Everything about Air Dubai is ironic. While not strictly hip-hop-based, there is a good amount of cadence in the dueling vocals of Jon Shockness and Julian Thomas. There is a melody and harmony that drives the band's tunes, and its latest effort, Wonder Age, an album about nothing, has evolved with production from the Flobots' Andy Rok. From a distance, here lies your typical hipster makeup, but upon closer examination, a brilliant seven-piece ensemble, with one of the most solid live shows Denver has seen in recent years, emerges. Meet Air Dubai.
Westword: Wonder Age was partially finished before the band caught the attention of Andy Rok of the Flobots. How has his involvement changed the sound?
Jon Shockness: Wonder Age is still our project and our sound. We were fortunate to have Andy be the person who could add some clarity to our recorded music without tampering with who we were as a band. We definitely gave him a hard time sometimes, but I think we all worked together really well.
Air Dubai, with Blackhounds and Samuel Lee and the Eighty Eight, 7:30 p.m. Monday, August 9, Marquis Theatre, 2009 Larimer Street, 1-866-468-7621.
How does having a seven-piece band change the dynamic of creating the music?
JS: Some people would think it could clutter our sound, but we actually work together really well. Disagreements are, most times, for the best, because they ultimately make for a better song.
Air Dubai has been compared to artists from all different areas of the music spectrum. What is the terrain of the band's current soundscape?
Michael Ray: A lot of us are extraordinarily un-versed in terms of hip-hop culture. Our influences are here and there, but I think a lot of us would credit bands like Phoenix and Miike Snow as major contributors to the sound of this album, as weird as that may be.
What exactly is the "Wonder Age?"
MR: It's a nebulous term with highly marketable potential.
Many artists are distancing themselves from the label of one particular genre. Does it confuse the image of Air Dubai to have won a hip-hop award at this year's Showcase?
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JS: We were confused when we won. We're not what most would define as hip-hop, but my belief is that hip-hop is not supposed to be defined. It was an honor to be voted the best anything in Denver, and if someone wants to define us under something else, that's fine, too.
Lawrence Grivich: Me and Michael, we joke about this: If Jon wasn't there to accept the award, we would just be skinny white kids accepting a hip-hop award.
Explain the importance of live instrumentation in today's music climate.
MR: We are all convinced that our organic sound is what people connect with. There is a genuine rawness to live instrumentation that no computer will ever be able to produce.