heavy metal

Loudermilk Bio

Band members
Davey Ingersoll, vocals, guitar
Mark Watrous, guitar, piano, vocals
Shane Middleton, bass
Isaac Carpenter, drums


"We don't fit into any music club," explains Loudermilk frontman Davey Ingersoll. "We're not a punk band and we're not some indie-hipster band, but we're not major-label whores either. Our influences are very broad, yet all the bands we really like are different from us. I love music too much to be in a band that only does one thing. So you should never expect anything from us because we're liable to change at a moment's notice."

With The Red Record (released July 2, 2002, on DreamWorks Records), Loudermilk indeed mixes elements as disparate as classic rock, punk, metal and ambient sounds. In fact, the previous credits of producer George Drakoulias mirror this diversity: The Black Crowes, The Cult, Primal Scream, Tom Petty, Afghan Whigs, Ride, Screaming Trees. (Two tracks on The Red Record, "97 ways to kill a superhero" and "attached at the mouth," were produced by Ron Aniello, who's worked with Lifehouse and Days Of The New, among others.)

The album's emotional complexion, however, is perhaps more focused on a particular palette. "Red is the most volatile color," says Davey. "It represents love, rage, jealousy and warmth. It's a color that definitely reflects the subject matter of this record."

Loudermilk's path to this impassioned state began in the close-knit eastern Washington community of Tri-Cities (the three cities are Richland, Kennewick and Pasco). The band enjoys an instinctive alchemy that grows from each member's early connection to music and to each other.

"My parents put me in violin lessons when I was three," affirms guitarist Mark Watrous. "My mom always tells people, 'Before he could walk, he could crawl to the piano and play songs.' The day I got Michael Jackson's Thriller I knew I wanted to be in a band. I got a guitar in fourth grade, made my brother get a bass for Christmas and started my first band." Shortly thereafter, Mark met Loudermilk drummer Isaac Carpenter at the local music store owned by Isaac's parents.

"I wandered into his parents' store and started playing a Guns N' Roses song on a guitar," Mark recalls. "This little kid came up to me - he had long hair and was wearing this flannel shirt and beads that spelled out 'Guns N' Roses' - and we swapped some licks."

Says Isaac: "When I heard Appetite For Destruction and the 'F' word in the second grade, it was the biggest, most life-changing event for me. I got an awesome mullet and bought every copy of Metal Edge I could get my hands on."

This impromptu Guns N' Roses fan club continued to draw future Loudermilk members. Bassist Shane Middleton discovered his musical ambitions in sixth grade after a schoolmate invited him to play bass in his band. "I didn't even know what a bass was," Shane confesses. "But I wanted to be a rock star." He was introduced to Isaac at band practice and the two bonded instantly over their mutual Sunset Strip heroes.

"So we started a Guns N' Roses cover band called .22s And Tulips," Isaac divulges with a laugh. "We were idiots." .22s And Tulips crowned their career with a gig at the Kennewick fairgrounds, a performance complete with de rigueur metal theatrics. "My grandpa made us these platforms for the guitarists to stand on for their solos, just like Slash," Shane informs. "Isaac was a real virtuoso."

They weren't the only kids in town embarking on a lifelong affair with music. Davey's dad - a musician and bandmate of Isaac's father 20 years before - encouraged his son's musical aspirations from a tender age. "We didn't have a TV. The entertainment in the front of our house was a record player," Davey notes. "I didn't get up on Saturday morning and watch cartoons; I got up and played records. My dad had to force me to go outside to play with other kids."

Still, it took years of soul searching for Davey to decide he was ready to assume the role of frontman. "When I turned 17, I realized I sucked at everything that wasn't music and I'd never be happy at a real job," he explains. "I always wanted to sing and play guitar in a rock band, but I had some self-esteem issues: I never thought I was good enough. I sang in one of my first bands and they laughed at me because I sounded like an eight-year-old girl."

He'd played piano and drums early on, but once Davey picked up the guitar he completely immersed himself in it, practicing for hours every day. His own band evolved organically once he started talking to friends about playing together. He, Isaac (whose father had been urging him to play with Davey for years) and Shane performed as a three-piece for about a year. Mark - whose mother happened to be Davey's former piano teacher - quickly became a fan of the band and even accompanied them on some road trips. Eventually, Davey asked him to join up.

