In The Independent’s coverage of the final four contestants in the Jazzy’s Rumble battle of the bands, the first band is Telestial, an indie grunge-rock trio composed of Richard Curl, Jade Whitlock, and Allen Hutter. I caught up with the band after a rehearsal at their practice space in Hutter’s Studio Allegro.
Alec Wiltbank: So first off, congratulations about winning your first round of the rumble. You guys put on a really powerful show and despite some stiff competition still came out ahead. How did you feel about that first night, and what do you think helped you achieve the top spot?
Richard Curl (bass guitar, vocals): Sex appeal. (laughs) I feel like the pressure of the competition made me just warm up more, I prepared more, I drank a bunch of tea, I stretched. It just pushed me to play better. And honestly that’s probably the best set we’ve ever played.
Jade Whitlock (guitar, vocals): Yeah, I think so too, because we had the pressure of everybody else. I don’t know, we were worried just because Aura Surreal got thrown on, and they always bring a large crowd of people. So we were kind of worried about it, but I think that helped a lot, just being worried about it.
AW: The final round of the rumble is full of some really solid bands. What do you think about your competitors coming up, and what sort of improvements or changes are you going to be making going into the final round?
JW: I’m just excited to play this show. Because we get to play with a bunch of cool bands, you know? I’m just way hyped to do that show because it’s kind of going to showcase all the good of St. George.
RC: Yeah, so everyone that’s in it so far, like us and Cleo and Nevermind, are like … Nevermind and Cleo are just two of the tightest bands in St. George, so it’s going to be tight to play with them. And it’s cool to kind of cross-pollinate all of our fanbases too.
(Note: Sleep Dealer had not yet won their night at the time of this interview.)
JW: That’s what I’m excited about, Cleo fans listening to our music and our fans listening to Cleo’s music. And vice versa.
RC: And Nevermind brings out all the hot chicks, so. (laughs)
JW: Dude it’s McCabe.
RC: McCabe’s so hot, dude.
AW: Alright, so Richard and Jade, you guys both do vocals throughout the set. How do you decide who sings at which part?
JW: We just kind of do it.
RC: Like tonight, we were going through one of our newer songs, and there was a part that he just sang that I decided, “I’ll scream this same part with him.”
JW: That’s how we write all the vocals.
RC: Yeah, we’ll just be playing a new song, and then I’ll work on a melody part, and Jade will work on—
JW: It’s pretty much whoever writes lyrics and vocals first gets the vocals on that song.
AW: Following that, the lyrics in your songs are raw and emotional. Do you write out your lyrics and put them over top of the songs, or do the words come as you’re playing the music together?
JW: Most of the time we just impromptu. We write the songs, we write at least the vocal melodies, and then we find something that fits that after the song’s already been written.
RC: I mean, a couple of our songs we’ve just, like, we wrote the song, and I was working on melody, and I just, like, doing melody and just some words and I’m just like, “That’s cool,” and then I’d hang on that for the chorus. So, I don’t know, I wish I was like Tim Kashar where all my songs had super deep meaning and all my lyrics were super deep and introspective, but they’re not. And it’s more just what fits the music and it’s just the delivery of it that I feel like it’s passionate so people can feel that, you know?
JW: Yeah, I feel like I focus a lot more on the music side of it than the lyric side.
AW: So the makeup of your band kind of represents a few different generations of the SoTah (southern Utah) music scene. Jade is kind of young blood, only really entering the scene in the past year or so. Allen’s been at it a couple of years with various projects, and Richard has been involved for a while, even working as a booker at the GoGo37 back in the day. How have you guys seen the music scene in SoTah progress, and what do you see for the future here?
JW: I’ve seen it progress a lot, just because when I first started doing music again, it was really, really bad. Like, there was nothing going on at all. And so then I feel like we came in and then all these other bands started coming in. You know like I did with Drinking Contest with Alf, with all that. It seemed like there were suddenly a lot more acoustic shows because all four acoustic bands in town were trying to put on shows with each other. And then from there all of us that were acoustic performers like Austin (Graves; Sleep Dealer) and me and Patrick (Swansborough; Waking Up With Wolves, Sleep Dealer), we all split off and decided to just make bands. That’s why there’s no more acoustic shows in St. George, because none of us play. We’re all in bands now. But I’ve watched it progress a lot. A lot through the Crack Shack too, that was a big part of the southern Utah progression I feel like, especially in the recent years. In it ending, it brought a lot of, I don’t know, good things and bad things, because a lot of people have started playing a lot more down here, which is cool.
