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UZZA / Blog

2016 – The year of Elysium.

We spent much of last year playing a bunch of shows where we tested out a whole new set of material. Now we're finally ready to put those new songs on an album – to be called "Elysium". We stared recording late last month and will continue the process through March with the hope of having an album out by the summer. If the demos are any indication, this is going to be our best record yet! For those of you that saw our shows during 2015, you already know that the material is a bit more uptempo and rhythmic than our usual fare. The reason for this happens to be a result of some rather uncanny timing…

For as long as UZZA has been playing live we would frequently feature a song or two from Tabatha's former 90's band, Elysium. They were (and still are) good songs and would allow us to conveniently change up sets. Early last year our bass player, Geoff, made a casual remark about how great it would be to make an album of all the Elysium tunes in our repertoire. As luck – or fate – would have it, the writer and guitar player of Elysium's music, Chris Plack, was planning to visit to Minneapolis for a few days the following month (which is not an common occurrence being that he lives in England). With the timing being so opportune, we all decided to spend a couple of days together jamming and working out new arrangements of these 'old' songs with the intent of putting them all on a record. Geoff's seemingly inconsequential remark ended up changing the trajectory of our band; we were now on a course to make a new album featuring the music of Elysium (thus the name of the album). After Chris' departure, the band continued to fine-tune the songs and began playing them live throughout the summer and fall of 2015.

Once winter arrived, the band transitioned from performance mode to recording mode. We finished up 13 demos that had been evolving over the past year and began coordinating with Chris to record an album together (with Chris supplying his guitar parts from his home studio in England). The process is currently underway and we're thrilled with how things are sounding, even at this preliminary stage.

With all the time and effort it's going to take to finish this album, the band has elected to suspend live shows until the album is completed – or at least the recording part of it is buttoned-up. We'd love for our next show to be an album release show but we'll have to see how that goes. We don't want to wait too long to return to playing live shows. After all, we were starting to sound pretty good!.

Well, that's what's going on with us, and I must say we're all pretty excited. We think you will be too when you hear the results. In the meantime, stay tuned and we'll give you updates as we have them.

Friends of ours.

Last night we had the honor and privilege of playing with three incredible bands – Autumn, Orchyd and Das Fauna (who were celebrating the release of their first, eponymous CD). As the evening began, Julie Plante from Autumn set a high bar with her powerful, dramatic vocals and dynamic stage presence while Neil McKay's textural, etherial guitar playing provided a elegant counterpoint. Orchyd followed with a new line-up and an even more menacing sound; eerie soundscapes and thunderous, apocalyptic rhythms that were both captivating and petrifying. Shanna Carl's haunting voice hovered above the clamor like mist over a deep, dark lake. Then came Das Fauna – joined by Autumn's Neil McKay on guitar – to run through most of their new album. Their jazzy, funk-infused art rock is like nothing else in the Twin Cities. With Samwell Rowan's virtuoso bass playing driving the songs, Brandon Nessen's propulsive drumming and Chris Hall's moody baritone vocals, Das Fauna is like some wild mash-up of Level 42 and Joy Division. And then there was UZZA...

We finally took the stage around 1:00am and, as promised, we were all pretty drunk. After hanging out for five hours waiting to play and watching three awesome bands, how could we not be? But that didn't stop us from delivering a punchy, rocked-up set which included a surprise song for big, big Duran Duran fan, Samwell Rowan: a cover of their early-80's classic "Friends Of Mine". While not a chart topper, the song is a big hit and favorite among hard-core Duran fans (which includes us, by the way). It was a gas to play it and great to see Samwell singing along. You can check out the clip above. Unfortunately the Kitty Cat Klub always has very dim lighting so all you can really see are our silhouettes. Oh, well. Then again, given how drunk we looked, perhaps it's for the best!

On with the shows.

We've only got one more full-band show coming up this year (at least at the time of this post) and the good news is it will be at the Kitty Cat Klub in Dinkytown – a venue we always enjoy playing. The bad news, however, is that we're going to be the last band performing that night. We'll probably not take the stage until midnight. We've found over the years that a slot that late discourages our fans from showing up. Hell, WE don't even like being up that late any more (we're old for Christ's sake!). So, for this show, I think we're going to have a little fun and mix things up. We might throw in some covers, some improvisations, and do some unexpected things that even we can't anticipate. In other words, we're probably going to get really drunk and let the chips fall where they may. We're determined to make this a fun show for us. Even if it ends up a bit bewildering for those in attendance. Consider this a warning. Or a promise. Take your pick.

