Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

Local bands heat up Flaming Gorge Days

 


Battle of the Bands, a contest in which two or more bands compete for the title of “best band”.

Five local bands will be rocking out Thursday in a Battle of the Bands, to prove who’s the voted best. The winner’s prize? To open for the Flaming Gorge Days rock show on Saturday.

The process started when The Flaming Gorge day committee posted a call for specifically rock genre bands local to the area, on their website and through social media.

“We wanted to keep it to our local bands, keep it in the area, keep it as local as possible,” Flaming Gorge Days committee member Jasmine Weaver said.

Note, this is not the first battle of the bands the committee has put on for the event, but none of them in years past have been scaled to this magnitude and solidarity.

“We’re doing it a little different this time around, having it as a separate event. We used to have it in with the festival in the park,” Weaver said. “A lot of people are excited and glad we brought back the battle of the bands, because we haven’t seen it in a while.”

They asked for the bands to include information about themselves with links to listen to their music. The committee started off with around 10 to 15 rock groups’ submissions and narrowed it down to a final five.

“We had a really good selection of bands to choose from,” Weaver said. “They all have a different style. I think it will be very cool.”

“Some of them have their own following so it will be a good opportunity for them. People will also get the opportunity to hear some really great local bands that they’ve never heard of before.”

The final five rock bands are Zamtrip, Hottelights, The Wade Wilson Project, Break the Fall, and Innocence Lost.

“They each have a very distinctive sound, it will be exciting to hear them live, just to see how the audience reacts to them,” Weaver said.

People attending the event will be tasked with voting for their favorite band. Each person will receive a ticket and will have one chance to vote with that ticket. Whichever band receives the most tickets wins.

“That way they get concrete results, a definitive number of who voted for which band,” Weaver said. “We didn’t want it to be ambiguous in any way. A definitive answer of which band was the fan favorite.”

Meet the bands

Zamtrip

Enter Zamtrip, the young, up and coming group who have made a name for themselves within the past years playing for the Concert in the Park series in Rock Springs and other community festivals and events in Green River and Rock Springs.

Zamtrip is made up of the three Zampedri brothers Kyle, Cody and Cory Zampedri, and Samantha Newman. Kyle Zampedri, 22, plays lead guitar, Cory Zampedri, 19, plays the drums, Cody Zampedri, 17, plays the bass, and Samantha Newman is their female vocalist.

The Zampedri brothers have been playing shows as Zamtrip since 2009, and their new lineup with Newman as their lead vocalist since 2012. They have two albums under their belt now, releasing their newest album June 19. The number of shows played for the group is well into the 200s. They performed 60 shows in 2013 alone and the number of shows has gone up every year.

“It’s all about connections,” Cory said. “When we first started playing shows we couldn’t get people to let us play. They saw we were kids, saw our ages. We had to play for free and play for exposure and when they heard us, they has us back for pay. Making connections through every gig we play helps us with the next ones.”

“Zamtrip’s sound is described as “rawsome,” Newman said. “Hard driving rock.”

A lot of different styles compliment their music.

“A lot of our music in influenced from Black Stone Cherry,” Kyle said.

For that reason alone, and more, winning the battle of the bands and opening for Black Stone Cherry would be a big deal for them.

“That would be our biggest accomplishment because Black Stone Cherry is one of our favorite bands,” Cory said. “It would pretty much be a dream come true to open for them.”

If Zamptrip does win, it would actually be their second time opening for the Flaming Gorge Day concert. They unexpectedly opened for the concert in 2013, when they received a message asking if they would play when a band backed out last minute.

“My mom read the message to me on Facebook. I turned back around and said ‘Read that again.’ I called Sam, told her, she freaked out, tried to get a hold of Cody, and had to be there at two o’clock that day,” Kyle said.

“We said ‘yes, we’ll do it,‘ but we were obviously nervous. I’ve never had so much nerves in my life,” Cory said.

That was had been their biggest venue to play for at the time, and unplanned.

“Seeing that we were all kids and we could see a couple people whispering. Nobody knew that we were going to be up there until the last minute,” Kyle said.

“As soon as we started into our first song they started rocking out and came up to the gate,” Cory said. “We definitely won over the crowd.”

“They all went up to us after, asking for autographs and pictures. They were pretty impressed with it,” Cody said.

“We have to prove ourselves constantly. People see just kids up there,” Kyle said. “A lot of times, we have to go the extra mile to convince people we are worthy of being on stage.”

Zamtrip’s job Thursday is to do just that again. Prove to the audience they are the group worthy of being on stage at Flaming Gorge Days.

Hottelights

This group is made up of the three Hottel brothers, originally from Superior and now based out of Rock Springs. Ammon Hottel is the guitarist and vocals for the band, Ephraim Hottel plays bass and Lehi Hottel is their drummer.

Music has been a family affair for the Hotel brothers. The three started playing one after the other from oldest to youngest. Ammon and Lehi have been jamming together for 13 years now and their youngest brother joined a few years later. They’ve been a cover band playing bar gigs for nine years now.

“We just barely started writing the album like six months ago. Like we just barely started writing our own material. It was when we decided we’re all going to sit down and write a complete album,” Ammon said. “We used to play the bars quite a bit. We used to play Wild Horse constantly. But lately we haven’t really done much because we’ve been trying to focus on the album.”

“We’re trying to push our own music now, is the goal,” Lehi said.

“Well there’s just so much more, your own work is your work,” Ammon said. “It’s so much more to you, rather than ‘oh yah this guy wrote that song and I like that song.’”

Their debut album titled “Bedroom Sounds,” is scheduled to release Sep. 26. What sets their music apart from the other bands in the battle would be the style they play, Ammon said.

“Our music’s kind of up the alley of like Three Days Grace, Pop Evil-ish kind of stuff,” Ammon said.

“Borderline, Breaking Benjamin, more on the heavier side of rock,” Lehi said.

The Battle of the Bands will be the first time for audiences to hear their original music performed live.

“This will be like our debut of our original stuff,” Lehi said. “I’m really excited. It’s completely different going out and playing cover songs rather than your originals.”

When asked how they feel about playing their original songs for the first time for a live audience at the Battle of the Bands, Ammon replied “I’m ready. Plug in and let me play it.”

It would be an understatement to say the three Hottel brothers would be psyched to open for the Flaming Gorge Day concert, let alone play their original music for the Battle of the Bands.

“Oh my God, it would be freaking awesome,” Lehi said. “Thousand Foot Krutch and Black Stone Cherry, we like them both.”

“That would be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for,” Ammon said. “And the artists we would be opening for, would be phenomenal. We’re fans of both of them.”

As much as they are hoping to win, they are ready to cheer on the winner whoever it may be.

“If we don’t win and someone else does, congrats to them,” Ephraim said. “They’re doing something right. Pat on their back.”

“Yah we just want to play, that’s the thing,” Lehi said. “Because the audience chooses the winner so.”

“So it’s not just music either, it’s crowd interaction,” Ephraim said.

“Well it’s a performance,” Ammon said. “You stop being a musician when you get on stage, you become a performer.”

The Wade Wilson Project

Enter, The Wade Wilson Project; five friends just having a blast together. These five friends include Ron Yeager, who plays the bass, Dominic Gutierrez on lead vocals, Devin Shinkle on lead guitar, Cheyenne Lafaivre is the drummer, and Chris Potter is the rhythm guitarist.

Where then, does Wade Wilson come in all of this? It’s not the name of any of the band members, it’s the Marvel comic book character Deadpool’s real name. Where does a comic book character come in all of this?

“We’re all a bunch of comic book nerds deep down so we decided to name the band after something that we all liked, that was unique,” Ron Yeager said.

“A ‘comic’ denominator,” Devin Shinkle said.

“So we chose an obscure name from an obscure comic book character, because we figured nobody would ever actually listen to us. It was kind of for us,” Yeager said. “Now we’ve gotta explain where the name comes from.”

“My favorite one is ‘Which one of you is Wade?’” Cheyenne Lafaivre said.

Who’s Wade, is a common question they are asked.

“It’s pretty useful though. If someone gets a little too diva we just point out who’s name is on the banner, none of ours,” Yeager said.

These guys really just have a fun time playing their music together. They describe their music as punk alternative, grunge. They’ve been playing music together since 2010, starting with cover songs and quickly moving to creating their own music. Within the first six months they had a few originals ready to go. Their EP album titled ‘Salmon’ was released March 28.

“It sounds like chimichangas and PBR,” Yeager said.

The name of their album, as random as they are, came from a random concert experience.

“We were playing a show in Salt Lake (City) and we were sound checking and the sound tech told me to say something and I apparently wasn’t talking enough so I just started saying salmon,” Gutierrez said. “And when I said salmon all these guys (the band members) were standing in the back of the bar and they yelled salmon back at me, and everybody in the bar thought it was like a thing that we had. It wasn’t. It was just completely random.”

Now it really has become something, a band call and the title of their album.

“We’re maintaining the weird,” Lafaivre said.

The fun, “weird” energy of their album transfers to their live performances as well.

“We’ll bring you a lot of fun and energy,” Yeager said. “The goal we have for any of our shows.”

“We may not be the most talented as some of the other bands out there, but there’s no one who has as much fun as we do,” Lafaivre said.

“My favorite thing is the feeling I get when I’m up on stage playing,” Shinkle said. “Getting to hang out with our bros.”

They believe what sets their band apart from others is their dynamic together.

“We get up on stage and there’s that connection. It’s a bond, it’s like a brotherhood,” Lafaivre said.

“We have a lot of fun playing on stage,” Yeager said. “And we hope the crowd sees that too and has fun as well.”

