In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.
Matt Stuttler makes St. Louis a better place to love live music. While booking for local venues Heavy Anchor, Plush and, as of this week,the Firebird, he's brought a quality ethos to an industry that likes to play favorites. Through his own music label Eat Tapes, Stuttler helps finance and promote independent bands by releasing cassette tapes, a format that's all but dead among collectors and analog purists.
Stuttler wears many hats, but he's a musician first and foremost -- never mind the hours he spends helping others. As Shitstorm, Stuttler is a total force of lo-fi rock 'n roll and he does it alone by playing to -- you guessed it -- a cassette.
Instead of hauling around a drum machine, he jams to pre-recorded backing tracks. As is the nature with tapes in general, natural degradation occurs, but that's part of the charm with Shitstorm. But that's not to say Stuttler eschews the idea of a live band altogether.
"Shitstorm will always just be me, but I do pick up people for shows and recordings. Sometimes I still play solo, but lately I've at least been playing with a drummer," Stuttler adds. He's called in players from garage rock favorites Bruiser Queen, Wild Hex and the Brainstems to fill out the sound. The revolving door of superlative players makes each show feel distinct and different from the last.
"I didn't go into Shitstorm looking for a particular sound, and I don't think I'll ever settle on that. It's more of a moniker that I can just use for whatever I'm working on. The first dozen shows or so I used a cassette player to play a tape of a beat I recorded off an old thrift store organ. I would just start the tape and play one song after another, no wasting time," Stuttler says.
Shitstorm started last October with Stuttler filling an open slot at a Heavy Anchor show. He had just started the writing process only a few weeks prior, but managed to toss together some songs, mostly as a trial run. And just like that, his project hit the ground running, culminating in a twenty-show tour through the midwest United States.
"I wanted a vehicle to turn out as much material as fast as I could, and only relying on your own time schedule makes that pretty easy. It's always been a distorted electric guitar over top of some kind of beat, whether a human or a tape is the drummer. My intention has always been to just blast out fifteen minutes or less and get the fuck out from behind the mic," Stuttler says.
Chicago-based label Already Dead will release Shitstorm's self-titled album on June 17. It's not a stretch to assume Stuttler might have advance copies at Shitstorm's next show on June 13 at Los Punk with Wild Hex and Video Ranger (from Omaha, Nebraska).
Read on to see what the man behind Shitstorm has to say about St. Louis music and post-show food when we ask him to Fill In The Blanks.
What I like most about St. Louis is... the diversity and vibrancy of bands and the support structure set up by venues/show spots/local media/show goers. Pretty much everybody I've ran into around the music culture has only the best intentions towards how they conduct themselves, and those who don't are definitely in the margin.
I'm most productive when... I have a full pot of black coffee in my stomach and I'm reeling from seeing four or five awesome shows in a week's time. Seeing solid local bands makes me want to work harder on whatever's on my plate at the time. I want to make sure I'm doing my best to make sure those bands keep going.
I've learned the most from... going to shows and asking questions. There's no other way to learn what goes into a show better than going to see as many shows in as many different formats/styles/locations as possible. If you think you can't possibly enjoy a certain kind of music, just go to a show with a friend that does and have an open mind. Observe all the positive aspects of that particular scene that you weren't cued into before, and focus on that rather than all the preconceived notions you may have had originally.
Good work should always... be honest and positive. Negativity just serves as a wall against working towards something better.
The St. Louis music scene could use... more bands out on the road. Playing shows outside the city has given me a fresh perspective and more respect for the shows I do get to play in town. It's a good way to glean the positive aspects of other town's scenes and make them happen right here in St. Louis too.
The best post-show food in St. Louis is... a gin bucket from CBGB. If it comes in a bucket, it counts as food.
Shitstorm Friday, June 13, 9 p.m. w/ Video Ranger (NE), Wild Hex @ Los Punk | 2709 Cherokee Street
Follow Shitstorm via its website.
Follow Matt Stuttler's cassette tape label Eat Tapes via Facebook.
Do you know a project or band that should be considered for this series? Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously from our Fill in the Blank series: - Shark Dad - The Uncredibles - The Ded Bugs - Stonechat - Les Gruff and the Billy Goat - Nato Caliph - Jah Orah & KD Assassin - Zagk Gibbons - Britches - The Maness Brothers - Con Trails - This City of Takers - Syna So Pro - Eric Hall - Pink Sock - Scrub - Pet Rock the Musical - The Glass Cavalry - The Blu Skies - Animal Teeth - Popular Mechanics - Brotherfather - Bad Dates - Beauty Pageant - Pillow Talk - The Tennis Lesson - The Funs - Brothers Lazaroff - Quaere Verum - MME - Sarah Bollinger - Little Big Bangs - Everything Went Black - Lions Eat Grass - Kevin Harris - Laika - Heavy Horse - Barely Free Partial Prisoners - The Defeated County - Lizzie Weber - Kenshiro's - B.E.L.L.A. - Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship - Humdrum - The Blind Eyes