Hard rock census 2010 

Local musicians and club pros weigh in on the state of the Colorado Springs scene

With bands like Anvil rising from the dead and Mastodon making it safe for indie kids, the sound of thunder may yet make a comeback.

Closer to home, it's been a long time since the glory days of Colorado Springs "hard rock," when radio still ruled the airwaves, KILO 94.3 was truly "Colorado's Pure Rock," and Moshpit Magazine shined internationally like a ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day. (Or, more accurately, roared like a mighty black hole of hard rock righteousness on a quiet, sunny day.) Regardless, when people talked about Colorado Springs, they talked about Colorado Springs' rock. And our rock was hard.

Nowadays, there's no shortage of venues willing to book original rock (Union Station, the Black Sheep, Music Street Tavern, Sunshine Studios, the Triple Nickel and the Rocket Room, to name a few). But the state of our hard rock scene, and even the very definition of hard rock itself, is up for debate.

Apparently, it all comes down to who you ask. So I just went ahead and asked everybody.

Wendy Campbell, afternoon drive-time DJ, KILO 94.3: Hard rock is a lifestyle. It's a bond between misfits. I've met some great personalities, all that I adore, in this Colorado Springs hard rock scene. Some have become like family. Each time we gather at another sold-out show, we stand for our right to freedom of expression, to choose who we are and how we feel about the world. Put quite simply, Colorado Springs hard rock means the world to me.

Randy Ketterer, owner, Union Station: Over the last seven years of working directly with most of the hard rock bands and clubs in the area, I've watched the maturity, talent and writing of the local bands skyrocket. Old-schoolers like Step to Every Pit, Try Redemption, Malakai, Jag Panzer and Sanguine Addiction have been holding down the scene for years and are at a level of musicianship that rivals any national touring act.

I was born in what is now hospice in St. Francis hospital. Scary thought, that you could die in the same room you were born in. Hopefully I'll be listening to a whole new era of southern Colorado rockers when I do.

Jeff "Effe" Montoya, guitarist for Smaug, Catheter and Decay, bassist for Sinister Creed: "Hard rock" to me is individuality through obscurity. I get off on bands that have a uniqueness to them, with a good hook.

I wish that people of this scene would take what's out there in underground music for the music, not just go to shows because their friend's band is playing. Stop, listen and see what the band is doing. I'd rather find the band that nobody gets into or hasn't heard yet.

Josh Lanier, vocalist for Sanguine Addiction: The hard rock genre has struggled in Colorado Springs. There aren't as many active original hard rock bands around these days. The scene is dominated more by hard rock cover bands, as well as emo, punk, hardcore, deathmetal, hip-hop. I am fortunate to be in a hard rock band where we do capture people's attention, and they keep coming back for more.

Pol Pottytrainer, bassist and vocalist for the Shift Below: There is an amazing group of bands in Colorado. It's unfortunate that no one seems to care about them. All the other places I've lived, people care about local music.

Some of the best bands I've ever heard are from here, and we've been honored to share the stage with them: Inelements, Edifice, Sanguine Addiction, Feral Blue, on and on. These guys deserve to be heard.

Jeff Cloutier, guitarist and drummer for Aria Tari and Hatred for the Living: I think a bulk of the COS music scene is all about being underground and obscure; trying extremely hard to reinvent the wheel. Rock 'n roll has always been about sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Having fun! There are a few hard rock bands out there I can identify with. They are the ones who will carry the torch into the future.

Dave Cantrell, owner of the Rocket Room: I don't know if there is such a thing as hard rock. There definitely is NO SUCH THING AS SOFT ROCK. It either rocks, or it doesn't!

John (Shitty) Holdaway, promoter, guitarist for Unikord: Hard rock, my definition: Loud music not clouded or diluted by image, fashion, flashy heavy metal stuff, or what the mainstream (or anyone for that matter) may think about them. The blue collar of the rock 'n roll side of music.

A couple of my favorite local "hard rock" acts would have to be the Nicotine Fits, and JJ and the Nobodys.

Craig Tomanini, owner of the Green Room: With all the death, grind and black [metal] genres it seems like anything other than that is labeled hard rock. The aforementioned is just core.

Foxman, vocalist and guitarist for Always Kicking Ass (A.K.A.): In two words ... Fucked up!

Chuck Snow, guitar dealer/god at the Music Exchange: "Hard rock" to me is defined by AC/DC's Back in Black album from 1980. I've never been aware of any bands in Colorado Springs being able to approach that.

There it is, Colorado Springs, somewhere between a "rock" and a "hard" place. But why take all our words for it? You have the names. You have the places. Get out and see for yourself. Colorado Springs ... Rock City, U.S.A.!



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