Though the Tri-Cities underground music scene provided a snug, hothouse environment for the development of Loudermilk's chops, the young quartet didn't completely fit in. "We're not really the norm for the Tri-Cities," says Davey. "We're definitely supported there, but I also got made fun of a lot. People have either really liked the bands I've been in or really hated them. But I think people respond to Loudermilk because of the honesty of our music - that's what sets us apart."

Reflecting further on those days, Davey adds: "It was a really exciting time in music. We were four hours from Seattle, and there were all these great bands coming through town every weekend."

Exposure to those bands convinced him that Loudermilk's future lay beyond the Tri-Cities, so he persuaded the band to move to Seattle after Isaac's high school graduation. "I didn't really know if they'd do it, but they did," Davey says, still a bit incredulous.

Loudermilk released their first album, Man With Gun Kills 3, in 1998 on She's An Anchor, the label they started with a friend. But it was an unauthorized demo that sparked label attention and resulted in a deal with American Recordings. (Says Davey of that demo, which was made just to get some songs down on tape but then got circulated without the band's knowledge, "It was something I didn't even want people to hear"). Shortly after the ink was dry on their contract, Loudermilk found themselves on the road with Mötley Cr?e and Megadeth.

"We were on a side stage and people had to walk by us to get to the main stage," Mark recalls. "We played two sets a night. People would either stop and listen, or the mullets would just go blazing past. That humbled us but it also helped us gain a fan base. Sometimes ten people would stop, sometimes 500. Sometimes people would shout at us that we sucked or give us the finger. And then there'd be kids who'd tell us we were their new favorite band."

Loudermilk recorded an album for American but soon parted ways with the label and the disc was never released. "It was a learning experience," Davey observes. "We didn't deliver the record they were expecting, whatever that was. The whole thing was like an episode of 'Behind The Music.'" Undaunted, the band pushed on, this ostensible setback only reaffirming their dedication to their music and to one another.

"We've had no choice but to grow up and realize how lucky we are," Isaac emphasizes. "This band is like a girlfriend or a wife; we're beyond friends. These are the only people I hang out with, and you can't beat it. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Shane concurs: "I learned butterflies and rainbows - the pretty music - from Davey. I learned the technical aspects from Isaac and Mark. But the friendship is always the most important part. We trust each other."

The idea of friendship is explored throughout The Red Record, Loudermilk's DreamWorks Records debut (they were signed by Michael Goldstone, one of the company's principal executives). But it's the conflicted, dark side of friendship, the breakdown of friendship and the pain of its dissolution, that is at the disc's heart.

"The theme of this record is self-destruction," Davey states plainly, "and the temptation, frustration, rage and hopelessness that goes with it. There was this one summer where a lot of my loved ones started destroying themselves. A friend of mine killed his girlfriend and then himself. My own self-destructive streak was pretty strong, too. It was just this blur of self-destruction and me finding my role in that.

"The song 'california' is about a party I went to. I was there, surrounded by a bunch of people I cared about, but I felt so distant and removed from them. The party was sickening. Metaphorically, it was like going to a party where everyone is playing with loaded guns."

Though he's comfortable embracing such demons in his songs, Davey is quick to distinguish Loudermilk from the angst-ridden modern-rock herd: "Rock 'n' roll is all about rebellion, but I don't necessarily think drugs and tattoos are that rebellious anymore. I like innovation, intellect and spirituality, music where you can hear the spirit in it. I listen to all kinds of music. Tricky, Smashing Pumpkins, Willie Nelson, Grand Funk Railroad, Mazzy Star; Mötley Cr?e's Shout At The Devil was the first record I ever bought. What those artists have in common is honesty. When bands really open up about who they are, that's something to hear. I don't like bands that fake it."

"If it feels like an honest emotion, we'll play it," Mark reiterates. "It doesn't matter how it sounds beyond that. Metal? Techno? Soul? If it feels right, we'll do it. We're more interested in exploring all kinds of music than being identified as a particular kind of band."

"At the end of the day, we're going to do what we're going to do artistically, regardless of consequence," Davey says. "Our next record could be country - you just never know."

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