by Mike Corrigan

What makes LOUDERMILK sonically distinguishable from the thousands of other guitar rock bands on the planet? Does the group's glossy DreamWorks debut, The Red Album, contain the definitive answer? Don't count on it. In fact, I can't help but wonder what this former Tri-Cities quartet might have sounded like before the music industry homogenizers got ahold of it. Of course the best way to put any band to the test is to check it out live -- where studio techniques and banks of digital effects have zero power to smooth out sound and eradicate the slightest imperfection. And you can do just that by catching Loudermilk live and in the raw this Saturday at Club Real Soda with locals Post Stardom Depression and Death Kills Time.

Now firmly based in Seattle, Loudermilk -- consisting of singer/songwriter/guitarist Davey Ingersoll, guitarist Mark Watrous, bassist Shane Middleton and drummer Isaac Carpenter -- specializes in predominantly edgy and aggressive statements that spit-polish various facets of the desperation/confusion/anger gem. If Loudermilk's M.O. in any way emblematic of a "Kennewick Sound," it would suggest that our brethren to the south have had as much trouble shrugging off their metal/arena rock heritage as Spokane collectively has. But then the band -- while publicly dismissing such narrow categorizations -- makes no bones about the late-'80s hard rock roots of its sound, a sound that makes obvious passes at both the gleeful bluster of Motley Crue and the sullen introspection of alterna-rockers like Smashing Pumpkins. In fact, that bustling intersection where earnest lyricism, punk drive, ambient atmospherics and squealing big guitar rock collide seems to be exactly where these guys are making their stand.

Formed in 1995 when all of the members were still in high school, Loudermilk is the fruition of rock 'n' roll dreams that were planted even earlier (while in junior high, Middleton and Carpenter formed a tribute band in reverence to their heroes, Guns N' Roses, called .22s and Tulips). The band played extensively in and around the Tri-Cities area but realized early on that their ambitions were not going to be fed by sticking close to home. After Carpenter finished with high school, the group made the big move to Seattle.

But getting their music out into the real world was no quick and easy maneuver. Their first album, Man With Gun Kills 3, was released in 1998 on the band's own She's an Anchor label. Soon afterwards, an unauthorized demo found its way into the hands of the overlords at American Recordings, which promptly signed the young band and sent them out on tour with Motley Crue and Megadeth. They also had them record an album, which the label promptly and indefinitely shelved. Why? For the record, Ingersoll states, "We didn't deliver the record they were expecting, whatever that was."

Released from their contract with American, Loudermilk was eventually snapped up by DreamWorks, which released The Red Album in October 2002. Does the group have the desire, the talent and -- most important -- the fresh ideas necessary to maintain a career of any duration with such a high-profile and demanding patron? The band itself definitely seems to think so. And those who caught Loudermilk opening up for Andrew W.K. at Real Soda last November likely have a similar notion. The rest of you will just have to come out to the show this weekend and judge for yourselves.

Ska-men -- FISHBONE (along with fellow L.A. rabble-rousers, the Untouchables) was largely responsible for transposing the second wave ska sounds of English bands like the Beat and the Specials to these shores. But this hyperkinetic six-piece -- while still in high school, no less -- took it a step further, infusing their infectious arrangements with a heavy dose of funk, rock and a uniquely American political and social consciousness tempered by a bizarre sense of humor. Come check out the masters of the form next Thursday night at the B-Side.

Exploding in 1985 with their self-titled EP (love that cover!) and college radio smash, "Party at Ground Zero," Fishbone's danceable and thought-provoking horn-driven prototype proved to be highly influential. Unfortunately, the group has been dogged over the years by bad recording-label relations, resulting in intermittent recordings, a lack of adequate promotion and poor album sales. Now that MTV has somehow duped viewers into thinking third wavers like No Doubt invented ska, Fishbone is on the road again to redeem the faithful and to educate the uninformed. And though corporate radio has been reluctant to feature any group of artists so unrepentantly honest and daring, left-of-the-dial live music fans around the world know they're in for a good thing when they get wind that these guys are coming to town.

So prepare yourselves to get down rock steady-style -- and be sure to give up da funk.

Like it hard? -- RIVET. The name alone conjures up imagery heaving and pounding with metallic excess: Miles of fire-forged and hardened steel. Hulking machinery of unimaginable heaviness grinding away dispassionately in the darkness. And fasteners, lots of mushroom-shaped fasteners.

Meet the heavy metal monster known as Rivet (which headlines a three-local-band bill at the B-Side on Tuesday night), a multi-headed berserker composed of four distinct modules. Singer Andrew Horn is a local kid and former guitarist who left the six-string behind in his quest for vocal perfection. Bassist Kelly Brown is also a Spokane native with musical tastes that range from Slayer and Skinny Puppy to Tori Amos. Guitarist Andy Brown (who has spent more than enough time in the 'Kan to qualify for resident status) was punishing his own eardrums with ripping axe work ala Sepultura and Pantera for 10 years before signing up for a tour of duty with this, his first collaborative experience. Drummer/percussionist Curtis Bytnar escaped from the Windy City to the River City a couple of years ago, bringing his double-stick skin assault first to Spokane's Two-Headed Chang -- only to be assimilated for the greater good into the machine known as (that's right) Rivet.

The human components themselves vehemently assert that this machine is a living thing, continually growing and evolving. May it be ever so adventurous. Let the cry be heard: Live, Rivet -- live!

Publication date: 03/13/03

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