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The Don'ts and Be Carefuls

After solidifying its lineup in May 2008, the Don'ts and Be Carefuls started playing a string of shows along the Front Range, including a high-profile opening slot with HEALTH at Rhinoceropolis that summer. Capitalizing on the enthusiasm that guitarist and singer Casey Banker and drummer Luke Hunter James-Erickson shared for electro-dance-punk outfits like LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture, the Don't's quickly jelled as a unit. Instead of sounding like another retread of the post-punk revival of the earlier part of this decade, this band has an undeniable joie de vivre in its performances. We had a casual conversation with Banker, James-Erickson and bassist Cody Witsken about the band's home town of Greeley and the synchronicity of its signature song.

Westword: How would you characterize the cultural climate of Greeley, especially for bands, versus Denver?

Cody Witsken: It's a very young music scene. Not young so much in terms of the people, but because there's really no foundation for anything there. So you're starting from nothing but the jazz background at [UNC].

Luke Hunter James-Erickson: You have jam bands, you have rock-and-roll bands, metal bands, punk bands. There's not a lot of "Let's really go out there and be crazy"-ness, because there's not a lot of room for that. It's a very conservative college, which is strange for a college campus, in my opinion. It's not as common for people to go to dance to more eclectic, experimental music that pushes things forward. It's not a problem unique to Greeley. People there are happy, people there are unhappy. It's the same with Denver; it's just a smaller town.

"You've Been Warned" sounds — lyrically, anyway — like your signature song. What is it about?

Casey Banker: It's kind of about living in Greeley. Frustrations and not getting what you want. Everyone telling you what you really want.

LHJE: I've heard you describe it as very sarcastic.

CB: It's funny that you mention that now, because Cody just sent us a YouTube video of some other band's song...

CW: The Torn ACLs are a tiny band from Seattle, Washington, with a song called "Don'ts and Be Carefuls."

LHJE: The chorus is very similar to our own song. We think it's cheesy, but people really dug that song. The day after we named the band, I was driving to my house, and I thought to myself to tell Casey not to put the name of the band into a song. And he asked, "What if I already kind of did?" But it ended up being good.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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