Music News

Shot to the Heart

Page 2 of 3

"Our songs are like, a minute and a half," Puente explains. "Once we get bored, we figure they're boring."

"The reason why I dig punk rock is because it's just like the oldies," says Barclay. "It's like old Beach Boys tunes and stuff like that -- just on speed."

"We're not trying to do anything new," observes Puente. "We know that it's all been done before, but we just want to do it right."

While the band does mine the oft-traveled territory of '70s guitar rock and classic punk, Puente's vocals and Davis's backups lend an unexpected harmony to the Slingshots' turbocharged ditties. In other words, the foursome wields its sledgehammer material with a good deal of finesse.

"We're not always screaming and yelling," says Barclay, "although we can, and we do. It's nice to see that we can run the gamut -- from people rocking out and punching each other in the face to people dancing."

While Puente, a seventeen-year veteran of the Mile High punk scene (formerly with three local bands: Mindgrind, Smash Clowns and Hot Box), writes most of the lyrics, the band generally collaborates on the final product. "We're doing very well working together," she says. "In the past, I haven't really done that -- taken a lot of input from the people I was playing with. We try to be very diplomatic in our decision-making process. We have to agree on everything we're going to do [cue the sarcasm] as long as it's okay with me."

As Puente's cooperative tendencies have evolved, so has the local punk landscape. "In the early '80s, it was very united and family-like," she says. "There were a lot of people that were all friends with each other, that were all in bands, playing together at all-ages shows in the warehouse district downtown."

In the mid-'80s, thanks to political maneuvering akin to the city's latest concert policies, things took a turn for the worse. "The city started cracking down on all-ages shows," says Puente. "The scene tried to move into the bars, but it was really unsuccessful for a long time." The concept of a Denver punk community nearly disappeared, she adds, but the concept of interband friendliness has staged a recent comeback, spurring a revival of sorts. "The scene is actually a lot better than it used to be. There's a lot going now, a lot more than there has been for a long time."

"Right now, what's great in Denver is that there are so many new musicians out there that are working together," offers J.D. "In the late '80s and early '90s, it was so competitive that every band was almost against each other, like the hair bands and glam rockers. They hated each other, and it destroyed their whole scene."

"I think we're grateful to have the punk scene that we do have," says Barclay. "There are other forms of music here that don't even get a scene."

Regardless, the Slingshots view the city's new guidelines prohibiting all-ages shows in small venues as another setback to punk rock in Denver. "There are just all sorts of kids out there that have nothing to do," says J.D.

The local scene isn't the only musical community the Slingshots are part of: The band is one of 200 punk bands on A Fistful of Rock N Roll, a thirteen-CD compilation series executive-produced by Sal Canzonieri of New York-based punk act Electric Frankenstein; the Slingshots' "Out for Blood" is slated for volume thirteen. While the series is currently hung up in label snafus (it was dropped by Caroline, then picked up by Victory), the band hopes that it will see release by the end of this summer.

Another upcoming source of exposure: A clip of "Submit or Be Destroyed" is headed for the soundtrack of an as-yet-untitled zombie movie, a gig the band hooked up by way of their involvement with the Fistful of Rock compilations.

"We get a lot of connections through this Fistful of Rock thing," explains Davis. "Everybody [all of the bands on the compilations] is leaning on each other and giving each other information, trying to help each other get ahead."

"When someone from the Fistful comp comes to town, they say they want to play with another Fistful band," adds Puente. This kinship is obviously one that the Slingshots look to build upon in their quest for a higher profile beyond the confines of Denver.

As a stepping-stone in this pursuit, the Slingshots are heading to the studio next month to record a CD, tentatively titled Destroy Rock City. ("That's what my son [four-year-old Julian] calls 'Detroit Rock City,'" explains Puente.) Per the band's straightahead philosophy, listeners can expect fifteen tracks in thirty minutes -- give or take a few in either direction. They also are hoping to embark on a short stint on the road (i.e., four or five shows in the Midwest) later this year.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric Peterson