303Live Present Game Changers an exclusive look at people, places and thing that are changing the way we all see Colorado.
From high school garage band with a youthful folk rock sound to no bullshit, emerging pop punk rockers with something to say, One Flew West is finding their true identity and sound with the new EP, Trial and Error.
The room with its one wall painted blue is small, almost claustrophobic, and tucked away in the back corner of the windowless Bluebird Theater basement; a place where the building’s notable music vibe almost seeps from the concrete walls. It’s the perfect setting for the four rock and roll, pop punk band mates and self-described man children that make up Denver’s One Flew West to get ready for their headlining show and EP release party. They anxiously move from one corner to the other unable to sit still, questioning whether guitarist and lead singer Linden Jackson should wear his jacket all night, laughingly explaining to their manager that they “had a little too much on their mind” to even think about moving the van, posting on Twitter and Facebook, and then finally wondering how many people will show.
I first met these guys when a few friends, my wife, and I decided to throw a music festival in some South Dakota field a few years ago and wanted some Colorado talent on the bill. At the time they were gracious, full of youthful energy, and showed a lot of talent and promise. Not much seems to have changed. They’re still gracious, exuding the same playful, not too serious vibe as we briefly catch up, but instead of still honing their talents and showing promise, it all appears to be finally coming together. Time and growing up has made them both better in the studio and somehow even better live resulting in recognition, plays on notable Spotify curated lists such as The Scene and Pop Punk’s Not Dead, and their fan base has grown exponentially. And now they’re here, two hours before show time nearly bouncing off the walls while waiting for the anticipated show and release of Trial and Error.
What has the band been through in the last few years since I last talked to you? Any challenges or accomplishments to know about in the last three years?
“We got him,” drummer Jonah Bartels laughs, pointing at the fresh faced newest member and bassist, Dawson Fry, as a sheepish smile quickly appears.
“We’ve gone through an extreme lineup change,” guitarist David Di Salvo admits. “We’ve dropped a few people.”
In September of 2016, pianist Dillon left the band which was followed by guitar and trumpet player, Joe, as well as hired gun bassist, Noah, leaving a few months later in December.
“We’ve really been experimenting with what we want to sound like,” Linden adds. “But I think the main thing since then is that we’ve developed an identity as a band which is something we struggled with for a while. You know, getting a solid sound down, really like this is what we are as a band. I think we’ve been able to get that pretty down.”
One Flew West formed in 2014 out of Longmont, Colorado, starting out with a more folk influence due to Jackson’s love for the acoustic guitar and where he started from as a songwriter. They’ve been able to morph that early identity into a now more rock based sound injected with a little punk attitude toward things and how they present themselves.
“We’ve just never really taken ourselves very seriously,” Linden says brushing his jet black hair from his eyes, “and the thing is we’ve tried, you know when you kinda first knew us, for a while we were trying to take ourselves too seriously because we thought this is music and we need to have a good image. We do need to have a good image but at the same time we don’t give a fuck. We just want to have fun with it.”
And now tonight is the night. What does it all mean to you?
“A year of hard work,” David says, breathing out a small sigh of relief.
“A lot of ups and downs into it, that’s for sure,” Dawson smiles.
“A year ago we were playing Lost Lake across the street and we told Dawson that this is where we’d do our EP release,” David adds, recalling that moment of foreshadowing at the time. “That was his first gig with us. We didn’t have it booked at all, we didn’t even know the EP would be called Trial and Error, we didn’t have a single song written.”
Will this be the first time your fans will hear the new stuff?
“In Denver, yea,” Linden says. “We actually haven’t had a Denver headliner in while. So this will be the first time a lot of people will hear it and this is a fucking great place to do it. It sounds pretty bitchin’ here.”
What’s been the reaction to the new song?
“The new song has been doing really well,” Jonah confidently says while comfortably sitting back on a small couch. “We put it on Spotify and it’s getting close to 100,000 and it’s only been out for two months.”
“Which for a band our size,” Linden speaks up, “you know a local and small Denver band, we’re pretty happy about that.”
The entire project was recorded in a just a weeks time with Chris Beeble and partner Randall Kent at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, the same studio where the band recorded “Kinda Love” off of the Selective Memory record released in 2015, and a place known for producing records for notable bands such as Rise Against.