So if you're a night owl and feel like taking a chance on seeing what will likely be a very memorable UZZA performance (for one reason or another), come on down. If not, you never know, we might still end up playing another full-band show before the year is up. We''ll keep you posted.

Trial by fire...

The show last Friday night at The Terminal was one for the books. Sadly, it's not because we had an incendiary performance – but instead because of the incendiary temperature within the bar! This was, by far, the hottest venue UZZA has ever played. With no air conditioning and marginally operational ceiling fans, the air was thick and stifling, only getting hotter and more oppressive as the evening progressed. Within the span of two songs, everyone in our band was coated in glistening perspiration. By the midway point instruments were going out of tune and hands were slipping and sticking all over the place. Toward the end, the band became delirious and disoriented – it was a miracle we even managed to finish the set! Afterward, clothes were sopping wet like we'd just climbed out of a dunk tank. Yuk!

Yet, despite all of the flaws and fumbles, we still managed to pull-off a fairly respectable performance. But to be completely honest it wasn't one of our best. Having said that, there were still some highlights. David Livingstone from the God Bullies happened to be in town and joined us on stage to add vocals to "Which Way You Goin' Billy" (which he also performed on our album, "Maya"). Later on, as an homage to David, we tore through a cover of the God Bullies classic "Creepy People". If only we'd bothered to learn how to end it. Again, I blame the heat!

The other bands seemed to have a similarly sweltering experience. No one could escape the prison sentence of standing on the steamy, sticky, sauna-like stage and sweating profusely for an hour. It was absolutely punishing. Nevertheless both Bad Accident and Evil Deauxerz rallied to deliver inspired performances that got our heads banging and fists pumping. Thanks to both those bands for having us on the bill!

After the show, I lamented to Simon Melroy from Bad Accident about our heat hampered performance. He laughed, took a slug of beer and – as if channelling Lawrence Walsh from "Chinatown" – said, "Forget it, Rich. It's The Terminal."

Terminal condition.

It's been a very long time since we've played at The Terminal in Minneapolis, but we'll finally be back again on Friday, July 10th. It's also been far too long since we played with Bad Accident – one of our favorite local bands. Their hard-hitting, high-octane rock and roll never fails to get boots stomping and fists pumping. Their music is in stark contrast to our mysterious, psychedelic, spy-theme brand of post-punk pop. Likewise, the third band, Evil Deauxerz, is a merciless, bone-crunching, pulverizingly heavy band that may lay the entire building to waste. Be sure your will is in order before they play!

Like our last show at Day Block Brewing, we'll be performing a bunch of new material that is a bit more upbeat than our usual fair. We'll be playing some songs from our most recent album, too – including one that may feature a special guest performer who also appeared on the album. I won't let the cat out of the bag. But, if it actually happens, this will be a very special night indeed. We hope to see you there.

Long time no see!

After a long winter hunkered indoors we finally decided to show our faces by playing a gig at Day Block Brewing on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. The venue was great but it was the beers that really knocked our socks off. I highly recommend their IPAs! Very hoppy, which made me VERY happy. Yum! But I digress... Anyway, this was our first opportunity to perform a bunch of new material we'd been working on over the past few months. Many of the songs were the result of a collaboration with Tabatha's former guitar player, Chris Plack – both of whom were in an English band called Elysium back in the 90's. We collaborated with Chris previously on the song "Gone Tomorrow" from our most recent album, "Maya". Like that song, these new songs are more uptempo and some are – dare I say – funky! To our great pleasure (and surprise), they were very well received by the audience. As a result, I think we're going to go ahead and start working on a new album with these and some other songs we've been collecting over the past year. In the meantime, we have some more shows coming up over the summer, including The Terminal in Minneapolis and Wild Tymes in St. Paul. Stay tuned for more information. Oh, and lest we forget, thank you to Orchyd for the opportunity to play this very fun show with them. They were fantastic (as always); but moreover, they're just a great buch of folks to hang with before and after the show. Thanks again, guys!

Rockin' it at The Parkway.

