When I was a teenager, I sweated out my adolescent angst in a barely listenable garage band like countless other young, hopeful musicians with grandiose visions of rock stardom.
Eventually we had our chance to prove ourselves to the local rock scene at a major battle of the bands at an area high school. We asked ourselves, while scratching our heads, “How did we get this gig?” Apparently someone had slipped a cassette to the booking person, claiming it was our demo, when in actuality, it was material recorded by our favorite semi-professional and polished local band. We played and unintentionally provided some much needed comedic relief for the packed house.
I’m sure this was never the case with Boulder’s Statewide Emergency. The young band’s chops would not allow for this aberration. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Paradis, guitarist Luke Johnson, bassist Caleb Kronen and percussionist Keith Slack — all in their teens —have proven themselves in the Boulder and Denver club scenes. Their debut disc, last year’s Another Point of View, was an auditory testament to the quartet’s strong work ethic and ability to craft loud, guitar-based rock with influences that predate them by decades. The band owes an obvious debt to ’70s-era rock gods whose debauchery involved smashed motel television sets, squealing groupies and binge drinking.
The follow-up, Carnivorous Carnival, which will be released digitally on May 30, continues this tradition.
The disc showcases a solid, capable band and sounds like it could have been recorded in 1975 — its vintage glory aided by the capable hands of local studio techies such as John Macy, Mark Oblinger and James Tuttle. The band’s limited recording fund is hardly noticeable.
“We were on a decently low budget, so we wanted to be really tight on all our songs going into a studio,” Paradis says. “So once we got in there, everything went pretty straight-forward and as planned because we [were] pretty prepared and ready for it.
“We actually tracked all to analog,” he reveals. “We tracked through a 24-track tape machine and then into ProTools from that. Analog has that warm kind of tone that most digital recordings don’t have. Then on the way out, when we were mixing it, we went back through tape. I’m sure that helped [with the vintage sound].”
Production choices and musical tightness only go so far, though — the content has to match. Paradis and company rise to the task by blasting through Carnivorous Carnival’s six tunes with power chords and bombast galore. This is stoner rock with enough swagger to split the seams on a pair of polyester skinny jeans. Don’t come to the Statewide Emergency table hungry for sugary pop or over-produced radio fare; feast here if you like your rock loud and straightforward.
“The Inside,” which starts off Carnivorous Carnival, contains the album’s finest moments. Heavy guitars and muscular vocals arise from the mix and sucker-punch the listener in stereo. Drums and bass swirl in the background, providing a propulsive rhythm section, while a strong melody dives and rises up continuously. All the elements work together, and the result is easily likable.
“It was probably the song we worked on the most. I think it’s the one that we’re going to promote as our single, and we had a feeling about that going in,” Paradis says. “The biggest problems we found with that song were getting the vocals to fit right in there. The vocals are really what drive that song — just the effects and levels and processing on all that — we definitely struggled with [that] for a while, but then in the end it turned out perfect.”
The guitar-filled juggernaut “The Inside,” the electric piano-containing, more subdued “Rubber Legs” and the rest of Carnivorous Carnival will be provided free of charge to all those who pay the cover for Saturday’s album release show at the Fox Theatre. These days, with so much music available for free — both legally and illegally — it makes sense on the promotional side of things to sometimes give music away free of charge.
“We’re really proud of this album. We want people to hear it, and that’s [a] bigger priority than getting money for it, because getting heard is what we want above all else,” Paradis says. “You want people to know what you’re doing, because if people don’t know what you’re doing, why are you doing it?”
On the Bill
Statewide Emergency plays the Fox Theatre on Saturday, May 29. Doors at 8:30 p.m.
Bassline, Stellar Atlas and Rogue Sound open. Tickets start at $10. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.