Derby City Rocks with Dirty Cheese and The Hoodie Thieves.
Once in a while a band emerges from the vast and often mediocre plains of the underground original music genre. A band with youth, talent, conviction, long baggy shorts and that certain spark that sends chills to the bone and vibrations to the pockets of record companies.
There are many unsigned bands out there and this is the story of one of them.
A long time ago....
In a basement not far away...
It was early Winter 2003 when the first inkling of what was to come first entered the minds of three young guys who just recently disbanded from their musical project Static Divide. Having one's efforts fall apart by disbanding usually flusters the will and determination ... usually. But in the case of guitarist Clay Cook, 20, guitarist Brandon Sidebottom 20, and bassist John Suel, 21, the outcome of Static Divide was irrelevant. They were gonna rock no matter what.
It was time to devise a plan of attack. What was the new project to be? They pondered. About that same time, vocalist Andy Paul, 26, was singing for Factor 9, a popular Louisville progressive rock/hardcore/metal band that had been around for several years, and he was fed up with his current musical situation. Andy and Factor 9 guitarist Andrew Mcallister eventually left Factor 9, so Andy was looking for a new project Having heard Static Divide and knowing of the demise of that band, Andy Paul contacted Clay through Andy's little brother, who went to the same high school as Clay. Enter drummer John Stemmle and soon the newly formed team began to cultivate the musical dynamite that would eventually become Intheclear.
It's difficult to describe Intheclear's sound but not impossible: it can best be described as melodic progressive rock ballad interludes with seriously rocking semi-heavy outcomes. More or less.
The vocals are pretty impressive as well. When Andy Paul first started singing several years back, his love for Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan was beyond evident, to the point that it was easy to dismiss him as a Maynard clone. However, the four years of shows that Andy did with Factor 9 slowly and surely gave him the confidence and experience he needed to step up the vocals a notch, or five, which he did. And now, gone are the whining Maynard impersonations and gone are long-ago negative thoughts about the way Andy sings.
Intheclear's guitarists and guitar parts are wicked. Clay and Brandon play very tightly, even though they almost always are running totally separate riffs, laying out intertwining guitar melodies. One guitarist plays low, crunchy powerful all-out riffs, while the other plays some eerie, clean octave chords, picking in a higher, but on key riff. The song structures are well written and thought out to the note. The guitar sounds mixed with the ample delays and reverbs that Intheclear uses make the cleaner guitar parts come together especially nicely.
Bassist John Suel is a pretty accomplished bassist and seems to know the bass like the back of his hand, while drummer John Stemmle more than holds his own timing-wise, resulting in a rhythm section that creates beats that will have your foot tapping or heads bobbing.
Behind The Emotion...
Vocalist Andy Paul, 26, cites his family's love for music, planting the desire in him want to become a musician at an early age. As a child, his mother Anna Jo worked as vocalist in a cover band to make ends meet through college and apparently that rubbed off on Andy, as he was constantly bombarded with the sounds of Blue Cheer, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Hendrix.
As a teenager, he happened to hear Metallica's "Damage Inc" and Pantera's "Vulgar Display of Power" and was overwhelmed with a desire to play powerful music. He continues to realize that dream, having been in a few bands, including Subtle, where he played guitar and sang, Infringe and then a four-year stint with the popular Louisville band Factor 9. Intheclear is his best effort to date.
He cites as his vocal heroes Chino Marino, Maynard James Keenan, Jeff Buckley, Robert Plant, Phil Collins and lists a wide variety of musical tastes he is into these days. Not only does he like metal but also is into classic rock, lighter rock like ZZ Top, Johnny Cash and Rap rockers Beastie Boys. To make ends meet, Andy has a day gig at a warehouse.
Clay "I make noises" Cook
"I make noises" says rhythm guitarist Clay Cook, 20, who literally does do that. Cook's early inspiration and influences were definitely Metallica he says. His knowledge of certain tones and using effects to their full advantage is quite admirable. He has a fat guitar sound that is produced with a Mesa-Boogie Amp, ESP and Schecter guitars and various delay, chorus, phase and flange effects and, of course, Wah-Wahs. A graduate of Trinity High School, Cook started learning guitar at fifteen and has picked it up very fast and successfully. His talent belies his youth.
He works at his father's office and in his spare time, likes to be with his girlfriend, watch and collect movies and putter around on the computer.
Lead guitarist Brandon "#7" Sidebottom, 20, started guitar at age 10, learning on an acoustical instrument until he got an electric at twelve. He even fiddled with a ukulele at age 9. His guitar influences come from Sevendust, Perfect Circle, Incubus, Joe Satriani, Randy Rhoads and Tom Petty.
Brandon's father, Danny Sidebottom, was a soundman around town and worked at the legendary Toy Tiger many years ago. Plainly, that rock and roll environment got Brandon into the whole musician frame of mind. He's been in only one band other than Intheclear: Static Divide.
His sound arises from a popular new German made amp called ENGL, a Paul Reed guitar, a Schecter guitar and an Epiphone Les Paul copy, along with a Delay and Wah effect.
