This Local Spins Artist Spotlight feature/podcast first ran at Local Spins in January. Since then, the band has released another album (reviewed here) and will play The Intersection with Mustard Plug on Dec. 29.
THE BAND: I Believe in Julio
THE MUSIC: Punk rock
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE BAND: 6 p.m. Dec. 29 at The Intersection in Grand Rapids as part of Mustard Plug’s 25th Anniversary and Holiday Show, with The Koffin Kats, PotatoeBabies and All Night Tigers. Tickets are $10 advance, $12 day of show; available online here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The bulk of this story was first published at Local Spins earlier this year, after I Believe in Julio performed for Local Spins on WYCE and before the band released “An Episodic Memory.” Local Spins is revisiting interviews with Michigan artists who are featured in the 2017 Local Spins wall calendars now available online here: https://localspins.com/product/2017-calendar/
SCROLL DOWN FOR ALBUM REVIEW, VIDEO
As a punk band, Grand Rapids’ I Believe in Julio revels in the short, fiery, simple and brash songs that distinguish the genre.
But frontman and guitarist Julio Gomez also relishes the subtle nuances of melody and lyrical themes that “you don’t see on the surface” at first blush.
“We’re punk rockers at heart and that’s what we’re doing,” Gomez said of the current “incarnation” of the band that’s been together for three years and is wrapping up work on a new studio recording.
“But there’s a lot to it that I’m trying to get people to see and hear as well. It’s been fun seeing people discover new things about the music.”
The band – Gomez, bassist Dan Fisher and drummer Tony Spielmaker – released a self-titled cassette in 2013 that pumps out five songs in about 8-1/2 minutes. The new project being recorded at Matt Ten Clay’s Amber Lit Audio features “a little slower” vibe with a diversity of tempos and rhythms.
But punk is at the core of the music created by Gomez, once a member of rootsy but edgy Grand Rapids band Nathan Kalish & The Wildfire. Gomez and Spielmaker demonstrated that in dynamic, rapid-fire fashion during this week’s appearance for Local Spins on WYCE.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE with I Believe in Julio
The duo version of I Believe in Julio cranked out two songs in Studio X (“Party at the Record Store” and “Sun Don’t Shine”). Listen to the full radio podcast here, with a video below.
Fans can catch the band live at The Intersection on Dec. 29 as part of Mustard Plug’s 25th Anniversary and Annual Holiday Show.
For Gomez, punk is a means to do your own thing, rather than being part of a cohesive music scene in Grand Rapids.
“I actually view the punk scene as kind of disjointed and I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” said Gomez, who was obsessed with oldies music on the radio as a kid and started playing in bands at 13. “We’ve kind of just done our own thing, but we’re in the punk scene. I don’t think there’s anything unified. There’s a lot of different ideas and I think that’s great. I think it’s almost better that way.”
Episode No. 73 of Local Spins on WYCE also featured new tracks by Public Access, Dede & The Dreamers, Miriam Pico, Fable the Poet and Blue Water Ramblers, as well as Jammie Award nominees Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, The Sailor Kicks, Dave Hardin, The Lippies and Jukejoint Handmedowns.
And thanks to Gomez’s “musician’s pick,” the show also unearthed an unheralded gem from the past: The Little Village’s “Kate Moss,” from the one-time Grand Rapids band’s 2012 “Little Spillage” EP.
VIDEO: I Believe in Julio, “Party at the Record Store” (Local Spins on WYCE)
Video by David Specht
I Believe in Julio
“An Episodic Memory”
Exuding live-show energy and quirky lyrics, “An Episodic Memory,” is the quintessential punk-rock album, a textbook example of the genre. The Grand Rapids trio led by Julio Gomez – with Dan Fisher on bass and Tony Spielmaker on drums – crafts a sonically cohesive and lyrically colorful joyride of songs. A textured electric guitar hook and wild drums open things on “Big Trucks” before Gomez’s voice comes in hot, smoldering with a kind of playful angst only punk can convey. Lyrically, all topics are free game for the fun-poking, banter-filled lead vocals. References to Grand Rapids are thrown in during the band’s fist-pump-worthy ode to its hometown, aptly titled “Home,” with musings about a “city by the river” with “big plans in the works.” And “Running Towards Something” takes off with a stampede of tom rolls and thrashing electric guitar while Gomez’s voice rips through the chorus, teetering at the brink of his impassioned, high register. – Ricky Olmos
Copyright 2016, Spins on Music LLC