Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Dec 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Bridge to Somewhere

music_BuildersButchersThe Builders and The Butchers cross borders and genres

Portland is a city whose name is practically synonymous with indie music—particularly the alternative folk scene. Conversely, Alaska is synonymous with … Sarah Palin?

In 2003 Ryan Sollee moved from Alaska to Portland with his band at the time, a punk rock outfit known as The Born Losers. With the dissolution of that project, and with the advantage of friendships forged in a cultural music hub, eventually came The Builders and The Butchers, Sollee’s current band coming to The Crepe Place on Sunday, Jan. 17. “I was (in Portland) a few years while my old band was winding down,” says Sollee, “and The Builders and The Butchers started out of that period.”

However, despite its frontman’s punk rock roots, The Builders and The Butchers—whose lineup is rounded out by Alex Ellis on acoustic bass, Harvey Tumbleson on the mandolin and banjo, Paul Seely providing percussion and trumpet, Ray Rude adding additional percussion, “and friends”—takes its cues from decidedly non-punk genres. “A lot of the band’s influences are in pre-1950s American music,” says Sollee, who claims he’s also inspired by storytelling songs along the lines of Johnny Cash. “I’ve always been drawn to Spanish music,” he says, naming Calexico as a parallel. “I enjoy writing every song like an American epic, to switch it up. Big drums. An epic, sweeping sound.”

In fact, the band does feature two percussionists on many songs to provide that epic tenor. “Our percussionists share one deconstructed drum kit,” describes Sollee. “Ray didn’t know what to play at first, so we put a bass drum in front of him and it went from there.” The effect makes for a big sound, but also contributes to the visual imagery Sollee associates with his music, including recent material which he describes as a “poor, desolate desert.”

Though The Builders and The Butchers may have eclectic influences, at no time does their genre-hopping feel the least bit contrived. “Our writing process really isn’t that thought out,” the songwriter explains. “It’s less direct, more organic.” Rather, he says that his musical evolution seems more a result of simply growing up.

But instead of abandoning his roots completely, Sollee has incorporated his punk past into his current gig. In addition to its Americana, blues, and Tex-Mex predilections, the band has a bent similar to that of post-punksters Murder By Death. In fact, Murder By Death specifically selected The Builders and the Butchers to join them on a U.S. tour in early 2009. “The (Murder By Death’s) tour manager had also managed a band we toured with before, so he suggested they check us out, and eventually they asked us to tour with them,” remembers Sollee. “It was an amazing tour, our favorite so far.”

And also very much like Murder By Death, each of The Builders and The Butchers’ two releases—2008’s self-titled album, and 2009’s Salvation is a Deep Dark Well—have very bizarre, but intriguing, cover art featuring abstract images of death and decay. “Our covers were done by an old friend named Lucas Ketner, and our first record even won an award in some arts magazine,” says a non-specific Sollee. “We just send him the songs and tell him to draw whatever [he can] think of.”

The Builders and The Butchers are currently doing an arduous jaunt throughout California which reflects the difficulties of ‘making it’ in the current music business climate. Despite the physical hardships of being in a band, Sollee says stoicly, “It doesn’t always make sense, but you get what you can get.”


The Builders and The Butchers perform with A Dark and Stormy Night at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $7. For more information, call 429-6994.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire