20 Questions With “All These Billions”

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?

ATB: Electronic-Rock-Dance-Jam

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

JT: Rhinoceropolis

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?

BP: Zours

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?

ATB: Tommy & the Tangerines out of Boulder are doing really good things. We’ve also been recently turned on to the Denver band Houses.

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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!