In my new job as music editor, (or "BW Music Mama," as my editor refers to me) I have to go out see as many local musicians as I can and then write about them. Sometimes it's tough.
In the last couple of months I've been to several venues in town and I've seen some bad bands. But I've also seen some good ones. One of those bands in the latter category is Switch Hitter. They are founding members Hoss (guitar, bass, lead vocals) and Jon (bass, guitar) and newest/returning member T (drums, vocals).
Switch Hitter has been playing in and around Boise for about the last five years. Never heard of 'em? Neither had I. But last month, I saw them at the Bouquet. After their set, I went up to Switch Hitter guitarist and current lead singer Hoss, introduced myself as the music editor of Boise Weekly and asked him to call me or drop me a line and give me a little background on the band. When I got to work the next morning, there was an e-mail in my inbox time stamped 4:33 a.m. with the subject line, "SWITCH HITTER info!" from one J. Hoss. It was a condensed history of the band and the changes in Switch Hitter's line-up read like those of a troubled Major League baseball franchise. But, even after several strikes, the right players finally stepped up and Switch Hitter is now the perfect combination. Keeping certain salacious bits of information off the record, here's what I learned:
"Switch Hitter formed in early 2001 over an empty bottle of Jack Daniel's," wrote Hoss. In the original line-up there were four members. They all swapped instruments, had a great time and for three years they played up and down the West Coast with their "musical circus of punk/pop/ska/rock/and metal." They recorded an EP, Maybe She's Just A Bitch, and then a full-length album, Three Plugs and an Outlet. But problems were on the horizon. After recording again in 2002, one member decided to move on, which forced Switch Hitter to shelve that record. Things were looking bleak when something happened to turn it all around. Long time friend T joined the Switch Hitter team. Within two weeks, they were back, playing up and down the coast again at some well-known and respected venues. Things were looking up for Switch Hitter and then ... more bad news. Creative differences forced the band to part ways with their female lead singer and with her went about 45 of Switch Hitter's songs. What would any band that's just had three personnel changes in as many years do? They brought on a new member (a guitarist) and headed back into the studio to record Alcoholocaust. Here's a shocker: There were problems. Money was tight, and drummer T "needed to walk his own path," which, apparently, led away from Switch Hitter. Alcoholocaust never made it off the shelf. So, the band brought on another drummer (didn't these guys ever see Spinal Tap?) and took their show on the road, yet again. Six months and a lot of hard work later, Hoss and T talked for several hours and decided that T really did belong in Switch Hitter. Bye, bye new drummer, welcome back T. Maybe this was the magic formula. Yes ... yes ... no. Their new guitarist bolted which left Hoss, Jon and T as Switch Hitter. And, based on their sound, they've found the power of three, because this line-up, my pop-punk adoring friends, is working.
In mid July, Switch Hitter had a CD preview party at the Bouquet before they played. They invited friends, family and fans to come and give feedback before they began the final re-mastering of their newest release, And Then There Were Three. They put the CD on over the bar's loudspeaker and waited.
I expected the Switch Hitter boys to be nervous as we listened to the newest product of their blood, sweat and tears, but they seemed really calm. I discovered why after the second song, "Choices," began. The fact is, this new CD is good. And they know it. The instrumentation is tight and the vocals are some of the best I've heard. Hoss has a deep, emotional voice and T has a range that would make Mariah Carey envious. Together, Hoss and T sound like two parts of the same voice. The only drawback to the CD is that it lacks a raw edge usually associated with punk. It almost sounds over-produced. But, that's just how these guys are. They load their instruments on stage as if X's mark the spots and they tear down with robot-like precision.Yet, they aren't androids. They're pros. It's obvious they've gone through the set-uptake-down routine a thousand times and time not wasted setting up is time saved for playing. And that's what these boys do best.
After listening to the new CD and watching their set, I had a chance to sit down and hear what Hoss, Jon and T had to say. They said they're proud of And Then There Were Three. They said they'll play a show any time anywhere whether they like the venue it's in or not. They said they love fellow musicians the PirkQlaters. What they didn't have to say, is that this is a line-up that works. You don't have to be around them long to see that they like what they do and they like who they do it with. If you haven't seen Switch Hitter in awhile, go see one of their shows. They are not the same band they were years ago and I think that's a good thing.
You can hear Switch Hitter's new CD And Then There Were Three September 1 at The Core during their CD release party.