“It’s just a really really good vibe up there,” Linden says. “I think it helped subconsciously to channel the vibe for this EP because some of the best punk albums have been made up there. Its just got such a good fuckin’ vibe especially with records all over the walls of super huge punk bands.”
“There’s something about walking into the first hallway and seeing all of the Rise Against records up on the wall,” David quickly agrees. “It just brings it out in you.”
Trial and Error is a four track masterpiece comprising the band’s best work to date. It includes the poppy yet no bullshit title song attacking today’s political climate, a true coming of age song about growing up called “What Do I Know,” the songs “Out of Time” and “Staying In”, and the brutally honest, inspirational, and quite possibly the EP’s best track, “Best Worst Thing;” a song about doing what makes you happy regardless of what others think.
How did you guys approach the making of this one… meaning did you all come in on day one with the same direction for where the project was going to go or did it morph into what it is as work was put in?
“On the writing end I had a very particular vision because as I said, one of the things we struggled with was having a real identity as a band and this was an opportunity to actually put something out that was cohesive and made sense.”
“The other cool thing about it was that Linden wrote the songs at random times at different periods,“ Bartels explains, “so there really wasn’t a concept from the beginning but the whole EP is about the same thing, at least to me, it’s about being pissed off about the current state of everything around you, not really feeling like you know where you belong or where you’re going, and all the pressure that everyone puts on you. We spent a lot of time before we actually went to record this talking about what exactly we all wanted it to sound like.”
“Yea, that’s really important to us. Some people can just go into a studio and fuck around and write stuff and I think it would be cool, but we just can’t afford it,” Linden says getting a laugh from everyone. “We just had to have everything as down as possible before we went in there.”
“Full steam ahead once we were in there,” Dawson nods.
Was there a lot of production on this or did you keep it as raw as possible?
“It’s pretty raw. We kept it as straight as we could. Just our four instruments and it’s the tone he uses on stage so it’s nothing different,” Jonah says, pointing to Linden. “We have a couple of things layered on top like some keyboard stuff and a few extra sound effects. That’s really it.”
“That was another really important thing for us,” Linden says, “because a huge part of who we are is our live show and nothing pisses me off more than when a band can’t replicate their album in a live setting. So a huge thing for us is being able to, for more or less, pretty much completely translate what’s on the EP to the live show.”
Tell me a little bit more about the new title track “Trial and Error” and its inspiration.
“November,” Dawson jokes.
“I didn’t want to write a song about fucking Trump,” Linden says after the laughing subsides a bit, “because that’s just stupid and didn’t want to write it directly at the dude. I was just pissed about how many people were totally cool with it and did absolutely fucking nothing. That’s what made me the most angry. It’s like the name, Trial and Error, we’ve seen shit like this happen before and we know what’s gonna happen but you don’t do anything about it. It’s obviously an angry song. I like writing angry songs. But that’s where the initial thought came from. It was just directed at everyone that helped make it happen as opposed to not just him.”
“I think part of the beauty too is that it’s not telling you exactly what you should think,” Dawson adds. “Somebody could listen to it and think something entirely different than somebody else listening to it. It just depends what situation you’re in.”
“For instance,” David smiles, “today we found out somebody thought the lyrics were I just wanna fuck you in a million different ways.”
“That’s really hot,” Linden says while everyone explodes in laughter.
Is this the favorite song off the album?
“I think we all have different favorites,” Dawson says.
“This is Dawson’s favorite thing,” Linden says pointing to the two liter bottle of Diet Coke on the table.
“Oh yea, that’s for me. It’s got my name all over it.” But yea, all of us have been comparing notes and we all like different parts of the EP for different reasons.”
Linden leans on the wall nodding in agreement. “And when we send it to publications, which is a good sign in my opinion, everybody is kinda saying a different one is their favorite one. In the past we’ve always had people say this one song is obviously the stand out and everything else is kind of eh, but this is the first time I’m 100 percent confident in every song that is on there.”
“But most of it is still to be decided ‘cause we don’t really know,” David says.
“Yea, the general audience could think it’s shit,” Linden jokes.
We’ve seen bands from Colorado hit it big…One Republic, The Fray, The Lumineers made it big once they recorded ‘Ho Hey’ in some Denver apartment and then posted it on YouTube…so tell me what’s the mindset of One Flew West and can you take your music to that level?