Thanks to everyone that came out to our show last Saturday. It was great to see some long-time friends and make some new ones. Hope those of you that walked way with our new album are enjoying it. And, for those of you who didn't, maybe we'll see you at the official CD release show later this fall (which we're currently working on). Stay tuned for more details on that! Kudos go out to Dave Okar for putting together such a terrific event – and, of course, his thirst-inspiring documentary about the craft brewing boom here in Minnesota, "Crafted To Last". Great performances followed, including an intimate acoustic set by LeNor Barry, some folksy/jazzy claw-hammering by Chad Guerro, a wonderful blues-based set by Kenwood Slim, and the always outstanding Willie Murphy – who, along with his amazing backing band, brought down the house. Of course UZZA was there, too. We were the odd duck of the night. A little out of character with the rest of the musicians but, to our delight (and surprise), people really responded to our music. I still find that remarkable. Then again, with all the great beers on tap that night, it's no wonder people were feeling good. One guy there was perhaps feeling a bit too good as he nearly collapsed onto the stage and split his head open on a monitor. And, no, it wasn't me! At least not this time. ; ) Also, special thanks go out to the incredible guest musicians who performed with our band: Ivy McDonald, who contributed some fantastic flute playing; Jim Ford, who filled-out our sound with his lush keyboards and nimble fingers; and the great Chris Shillock, whose performance of "Black Sun Blues" literally got people on their feet and garnered thunderous applause. It was a great show and a great night. Let's do it again soon. See ya then!

UZZA - Will play for beer!

UZZA will be performing at the premiere of a documentary about the Minnesota craft beer boom called "Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms". It's directed by Dave Okar and will be shown at 6:30pm on Saturday, July 19th at Pepito's Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. Other performers include: Willie Murphy, Chad Guerrero, Review with Kenwood Slim, and LeNor Barry & The Grotto. In addition to these fine musicians, UZZA will feature a few special guests of their own, including a local luminary – poet and spoken word artist, Chris Shillock – who will be joining UZZA for a song from his 2007 album, "Invisible Jazz". Music will start after the film premiere with UZZA taking the stage around 9:30pm. Tickets are available at the door or by visiting BrownPaperTickets.com.

New Album - New Show.

After a long and arduous winter, UZZA is finally coming out of hibernation to begin playing shows and to celebrate their soon-to-be released album, "Maya". It's their second full-length CD and sort-of a musical sequel to 2012's "Samsara". Many of the songs that appear on "Maya" were born around the time their first album was being recorded and mixed. "It feels like a continuation," says guitarist Rich Patterson, "both thematically and musically; but it's more cohesive and confident than it's predecessor. That, and the production value is a big step up – we got a good sound with this one."

The ten songs on "Maya" cover a variety of tones and styles. There's the sci-fi punk psychosis of "Dear John"; the lush power-pop of "Gone Tomorrow"; the arena-rock anthem "Brighter Thing"; the sumptuous, sardonic ballad "Above Me"; a Jeckyl and Hyde-like cover of The Poppy Family's "Which Way You Goin' Billy?"; the gorgeously gloomy groove of "Backwards"; and an audaciously epic jam called "Mind Frost". It's an ambitious and accomplished collection of songs presented with a rich, finessed production. "It's a very layered album," Patterson says. "It was recorded while our band was transitioning members so we didn't feel we had to honor the live-band sound like we did on our first album. In other words, since we didn't really have a permanent band line-up, we didn't feel the need to restrict ourselves – if it sounded good, we'd add it to the song. It was all about making the album great. We'd figure out how to perform it live later."

It appears that time is now because UZZA has a performance scheduled for Sunday, May 11th at Cause Soundbar in Minneapolis. For this show it will only be vocalist Tabatha Predovich and guitarist Rich Patterson. UZZA's bass player, Geoff Maas, has sustained a fairly serious leg injury that will keep him out of commission for the next couple of months. A proper CD-release show will be scheduled when Geoff is literally 'back on his feet'. Until then, the new UZZA CD "Maya" will be available at the Cause show and eventually online. Stay tuned for more details.

Great bands and a great time.

Saturday night at Ground Zero we had the pleasure of playing with two great bands, The Foreign Resort and The Bellwether Syndicate. It's hard to say which one we liked better, they were both great! And they were great people, too – down to earth and supportive. We wish them the best of luck as they continue their U.S. tour. Hopefully we'll see them around here again in the near future.

In the meantime, UZZA is preparing for a show at the Even Break Gallery in Minneapolis. This will be an unusual performance for us because: A) it will be a very stripped-down affair – with just Tabatha and Rich performing; B) it will be an early morning set – starting at 11:00am on Saturday, November 23rd; and C) we'll be playing for about ninety minutes – our longest set ever! For more information, visit the Even Break Gallery's website.

In other news, we've made some big strides in the mixing of our new album, "Maya". It's in really good shape and we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. At this point we're confident we can have the album ready for a January 2014 release. Stay tuned!