When I moved to Colorado years ago one thing that stood out to me is that I didn’t think there was a sense of community in the music scene at all. It was more like a bunch of people that played music and no real cohesion to any of it. What I realized later was that it was really just me and I wasn’t seeing what was going on because I took it for granted that I came from a town where I was already established and knew what was going on. The secret to Colorado is getting out there and finding the diamonds, they don’t just stick out, they creep around the corners and stay exactly where they like to be.
One person that always stood out to me was Ross Hostage of Allout Helter. This is one person who bleeds for the music around him whether it be setting up shows, street teaming, playing benefits or just generally writing about the music around him. You get the sense he really cares about the local music community and would do anything to make it something other people would love to be a part of.
Allout Helter plays a very steady diet of technically sound punk a la 90’s influence with much social and political commentary to sink your teeth into and fill your pallet. They’re fast and furious in their delivery and leave no one in the audience to question what they’re about. They’re about change, they’re about music community and they’ve staked their own claim in Denver, winning the hearts of all who listen. They have helped shape this thing we call a music scene and I was ecstatic to chat with them. I got the chance to chat with Ross and here is the result.
(Johnny): So let’s go for the A number one question. How did Allout Helter come about and who’s involved?
(Ross): Fred and Cameron play guitars and also contribute on vocals, Chad holds down the low end, Ryan a.k.a. “The Shook” slays on drums and I yell and jump around like an idiot. The band evolved out of Fred, Ryan and Chad’s old band, Every Last Word. They lucked out and found Cameron, at some point, after he moved to Denver and I signed on to take over lead vocal duties late in 2010 after my last band, Suburban Hostage, split up.
Now, we spend as much time as possible churning out thrashy tunes to present to you, the adulating public .
You signed to Dang! Records this last year and got quite a push from the label but have yet to throw out a full-length. Are there any plans in motion working toward that goal?
There sure are, Johnny! We’re currently in the basement at The Helter Shelter (also our practice space/Ryan and Cam’s house), recording one wicked mamma-jamma of a record; nine songs of our heaviest, most technical material to date. It’s a collection of the songs written before I joined the band and the tunes written since. We’re tracking everything ourselves because it’s given us the time to really fine tune these tracks without crushing our bank account.
Dang! is super supportive of us, having fronted the costs of our An Hour Made for Arson EP and they included us on a sweet four-way split 7”. For some reason, Shaun [Colὀn, owner of Dang!Records] thinks we’re pretty cool and is willing to deal with the slow pace of our output. I’ve been with the band about 2 years and we’ve only released three songs! We promise to remedy that as much as possible in the future. We’re already writing new songs so, as soon as this record comes out, we’ll be hard at work making the next one.
You have some very polically driven lyrics and seem very passionate about the subject matter. Is this something you still feel has an impact in the punk rock scene, after the homeginization of the genre as a whole in the 90’s, or are you not really hanging onto an agenda at all?
I’ve tried writing songs about chicks and beer and whatnot. They’re always trite as shit. The music that’s always impacted me the most is the stuff that conveys an ethos. To a certain extent, I write to help define my own ideals. If I put something on paper that, to me, doesn’t have that semblance of truth, then I know I’m just regurgitating some idea that someone else has put forth. I use my lyrics as a way to know that I’m thinking for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, music doesn’t always have to be so serious (I’ve got plenty of boppy, party records) and, as I get older, I’m certainly also drawn to more narrative stories as these songwriters are trying to come to grips with their own lives, as are we all. I don’t begrudge anyone for what they choose to write about. That being said, there are still plenty of bands, like Propagandhi and DC Fallout, who focus on socio-economic/world issues. I believe that true, positive change can only come about through dialogue and conversation. Put a microphone in front of me, and that’s what I feel is important enough to bother saying. So, I talk about the problems I see in the world and I encourage people to engage me about my view points and decide if they agree or not. I just want people to think and not be so damned apathetic all the time.
You seem to be making quite a ruckus on the Denver streets and can be seen not only playing but actually setting up a lot of shows in town. What are your thoughts on the Denver Scene?
I’ve been playing music as part of the Colorado music scene since 2001 and I can honestly say that, in that time, this is the best it has been and I’m not just talking about punk music. Denver has evolved into a community of people who are genuinely hungry for new and exciting bands/artists. I’ve stopped worrying about “competing” events when I throw shows because there’s always something going on in this town but I still know that there are people interested in what I’m trying to put together. I do my best to make each show a rad experience for all three parties involved: the bands, the fans, and the venue (so hopefully they’ll pay us haha).
I learned how to book/plan shows out of necessity for my bands but, now, I know so many kickass musicians across the country who tour through Colorado that need places to play. I want them to have successful gigs so they can keep coming back; this lead to me basing just about all my shows around touring bands coming to town. It started as an avenue for Allout Helter to be able to play with bands we admire but, now, I’m booking shows that I’m not even playing! I don’t take any money for it. I haven’t figured out how to make any money without taking cash out of the pockets and gas tanks of the musicians. I take pride in knowing that I’m contributing to the Denver scene and the touring community. That’s enough for me, for now. If anyone wants to actually pay me to do this, you know where to find me.
Any tour plans in the works for Allout Helter? It seems these days it’s harder and harder to tour, monetarily, for bands so I’m curious if this is even something that is a viable option for a band that also holds “real” day jobs.
Touring is tough for us. We’re hoping to do some short runs next year after the album comes out but, mostly, we stay put. We’re all older with lots of the big “R” word: Responsibilities. Between jobs, mortgages and Fred and Chad’s adorable kids, it’s a little hard for us to get in the van for an extended period of time. We’re hoping to get the music out ahead of us as much as possible and network with all the great bands who come through Colorado so that, when we can finally make it out of town, people will have actually heard of us and we don’t play for empty rooms.
If any of you fans out there want to start a Kickstarter to fund us coming to your town, we would consider that haha.
You guys are playing Summergrind this year, are you guys excited to be part of a Festival that really seems to be leaning toward our local scene more than national acts?
Summergrind is going to be amazing! There’s already a history of quality music festivals in Denver but this is the first one to really cater to the burgeoning punk scene. I’m stoked to share a bill with Leftover Crack and The Dwarves but, mainly, I’m excited to have so many of our favorite Denver bands and fans gathered in one place for a giant, all-day party.
What else would you like us to know about Allout Helter? What does the future hold for the band?
We’re hoping to have our debut full length out early this winter and we hope that people are excited to finally have a substantial block of Helter to listen to. Come by and chat with us at a show, we’re really friendly although, if you talk to us after our set, we’ll probably be pretty sweaty. Remember, hi-fives and hugs are always free!
Allout Helter released an EP earlier this year titled An Hour Made For Arson and also DIY ’til death comp on Dang! Records which you can check out HERE. They will also be joining in on the fun at Summergrind this coming weekend, so check out the full schedule for that show HERE.
Follow: @AlloutHelter @DangRecords