Jonah sits further back on the couch with a more serious demeanor on his face this time. “It all depends on who hears it and if somebody likes it. That’s the hard part about this.”
“That’s the thing about being in this business,” Linden says, “all we can do is work our asses off and just keep trying to play as best we can, put on great shows and do what we can on our end. There is an element of luck to it but I hope someone hears it and likes it. It remains to be seen but I think we’re all committed to doing the best we can and just keep fucking chugging on.”
I agree. There is an element of luck to it all but there’s also the element of not only purposeful direction, but confidence in recording and live shows. These are things which the band seems to both be getting better at and more comfortable with. How much has Dawson helped that process?
“Dawson is the unjaded, innocent little boy,” Jonah laughs. “We’ve all been doing this for so long so if shitty things happen to us we take it way harder while only a year ago he was playing bass alone in his basement.”
“I always tell them whenever they get crushed over something that yea, a year ago I was playing Rush in my basement by myself and now here I am. Here we are.”
“He’s the bright-eyed boy,” David laughs.
Well before I let you eat, drink, do whatever you need to do to get ready for tonight, do you have any last words for your fans before the big show?
“We’re dipshits!” Jonah announces.
“We’re incredibly stupid and hope everyone likes the new EP,” Linden adds.
“Yea, have fun with it,” David says grinning wildly. “Take out your tits and balls and just have fun with it.”
One Flew West’s new EP, Trial and Error, is available now on ITunes, Spotify and all music streaming services. They’ll be playing the Bluebird Theater again on March 3rd.
Q & A Health Feature: Monticue Connally of Jiridon Apothecary
I’ve known Monticue Connally for years having always been aware of the Hip Hop persona, MontiClevah, that saw him win the International USA Songwriting competition for the Hip Hop Category in 2006, perform with many local bands including Denver’s own, The Flobots, and be featured on various albums with other artists. Behind that persona, though, I felt there was much more to this man than just music. It was in the way he carried himself, spoke of religion and spirituality, and always had healthful tips for the usual ailment we all fall victim to from time to time. So as I sat down to talk with Monticue last week, I realized that yes he’s a genius when it comes to music, but I was oblivious to what he may say is his true gift, being a medicine man.
Alright Monticue, even though we’ve know each other for quite a while, tell me little about yourself. What’s your background?
I grew up in a two parent home with a sister and two brothers. We were always creating music and reading whatever we could get our hands on. I was particularly interested in Holistic healing and African American studies. This interest for my culture was sparked when I found out that my great-great-great grandfather from Africa was forced into slavery and taken to a plantation in Texas. This grandfather begat twins that were sold at birth to two different plantations. One of the twins escaped in the early 1900s and begat a son named Monticue. This man, the man that I was named after, died when I was around five years old. These facts taught me that my ties to both Africa and slavery weren’t as far away as people told me they were.
What in particular, if anything, from that history pushed you into the direction of herbs, natural remedies, and ultimately being a medicine man?
After learning about my great-great grandfather, I began to study the African captives and learned that these people often called “slaves” were experts and healers. They would often keep their ailments hidden from their captors due to the western reliance on bloodletting and forced vomiting as primary methods of care. The Africans on the plantations survived illness with a heavy reliance on herbal remedies. I am from that history. Times haven’t changed much. Many western drugs are poisons that should have never been considered as first resorts to healing. I come from that people that needed to stay rooted in plant knowledge to survive a brutal captivity.
Tell me a little bit more about your background when it comes to natural remedy healing.
As a natural plant mystic, I have an unorthodox knowledge of the nature of plants and I work with them on many levels. Herbs, the spirit world, and alternative healing methods have been a lifelong interest for me due to sensitivities I have to the “other side.”
I also received my community herbalism training through the Artemisia and Rue Western Herbal Medicine and Earth Centered Healing Traditions Herbal program. I also learned through taking up full apprenticeships with local healers and working in various herb shops. My first herb shop job was at Artemisia and Rue under the guidance of Shelley Torgove. I currently work for Ye Olde Magic Shoppe and Artisan’s Apothecary when I’m not selling products, seeing clients, doing readings or teaching classes for my own apothecary, Jiridon Apothecary.
Besides the deep family history, was there anything else that got you interested in this line of work?
