Story by Tony BonyataHot rods, loud rock 'n' roll and a general sense of danger. That's what fuels the local Delavan-based band Sin City Injectors. Fronted by vocalist and guitarist Billy Dynamite and fleshed out by bassist Aaron Jacobs, drummer Kurt Amsterdam and guitarist Brad Blazer the Sin City Injectors have been churning out their own brand of good old-fashioned noise since 2000. They've also just recently released their debut full-length album entitled Full On Custom, a collection of high-octane numbers that melds the full-throttle Neanderthal rock of AC/DC with the raw DIY sensibilities of classic punk.
With accolades from online and print media outlets as well as a recent NXNE (North by Northeast music industry conference) showcase at the venerable El Mocambo club in Toronto, the Wisconsin quartet seem to finally be hitting a high note in their career. Of course, their upcoming July 3rd performance at the nation's largest live music festival certainly won't hurt either.
That's when the band will be making their second appearance at Summerfest this year. As Dynamite explained, "Last year was really quite the experience, 'cause it was the first time that any of us had played on a stage of that magnitude and with a crowd that large. It was really a good experience. We played on the Mountain Dew Lazer Stage with Local H last year and it was great."
"I feel we really got lucky getting our slot with Summerfest last year," the frontman added. "I've heard a hundred different reasons why we got the slot. I heard everything from somebody came and saw us with the Supersuckers and they really liked us and wanted us there to the fact that we sent our stuff in so early that one of the DJs got us a slot." "Our music has been described as greaser punk," Dynamite commented on the band's sound. "When we first started out we were going for more of a psychobilly and rockabilly kind of feel, but we let the music naturally evolve with what everybody was bringing in. On our new album Full On Custom we try and cut through all of the art of it and get right down to the core of rock 'n' roll. It's not necessarily about originality for us, it's more about the things that we love about rock 'n' roll."
Although Dynamite contributes the lion's share of songwriting, he's also quick to add that the end result is much more of band effort. "That's what's cool about the way we work," he admitted, "if I write a part I'll bring it to practice and then we'll kick it around. When we first started out I'd write a song and it would be pretty well fleshed out. But now I'll just bring in a part and the whole band will build off of that. So instead of one person writing the song, it just naturally evolves because it's got everybody's input into it. There's a couple of songs on the album that I wrote, but honestly, if it wasn't for the input of the other guys those songs would be nothing. They don't become songs until I bring them to the rest of the band."
"Right now were going to take a little hiatus from playing live, 'cause we've been going like gangbusters since 2000. We've been trying to play every show possible, but as we've learned it's not necessarily the quantity of shows but the quality of shows that we need. I mean, we would drive 200 miles and play to five people. When the money's coming out of everybody's pocket, it's brutal. Talk about your starving artists. But, then again, it's not about the money - it's about the love of the music. But you still need to be able to afford to do it. And, like now, when gas is $2.08 a gallon it's hard to get it down the road sometimes."
Dynamite's personal love of hard rock began at the young age of eight when his older brother let him listen to his AC/DC Highway To Hell album. "That pretty much cinched the deal," the singer laughed. "To this day we're all huge fans - we've ripped them off quite a bit. I started out playing guitar as a kid and played in a couple of punk bands. Then I joined a Rockford-based band called Mulligan Stu and was in that band for almost ten years. It was great 'cause we got to play with the who's-who of pop-punk at the time - Mr. T Experience, Face To Face, The Queers and a lot of others."
Producer Jake Johnson at Paradyme Productions in Madison engineered their latest album. "Jake is probably the most amazing individual I've ever had the pleasure to meet," Dynamite admitted. "He's got so much talent and is so efficient at his job. And he's so easy to work with and really makes the environment a great place to be creative. When you're working with Jake you never feel like you're wasting your money, because he really gets into the songs. And there are so many times when he will come up something like a counter melody. He'll be humming it and we'll be like, hey, wait a minute, what are you doing? And then we'd make him go in and sing on it," he laughed.
During Sin City Injectors' recent showcase in Toronto at the NXNE music conference the band felt the purpose of this promotional jaunt was fulfilled just by stepping foot onto one legendary stage. "We got to play the El Mocambo," Dynamite stated with a sense of accomplishment. "The Stones played there, Springsteen played there, Elvis Costello played thereŠStevie Ray Vaughn. Our show turned out great, but just to play on that stageŠthat was cool enough for me!"
Not only does Billy front a rock 'n' roll band, but, along with his wife Sarah, he co-owns and operates the Delavan-based independent record label Four on the Floor Records. Besides the Sin City Injectors, the label currently has a roster of four other recording artists (The Randy Cliffs, Mulligan Stu, The Motorz and Chop Top Toronados). As Dynamite explained, "It really started out of necessity, because we shopped our stuff out to quite a few different indie labels and just couldn't drum up the interest that we were hoping to. I was willing to pay for the recording; I just wanted someone to press the record. Then we met up with The Randy Cliffs and we really liked what they did. We all realized that we were in the same boat - we were all musicians looking for somebody to put this stuff out. So we figured that if we worked together and split the expenses we'd be able to get it figured out."
"Yeah, we're the owners," Dynamite continued, "but it's more of a cooperative agreement between all the bands and the label. The label handles the actual legwork of getting the press packages done and handling all of the pressings and artwork and stuff like that. But when it comes down to actual production - just so everyone has something invested in it - the bands kind of work half-and-half on the money side of it. So they get half the merch (T-shirts and CDs) right off the top. That way they can sell it, give it away, whatever they want to do with it. And then we handle the distribution and getting it into the stores, selling it online and stuff like that. We're actually looking for an intern this summer - someone who can do some of the legwork, like getting press packages ready and making sure that we're up on our inventory with all these record stores that we've got our CDs in."
Although Dynamite may be in the business of selling records, he really doesn't feel threatened by illegal online file sharing. "I think, for a band of our level, downloading is a good thing. I think it helps spread the word a little further. If my goal was to be cashing in on a ton of royalties, I could see where downloading our music might be upsetting to me. But for where we're at, I think it's a great promotional tool. This is our passion and our love. Making money from it is not our number one priority."
As far as their upcoming stint at Milwaukee's Summerfest is concerned Dynamite added, "I think Summerfest is great. I only wish that they would do more with the local talent, like showcase it a little more. There is a hotbed of talent in this state, but, unfortunately, its overlooked. I think that it was a bit easier for us [getting on the bill] this year, because we already played there. Plus we also play Milwaukee quite a bit and I think that might've also helped. We submitted [music and press materials] from all of the bands on our label, but, unfortunately, we were the only ones to get the nod this year. But I'm really hoping that we can showcase some of these bands and really put it together and make 'em shine. Hopefully next year they'll all get on."
Sin City Injectors will be performing at 3:00 pm on July 3rd on the Mountain Dew Rock Stage at Summerfest, Milwaukee, WI. For more information go to: www.sincityinjectors.com
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