Sunday, July 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

Make a Scene: Midnight Salvage Co. bids a fond adieu at Jazzbones

Tacoma rock band Midnight Salvage Co. was already on the verge of losing two-fifths of its membership, with bassist Dustin Lau moving to New York and singer-guitarist Brason Alexander headed south to California. Then came news that the band's University Place practice space was slated for demolition, adding major insult to injury.

“I think that's the cosmos' way of telling us to wrap it up here,” joked guitarist Bryan Kiehl, who will join his band mates – also drummer Mike Haley and keyboard player Aubrey Shelton – for a farewell gig at Jazzbones on May 10.

Ironically, Kiehl thinks news of the band's demise pushed it to lay down its most ambitious and polished sounds to date.

“It's sad on the one hand,” he said. “But then, on the other hand, it gives us the opportunity to go out on our terms. I'm proud of the way we’re ending this, instead of there just being a fight amongst band members, and never getting a chance to do a finale or say thank you to all the people who have supported us.”

The good news is that the show is also a CD release party. Last winter, the Midnight Salvage crew ventured to Seattle's Egg studios to record sophomore album “Neon Lights” with veteran producer Conrad Uno (Presidents of the United States of America, Mudhoney, Young Fresh Fellows).

“It's just a really cool setting,” Kiehl said. “I can't imagine there being any other place in Western Washington where you get his level of expertise at that reasonable of a price.

“We’ve gotten to know him, obviously, now that we’ve done two albums (with him.) And he’s not afraid to tell you what he thinks. Sometimes you get too close to the canvas while you’re painting, and you need someone to say, 'What if you try it this way?' He was brutally honest with his assessment of things, and we really appreciated that.”

The Midnight Salvage sound is Americana infused with punk energy, earnest, frenetic jams that recall the likes of the Hold Steady and Counting Crows. Ironically, Kiehl thinks news of the band's demise pushed it to lay down its most ambitious and polished sounds to date.

“About halfway through the recording is when we got the word that this was likely gonna be it for us,” he said. “In a lot of ways that allowed us to be more creative.

“On the first album I wanted to keep it pretty raw; if we only had two guitars onstage, we’re only gonna have two guitar tracks on the CD. It was pretty much a live recording of us. This we took a little more liberty with. It’s definitely a more lush album. There’s a lot more percussion stuff on it, and there’s certainly a lot more guitar tracks on it. I've just gotta figure a way to reproduce all the guitar stuff for the CD release show.”

China Davis, a band Midnight Salvage Co. has shared a few stages with over the last four years, will join them on the bill at Jazzbones, 2803 6th Ave., in Tacoma. Tickets are $8, and the show is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start; (253) 396-9169 or for further details.