Catching up with Steez: Live from 10KLF
Post by Phil on 7/24/2009 10:18pm
In the immortal words of Jim Anchower: "Hola amigos. What's shakin'? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but the waters are not always smooth." Rough waters abound, even amidst the music, nature, and euphoria that organizers promise at the 10,000 Lakes Festival (10KLF). While the intense thunderstorms that rolled through Detroit Lakes, MN were certainly beyond the organizers' control, the same can't be said about the incredibly overzealous campground security randomly barging into people's tents, rummaging through campers' belongings while they're gone, and peeping into ostensibly private tents.
While the weather eventually let up, security riding on louder-than-lawnmower ATV's continued belching fumes into tents while driving aimless laps non-stop through the campgrounds, 24/7. Despite the distinctly onerous campground security, the vibe inside the main concert venue has been as welcoming as the idyllic daytime weather that has graced this year's 10KLF. A full write-up and photos will follow, but for now, I sat down with Steve Neary and Matt Williams, two of the five members of Madison-based Steez, having performed Thursday night at 10KLF.
Dane 101: How'd you get roped into playing here?
Steez: Actually, a friend of ours from GA who manages this band knew people and liked our music and basically has been helping us out and stuff. One day we got an email that said "Hey, you've been accepted to play 10K," even though we'd submitted our stuff on SonicBid and we weren't accepted on that. So yeah... somehow that happened.
[At this point, some flaky older woman wanders up to the tent and apologizes for missing the show last night. Something about her ex-husband and her son and not being able to read the schedule...]
D101: Does that happen often? What's the weird shit you see at this festival?
S: Well... pretty much anyone who's 40+ has been like, the highlight of my weekend so far. I mean, you gotta think, they've been around doing this shit for like 20, 25 years and you've probably done enough shit that, like, your brain, you're not really functioning correctly.
D101: So is it different how you approach a festival gig versus a regular on the road or home in Madison kind of gig?
S: You'd think we would, but not really. I mean, you know, just try and get pumped and just do it, just play, you know. There're are couple songs, maybe some fan favorites, like a Madonna song or something, try and throw that in whenever we're playing bigger gigs. We didn't sit down a week beforehand and determine our setlist to a T or that kind of thing, we just kind of winged it.
D101: So what other festivals have you guys hit this summer?
S: We did Summer Camp. Yeah, see, for Summer Camp, we kind of planned that out. We kind of did a little robot rock. We also played at the Big Wu Family Reunion last weekend, which was kind of a smaller festival, still fun and a really cool venue.
D101: So have you guys done 10KLF before?
S: Nope. First time.
D101: Is it what you expected or not?
S: Yeah, definitely the whole camping thing, I like how you can just go out by a lake and chill out. It feels more like actually camping, not this festival thing like Bonnaroo where you're kind of out in the middle of this farm field and don't get as much of the nature vibe.
D101: Well, I've done Bonnaroo the past 5 years now, and this kind of feels like what I imagine Bonnaroo used to be like, or maybe was supposed to be...
S: Yeah, I can see that. It's nice to not have to walk like 45 minutes to get back to your campsite.
D101: So how have things been around Madison lately?
S: It's good, we played the Terrace in the beginning of June, and we have an album called Creepfunk coming out August 13th, so we're trying to get as many people as we can to come out in August. It's been great, we're playing at the High Noon for our CD release show. We're doing a road tour, starting out in Chicago and heading out east towards New York, then coming back to the midwest and playing some shows in Madison when we get back.
D101: So how do you guys feel about festivals around Madison, what with last year's Forward Music Fest and all?
S: It was fun, you know. I think we're playing a pre-party for the festival this year. I like the idea, the whole SXSW kind of model of a festival. That's cool. Especially for a city like Madison that's small enough where you can do that and the venues are close enough that you walk or it's a $2 cab ride to go from place to place. There're enough bands that we can make it happen. I guess if I had to quantify, put a label on it, indie rock is kind of like the main theme of that, and I think that definitely fits Madison. With young kids, indie shit is what's happening now.
D101: "Jam bands from Madison" is kind of a dime-a-dozen, how do you get past that and start booking good shows and making a name for yourself?
S: I think longevity is the name of the game, as far as that kind of thing. There're so many bands that just kind of come and go and eventually just break up. Part of it is that you don't want to play too many shows. That's kind of where we're at now. It'd be cool to play every week, maybe a residency at a cool bar, but at the same time you pace your shows.
D101: Have you guys run into many people from Madison that made their way out here?
S: Other than the 30 people on our bus that came with us? I mean nah, probably more like 10, but you know... I mean, there's people from Madison here, but not a ton. We got a pretty good following from Minnesota too. We play in Rochester all the time, which is kind of an unlikely place for us to have a good group of kids that come to our shows.
D101: So how'd you guys feel about your set last night?
S: It was great, it was wild, people were raging. There was like a pack of 18 year old dudes up front screaming after every song.
D101: 18 year old dudes?
S: Let's call the next album "18 Year Old Dudes". There'll be like fist bumps on the front cover, that'd be awesome.
Phil Ejercito is a freelance photojournalist based out of Madison, WI. His primary photographic interests include (but are by no means limited to) live music, politics and activism, environmental portraiture, and severe weather events.
More of his work can be found at philephotography.com.