Middle Class Rut

Middle Class Rut

The path to success is rarely short or simple to traverse. It takes time to get where you're going, and it's usually the journey there that transforms you into what you will become. MIDDLE CLASS RUT is proof of this. Theirs has not been an easy path, but their journey has defined who they are now.

The group's two members, Sean Stockham and Zack Lopez, have been playing together since they were teenagers, camping out in Zack's mom's house in Sacramento to write and record the songs they wrote. The duo's first band, Leisure, dissolved in early 2003 after a few false starts, sending Zack to work construction and Sean to labor as a studio runner in L.A. But they soon realized stopping wasn't an option. Sean moved back to Sacramento and Zack began driving up every weekend from L.A. to write and rehearse music. After a year of commuting up and down the California coast, Zack relocated as well, solidifying a future for the pair's new band, MIDDLE CLASS RUT.

The band has spent the past four years crafting new songs and allowing the style and sound of their project to evolve and establish itself. The pair records every song they write together almost immediately in their rehearsal space, capturing the instantaneous spirit of a track while still in the moment. This means that each number is imbued with a distinct sense of urgency, almost like a snapshot of the moment of inspiration. The band's debut, NO NAME NO COLOR, is a collection of these recordings, which they elected to use rather than attempt to recreate the spark of the original tracks later in a studio.

"Recording our own music has been a part of our process since we were 13," Sean explains. "It integrated itself into our process from an early age. We like being able to listen to whatever we're writing right away. It's like when you look in the mirror, you're seeing your face, but it's different than when you see a picture of yourself. It's the same with music. You need to hear it come out of a stereo to understand it. That's just what we do. We write music and we record it so we can listen to it. Now hopefully other people will get to listen to it as well."

NO NAME NO COLOR compiles 12 songs from a span of several years, showcasing a breadth of time without ever losing its clear impression of cohesion. A few tracks have appeared previously on the band's three EPs, which they released in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but the album as a whole is a new construction that reveals a band with a unique creative process. The majority of the songs have been tested on the road during tours in the U.S. with Social Distortion, Them Crooked Vultures and Alice In Chains, and in Europe with The Bronx and …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.

MIDDLE CLASS RUT's music artfully toes the line between heavy and melodic, showcasing the band's skill for raw, energized rock and roll that is equally complex and immediate. The record is enormous and rowdy, propelled by the duo's ability to make heavy music tasteful and accessible. The record sounds the product of far more people than the two who made it. Opening number "Busy Bein' Born" represents the rest of the disc, setting a tone and pace for the impassioned tracks that follow.

"It takes everything this band does and puts it into one song," Zack says. "It's hard to do that. We're able to capture the heavier and mellower side of our music in one song."

Releasing this disc marks a moment of catharsis for these two musicians. The road they've traveled to get here has been long and uphill. But never has MIDDLE CLASS RUT lost sight of why they make music—a fact that is reflected in the genuine, honest nature of their songs. There is something grounded and relatable about these tracks and that comes from the band being homegrown and independent, and truly loving being musicians.

"I feel like the music we make needs to be heard," Zack says. "Maybe everyone feels that way about their music, I don't know. We struggled for a long time to find something that was us and as soon as we decided that we would do it ourselves everything clicked. Realizing we didn't need anyone but ourselves to do this was important for this band. Now we want to get this out there and really get our own audience for our music."

American Fang

American Fangs

Gabriel Cavazos (vocals)
Micah Miller (drums)
Kyle Shimek (bass, vocals)
Nik Slimp (guitar)
Beau Gobert (guitar)

This is not the story of a typical rock'n'roll band.

"In music, everybody wants to be part of something big," explains American Fangs frontman
Gabe Cavazos. "But sometimes we zig when others zag. We stick out like a sore thumb. And
that's ok. We create our own vibe."

That vibe — loud guitars, big hooks, punk rock attitude — has already won American Fangs a
fervent fanbase and a number of big-name (and wildly diverse) tours, ranging from Saul
Williams to the Deftones to Chevelle. And it's a vibe that's more than apparent on the band's
debut album, American Fangs, the first release under rock promoter/manager Bill McGathy's
new record label In De Goot Recordings.

Typical or not, that's a pretty strong start for any band, especially one hailing from the rather
atypical music Mecca of … Houston.

"It's not necessarily what people think of when they look for great music," admits Cavazos. "But
there's a lot of talent here."

At least enough talent to put together AF. "We all were in different groups, but we go together
because we realized we all had the same idea of what we wanted a band to be," says the
singer. "And that's grown into an amazing bond."

That idea was American Fangs, a name that struck a strong visual tone and, as Cavazos puts it,
exuded the right "who-gives-a-shit" attitude….something the band also brought to the stage.
"There was a lot more anarchy early on," Cavazos admits. "But it was exhausting, like musical
whiplash. In the end, we're a fan of songs. We want to share those, have people enjoy it, and
not necessarily have anything else overshadow the music."

One person who caught on early was Bill McGathy, a rock industry vet best known for his work
with Shinedown, Neon Trees, 3 Doors Down and Grammy-Award winning Halestorm. "He saw
us just as we started, and stuck by us from the get-go," says Cavazos. "Finally, one day he just
said, 'go record something. I wanna release this."

To capture the band's wild side on record, the band enlisted producer Mike Watts (As Tall as
Lions, The Dear Hunter, Brand New). "Mike's really cool," says Cavazos. "He saw us at a
showcase a long time back and he was the only person who came up and asked how we
thought we sounded. He saw our potential, but he doesn't spare us any feelings if we sound like
shit. So when it came time to do this record, we were like 'we want that guy."

The end result is an adrenalized blast of loud guitar rock, underlined with dynamic musicianship
and emotional honesty. First single "Pomona," named after "the goddess of fruitful abundance,"
is a revved-up radio anthem full of "whoa whoa whoa" chants. Meanwhile, other standouts like
"Riot Food" come off as cranked-up power pop, while "Apple of My Eye" recalls the best of 90s
alt-rock.

But the band also shines during slower moments, like the ballad "Sorry" Says Cavazos: "That's
about the brief period of time when I was homeless as a kid. That song means a lot to me. Mike
pushed me to dig deep on that one."

With the record finished, the band is hitting the road with Hollywood Undead and Falling in
Reverse, and converting a whole new audience. "I'm psyched: people will see we've got an
energy when we play live," Cavazos says. "There's a rhythm there. You can tell we really
believe in what we're doing."

Just don't expect a typical rock'n'roll concert.

"That's true, though even I've had to tone it down a bit," says Cavazos, laughing. "I can't always
be in people's faces or climbing stuff during every song. But it's nice to go to a show and see
people cut loose, see girls having a blast. It's something that's been missing from music for a
while now."

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Middle Class Rut with American Fang

Thursday, June 27 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Pop's