Jameson Becker – drums
Justin Blair – bass & vocals
Andrew Tanner – lead vocals & guitar
Devon Bryant – guitar & backup vocals
Marc Peralta – Manager
Laymen Terms are one of the few rock bands calling Colorado Springs their hometown. It’s somewhat difficult to actually find original music here among all the cover bands that are strewn across downtown Tejon Street on a weekend night. So they definitely caught my attention.
Considering the guys in the Laymen Terms have only been together a year, they’ve garnered quite a following, released an EP, An Introduction, on Soda Jerk Records, with a follow up full length this past May, “Since Last December,” on the same label. They’ve also welcomed a new member to the group, Justin Blair on bass from Pheonix, AZ, who dropped school and his pants to join the group (okay, maybe not the latter). And of course like most bands that work to live, and not the other way around like most Americans, they are still holding jobs and getting through school.
So I got to hear them in action at a show at H.W. Briggs, and hang with Marc, Andrew and Devon the next day for some badly needed caffeine and to see what they had to say about music, life, and their growing pains.
KB: So you guys came together from different bands with different sounds. How did you meld those sounds together, and what did you bring from your past to this band?
Andy: His old band sounded like Face To Face.
Devon: Yea. We were kind of faster pop punk. Jameson the drummer, the band he was in, it was kind of faster pop punk as well. With the exception of Andy, we all kind of wanted to get away from that. None of us were really happy with what we were doing and we wanted to get into something new. So we got together to start this band, and then left our other bands.
KB: How did you guys get to know each other in order to form the band?
Devon: Through the local scene around here. All the bands kind of know each other. We all just started hanging out and became friends.
KB: What were you not happy with in the other bands you were in?
Devon: We were not that big into the style anymore. It was a controlling band type of thing where one person would set stuff up, and we didn’t get to contribute. We all wanted to have our input and have a creative forum for all of us.
KB: So there is real strong collaboration method when you’re creating your music for this band?
KB: Tell me about your first single for the new CD, “Waiting For You.” Now that you’ve been together a year, how has that affected what we’ll hear with the new music?
Andy: At the beginning it was different because they were used to how songs were written for their punk bands. And now, we are all getting used to doing our own thing. So it’s getting easier to write songs our own way.
Mark: It was a little rough when we went into the studio. We had certain ideas we didn’t have before. But bringing Jameson in, it brought a wave of development into the band. He was very creative and had a lot of ideas. Then we molded the songs and really brought them together. With the new songs that we’re about to record, these are songs that have been written and developed for over a year. So now we’ve kind of come into our own sound. With “An Introduction,” it was sounds that were their style, but there was a faster punk song, and there was this song and that song. They have now come into developing what their sound is – Laymen Terms.
KB: On “An Introduction,” there seems to be that mixture of fast and slow rhythms and change ups.
Andy: A lot of that is – I’ll bring in a riff, but I don’t write the whole song, compared to other bands that have a song that has one person writing it. Then we all come together to do another part [of the song], so that’s why it changes so much.
Devon: We have a lot of different influences. For me, I like straight up college rock or Counting Crows, or more poppy, mellow stuff.
KB: Like Joni Mitchell or Helen Reddy?
Devon: Oh yea, lots of that. I also get into some hardcore, metal stuff too.
KB: Some of the riffs off your stuff definitely lean in that direction.
Andy: I just listen to Top 40.
KB: The typical Britney Spears, Back Door Boys?
(Andy nods emphatically, then slowly holds his head in pain, a backlash to downing the Busch beer the night before.)
KB: So regarding some of the tours you’ve gone on, it seems you’ve played with the pop punk bands that have a sound you’re trying to get away from. How has that worked for you?
Devon: We haven’t really toured with them. We’ve just played shows with them here and there. But we just went out last summer going up to Minnesota and back through the mid-west. That was pretty fun. There were some really good shows…and some not so good ones too.
KB: How did you guys go about getting exposure for those shows and trying to promote them in some unknown territory?
