The Southern Oregon psychedelic rock band 100 Watt Mind brings new meaning to the word ‘epic’. I spent last week listening to their debut album Out of Night and went to their CD release party last Friday night expecting something a little different from their usual high-energy, powerhouse rock jam performances that have come to characterize the band… and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the band had something else in mind.
Fans of 100 Watt Mind – hungry to experience this talented band on a daily basis – have long awaited the release of a full-length album. And Out of Night does not disappoint (read the review by Jason Franklin here). Recorded at Prairie Sun Recording Studios and the studio at Pacifica Natural Learning Center in Williams, Oregon, produced by Milan Nikolic and mixed and mastered by Oz Fritz (Primus, Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, the Ramones and many more), 100 Watt Mind parts momentarily from the epic improvisational rock jams that characterize their live performance to deliver a studio album that packages their sound into a collection of songs fit for everyday listening and radio play. Therefore, I went to Alex’s on Friday night almost expecting the band to perform Out of Night as it was recorded… But the band had something different in mind – 100 Watt Mind stayed true to their roots of improvisational rock and delivered their most phenomenal and psychedelic performance yet in 3 different sets over 4 hours.
When I arrived, Alex’s was already at capacity – when I was finally able to make my way up the stairs, the band had just started their second of three sets. Crammed up against the front of the stage, the crowd brought an energy to Alex’s that I’ve rarely experienced. Dancing, shouting, fist pumping, sweating and ripping off shirts (at one point I was recording some video, holding the camera high above my head, and some hooligan ripped open my snap buttons), the sound that developed from 100 Watt Mind over the course of the night was clearly fueled by a combination of their own passion for their music and the intense and exuberant energy of the crowd.
Throwing around a curly mop of blonde hair, Nathan Hurlocker pounds with precision on the strings of his bass, forming a constant backbone behind the crunchy blues and rock riffs that power this heavy machine that is 100 Watt Mind. And never missing a beat, Rob Morris was especially energetic, displaying some of the most precise and technical rock drumming I have heard in a good while – you could feel his excitement and passion pounding through the bass drum. Nathan and Rob lay down the perfect setting for Skyler Squglio’s (pronounced school-ee-yo) roaring and horribly perfect guitar riffs and solos. At only 24 years old, this soft-spoken and bright-eyed kid certainly has a promising career ahead of him.
And then there is Brynna Dean… At first glance, she appears to be the perfect misfit… clad in black clothes with black, sweat-soaked hair flung across her face as she rocks it out in front of the crowd. Yet her big beautiful brown eyes – if you’re lucky enough to see them when she’s not adorning her signature shades – reveal the knowing and wisdom of an old soul. With a voice that cuts right through the psychedelic haze of her male counterparts like a hot knife through butter, she is a sight and sound to behold.
Squglio’s guitar leads and Brynna Dean’s vocals play off each other like fine-tuned magic; combined with Hurlocker’s and Morris’ tight and precise rhythms, it is all too easy to draw comparisons to rock legends Led Zeppelin. It’s no wonder then that 100 Watt Mind scored the opening act for Robert Plant at the Britt Festivals this year. The Golden God himself must be impressed with this band. I also hear some of my other classic rock favorites, like the Doors as well as influences from modern rockers like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of the Stone Age and plenty of punk rock influence to boot.
I’ve had the great fortune to spend some time with the band over the last few months and besides being top-notch musicians, they are incredibly nice and easy-going people. Always humble and appreciative of much-deserved praise from fans and critics, 100 Watt Mind has both talent and heart. If you reside in the Rogue Valley, support 100 Watt Mind by purchasing their new album Out of Night, available soon on CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. If you’re reading this from afar, keep an eye out for upcoming tour dates. RogueValleyMessenger.com will be releasing all of the latest news on the band, so stay tuned for more!
Just keep on doing what you’re doing 100 Watt Mind – the world has no idea what’s coming.
Photos: Kayla Goldfarb