I’ve always been into cures. I’d pick up herbal books as a teenager and try to memorize them but my first breakthrough was at the age of 15 when I burned myself at the oven. I read in a vague description of remedies that onion was good for burns. I ran to the cabinet and pulled out the onion powder. I mixed a little water with it and instinctively used the water to turn the powder to an onion paste. I smeared the paste into the burn and within minutes was relieved of all pain. I’ve been using the remedy ever since! I like results and the plants always delivered. It didn’t matter whether I was dealing with depression, a virus, or an evil free floating entity. My salvation always came through the plants.
You mentioned you now have your own apothecary called Jiridon Apothecary. What is the meaning behind the name?
Jiridon is a method of speaking to trees that was practiced by Africans and later African Americans in the Americas. People who practiced Jiridon were also known as tree whisperers. I am this; I’ve been speaking to trees my entire life. They can speak directly to the intuition or throw their voice on to the wind. I sleep with various tree branches above my bed often so that I can speak to the trees on an even deeper level than I can do in the light. It’s very powerful to dream in the presence of of strong trees and healing plants. The medicines from the trees are also very effective in healing the human body, mind, and spirit which ties into my work as an herbalist. This Jiridon practice is the root of my existence and will be my primary focus until the day that I die.
Is it just you at Jiridon?
Actually no. My partner Aishah Muhammad, an amazing jeweler, was creating beautiful necklaces from stones that reminded me of images of Orisha and art from the African diaspora. She called her business “Spiders and Bumblebees.” I really liked her work and told her about my “Bad Vibe” repellent and other herbal products that I’d been selling as part of my own business “Urban Shaman.” We ended up fusing our two businesses into what we know now as Jiridon Apothecary.
Let’s talk about herbal remedies and what it all means in today’s world. What do you see as both the major differences and benefits of herbal remedies as opposed to “Western” medicine?
“Western” medical theory has the tendency to treat the body like a fragmented machine instead of a working whole. We are not robots waiting for someone to forcefully push our health buttons. Our body is made up of great intelligence and decides what is best for it while greatly taking into consideration the way we treat it. The body is a community of body systems that work together to do what’s best for the whole. There is a ton of communication, compromise, and purpose behind each action. You can’t just throw a pill in the body and force a certain response without awful repercussions. These repercussions are often called “side effects”. Herbs used in the proper way are much more graceful in function.
Why do you think the modern world has gotten away from the more natural ways of healing?
The modern world doesn’t respect Earth nor true diversity. It’s reflected in the way women are taught not to be happy but to fit the mold of one slim type woman. People are often taught that there is one perfect god and that all other paths are false; and we are taught to do away with the tales of old in honor of the advancements of science. This is reflected in the medicine. We are discouraged from going back to earth, our source and beseech the aid of the true healers: the various plants. They tell us that we should do away with those dirty and dangerous plants and instead go for the one great pill. The great white savior that will do away with all your ailments if you’d just believe and swallow. This is a terrible mental disease. To think that one should have to turn to science before the thousands of years that support the healthy use of herbs. We have been brainwashed into worshiping the power of brands and plastic. We believe that things that have huge companies backing them can be trusted. We are taught that if medicine is sealed tight in a plastic bottle that it came from heaven. We love the idea of robot love. That robot made a pure thing for us; something that never touched the dirt or a human hand. This is what is killing us. Health is our birthright. There is no reason that money or big companies should keep us away from medicine. We should be able to walk outside and see medicine all over. Instead we are trained to see weeds. Police are trained to see thugs when they look at people of color. They are taught to fear them so they see them as disposable. If they could see them as people, as kindred spirits, they could receive love from those people. If we could see the weeds, the plants as kindred souls with names and purpose, that relationship can grow as well! We should go outside and see the flowers in the weed and hear it speak. We should be able to go down to the local healer and ask for advice from someone that is not tied to big business. We should be able to go to someone that touches plants with his or her hands and understands the language of plants. We have been trained to see the earth as alien and devoid of love when it is in fact the opposite. This earth is here for us.
What do you say to those who are skeptics and might stay away from such methods because they may see it as “hippyish” or “hoodoo?” Do you run into people with such feelings?
