As local rock group Step Dads gears up for their first show in the city, they are bringing with them a hefty load of history and experience. Guitarist Charles Thomas is a veteran of the regional music scene and current member of heavy Bloomington dance rock group You’re A Liar and the only person that I’ve seen in the city who is capable of re-creating the bombastic guitar sound of At The Drive-In axeman Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Bassist Tyler Smith joined the fresh band after the demise of his Bloomington group White Lodge and drummer James Lyter has been established in the local music scene since his post-pubescent days at Carmel High School.
“My first real band was called Wasted Years,” Lyter mentioned while sipping a beer, “We were together all through high school and we played what any high school band should play: pop-punk ska.” The end of high school is a water shed in the lives of many young Americans. High school bands, like high school sweethearts have a tendency of breaking up after graduation. “After (Wasted Years) broke up, I started playing with J.S. (John Saxen), who had just recently formed Bolth”.
For those unfamiliar with Bolth, the band was a mainstay of the local all-ages punk scene. They played all over the city and had an eclectic following of fans. Sadly, they did not have much support in the highly segregated hardcore scene. Their music incorporated elements of grind, punk and even reggae over a backdrop of modern hardcore. They were one of the few bands that really had enough momentum to tour out of the city. And they toured a LOT.
By the time they had reached their peak, around 2006, the band was touring on a school schedule: Spring break, Christmas and Summer. The band played from coast-to-coast and and developed the beginnings of a regional fan base. But good things have a tendency of coming to an end.
“There was always an odd tension in the band.” added Lyter “J.S. was a great musician and songwriter, but he just had a tendency of butting heads with other creative minds”. This head-butting tendency lead to a relatively high turn-over rate for bassists. “During our last tour, in January 2010, tensions were high, but our homecoming show was supposed to bring everything together.”
For the homecoming show, Lyter booked leaders of verious factions in the hardcore scene. Counter Active (hardcore street punk), Picked Clean (straight forward hardcore) and Hellmouth (a national hardcore act from Detroit) and, of course, Bolth. “As Will (Wissel, the bassist at the time) and I pulled into the parking lot of the venue, we got a call from J.S.’s roommate saying that he was black-out drunk. We couldn’t play the show. The band was done. Everything we had worked for in that band was over.”
So, like a gunshot to the head, Bolth was over in an instant. A few months after the demise of Bolth, Lyter’s other full-time band, Waxeater collapsed. “I had no bands and I had already graduated, so I had no reason to stay in Bloomington.” Lyter packed up and left Bloomington behind. A few days after moving to Indianapolis, Lyter ran into Charles Thomas, and old friend from the Carmel high school scene and from Lyter’s time spend in You’re A Liar. “When I told him that I was bandless, he immediately suggested that we should start something.” And Step Dads was born.
“We jammed a lot together and it just felt so natural” Lyter added “we have always just clicked so well when it comes to music. Step Dads is the perfect project for us.” As for the music, Lyter paused before giving his discription, “I guess it’s sort of like Torche; it’s heavy and melodic. It’s very riff-oriented, I’d say. Charles is one of the best musicians I’ve ever heard and so he is capable of playing music that is both spacey and heavy. And very loud.”
As for the future of his new project in the circle city. Lyter doesn’t have any delusions of grandeur about how Step Dads will be received. “I’ve spent so many years being in bands that most of Indianapolis thought were stupid, So I don’t give a fuck.” he explained “I just don’t have the energy to worry about what people think about my music. All I care about is whether or not I like it. And I do.”
Check out Step Dads Saturday night at The Dojo (2207 N. College) with Canadian punks Unfun and local rockers Still. The show starts at 7 PM sharp. $5.