RC: I feel like the biggest thing for me being involved in it for over 10 years now is that the music scene is way more tight-knit and super supportive. Everybody wants everybody else’s band to do well. I feel like the core music scene, all the bands coming out of St. George, they’re all stoked. And it’s cool to see bands hitting the road. Like, you guys (referring to Sleep Dealer) are going to be hitting the road with Nevermind here in a couple months. And, like, Kingdoms has gone out a couple times. Shine Bright’s out right now. And it’s cool that, like, I remember five years ago, there was not a lot of bands. I mean, In:Aviate did their thing. That’s coming up on 10 years now, in 2007 or 2008. Fever Dreams did a couple tours. But that’s the weird thing, I was way tight with those guys, and we all worked at GoGo, together and they practiced there and stuff. But no one really gave a shit about that band in St. George that much. People were like, “Oh yeah, they’re cool.” But I mean, they were really abrasive. There’s people that liked them, but it was like no one really gave a shit that much. So that’s a thing that’s kind of different now. Everybody’s stoked on everybody else. People just like seeing everyone play in bands. And that kind of atmosphere and reception of everyone just fosters more bands to come out. In two years from now, there’s going to be some kids that are 15, 16 now, they’re gonna be like 17, 18 that are going to be playing in some badass bands if this stays on the same trajectory that it’s on right now. You never know what’s going to happen in six months, a year, or two years, or whatever. So it’s cool, man, I’m just hopeful for the future. Even a year or two ago, there was like a couple really solid bands, and some bands that were alright, and some bands that were like, “Eh, you could work on it.” And now it’s like almost every single band that’s played the Rumble has been really tight and solid. You know, even if they didn’t win.
AW: So live shows are tight, but what are you guys doing in regards to recording your music?
RC: That’s all up in the air, dude.
JW: I mean I really want to get started as soon as possible, we’re all trying to—
RC: It’s just a money thing, really.
JW: Because we have a little demo thing recorded, but it’s really rough. And I mean, we could rerecord it, we could live record it and do it again, just to have something to put out there. We’re trying to get that New Year’s video out as soon as we can. We’re trying to get a lot of stuff out as soon as we can, because booking shows in other places without music is really hard to do. Like, “Hey, we don’t have any music to send you guys, but trust me. Here’s what we sound like.”
AW: Alright, so besides the final round of the Rumble on March 4, what other shows do you have coming up in the SoTah area?
RC: So we’re playing Georgefest March 3, the day before battle of the bands, with Andrew Goldring. And when they asked me, I was like, “Well, we’re playing battle of the bands the day after that.” But I’m like, “This might be the only chance we get to play.” Because I feel like we kind of tread on being a little too hard. Especially playing on the main stage. And I don’t want to ease up at all. I want to play like—
JW: Oh no, we’re playing it the same way we’re playing it.
AW: Okay, so what influences do you guys have musically?
RC: For this band, Cursive’s first two records are super influential on me. “The Storms of Early Summer” and especially “Domestica.” And then Sunny Day Real Estate. Cloud Nothings. And then Nirvana and Pixies and shit like that. And even some heavier stuff too like Floor. Just like raw-ass melodic shit that’s still crap stuff that’s still heavy. Crud.
AW: Crud rock.
RC: Crud rock, dude. (laughs) Yeah, just stuff like that. It’s cool, because we all kind of draw influences from other people.
JW: Yeah, uh, Dinosaur Jr. Um, Richard already said Nirvana. Sonic Youth for sure. A lot of black metal. Not really soundwise but just in the way I like playing. Like Dark Throne and Satanic Warmaster. But yeah, no, mostly just like ‘90s indie stuff. It started out way more emo influenced. Our entire thing is that I wanted to start a midwest emo band. I wanted it to sound like American Football. And so half of our songs are in American Football tunings. We’re just now breaking out of that, and the two brand new songs we have now are in standard. I think we’ll just go weirder next time and go to F#-F#-F#-F#-B-E, which is one of my favorites. But yeah, pretty much just ‘90s indie and emo. Allen? What do you have to say?
Allen Hutter (Drums): I listen to Ceremony and Coldplay.
JW: But not that shoe-gaze Ceremony.
AH: No, the hard-as-fuck Ceremony and the soft-as-fuck Coldplay. (laughs)
JW: Okay, I’m inspired by Christian Death too. Christian Death is like a goth-rock band. Rozz Williams is their singer, and it’s pretty good. And The Cure, The Cure is a big influence.
Catch Telestial March 3 at Georgefest with Andrew Goldring and March 4 at the Rumble with NEVERMIND, Cleo, and Sleep Dealer. Follow Telestial on Facebook at fb.com/TelestialSTG.