The real Jammies winners
Dead Scott sets it straight
So a couple weeks ago I went to the Jammies show at the Crest Theatre, which was incredibly fun. The atmosphere made me feel fresh and vibrant, like I was in a soap commercial—and also like I was 10 years younger. Except that I was surrounded by hundreds of teenagers, which then made me feel 40 years older, and creepy.
But the real problems began when I wrote by mistake that Northern Lights won the Jammies award, when it was really Dead Scott. In other words, if it was a gladiatorial game, Dead Scott would have feasted upon the heads of their opponents. So I got a ton of e-mails shaming me; one of their dads even wrote a message with lots of exclamation points and question marks. Plus, the keyboardist’s mom called, which went something like this:
“Hello, this is Josh.”
“Ahhh, you stupid idiot!”
No, she didn’t say that. It was worse. She was nice, but totally disappointed in that horrible mom way that messes with your mind. Anyway, I told her not to worry, that I was doing a feature on her son and his talented bandmates.
So the band came to the SN&R office a few days later to hash things out. There they were: Brett Chance, Ty Lyman, Sage Cummins and Ryan Thalken. Their names sound like a bunch of male porno stars, if you ask me. But they assure me those are their real names and that they’re not “in the business.” In fact, they’re high-school kids who are all 17, except Lyman, who is still 16.
During our chat, they described their music in further detail (it says “Frank Sinatra on crack” on their MySpace page), which the band collectively describes as “psychedelic, indie pop.” But there’s a classic-rock tinge in their domineering keyboard work, and the affected vocals weave through the tracks, giving the band an Eagles-meet-the Cure kind of vibe. They draw influence from groups such as Steely Dan, MGMT, Animal Collective, Mac Dre and Mike Farrell’s band Daisy Spot.
Dead Scott’s song titles—“The Peaceful Way,” “The Alchemist,” “Sapphire Mountaintops”—remind me of Yanni. And, as we know, where there’s Yanni, there’s all-out anarchy.
“We’re a bunch of mindless teenagers,” says Lyman, “We don’t want to do anything but sit around and eat.” He’s joking, of course.
I thought originally their band name was a play on Dred Scott (the slave who sued unsuccessfully for freedom in 1857), but it is not. At all.
Lyman gets an introspective look on his face and he begins the sordid tale of Dead Scott.
“Scott? He was our guitar player a long time ago,” he begins.
“In the ’70s,” Cummings chimes in.
“Right,” Lyman continues. “’79, Scott Stephenson was our guitar player; he—he could rock.”
At that statement, as if part of a eulogy, Lyman proudly calls out, “Raise ’em high!” and the band collectively raises their fists.
When they put their fists away, Lyman continues his story. “So we became famous, starting out in Sacramento; we branched out to the Bay Area, San Francisco, and played a few shows there with Jefferson Starship—”
The band laughs as Lyman continues the story: Stephenson went to Disneyland, and on his way to the Indiana Jones ride, he was hit by a bus on Main Street, USA. “It made a mess of him,” says Chance.
Imaginations, talent and parents who will call and write to chastise the media? What don’t they have? Lyman explains that his dad wasn’t always into the idea of his son being in a band; he thought music would take time away from studying. However, once Lyman’s dad saw the band perform, it was a different story.
“He was like—‘Good job,’” Lyman says, in a tone that sounds like Clint Eastwood when he’s about to shoot someone in the face.
At that, the floodgates open and the band does impressions of Lyman’s dad for the rest of the interview.