This Saturday at the Westword Music Showcase, Fort Collins-based trio Aspen Hourglass will take the stage at Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge as the opening act for that venue's daylong lineup of music. The fusion-rock band has been busy in the past few months, with performances at the Aggie Theater and Larimer Lounge now in the rearview mirror and a new single, the hard-hitting "Better Answers," available for listening on Spotify and iTunes. The band is currently in the process of recording new music and gearing up for its Showcase performance, giving its members some time to reflect upon where they are in their career.
While exploring the Aspen Hourglass catalogue, it quickly becomes clear that the band is acquainted with a variety of genres; tunes range from face-melting rock to warm, welcoming country, with jazzy breaks and classical-piano lines sprinkled in. "That's the biggest challenge," says guitarist and vocalist Grayson Erhard. "We want to find a cohesive sound without being boxed in." Erhard cites Incubus and Radiohead as some of the group's alternative/indie-rock influences, but also mentions that Rush was important in helping the band find its prog-rock sound and that the music of Chopin is responsible for its classical flare.
Erhard adds that the band's sound changed direction significantly after the departure of its bassist in 2014 and the welcoming of keyboardist Elvin Holderfield, who holds down bass duties on synth while simultaneously tickling the ivories. The transition from live bass to synth bass was the catalyst that steered Aspen Hourglass away from its prog roots to a more pop-rock sound while still retaining the musicianship that makes it unique. Prior to Holderfield's coming on board, Erhard had been feeling "pretty bummed" about losing the band's four-string until a moment of clarity occurred: "I was listening to [Channel] 93.3, and that song 'Sail', by AWOLNATION, came on, and I realized 'Hey, you don't need a bass!'" he chuckles through the phone.
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Now that the group has revamped its sound and fallen into a steady lineup, it's found its niche in the Denver music community, which Erhard says is special for its live-music scene and unity among artists. "There's a good sense of community here," he says. "Everyone is really supportive of each other." That sense of community is clearly deeply ingrained in Erhard: When asked about what he'd like audience members to take away from an Aspen Hourglass performance, he answers simply, "That we're their friends. We wanna break down that barrier, that 'glass wall,' and make them feel [like they are] a part of it."
Currently, Aspen Hourglass is getting ready to release a new EP along with another new single. In addition to its upcoming Showcase performance, the band is preparing for a co-headlining gig at the Fox Theatre with Nashville-based band Koa, which Erhard anticipates "will be like bringing two families together."
Aspen Hourglass performs at the Westword Music Showcase at Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge on Saturday, June 25 at 12 p.m. You can find tickets and more info here.