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The Utah Spirit Babies
-or- How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Robot Apocalypse
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
This week, I spent some time with one of the newer metal bands in town, the Utah Spirit Babies. The band formed last spring, and is made up of Kendy Overthrow on vocals, Dwan Porter on bass, Chaz Stenchlaser on guitar, and Pete Dio on drums. I got together with U.S.B. as they were getting ready to practice, and talked with them about their origins, influences, past experiences, and plans for the future.
Overthrow, Porter, and Stenchlaser had all previously played together in Systematic Overthrow, and formed Utah Spirit Babies with Dio after taking some time off. In regards to forming this band, Overthrow tells me, “we had talked about it for a minute . . . we always wanted Pete as a drummer, and he was ready to play [drums] again, so we were like ‘OK sweet, lets do this.’ And we did.” Dio adds: “I had been wanting to play in a metal band for a while,” citing a specific desire to play thrash. “I had been wanting to play with these guys because they’re still young and ain’t jaded. I always want to play with young people and stay relevant. I don’t want to be that old guy playing music from ten years ago.”
“We’ve always kinda got along on the sound we were going for,” Overthrow says when the subject of what kind of metal they were looking to play. Everyone in the band agreed that D.R.I. was a major influence on their sound, naming them first when I asked who had helped shape their sound. After D.R.I. they mentioned Anthrax and Slayer, solidifying their roots in old school thrash metal. “We like to throw some randomness into in too,” Overthrow says. Stenchlaser adds. “Japanese hardcore’s a definite, too,” and mentioned bands like S.D.S. and Gai as having a major effect on how he writes.
“We actually haven’t spent a whole lot of effort trying to craft anything,” says Dio. “We just get down in the basement and jam, and what comes out comes out.” The only thing the band does make a conscious effort to stick to is the themes they address in their songs. “All the songs are about the apocalypse,” Overthrow states, but then immediately adds that they also have a science fiction quality to them. “I’m a nerd, and so is everyone else.” They all love Arnold Schwartzenegger movies, and have two songs that are directly influenced by his movies, one based on Total Recall, and the other on The Terminator.
According to Overthrow, the band also had a strong desire to not take themselves so seriously. “Our last band was socio-political crust punk, and I felt preachy.” Some of the songs do have a bit of social relevance in them, but mostly the subject of an apocalypse at the hands of laser-clad robots is approached in a more tongue-in-cheek manner.
Finding out how bands get their names is one thing that has always simultaneously intrigued and amused me, and with a name like Utah Spirit Babies, I suspected that the origins of this band’s moniker would not disappoint. I was right. The story is a bit convoluted, however, so for right now I’ll just hit the main points. Dio came up with the name after a couple of his friends went on a trip to Utah, and one of them was dubbed the original “Utah Spirit Baby.” The name also has something to do with how adults in different parts of the country explain to their children where babies come from. According to Dio, it’s basically the Utah version of the whole stork story. Apparently the band decided that the name was ridiculous, but by then they were playing out and it was too late to change it. “The more we played out, though, different bands told us ‘never change the name,” Overthrow says. “We know you guys think it sucks, but keep it because everybody remembers it.’”
A memorable name will come in handy when the band gets ready to release their five song EP. Everything has been recorded, mixed, and mastered, and is now just waiting to be pressed. The band hopes to have it out in the next couple of months, and said that it will be available on 7” vinyl. The band cited the steady rise of vinyl in popularity as one reason they have chosen to release a 7” instead of a CD, and hope that this format will appeal more to collectors.
The band hasn’t done any real touring yet, but told me that the recent success that they had playing in Cincinnati has helped to bolster their confidence that they could do a tour successfully. Apparently, they scored that show because of the contacts Dio has made playing in his other bands, Flamingo Nosebleed and Riverbottom Nightmare Band. Dio recalled playing a show with Flamingo Nosebleed some time ago, and ended up running into a friend that the other members of U.S.B. had made there when they were in Systematic Overthrow. “So the dude had this three-day basement-fest . . . and we tore it up.” The band has made plans to go back since then, and is also in the planning stages of a fall tour.
The band’s next show will be at the annual Rise skate shop BBQ on July 7th at 1:00 in the afternoon. The shop is on the corner of 4th and Lafayette; the show will be all ages and is free. You can also check the band out for yourself on their myspace page, which is at myspace.com/utahspiritbabies.