The S&B’s Concerts Correspondent Halley Freger ‘17 sat down with Pelvis’ guitarist and vocalist, Nao Demand, before his Gardner set on Friday, Oct. 30, to talk about being a musician in the thriving DIY scenes of Iowa.
The S&B: What’s it like being a band from Iowa? How would you describe the “Iowa scene?”
ND: Being a band from Iowa is usually great. The Iowa scene, inevitably you play some kind of weird shows. It happens. It’s just kind of the nature of it. But honestly, the quality of the local bands here are pretty high and it’s less like there’s really good local bands in every town. It’s sort of like there’s good local bands in a lot of towns all over the state so you kind of have to drive around and do that whole thing, but it’s worth it. A lot of our best band friends are from Iowa.
Do you think the music scene in Iowa is different because it doesn’t center around one large city, like Chicago or Minneapolis?
Yeah, it’s definitely more touring-centric for that reason. There are some really easy routes where everyone knows each other along the way and you can pull off in a couple weeks. Down to Texas and back is really popular.
Do you think the music communities in Iowa are connected? Is there a lot of exchange that goes on between places like Ames, Des Moines and Iowa City?
Yeah, for sure. At least in my experience, because both of my bandmates are from the Quad Cities and they’ve been in other bands there. I’m actually from Pennsylvania, but I met them when I moved to Ames like four years ago and we started a band maybe a year after that. I got lucky because they knew a lot of people from all over, basically.
The idea of driving really resonates with me because I think when trying to see music in Iowa you end up having to drive an hour, pretty much.
It’s hard. We ran a house venue in Ames for the past year, before the guy who paid the mortgage got over it, but it was basically so we could book people we wanted to see. So, you definitely have to make your own fun.
What are the best places—venues, houses, etc.—to see and play music in Iowa?
The Black Hole in Cedar Falls is probably the best in the state. There’s a place in the Quad Cities I haven’t been to that’s called [Uncle Stu’s Haunted Waterpark and Slightly Less Haunted Go Kart Track]. It’s a huge warehouse and it’s gigantic—it’s like 10 times the size of [Gardner Lounge]. It’s crazy. There’s the Rozz-Tox in the Quad Cities. It’s an awesome DIY venue, but it’s not a house. That’s so good. But I would say the Black Hole is probably the best. Cedar Falls has super good bands and when you go to a show there’s just tons of people there all the time.
Do you think there are certain sounds are more popular here? Do you think a band can sound like they’re from the Midwest?
Yeah, I think as opposed to music on the coast people really consider their audience a lot in the Midwest and it’s not seen as uncool, whereas in other places it’s kind of like fiercely doing your own thing. But there is kind of that sense of grassroots where people within bands can be doing things together. It might be because there’s not a lot of people so a lot of people play in a lot of people’s bands.
Are you in other bands currently?
Yeah, I do my own thing and other people kind of play in that other thing sometimes, and then we do [Pelvis], and then both of my other bandmates are in another band, too.
Yeah, I saw Griffen [the bassist] in … what are they called?
Arizona Landmine. Yeah, they have an EP coming out on Texas is Funny Records, and that’s a cool label. Dahling is a band on that label that’s super sick.
What are some Iowa bands or artists we should check out?
Obsidian Sword, Sept of Memnon, Closet Witch. Ice Hockey has two shows before they break up.