Mark: We would try to get in contact with some local bands in the area that we could play with. I took control of booking the entire tour, seeing what the promoters are doing, or hooking up with street team crews. I sent CDs that they could play in the club up until the time we went. But unfortunately, they only ended up playing with one local band because every other band either fell off the bill or the promoter changed or cancelled something. So that didn’t work too well. But you gotta get out there some how. You can’t expect to get popped onto something big. You gotta go try to make some noise for yourself.
KB: Speaking of which, how did you guys get hooked up with a record deal with Soda Jerk?
Mark: No Motive was a band that Devon knew while he was in his old band File 4. They were really nice guys and wanted to pick up a show with them at Tulagi’s in Boulder, which Mike from Soda Jerk books. I sent him a CD and kept bugging, so we just went back and forth from there and we got together. Then he got to know what our goals and aspirations were.
KB: So do you guys have a pretty good relationship with him in terms of meeting some of these goals?
Devon: He is really supportive and puts a lot of work into us. Like you saw, he put us up on their site, puts out ads and a lot of effort into promoting us, and gets us into big and small shows here and there.
Mark: Us being a brand new band it’s harder for him to get us out there instead of signing a band that’s already somewhat established. To he’s taking on the big task of taking us on and getting us known. That means a lot to us. Devon and I are in college and he’s working around our touring. And hopefully he’s getting an even bigger build up for the album that’s about to come out in May, because we have a lot of high expectations for the new record.
KB: What are those high expectations?
Mark: Well, they’ve just come into their own sound a lot more. Andy’s vocals are really catchy. I think they have a lot more going on than some…I don’t know if you want to call it pop punk, or some of hard core sounds, or whatever you want to call it these days. It’s just good music and there’s a lot of heart in it. And I think that shines through in all the dynamics of their music.
KB: So in relation to the heart of the music, what inspires you lyrically – your own experiences or watching daytime soap operas?
Devon: It’s all kind of experiences.
KB: Do you consider yourself romantics?
Andy: Well, I don’t know…maybe in some songs. On the first album we sang about how our scene is full of conceited people. Another song, “Tony’s Girl,” is about a whore who screwed me over.
KB: Yikes, a little bitter there?
Andy: Yea, she’s a bitch. Then we have another song on there that’s a love song called “Someday.” So it’s just a lot of different experiences.
KB: So what kind of new experiences are you going to tell about with the new stuff?
Andy: About “Being seventeen.”
KB: About turning seventeen?
Andy (laughs): No…it had nothing to do with being seventeen. It just sounded cool.
KB: About dating someone who’s seventeen?
Andy (still laughing): It’s just about that time in your life.
KB: So you look back on it with fond memories?
Devon: Yea. A song could be about this girl or that. But we just try to write about what’s on our minds at the time. What we get or feel from that song, we just try to express it.
KB: At the show last night, I heard a lot more layered guitar effects on some of your new music compared to the stuff on the last CD.
Andy: We didn’t really start getting into the heavier guitar sounds until we heard [the band] Hum. We thought, ‘Wow. It’s all detuning and heavy and very cool.’ I think that influenced a lot of our stuff.
KB: Well it compliments your vocals very well and the melodies you guys create. But I also like the fact that you can throw in some punk chords to liven things up a bit.
Devon: It’s our background and what we grew up on. But we want to do more and go down some different roads.
KB: Well that could turn out to be your biggest strength – to get some kind of different sound out there, rather than trying to be another Blink 182. They’re fun music, but most songs sound the same.
Devon: There’s no real feeling behind it. But that’s what a lot of kids like.
Since our little meeting, their debut full-length, “Since Last December,” has gotten them a number of positive reviews in the Westword, Gazette, and other publications, in addition to rave addilation from their fans. For anyone who has heard their “An Introduction” EP, you’ll definitely hear how some time under their belt and collaborative efforts have resulted in a progression in their sound, which runs the gamut of indie rock, pop punk, with a dash of metal and lots of pleasant surprises that will keep this one CD in your player for days. Laymen Terms goal is to focus on growing their own buzz even more in their home state and surrounding areas before taking on the rest of the world. So look for more shows around town.
You can download two songs from their new release, “Back to When,” and “Tired Minds,” and a few other songs by going to their label’s web site, www.sodajerkrecords.com, or to their own