What do you do when you're living in central Texas and can't get enough of the Colorado jamgrass sound? You start a tribute band to your favorite mountain-based grass act and name it something tongue-in-cheek, like The Cream Cheese Accident.
Westword: How'd the band get started?
Miles Altgelt (bass, vocals): I had wanted to start this band for a couple years, and I finally cracked a whip five years ago and brought it together. We've had a few rotating members, but the current iteration has been going strong for three years now. We all love SCI, and the opportunity to bring their music to markets that they don't often play was one of the reasons we started doing it.
Zack Morgan (keys, vocals): Miles approached me about taking on the keys role, and I was immediately interested. I had never sung leads in a project until this band, so it was exciting to take on the challenge.
You guys are based out of Texas right? Do you play a lot down there?
Altgelt: Yeah, we mostly play in Austin, Dallas, Houston and my home town of San Marcos. We toured through Colorado once, last summer, and we plan on hitting other markets down the road.
How'd you come to discover the String Cheese Incident?
Altgelt: I discovered the band while on a hunting trip in Texas in 2002. I was in middle school and hanging out with some older guys who were listening to them and Dispatch. I honestly thought the music sucked at first, so I didn't listen to them much after that. I then rediscovered them in 2007 outside of the ACL Festival while hanging with friends who were sitting on their front lawn selling beer and water to passersby. They were also cutting off the extra pieces of their wristband to melt together to make wristbands. This was before RFID chips and fancy wristbands. So we all got into the festival free that day. I was still not really on the SCI train, so I didn't even watch their set, and went and saw Willie Nelson after they finished.
It wasn't until 2010, when I was finishing school in Oregon, that my girlfriend at the time bought us tickets to Horning's Hideout, where I got my first Cheese show. Talk about a banger of a first time! Those shows will always be some of my favorites. I've been to sixty-plus shows now, and I am still loving every minute of it!
Morgan: I started listening to SCI in high school and really started digging it while I was in college. It wasn't until I moved to Austin after college that I really started to get into them.
Do you study SCI set lists and then go from there in terms of what you play, or how does that work?
Altgelt: I always look at the set lists and usually at least stream the audio of every one of their shows. Usually when deciding on new songs, we all throw one or two in and learn them collectively. For this tour, I've been picking most of the new songs we are learning. I try and dig deeper into the catalogue and play older stuff that the SCI scene doesn't get to hear too much. Lately, SCI have been busting out tons of new stuff, and we do learn some of that. In my mind, I think having the opportunity to play some of their older songs is what really gets people coming out to see us in Colorado.
Morgan: We try to put our own spin on building set lists, jamming songs differently, segueing differently and other things to keep people on their toes.
What kind of music did you like when you were growing up?
Altgelt: I was a straight-up ’90s kid. My brother graduated high school in 1994, so I was raised on Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, et al. I basically stuck with the ’90s and psychedelic classic rock like Pink Floyd and that kind of thing through most of college. It really wasn't until my senior year of college that I really dug into the jam scene, and it's history from there. Now I'm listening to Prince, Tyler Childers, Billy Strings, Aqueous and Robert Earl Keen.
Morgan: I've always been into a wide variety of music, starting with ska and punk in middle school and then venturing into hip-hop, jazz, Motown and dipping my toes into jam band stuff in high school, then deep into jam bands, classic rock, and always hip-hop since then.
How much touring do you do?
Altgelt: My first band, Holding Space, toured all over the country quite a bit. Since that band parted ways, CCA has been my only touring outlet as a musician. We typically try and tour twice a year in the summer and then winter/spring. We love coming to Colorado because we have a ton of friends up here, and we get to do all the fun things that you folks do, like rafting and shredding the gnar. Yes, we are all gapers and Jerrys!
Morgan: Not enough!
How long has the band been around?
Altgelt: The Fox Theatre show we have with Consider the Source is our five-year anniversary to the date! We are very excited!
What's the vision for the group in the future?
Altgelt: Most of us all have other original projects and are pursuing those pretty heavily. I personally just sold my bar/venue and am now working with an awesome production company here in Austin called Heard Presents. They are responsible for Waterloo Festival and filling up venues like The Parish and The Empire Control Room & Garage with some of the best shows in Austin!
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Morgan: Aside from everyone pursuing original projects and other ventures, CCA is looking to tour more in 2019 and into 2020. We have such a great time touring in Colorado, but are also looking to hit some Southeast shows and maybe some Midwest.
Anything else you want to share?
Altgelt: I gotta show some love for my San Marcos family. We have a unicycle football league which has seven teams. It's full-contact flag football on unicycles played on asphalt. The only place in the world it happens is in San Marcos. My team is the Hot Dogs, and we are the only team who has never practiced once, yet we are the team with the most Stupor Bowl titles. I play quarterback and will try my best not to break anything before this tour. Check out Unicycle Football on YouTube!
Morgan: Come check us out on the road this spring throughout Colorado! We're looking forward to hanging with the SCI family and seeing all the beautiful scenery up there.