The 2011 UMS (Underground Music Showcase, for the uninitiated) is upon us, and we thought this was as good a time as any to start a local band column called “20 Questions with . . .” Our inaugural “20 Questions with . . .” features a conversation with a band that is relatively new on the scene here in Denver, All These Billions. They have played a few gigs around the Front Range and they will be playing Friday night at Moe’s Original Bar B Que at 6:00pm as part of the UMS. You can expect everything from Classic Rock covers, to jammed out Space Disco originals, so don’t miss these guys as they kick-off what is sure to be a great night of music at Moe’s and the rest of the UMS Venues.
Listen Up Denver: What is the line-up of the band?
All These Billions: Jay Tollen: Keyboards, Vocals – Aaron Morris: Bass – Blake Pendergrass: Drums – Jonathan Keller: Vocals, Guitar
LUD: How did you come up with your band’s name?
ATB: We had brainstorming sessions for a band name and couldn’t come up with anything for weeks. The best names we could come up with were: Sex Cymbal, Digital Rod and Protocolon. One day we showed up for practice and Blake mentioned “All These Billions” and we decided to roll with it.
LUD: How would you describe your sound?
LUD: Who would you count as major influences on your band?
ATB: All of our musical tastes are so different. We don’t really have any set bands we’ve tried to model ourselves after but I think each member has their own ideas about which bands we’d like to have careers like and sound similar to.
LUD: How did you guys get started playing together?
Jonathan Keller: Jay and I have been getting together for a few years now to write, play and basically hang out as friends. Over time we talked about playing in a band together. I ended up meeting Blake at a Wild Lives show where he was playing drums and Jay was playing bass. I was running their sound at the venue and it was a one and done gig for that band. Shortly after that the three of us started getting together and eventually Aaron came out of the woodwork and made us whole.
LUD: Does anyone in the band have any formal musical training? If so, what is it?
Aaron Morris: I was in Jr. High band and show choir
Jay Tollen: I studied classical piano for 12 years
JK: I was in concert band up through high school and studied music during my first year of college before I switched majors.
LUD: Where was your first gig together and how did it go?
Blake Pendergrass: Our first gig was in my basement. We invited about 10 people over and played through the 5 songs we knew. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and we finished all the beer.
LUD: What’s your favorite memory of playing together?
BP: The time Jay showed up on time.
JK: Probably the practicing. We’ve spent two nights a week together for the past 8 or so months and it’s become something of a ritual for us. I’ve come to realize that having a great practice can be almost as fun a playing a great show…almost.
JT: The jam where we flew past Saturn.
LUD: Are you playing any shows coming up that you are particularly excited for?
ATB: We’ve got a gig coming up on August 11th that we are pretty pumped about. We’re playing the Skylark Lounge with Tommy & the Tangerines.
LUD: What is your favorite song to cover?
BP: “Watching the Detectives”
AM: “Badge” by Cream; it’s got a personally classic bass lick
JT: Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock”
LUD: What is the strangest request you’ve received at a show?
JK: The sound guy at Nissi’s kept telling me to turn down my amp and I had the volume knob on 2.
LUD: What was the first song you wrote together as a band?
ATB: Probably “Social Lion.”
LUD: Do you still play that song live? If not, why?
ATB: Most definitely.
LUD: Have you released any of your material yet? If not, do you have any plans to?
ATB: We haven’t done any serious recording yet, but will in the near future.
LUD: What is your favorite venue in Colorado, and why?
BP: The Marquee because they have pizza
AM: The Fillmore – It’s close to my house
LUD: If you could play on any stage in the world where would it be?
ATB: The Odeon at The Acropolis in Greece. We’d show Yanni how it’s done.
LUD: If you could open for any band or artist, who would it be?
AM: The Black Crowes
JT: Lemon Jelly
JK: Neil Young
LUD: What is the one thing your band’s tour rider wouldn’t be complete without?
JK: Gold Bond
JT: Trader Joe’s chocolate covered espresso beans
LUD: What is your bands drink of choice?
ATB: Mystic Mohitos, Cosmic Cocktails and Shri Lankin porters because they fuck you up
LUD: Can you name a few local Colorado bands that are really impressing you right now?