It's the Season for The October
J. Gordon
1/22/2006 10:47:24 PM

"We were doing showcases way before we were even ready, but you wait your whole life for a shot at that kind of thing. How could we turn it down?"

Sitting in the middle of nowhere on the Missouri-Kentucky border town of Metropolis, Illinois, it’s clearly the season for the October. For a new band, the October has already had a lot of big breaks, like playing at the Sundance Film Festival, New York and LA showcases and lots of major label attention. Locally, they were probably first noticed by the masses at the big Gravity Kills “Killoween” reunion show at St. Louis’ the Pageant last year. They’ve got a heavily-hit and downloaded MySpace page, and have just launched their own website, Add to that the facts that they’ve made the latest Jane magazine Reader CD compilation, and their next record is awaiting production with a video shoot is on the horizon.

But that’s not to say it’s been an easy road. When the original guitarist and bass player quit within a week of each other last year, lead singer Dustin Burnett and drummer Aaron Spraggs, the founders of the band, were left scrambling to find a new bass player and guitarist just weeks before one of the biggest shows of the year. In a pinch, Dustin’s brother Dillon, just home from a long military stint in Iraq, and long-time friend Ryan Cain(who’d just moved to Maui and was unbelievably talked back to the Midwest) filled the bill as bass player and guitarist, respectively.

Sitting around a Starbuck’s in St. Louis’ University City Loop, asked the guys what has been some of the high points of the October, so far.

“Right here, right now. Starbucks! That’s where it’s at,” jokes Dustin, who looks like a more handsome version of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and definitely has that Brit-style mastered.

Aaron, who with a dark wildness could convincingly pose as Dave Navarro’s little drummer-brother, says more seriously, “Just getting to travel and play some amazing shows.” References to Sundance and other festivals and showcases are made, to which the newbies, Ryan and Dillon, roll their eyes (they missed out).

“I was playing in this other band for a long time with Dillon,” says Dustin. “At the end of that series, a friend gave me a copy of the Church’s record, Starfish.” He says that record led him to Echo and the Bunnymen, Flock of Seagulls, and a host of darker 80s electronic stuff he’d been just a tad too young to catch the first time.

“We went to Los Angeles. Three weeks later we were in New York City. All that was such a whirlwind. We were doing showcases way before we were even ready, but you wait your whole life for a shot at that kind of thing. How could we turn it down?” he says. He sighs and admits that despite the heavy initial interest, success hasn’t been instant. “We’re kind of at square one again. But it’s a nice place for us now. We’ve had all that experience under our belt. We really just want to make a great record.”

“The new record will be less of an obvious 80s thing,” Dustin continues. “Now we know what we want to do.”

“It’s a little darker, but it’s good…” says Aaron with a fire in his eyes.

“…with dancey beats and grooves,” adds Dillon, who with his dark hair, artful sideburns and muscular, broader build to his brother Dustin’s paler lankiness--the two look completely unrelated.

Borrowing all these best bits of the darker 80s post-new wave and mixing it with Brit Pop clean vocals, the October’s sound is current and exciting. And you just don’t hear any other bands making that guitar sound.

Oh, that guitar! Guitarist Ryan grew up on more of the rock-metal side of music, but he says his harder background fits in just fine. “Where I come from and where he comes from [motioning to Dustin], they’re different sides of the track but from the same era. I really didn’t have to switch gears too much. It was an easy transition.”

The guitar rig set up is often a direct copy of some of their 80s musical mentors, says Dustin. “Like, my pedal selection: I looked at how they made those guitar tones. The memory man the Edge [of U2] used to use. The guys in Flock of Seagulls, all the gear of that era…”

The guys talk about a failing transmission in their van and the roughness of being on the road. So, do they sometimes feel it’s all too much?

“The toughest part of being in this band for me was learning 13 songs in eight days after not playing in five years,” laughs Dillon.

“I think [the toughest part] is just about keeping yourself focused,” says Aaron. “With all these major labels and big meetings and all this stuff… I feel we’ve really kept a grasp on things and learned what not to do. We’ve been put in situations where there’s a showcase concert and, then we get a call and have to go sit in a studio in front of, like, three people. It’s really nerve-wracking. It puts you on the spot. But after awhile, it’s like no big deal, you just do your thing and don’t worry about it. That was the stuff, learning-wise. Things like never calling you back, I don’t stress on it. We keep focused.”

With no major label backing at present, these guys are now focused on putting their creative juices to work in an unconventional way: asking for sponsorships to make their second CD with the new lineup a reality.

“One of the studio owners gave us the idea,” says Dustin, who said he’d been making calls to studios, pleading for cut rates. The band is asking for a minimum sponsorship of $150, which will credit the donors on the inside of the CD as an executive producer.

“They’ll be able to say, ‘we were a part of this,’” says Aaron. Want to help out? You can contact the October through their website.


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