Missoula’s Go Hibiki is the kind of come-out-swinging band that hooks you before you get too jaded. It’s the sort of punk combined with killer melodies and powerful performance that made the Replacements so great. Singer and guitarist Ethan Uhl’s blown-out vocals recall the pack-a-day earnestness of 1990s East Bay favorites Jawbreaker. And the band, which includes bassist Rob Cave, drummer Alasdair Lyon and guitarist Elizabeth Taillon-Rogosienski, also references things I have to Google, which says more about my lack of video game and bad-movie knowledge than anything about the members. All together, it’s hard to deny the fire in Go Hibiki’s belly.
Uhl started playing in bands in high school, including in the Whoopass Girls, starting in 2009, and post-Goddammitboyhowdy group King Elephant. And he has, over the years, developed a sound and style that’s all his own. In the Years Spent, Go Hibiki’s new six-song EP, meets my top criterion for punk music: done before you realize it, or want it to be. The record has the urgent feel of a well-seasoned and chemistry-synced band nailing a great set of songs, and a nailed recording, engineered by Christopher Baumann at Black National studio. Lyrics like, “Putting all my quarters into Centipede\down at Taco Del Sol\they’re probably sick of me,” from “Dr. Mischief, the King of Time,” lure you in with specific place references and subtle, and thus more memorable, rhyme.
The Indy caught up with Uhl to talk about the new album and the pros and cons of being a Missoula-based band.
How’d you end up starting Go Hibiki?
Ethan Uhl: I had seen Sunraiser—Rob and Alasdair’s other band—a lot. I saw them when they were called Mountain Shark and had no guitar player, and always really loved Alasdair’s voice and Rob’s energy and creative bass lines. I also had seen Elizabeth play solo a couple times and was just dumbfounded by how talented a singer and guitar player she is. At first I just asked Rob and Alasdair to be in a new band with me, which I was going to try to make a hardcore punk band. Alasdair and I both really loved the idea of having more voices in the band, and Elizabeth was the perfect fit.
What does the band want to get done? What’s your idea of success with this band?
EU: All of us have a real passion for making and playing music, and we’re just trying to get to a point where there’s nothing in the way of that. Besides becoming katrillionaires playing rock and roll, the true goal for me is reaching people and helping them to realize that music is a fun and rewarding thing to pursue. I’ve had people talk to me and say that the Whoopass Girls got them into punk, or some of my solo stuff got them to make music as well, and that’s my favorite thing.
You toured recently, correct? What was that like?
EU: We did! It was a relatively small tour, but it was a great experience. We were gone about a week and met a lot of great bands across Montana. We spent a couple days at a cabin and watched kung fu movies and ate Korean food and saw so many amazing bands who were comprised of good people. All around it was a great kind of “test run” tour for us!
I’m really impressed with In the Years Spent. I think it’s a great performance and recording. What’s next?
EU: Thank you so much! Currently we’re writing a 10-song release that we’re showing to a couple record labels. We’ve played a few of the songs live and have gotten great responses about them. Hopefully a bit before the whole album drops, we’ll have a music video for our song, “Who is Me?” and then we’ll go on a little bit longer of a tour trying to promote it. I’m really excited for everyone to hear the new stuff.
What advantages come with being a Missoula band? What’s tough about it?
EU: I really like that there’s such a diverse set of genres in town, and that we all form a kind of ragtag collective scene. I feel like if I were to live in a bigger city, I’d never come out to see a band like Eat Strike or Wrinkles or Tiny Plastic Stars, but I really love them and am glad I get to see them. It’s also nice to have a chance to open for bigger acts without having to go through a promoter or some other weird kind of stuff that would happen in a bigger scene.
On the flip side, it’s definitely tough to find people that would be really into our stuff in a smaller community like Missoula. There are cities with much larger audiences and more opportunities and sometimes, it’s really frustrating to play a show and have a total of two or three people show up. I can’t imagine not being here, though. I really feel a strong connection to Missoula.
Visit Go Hibiki on Bandcamp to hear In the Years Spent.