learned during their numerous adventures about the reality of being in a band.
Westword: For your show on Friday, you're playing a song you either haven't played live or haven't played since your earliest shows. Tell us about that.
Ethan Hill: The first song we all kind of wrote out is called "Suna." We never play it because we kind of hate it, but now we're going to play because it was our first song.
Samantha Davis: It's "anus" backwards.
C.J. Macleod: It is "anus" backwards, because we're all twelve-year-old boys.
"Croctopus" is a funny song that has evolved over time, with Samantha and Molly taking on the two main vocals of the song and their appropriate personas.
Molly Bartlett: She's the crocodile and I'm the octopus.
EH: The crocodile was definitely going to be a dude, and Sammi is more dudely.
SD: I am pretty dudely. That's kind of a problem.
MB: And I'm kind of obsessed with octopi, so that's my reason.
Why do you say you're dudely?
CM: Look! She's wearing a sleeveless jean jacket.
SD: I like dude things. I like to wrestle. I like to burp in public. I like farts. I'm a dude. I do like gross things. If you were to classify a thirteen-year-old boy, that would be me.
In terms of playing around town, going on tour and being in a band, what did you learn that was different than what you thought it might be before you did all of this?
MB: I think everyone's impression of what rock and roll is like is just so off from what it really is, which is cool. It doesn't need to be sex, drugs and rock and roll. It's a lot of hard work and weird adventures.
CM: I think it's a lot less glamorous when you really get into it. Everyone thinks that when you're in a band, you just kind of show up and everything is set up and you get to stay in these fancy hotels when you're done. But, in reality, when you're on tour, you drive ten hours in this sweaty van. Then you get out and load out thousands of pounds worth of guitar, it seems like. Then you wait around to play. Or you play to no one. And you're always stinky. Then you play, and then you have to load back into the van, and then you have to deal with getting paid.
SD and EH: And then maybe finding a place to sleep.
MB: I think the best part is that it's fun and that it's worth it. I think that's hard to understand unless you've been through it.
SD: Another thing I think I've learned from it is just how lucky people in Denver really are because we have such a supportive [community]. Everyone is friends with everybody. Everyone's trying to support the other bands, which you probably won't find in other places.
EH: I don't think that's unique, but we've had a really good time playing music here.
CM: I think if we were in somewhere like L.A. or New York or even in a place like Seattle -- bigger cities with much larger scenes -- it's harder to come up, and you almost have to head-hunt for shows. But, in Denver, everyone has been like, "Hey, do you want to play this show?" And it's been this kind of camaraderie between everybody.
SD: And returning the favor.
CM: We've mostly helped out touring bands or even asking friends' bands to play a bill.
EH: We've become friends with certain bands, like School Knights. If someone needs to be on a bill, we try to get them on and they try to get us on. It's a helpful group of people.
CM: Besides being a band we really like, they're just really good friends.
MB: That's even how we started, with Robin Edwards asking us.
And you've connected with a broad spectrum of people in the scene in Denver.
SD: Yeah, exactly.
CM: It's weird, but we've noticed the indie twee people, who look hip, and then the punks and the crust kids. At the hi-dive, all the door guys are these cool metal guys with their bike patches and intimidating-looking, and half the time they're like, "Man, I really liked your band. I was dancing." I think that's kind of cool because they have a rough exterior. I thought it was cool that it wasn't just "indie people."
MB: There's just a lot of people who genuinely like music here.
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