Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Banding together, at least for now — Marching to own drums after high school may bring bands into step with each other

By Laura Forbes
For the Redoubt Reporter

Haven Multz-Matthews - drummer with Casualties to the Cause, a Homer band that played with Kenai's Uglyfish on Saturday at the Kenai Performers Playhouse - used an apt analogy to describe the process of writing music.

“It's a lot like spelling. If you read a book, then you learn how to spell the words that are in the book. So if you listen to a bunch of other people's music, then you think of it while you're creating your music. Not necessarily ripping off, but definitely sampling. Taking ideas from other people is definitely a big part of writing songs,” Multz-Matthews said.

Both bands have been experimenting with musical vocabulary, developing their identities and finding a path in life.

“We've been together since last fall, actually. We're probably done after this show cause we're all going off to school,” Ian Uponen, bass and guitar player with Uglyfish, said of his band.

Uponen would like to see the band continue after the fall, but as college and other opportunities lay themselves at the feet of these 18-year-old men, Uponen is going with the flow.

“I'm going off to Portland with my singer, Kris Larson, so we might still play in a band together. I don't know. We'll see,” Uponen said.

The lineup for Uglyfish is Larson, Devin Boyle, Justin Wisniewski, Uponen and Jonathan Loveall. The guys have the support of family and friends, as proven by the crowd that was already starting to gather at the Playhouse even before the doors opened at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Uponen, as well as others in Uglyfish, came from music. Both his parents, J.D. and Lori Uponen, were music majors and both were in attendance at the concert.

“There was support. It might have been harder if they were not as much into music as I am, and all behind me. My dad helps out at shows with sound and helping set up. He's been here since twelve this afternoon,” Uponen said.

J.D. Uponen was crossing the floor with cable, getting ready for a sound check. It is natural for him to lend a hand in such an endeavor, as music has always been part of his family's life.
“We just try to get the most out of life by expressing ourselves in whatever fashion,” J.D. said.

J.D. left it up to his son to explore his own means of expression. It just happened to be music. J.D. also will leave it up to his son to decide how far to carry his zeal for music.

“It has to be his decision. If he were doing it because he was following his heart, more power to him. This is the time to do it, when you're young. When you get older - not that you should let too much get in your way - but you have obligations and responsibilities that you take on,” J.D. said.

J.D. and Danette Howland, mother of Uglyfish band member Devin Boyle, believe in the talent of all the young men in the band.

“This has been Devin's foray into being in a band,” Howland said. “Uglyfish is awesome. They're just the sweetest, most talented bunch of boys. They're going to all go their own way, but I'm still pinning my hopes on them getting back together.”

Howland said all the band members except Devin are going to Portland, but Devin may eventually end up there, too.

“They're just a neat bunch of kids. I'd love to see them continue,” she said.
Howland is also the mother of Keely Boyle, who is working full time with Nelson Kempf to build a career as the Old Believers. The Old Believers are based out of Portland and tour around the country and continue to record albums these days.

“I just hope they keep music as part of their lives, because I think they find a lot of joy in it. Whether it's what they do for a living, or just something they do for fun, I hope they continue with it,” Howland said of all the young people she's watched grow up in Kenai music.

Local kids have been lucky to get all the musical support available from music teachers in the area, she said.

“I have to give a lot of credit, you know. You can take it to Elaine Larson, at the elementary school, Rosemary Bird, Mr.. Uponen, Renee Henderson - that's one of our biggest gifts in this community right now, and for the last twenty or more years - has been we have strong music programs,” Howland said.

Casualties to the Cause, which opened the set, is Multz-Matthews, Ethan Martin, Patrick Schneider, Dan McCallum and Tyler Langham, of Homer. They all just graduated high school, as well, and are facing some of the same questions as Uglyfish.

“We definitely all want to focus our energy toward music. I don't know if we're going to keep going as a band. I know this fall or winter, we're all going to meet up in Portland and play around there and see what's up. We've got a lot of friends and good connections down there,” Multz-Matthews said.

Like Uglyfish, the guys in Casualties to the Cause grew up together in music.

“All my brothers played guitar and bass. They all played instruments, but no one played drums, so I just kind of naturally was drawn to that. So I had a crappy drum set at my house - duct-taped together. And I told Ethan, 'Dude, you should learn guitar, and we should start a band,'” Multz-Matthews said.

To keep tabs on the evolving futures of both bands, you can check out Uglyfish and Casualties to the Cause on their pages. Both bands have picture postings and tracks to listen to.

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