Allout Helter began in 2008 as a melodic hardcore band with some metal chops. In 2010, the group put an ad on Craigslist for a lead vocalist and attracted the attention of Ross Hostage. Hostage had spent the previous decade playing in Action Friend and Suburban Hostage. He brought a confrontational energy to the band, and his often incisive political lyrics are substantive and thought-provoking as well as topical. The group's 2013 full-length, Sinking We Regress, is a bracing example of the guys in high form. Helter is one of a few local acts slated to perform at Riot Fest this weekend.
Tom Murphy: What does playing Riot Fest mean for you and your music community?
Ross Hostage: The festival in general has a small amount of local bands. Last year had some really big punk names, but this year has some crazy-big rock names. Pretty much, between Weezer and the Cure, I think everybody who is thirty-plus in Denver is going to be at Riot Fest -- everybody who listens to the radio. Not to say it's a radio-rock fest, because I think they picked some cool, interesting bands to be the headliners. But as a festival that's got its roots, traditionally, in being a punk-rock festival, asking us to be one of the few Denver punk-rock bands to help represent the scene...last year the Potato Pirates did, and they destroyed. They brought out all their really young fans. Every punk kid under eighteen in this town has a Potato Pirates patch on their jacket right now.
To a certain extent, we're not at the same level as the Potato Pirates. They just signed a pretty cool record deal for their next record, and they tour. We don't tour at all. They're a band that's moving, and they're younger. For us, at least with our music, to be considered just as valid a choice as a band like Potato Pirates, who play great music but also have such huge traction right now, is super-cool. [Fellow local band playing Riot Fest] Wire Dogs are good friends of ours. The Dendrites are playing -- also friends. The Epilogues are on there, and I've known a couple of those guys for a long time. My Body Sings Electric and In the Whale seem to be doing well, so it makes sense that they're playing. So they've got a nice slice of local bands.
But we're the Denver punk band on the bill. Wire Dogs are a punk band, but they have a lot more rock-band sensibility to them.
The support of other musician friends within the scene, who say, "Way to go, man" -- that's a huge deal. I've always been glad that for the most part there isn't a whole lot of cattiness these days. Things seem more unified and supportive, and to me that's what our being there is all about, because the shows we play wouldn't be successful without the other bands we play them with and the people who collectively come to see all of us. To me, that's what we're hoping to represent with Riot Fest. That's why I want to play it. And to be like, "Hey, my band can hang with these other bands -- why not?" Even though we're going to show up in three cars and not a van or a bus....
It's our guitar player's kid's birthday that day, too, so I'm sure he'll be zipping off to a birthday party pretty soon after we play and doing more of the laid-back, adult thing that day. But for forty minutes, or whatever it is, we're going to go play Riot Fest, and that's going to be pretty sweet.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.