1272 rocks out with some down-home pop
Some bands are cautious when it comes to crafting their image, to modulating their collective ego-equilibrium. God forbid anyone should scintillate out of turn, like that lead guitarist in Almost Famous. If a musician’s agenda becomes, well, a smidgen too transparent, his or her band members can start getting fidgety.
And then there’s 1272, a band made up of six musicians with rich musical backgrounds— from the University of Nevada, Reno, student saxophone sensation, Brian Landrus, to seasoned drummer Tony Savage. There are some pretty powerful musical presences here—the sort that can produce heavy on- and off-stage drama. But an hour with 1272, who drew their name from a “vintage pre-amp” through which all their music is recorded, feels like an hour with a group of buddies on a fishing trip. Fishing buddies, that is, who make good music.
Vocalist/songwriter Robert Gilmer, guitarist Jim Manson, bassist Erik Gothberg, saxophonist/keyboardist Brian Landrus and drummer/percussionists Tony Savage and Adam Van Brocklin have just wrapped up their first album, Amused, under the guidance of producer Martin Beal. The album, Gothberg says, is about “everything from relationships to salmon fishing.”
"[Our songs] deal with things everybody deals with,” Van Brocklin says. “Anger, breaking up, sitting back and watching life go by and being amused by it.”
The style of 1272 falls into that murky, pop-but-not-really-pop category. It’s sort of a down-home, grown-up, bluesy variety of pop—charged with emotion, but also with lightheartedness and humor.
Gothberg, who has a well-developed and readily apparent sense of humor, slyly tries to skirt the whole genre issue altogether.
“What’s the biggest selling genre?” he jokes. “Eastern polka? Let’s just list them all.”
Even away from the microphone, 1272’s members have distinct band roles: Gothberg is funny and open; Van Brocklin is soft-spoken but direct; Manson and Landrus seem more comfortable out of the spotlight; and Gilmer is buoyant and enthusiastic. (Savage was away on vacation at interview time.) All, but especially Gothberg, have a penchant for teasing Landrus.
“We found this picture of Brian in a bikini on the Net,” Gothberg says when I ask how the band got together.
(Actually, they met doing studio sessions for a band called Last Free Exit.)
“We’re Brian’s back-up band,” Gothberg continues. “None of us have that star power, as exhibited by the 10-foot letters.” (Landrus’ name is spelled out on the Reno Hilton sign, advertising his Wednesday night gig there with his jazz ensemble, The Brian Landrus Project.)
But Landrus hardly looks to be wiggling his way into the spotlight. Nor do any of the other members—even singer/songwriter Gilmer, who insists that he share songwriting duties with the other band members on 1272’s next album, a decree that draws some groans of protest from the rest of the gang.
But before they can tackle a second album, 1272 will be embarking on a tour this spring that will lead them first through the Pacific Northwest, and then through the south. Because Savage and his wife have a baby on the way, and other members of the band have various obligations at home as well, Gilmer says that they’ll actually prefer to have opening-act status, since it will afford them greater touring flexibility. Locally, they hope to open for acts coming through the casinos; on the Northwest leg of their tour, they’ll be opening for Seattle-based musician Ian Moore.
“We want to be the opening act for America," says Gilmer teasingly. "We want to open for everybody."