Break the Fall

Break the Fall, a group of friends and family, are all seasoned musicians in their own rights, are a freshly-formed group together. The band was born three months ago. Glenn Tremelling is the drummer, his sister Ashley Salah is the lead vocalist, her husband Farouk Salah, also known as DJ FreakWest plays keyboard. Shawn Rogers is the bassist, and Lance Ackerman is the guitarist.

Separately, they each have years of experience behind them. Tremelling and Rogers have been in various bands together through out the years since age 12. Ashley Salah spent much of her time in New York City and Los Angeles and some time in Nashville, doing solo and band work, always singing. While in L.A. she met her husband Farouk Salah. Farouk is the only member of the band not originally from Rock Springs. L.A. born, he’s been a DJ for many years, mainlining in L.A. and Hawaii and has been a resident DJ at Bomber’s Sports Bar in Rock Springs for the past three years. Ackerman has been playing guitar since his high school days, has been in a couple bands in previous years and has been involved in music ever since.

Ackerman, Tremelling and Rogers started playing music together in November 2014. This was the start of Break the Fall.

“It started becoming a little more serious thing,” Ackerman said. “And when she (Ashley) joined things really got serious.”

“It happened really fast for us. We all got together and it just clicked,” Ashley said.

Ashley joined the group in March, 2015 and Farouk joined in May.

“Five minutes ago,” Ashley laughed.

“We’re ready to play, but we’re still working out a few things,” Ackerman said.

“We’re still trying to find our own way,” Ashley said. “We’ve all done this before, we just haven’t really done it together. So we’re kind of trying to find our way together.”

“And rock people’s faces off, melt faces,” Rogers said.

“With gut busting drum solos,” Tremelling said.

Their band is bringing a lot of different elements to a ‘rock band,’ Ashley said.

“If Hailstorm and Linkin Park had a baby, that’s us,” Acherman said.

It has been a short journey for the group to this point. They are working on original songs but due to the short preparation time until the Battle of the Bands, they will be performing cover songs.

“We were so new so it was kind of nerve wracking because we had just a short amount of time to get ready,” Ashley said. “Which is why we sort of put our originals aside and we sort of put our own thing aside so that we could just prep for the show.”

“It was kind of a shot in the dark,” Farouk said.

“We definitely are the dark (horse) of the competition, because nobody knows us,” Rogers said. “We are the underdog for sure. If we do actually get picked, it will be because everybody thinks we sound awesome. Nobody’s heard us play before.”

“So if we do win, it will just be because we were good,” Ashley said.

Innocence Lost

Income the out-of-towners, Innocence Lost. This band hails from Vernal, Utah. This band has been performing for several years, but until recently was an all male band. This group of guys have added female singer to the mix, creating a new sound for themselves.

In the group, Junior Perez is the bassist, BJ Jensen is on keyboard and electronics, Steffen Hales is the drummer, Rusty Muir plays guitar, and their newly added female lead vocalist is Becca McKinney.

They’ve been playing with the lineup they have now for about a year and before that, Perez, Hales, and Jensen have been playing together for 20 years. They’ve played shows in Denver, all the way to the Whiskey A Go Go, in Los Angleles and various in between. They have produced four albums, the most recent released in 2010. After their last album release, they decided they wanted to mix it up, mix their sound up. So they added another guitar player and a female vocalist.

“People said, ‘Let’s hear your new stuff,’ so we went out and did a small club and haven’t stopped playing for the year,” Junior Perez said.

They played at the Canyon Inn in Salt Lake City and It took off by word of mouth from there.

“Before we even got off stage,” Perez said. “And before we knew it, we had our whole summer booked.”

The audience was pleased with their performance, with their new sound and lineup.

“Before we got back to the hotel we were getting calls, saying ‘we want to book you for this fundraiser,” Perez said. “Which is really cool for a band like us. We are mostly just a word of mouth band.”

Since then they’ve been keeping the momentum going and are working on new originals. None of their newly created music from the past year has been recorded yet, but they plan to perform their them live for the Battle of the Bands. Their album release is planned for December.

Their sound is a mixture of various rock and roll artists, Perez said.

“If you took Tool and Motley Crew, mixed it with a little Nine Inch Nails, and the groove of Pantera, you got us,” Perez said.

Their sound as a whole has evolved significantly since the evolution of the additional members added to their lineup.

“Because we had been doing the same style for so long, every time we wrote music it came out sounding the same as last album,” Perez said. “We were together for so long we kind of got stuck in a little grove we couldn’t get out of.”

With their new lineup and new sound, they are ready, rejuvenated and excited for the Battle.

“It would be awesome to play the (Flaming Gorge) show,” Perez said. “To us it’s really not a battle of the bands, we’re just going to play and hang out with other local bands. It’s going to be great because it’s putting a spotlight on local talent.”

Admission is free and the battle takes place at Stratton Myers Park. Gates open at 5 p.m. The first band plays at 5:30 p.m. It is a family-friendly event with kids activities, concessions, adult beverages. The Family Fun Run, Glow Run will start at 7 p.m., registration at 7 p.m.

 

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