When people try the medicine, they are rarely disappointed. The medicine speaks for itself. I don’t have to sell or coerce my clients who are usually people that are fed up with awful side effects of medicines that don’t work. There are times where I’ll run into someone really religious. I’m able to help them to ease into it by bringing up God and how he created the earth. I ask them why He’d create an earth that didn’t give to the people He created? Were Adam and Eve healing themselves with the use of a Walgreens Pharmacy? Probably not! For people that see herbs as dangerous, I let them know several things. First of all they already use herbs to some capacity! Garlic, onion, and many other excellent seasonings are medicinal herbs! I also let them know that herbs are incredibly forgiving and even more safe when working with an experienced practitioner. I’ll also let them know that statistically 1 in 333 people die from properly prescribed western pharmaceuticals. In comparison the number of deaths related to herbs in a year is one in a million. Science knows very little about why certain herbs are so effective and that is because they think you can understand everything by breaking it down and analyzing it’s parts. The plants don’t work that way. The magic behind why the plant works is way too complex for popular science.
To answer the second part of your question, I do on occasion run into people that associate herbs and old cures with hoodoo or witchcraft and that’s fine with me. I let them know that I’m here for them when they are ready. As a Shaman, Reiki Healer and Tarot reader, I can’t really be the one to break the herb or witchcraft stigma! Witches and Shamans were and are often herbalists, too. I’m not too quick to share this part of myself when working with hesitant or fearful types.
As you continue with your work, are you seeing more people finally gravitating to natural ways of healing?
People are going through a time where they are slowly finding value in rawness. They want the raw cure. They don’t want things doctored up and bleached by men. They don’t want “chemicals” or fragmented cures. They want something whole, something with color, culture and taste!
Why do you believe there is a connection between herbs and their healing nature within the human body?
I believe that plants are the intermediary between man and complete health. They are “the reminders.” When the body is forced to begin a cycle that isn’t sustainable, the herbs come into the body and say, “Hey body, do you remember when we used to do things in this more balanced way?” The body remembers the herbs and says “I think I do remember.” Every dosage is like another knock on the knock. Eventually the herbs ask the same question, “Do you remember when we used to do things in this more balanced way? And the body says, “I do. I remember.” That is when the client is cured of the disease. These plants aren’t like the pills. The medicinal herbs, the plants with high affinity for humans followed us throughout history and evolved alongside of us. The pills aren’t gentle, they don’t ask the body if it remembers. The pills force the body to do things that it doesn’t understand. Since the body can’t understand, it becomes reliant on the pill to force. These herbs are masters of their environments and carry great wisdom for our bodies. They go into the body and begin to spread the good news. Osha is one of the masters of the high places. It grows 10,000 feet high in a dry climate in thin air. Guess what could help the mountain jogger feeling fatigued due to the thin air? Osha root! Chewing on that root teaches the lungs how they should respond to thin air! The qualities and lessons of the the plant become one with the human body in a way that brings peace.
Do certain herbs help only certain ailments?
Herbs usually affect many body systems at once. That means that one herb can be lung strengthening, high mineral, and antihistaminic at the same time. This can be confusing for beginners because some sources don’t give much explanation. I used to read the vague books and be boggled that one herb popped up under so many ailments. It makes you start to think that any herb will due if they are just going to all have a million uses. The problem is that books that are like this don’t explain the underlying “why” or the fact that there are varying strengths and times when you would choose one herb over another. For example when an herb is placed with “cough” in a text, that is not enough information to produce satisfactory results. The healer needs to know when the cough started, what caused the cough and if the cough is “wet” or “dry” to name a few details needed. Herbs are often super effective in combinations with supporting herbs that can really help drive the purpose of the primary herb. Effective herbalism doesn’t focus on placing one herb to a specific ailment. Effective herbalism focuses on gearing teams of herbs to help create a condition where the body can heal on its own.
You’ve thrown a lot of knowledge at me today. Do you host any classes or workshops for people who are interested to learn more?
Yes! I host a wide range of classes that range from Herbal Basics to Male Herbs to classes on Blessing and Banishing. I’m also known for taking large groups on long walks where we stop at each medicinal herb along the way. In February I am usually invited to teach a Medicines of the African American captives course at one of the local Denver libraries. We usually announce the locations, dates and times of classes on our website or on the Jiridon Apothecary Facebook page.
Where can people buy your products or request you help?
For Herbal Consultations, House Blessings, Tarot Readings, teas or jewelry, we can be reached either on our Facebook page, JiridonApothecary.com or we can be emailed at JiridonApothecary@gmail.com