Wet with sweat
By Simon McCormack
Antique Scream is a bluesy, '70s inspired psychedelic rock outfit. Or, as lead singer and guitarist Chris Rutledge puts it, "We're sweaty, balls-out rock 'n' roll, man."
The band has four records—two EPs, a full-length and a live album—but Rutledge admits people seem to like Antique Scream better live. "That kind of sucks, but it's a compliment," Rutledge says. "It's better than saying, You guys totally suck live, but your recordings are great. There's more personality live and it's a lot more fun."
They might enjoy playing sets, but Antique Scream's members work hard on stage. No one stands still for more than a millisecond, and god help the person who tries to contain the tornado of long hair and arrant moisture. “ ‘Wet with sweat’ is how I'd describe us live," Rutledge says. "We played this basement in Columbus, Ohio, and when we were done playing, the floor was wet. It's fuckin' gnarly."
It's destructively rowdy, and the lyrics are centered in the moment.
Buildups are perhaps the most overused method of manufacturing dynamics. When they're done well, though, it's a great way to instantly engage a listener. I lurched forward in my chair with anticipation as the drum on "Soup Strainer" got louder. The beat is finally joined by a full-band instrumental verse that knees you in the stomach as soon as Rutledge lets out an "oooow."
"Soup Strainer" appears on Antique Scream’s most recent release, a 2008 eponymous EP. The record marks the band's switch from digital to analog recording. "It fits our sound a lot better," Rutledge contends. "It has that classic sound to it, and it's a little more raw."
There's a contagious, party-in-a-box attitude conveyed by Antique Scream. It's destructively rowdy, and the lyrics are centered in the moment. "We drink a lot," Rutledge says. "I guess that's a party in itself. We're a good band if you wanna hang out, drink some beers and have a good time."
Rutledge, bassist Stu Lasswell and drummer Bill Fees left Phoenix for the overcast skies of Seattle about four months ago. "It's just a lot better to play music there than Phoenix," Rutledge explains. "We do OK in Phoenix now, but it took a long time to get there. In Seattle, there's just a little more opportunity."
There might be more fans at the gigs, but, so far, there are no more rain showers in the "metronatural" city than in bone-dry Phoenix. "It's rained maybe three times," Rutledge says of Seattle. "As soon as we moved there, there was a drought and a heat wave. It kind of made it miserable. I was looking forward to the rain."
But it might not matter where Antique Scream's home base is, considering how much the group tours. About half of 2009 will have been spent packed inside a Dodge Caravan, traveling to gigs around the country. "We're just trying to get that fan base across the U.S.," Rutledge says. "We can't just sit on our ass and expect to be picked up by a record label. You gotta do it yourself."
It gets cramped inside the Dodge Caravan with three dudes and their equipment, but Rutledge says tempers don't flare. The group's been together since 2006, and Rutledge says he and his bandmates know how to avoid fights. "If one of us is pissed off, no one will talk to us," Rutledge says. "We don't pick on each other. We don't try to push each other's buttons or shit like that because we've all known each other for a long time."
Like so many acts that live in or travel through Albuquerque, Antique Scream isn't after the big bucks. Its members just want to survive by creating music. "I don't think we really care if we make millions," Rutledge speculates. "To pay our bills playing rock 'n' roll would be pretty kick ass."
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