I'm getting pretty sick of some of the names I keep seeing for the local rock and roll bands. Maybe it just takes years for the hidden genius of such seemingly lame monikers to unfold. I mean, remember the first time you heard the name Rush? Sounded pretty lame, right? But now, when you think about it, it's that badass band Rush! Try this experiment with any other group; chances are if you completely disregard what you know about the music, the name's going to look kind of stupid all by itself. Think of all the local bands that you can, past and present, and see what percentage of those names aren't ridiculous. It's really quite astonishing. But here's the thing, Boise now has a band with a cool name. And that name can stand alone and still kick ass, and that band is ION! Three simple capitalized letters--it's short and sweet and reminds me of chemistry, electricity and coolness. As an added bonus, ION also makes good music.
Alright, so maybe I'm putting a little too much emphasis on the clever name. I just really like it. It also occurs to me that I implied that ION is a new band, which is not the case. The first lineup got together in the spring of 2002. After the original bassist moved to Japan, the current lineup gelled in fall of that same year. On drums is the mighty Pat Perkins; on bass the inimitable B.R. Saunders; and singing and playing guitar is the man known as T. Gerlach. You might remember Perkins as the past and present drummer of the legendary Caustic Resin. You might remember Saunders and Gerlach from Jackson Thorne. Or you might remember bands such as Therapy OD, Godzoundz, Naked Parade, Size of Alaska--all of which contained a member of ION or two. Perkins and Gerlach are also working in The Flying Sideways--currently on hiatus but soon to return. Or you might not remember. (I'm fairly certain I'm a bit to young too have seen some of these, so don't feel bad. And, no, ION, I'm not implying that you guys are old.) At any rate, it's quite the pedigree, I must say. These guys have been rockin' for a long time, and they know what they're doing.
I had the opportunity to catch two of ION's performances in the past month. The first was at that legendary 11th street hangout that is so dark inside it's rumored that you can develop film--the Neurolux. It was not an impressive bill; the first and last bands had me yawning in new and interesting ways as I tried not to have a seizure from that damn flashing crown thingy on stage. I hate that thing; it gives me a headache, makes my eyes cross and causes me to pay much more attention to my beer--which is probably exactly why it's up there. But none of this matters because I got my first glimpse of ION. Their music is solid. I'd say it's rooted in classic rock--maybe some of the more spacey stuff--and takes a lot from some of the better rock from the '80s to present. Their musical influences are: Bowie, Pulp, Blue Oyster Cult, AC/DC, Queens of the Stone Age, old Stones and Lou Reed. That sounds about right to me, but I'd have to say that they also remind me of the Minutemen (their more rock, less jazzy stuff), some Replacements, and for some reason the Dead Milkmen (I can't really put my finger on why). ION also definitely has what I'll loosely call "that Boise sound." When I say "that Boise sound," I'm referring to that quirky, not too heavy, poppy rock that has pervaded this region since the dawn of Built to Spill. I think you all know what I'm talking about. Now, this can be a good thing when done right, but a very bad thing when overdone. Thankfully, ION pulls it off.
I caught them on another night a while ago at a very sweaty summer house party, and ION delivered the goods again. Saunders' bass work is excellent--keeping the groove without going over the top. Perkins drumming is solid and fun to watch, and Gerlach works the guitar without a pick, which blew my mind considering some of the riffs he busted out. Their last song was epic; I was way into it. I'm hoping it'll be on their upcoming three-song demo.
Said demo should be ready soon and is titled Trilogy 1: Activation. ION will be opening for Black Tape for a Blue Girl on September 19 at the Venue. However, they will be billed as Murder Man. There is some bizarre explanation for this they would not divulge to me. Just know that Murder Man = ION, OK?