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Sweaty T-shirts. Mountain Dew. Inspiration. These are the signature smells of teen spirit. You can get a whiff of it from a number of young Spokane bands who manage through hard work, sheer talent, dumb luck or a bit of all three to stand out enough from the legions of contenders and pretenders on their hometown music scene to garner the respect of their peers and maybe even the adoration of local fans. Throw ambition into the mix, and you've got yourself a potent cocktail, indeed -- one that'll keep you up all night.

This Saturday at the Big Dipper, local teen band For Years Blue will be throwing a CD-release party -- with openers Thalamos, Lucia's Grey Dot, and Shedding Tears -- to celebrate the appearance of the group's debut five-song EP. While dedication and hard labor obviously went into the product, For Years Blue (made up of three Lewis & amp; Clark sophomores and a Ferris junior) also successfully capitalized on a rare opportunity to record in a professional Seattle studio with a seasoned engineer/producer at the helm. How? By vanquishing a considerable number of talented groups nearly a year ago in a local battle-of-the-bands competition.

"We entered last year's RAWK Final Four and won," explains FYB's bassist and lead vocalist, Erik Walters. "And for that, we got to record a demo at Delve Music studios in Seattle."

True enough. For Years Blue took the crown in 2004's RAWK Final Four competition, sponsored each year by RAWK the Inland Northwest, a local faith-based organization strongly committed to the local teen music scene. In addition to recording time with producer Isaiah Vering at Delve, the grand prize also included the band's weekend travel expenses.

"And Isaiah spent a lot of additional time honing the EP," says Walters. "The sound quality is really amazing."

The Spokane-based For Years Blue (formerly known as Hubris Youth) was formed in 2002 by Walters and three high school friends Kyle Musslewhite (guitar), Mac Smith (guitar) and Marcus Ourada (drums). Will Giardino -- on percussion and keyboards -- joined up later but has since moved to Seattle. The group's sound is driving but moody and atmospheric. Its songs are melodically engaging and emotional, reminiscent of modern rock bands on both sides of the Atlantic. Walters says that Radiohead, Interpol, and Minus the Bear, "among others," have all had an influence on the young group.

As for the future of the band -- well, as you might imagine, school figures pretty prominently in the members' daily routine. (I called Walters for a fact check on Monday only to realize that, as a Spokane Public Schools student, he was back to class following Christmas break.) So for now, Walters and For Years Blue are focused on Saturday night's show and on the unveiling of the CD that represents the fruition of their recent collaborative efforts and good fortune. Yet it's clear that their eyes are also set on the future, on moving forward.

"We've got a bunch of new songs we've been working on," he says. "So we'll be bringing those to the show as well."

By the by, you should mark your calendars for the kickoff of the 2005 RAWK Final Four Competition, which starts next weekend (Jan. 15) at Fat Tuesday's. Stay tuned to this page for more info. Or if you're in a big-ass rush, by all means satisfy yourself immediately by visiting www.rawkonline.com.

Publication date: 1/06/04

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