Thursday, July 13, 2017

Enormodome and the muse of the 1990s now retro (Director's Cut)

Enormodome with P.H. Naffah of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Gothic Theatre, Denver. photo

Over the crystal clear connection of a Facebook Messenger video chat, the two members of Enormodome are live and over the airwaves. And brothers and sisters, let this be known: Though it's tragically uncool for any rock merchants to reveal their ages, Flagstaff's dynamic duo were in fact alive during the 1990s. And since they were in high school, when the music of their time was breaking their hearts and carving a permanent meme into their memory banks, they have found a way to express all that in a completely retro, maybe even holistic way.

That is with a 1990s night on first night each month in Flagstaff at the Monte Vista Hotel bar. According to Enormodome members Jeff Lusby-Breault and Mike Seitz, their monthly '90s nights are cultural phenomenons in town. With so many people out at night, a packed house is virtually guaranteed.

What do they remember about the 1990s? Among the things mentioned during the Messenger interview, for two tight guys who are always finishing each other's sentences, were "stylistic things," according to Seitz. "Everyone trying to find a place after the '80s, and being pretty went to being ugly." According to Lusby-Brealt: "The anti-'80s. Double shoelace era. The bright lime green, dayglow."

They go on, leaning into the screen.

Seitz: "The culture and branding explosion. Nike versus Rebok. Everything versus brand was right. Brand became culture and vice versa."

Lusby-Breault: "We were in (Flagstaff) high school in the 1990s. Everything that happened in the '90s has caused me to dedicate myself to the 1990s ... freaking Third Eye Blind. The 'Black' album for Metallica, although that's when people say they sold out," and then later, via Facebook chat, "None of our content is specifically '90s reflective."

Or is it?

As Seitz says, "You grow up with your parents music a little bit, and then you are really shaped by the music when you have crushes on the opposite sex. You have all of these raging hormones. So your parents open you up to it a bit and it just solidifies when you just go crazy with your first crush on the girl ... I remember crying to 'Color Blind' by the Counting Crows."

Such formative years then move forward to create a current Enormodome song called "22 Guns," performed this year and available on for the Tiny Desk outlet, with the line: "High school sweat hearts make bad grown ups."

Since both were in high school and two young for bars in Flagstaff, Lusby-Breault says he doesn't have much of an idea about how the alternative scene expressed itself in northern Arizona. Most likely, with so many new bands on tour, the Museum Club was a major hot spot with such bands as the Meat Puppets playing there.

In Phoenix, the alternative scene was more amply available for the purposes of observed memory. That all starts KUKQ on the AM band out of Apache Junction. Such hits as "Dad, Have You Ever Been Arrested?." Bands like Pop Eats Itself and tons of B52s and David Bowie as filler. The deejays were Jonathan L. and the Bone Mama. The peak of all that was came out of KUKQ culture in the Valley was a show at Big Surf in Tempe. People hanging off the palm trees to get a view. The bands were the Gin Blossoms, the Sidewinders (one of the best bands ever out of Tucson), Camper Van Beethoven and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And then there was the Sun Club in Tempe, where the Meat Puppets, Giant Sand (another Tucson fave) and Dead Hot Workshop ruled. Nirvana and Public Enemy. Peter Murphy and the Levellers and Crowded House and Janes Addiction. People all dressed in black at the Mesa Amphitheatre for Love and Rockets and New Order. Morrissey out at that dust pit south of Phoenix called Compton Terrace. When KUKQ went FM it codified the whole thing. They went corporate and that pretty much summed it up for quote "alternative" in Phoenix.

That's the pop process in a nutshell.

Now the important thing to remember, obvious as it may sound, is there was no Facebook in the 1990s. But the root of it is there, in 1996, when (as the joke goes) Vice President Al Gore "invented the internet." And it can be argued here that the 1990s are hard to remember, perhaps due to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which essentially unleashed the internet onto the free world. It can be further argued that the 1990s actually ended then. Because the world was never the same. The 21st century had begun. Not in the year 2000 with Y2K and the kind of outrageous fear and dystopian blah blah blah that is the ethos of the 21st century. But in 1996 when the erasure of all that had come before had begun. Which is why some voters were led to believe in the 2016 presidential election that former President Bill Clinton started a child pornography ring while in office. Since 1996 the truth of history is slowly being turned into vaporware. To bring this point to the well, point, is this: Napster.

Enormodome members Jeff Lusby-Breault and Mike Seitz remember the disturbance in the force created by the controversial first music sharing web site.

"I remember going to my friend's house and he says 'I'm getting free songs on Napster," Lusby-Breault says. "I felt a dark pit in my stomach. It just seemed weird. I remember a very weird, bad feeling ... It was the end of the record industry. Napster killed it. Metallica took all of this s...t for taking a stand against it to protect the value of the art." Followed by Seitz, "Intellectual property is property. (What Napster created) was like stealing groceries at a stand on the roadside."

And then Seitz responds to the call further, the deep thinker leaning harder into the Messenger video screen, "The media shifted immediately, too. There was an immediate departure from record to video." In terms of the art of full-length albums or CDs, "How did that not kill everything?" Then Lusby-Breault, "We are excited vinyl is making a huge comeback. It inspired listening to music as an event. The song order on the album meant something. The new generation hasn't experienced that much. It's an art in itself to make an album flow."

As far as the 90s night goes, with Enormodome playing covers from that period, the two believe the event, which started slow but has picked up steam, is reminiscent of the '90s in the sense of the way people at the show behave.

"People believe they are at a rock show again," Seitz says. "They lose themselves a bit. A lot of people stumble on it from out on the street and room becomes a really cool place. It's a lot more kinetic, with people bumping into each other. It's really a different feeling."

Finally, Lusby-Breault, summing it up: "It's a miniature phenomenon downtown."

Article appeared previously in Flagstaff Live, Arizona Daily Sun.

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