Brandon went to Saint X High School and enjoys pool, playing guitar and partying big time. He got his nickname "#7" from his constantly worn Jack Daniels hat with the #7 logo on it.
Skinny drummer John "the Eating Machine" Stemmle, 21, started drumming at age eleven, when his grandfather hooked him up with a drum set. He was heavily influenced by Beatles, Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots, Tool, Terry Bozzio and drum legend Buddy Rich. John got into playing music because it was so boring where he lived growing up - a senior community - that he thought he'd go nuts. Music was his escape; percussion was to be a major factor in his life. His only other band was Static Divide as well.
Stemmle's favorite things are meditating, watching TV, cartoons, yo-yoing, hacky sack (a game he shares with all other members of the band), cards and video games. His mother is the band's guardian angel and ultimate band mom, according to the whole quartet. Very high praises go out from the band to Mrs. Stemmle for the supportive and good person she is.
Musically...Stemmle's into Hip-Hop, Tool, My Morning Jacket, Terry Bozzio, Jazz, Dave Matthews Band and Deftones. He plays DW drums.
Bassist John "Ape" Suel, 21, got his nickname from producer Malcolm Springer for his long arms and the way he slings his bass, so low as to almost drag the ground.
Suel plays a wicked natural-finish Warwick bass, Ampeg Amps and started bass at age ten when his stepbrother, John Warren, got him into it. His influences are Metallica, Pantera, Les Claypool, Peanut of 311, Incubus bassist and Outcast.
When he's not cooking, exercising or playing video games, Stemmle listens to such bands as System Of A Down, Tool, Pantera, 311 and Mudvayne.
His day gig is at the Cafe Emily.
The Haunted Basement
Drummer John Stemmle's basement, which is both the practice room and headquarters for Intheclear, is believed to be haunted by the late David Stemmle, who passed in 2001. The band admits to seeing strange things, hearing strange noises and undergoing other eerie mishaps. They insist it's just John's dad saying `hello' from time to time, letting them know he's being a good supportive dad and checking out his son's band.
Accomplishments and The Future
The "buzz" about Intheclear seems to be all positive. In fact, I haven't heard one negative thing said about them. They guys got some good shows under their belts as well as quite a few out-of-town shows and have developed quite a fan base. The "buzz" continues to spread via by word of mouth.
"The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri sticks out in our minds for some reason" says the band, "they really liked our music."
"I'd say our biggest and best accomplishment so far, is winning the LRS Band Battle in 2004 and getting to play in front of a massive crowd of probably around six to eight thousand people at Waterfront park where almost everyone knows you" Andy Paul explained. "It was kind of a Louisville family thing."
"I know this may sound cheesy, but to be honest, it was like a dream come true," he admitted.
The band has also opened for Flaw, Chavelle, Finger 11 and Days Of The New, as well as countless smaller local shows at Louisville's finest venues.
Their latest accomplishment is one that will hopefully get the ball rolling towards some kind of recording deal.
The New CD
Their most recent effort is the 6-song EP, oddly entitled Dirty Cheese and The Hoodie Thieves. When I first heard the EP name from the band, I thought they were messin' with me, but it's for real. It seems these guys have a good sense of humor. Andy Paul admits that he has a goofy character in him known as Russell Cheese, a genuine Kentucky redneck goofball who loves a good time! They decided to use the Russell Cheese theme to raise some eyebrows and have some good clean fun in the process.
The band provided a copy of the new CD, recorded at Sonic Temple in St Louis. I must admit I was pretty blown away. Not only are there killer melodies and catchy beats, but vocals that match the intensity of the music. The efforts by the producer, Malcolm Springer, who has produced bands such as Greenwheel, Full Devil Jacket and Sinch, as well as Louisville acts Breckinridge and End Of Me, really shine on this recording, which took two months to complete at a cost of some $30,000. The band scraped everything they had to come up with the dough.
Dirty Cheese and the Hoodie Thieves is an excellent recording of fine songwriting, musicianship and that most important of all ingredient, memorable melodies. "Drown," "Love Chinese Style" and "Pulse and a Blindside" are the tunes that stand out the most.
It's difficult to think of an unsigned Louisville rock/metal release of late that can come close to equaling it, with the exception of ex-Flaw vocalist Chris Vols new project, Fiveboltmain, which is also doing extremely well.
The bottom line is: These guys basically love playing music, have good communication, are pretty much drama-free and will travel anywhere and do whatever it takes to get noticed by a record company. To that end, they are now trying to buy a large van to travel in. The next step for Intheclear would be a full-length CD featuring 12 or 13 songs, but first, the band must get back out there, play shows and sell some CDs, T-shirts and those heavily protected hoodies, so that they can try to recoup that thirty grand spent on the recording.
A Word of Thanks
Intheclear would like to thank all their fans and family who believe in them, for all their support, help and love. And kudos to the legendary Snorty Jones and D**kbag in Saint Louie!
The band thanks WLRS and the Fox for everything they've done for them and always playing the band's songs.