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My Hometown: The PBJs at Upland


The PBJs will be touring in Indianapolis on July 12. Catch them at Upland. - PBJS FACEBOOK PAGE
  • PBJs Facebook page
  • The PBJs will be touring in Indianapolis on July 12. Catch them at Upland.
This is the first edition of a new NUVO series about hometowns. We write and think about Indianapolis every day. What about the hometowns of musicians that tour through Indianapolis? We'll ask the same questions of each musician that participates in this feature. First up, Iowa's PBJs, who will play at Upland tomorrow.

NUVO: Where did you grow up?

Nalani Proctor (guitar): Both of us grew up in smaller towns. I grew up in Keokuk, IA (about 10,000 people), while Jason [Bolinger, drummer] grew up in What Cheer, IA (about 600!) and made his way to Ottumwa, IA, where he now resides. Both towns are on rivers, the Mississippi and the Des Moines River. Our towns are connected by both the Des Moines River, and railroad tracks. And both are factory towns. So, you can imagine, there wasn't much for us to do, except play sports (like most kids do), and make art and music.

NUVO: What was the music scene there like?

Proctor: For me, the scene has been up and down. From 2004 - 2010, we had a very cool all-ages venue called "Music @ the Mall", and yes, it was in our mall. It started out in the hallway once every other month, and when the want grew, the founder, Bryce Zirkel, moved it into a retail space, and had shows every Saturday. DIY, local and touring bands would come through, all playing original music. Before and after that time, Keokuk has mostly been a town about cover bands in the bars, with an occasional touring original act coming through the one bar that does host original music. I often travel to the surrounding area to play out now.

Bolinger: I've been playing in the Ottumwa music scene since 1995. It was definitely bustling back in the '90s, but now it barely hangs on. It feels like most of the shows and venues now are run by me. It's like if I want to see a show, I have to make it happen. So I do, which I'm happy to do. But as the cover bands seem to always have their bar shows, it's hard not to be discouraged about having a local scene. So it definitely pushes me to leave town to play show if I want to play often.

NUVO: What's the first local band that you were in?

Proctor: Expect Nothing -- a pop punk band that lasted 2004 to 2006. Comprised of two of my friends from college and a friend from Keokuk. We played in Keokuk and Lamoni, IA (college town) equally. Other than that, I was (and still am) a solo singer/songwriter.

Bolinger: Rusty Metal Primer - grunge rock that lasted from 1993-1997. I was basically sitting around with my (younger) friends on the day I graduated high school and said, "Let's start a band!" The only thing was is that none of us knew how to play any instruments. So we divvied up the duties and played our first show 2 weeks later. 4 originals and 5 Nirvana covers. Been rocking ever since.

NUVO: What was the first local band that you really feel in love with?

Proctor: Bryce Zirkel - His music has always had a haunting quality to it that I love.

Bolinger: Gristle - They were a mathy instrumental band that sounded like a mix of Primus and The Dead Milkmen. They were some talented kids that just always blew our minds. It was nuts to think there was this good of music right here in town.

NUVO: What's the all-ages scene in your hometown?

Proctor: Now, it doesn't exist in Keokuk. Most travel to surrounding cities, like Burlington or Muscatine to see a show.

Bolinger: Every show that I set up is an all-ages show. It's always been really important to me to introduce live music into these kids as early as possible. I felt like I was so late to the game, having never picked up a guitar until the day I graduated high school.

NUVO: When did you move (if you did move)? Why?

Proctor: I went off to college, and came right back. I could note that my mom is from Hawaii, so I also lived there in the summers for quite some time. But, I'm back in Keokuk, teaching music lessons. I enjoy having this home base to come back to from tours.

Bolinger: Basically after college. My hometown was so small, I felt like the only other kids in town to even hang out with were my younger brothers. And after going to college in Ottumwa for a stint and playing music there, coupled with my best friend moving there, I had to get out of my small town and be were other people were.

NUVO: Have you toured through Indy before? What are your memories of that tour stop?

Proctor: I came through Indy in the summer of 2012 with my solo band "Nalani Proctor Band." We played the Melody Inn and had the best time. We really enjoyed the people that were there to hang out, and we met The Shake-Ups, who were fantastic and wonderful people. We're going to be meeting up with their pianist Bitsy over in PA later in this tour.

Bolinger: I've played there a time or two on tour with a punk band I was in called The Slats. For the life of me, I can't remember the venues we played, but I remember the shows being awesome.


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