The night I met Guardant
Tulsa Sound: A look at what's happening in the local music scene.
The members of Guardant are (clockwise from top left): Steven Hullett, Jason Lockhart, Ryan Thomas and Greg Hullett.
Photo courtesy of Guardant
If you have not figured it out yet, this author spends way too much time at Soundpony. It is my neighborhood bar, it likes bikes and it has great bands. It does not hurt that the owners are friends of mine.
Mike Wozniak, co-owner, has been telling me for months, if not years, about Guardant. The band plays at Soundpony, on average, every other month.
“You have to see them.”
“Have you seen them?”
“Guardant is my favorite local band! Don’t you write about local music?”
“What was I talking about?”
It was getting annoying.
But Guardant starts playing at 10 p.m., and I have a day job. I like great music, but I like my job more.
Cut to a house party on Halloween weekend. Jack Wood, one of the Soundpony bartenders and emcee of its trivia night, had Guardant close his basement party.
I had no idea who was playing next. I just knew that a band was setting up. In the midst of this, two of the band members started freaking out on each other. The situation was escalating to the point that this band was either going to wind up in the emergency room or jail. I asked someone who the band was, as I figured this would be its last show either way.
“Guardant,” he said.
“Dang it,” I thought, “I finally make it to their show and now this.”
The band finally ended up playing, and I soon saw what the fuss was about: high-energy, rhythmic, chaotic dance-party freak-out. Most walked down to the basement show with jackets on, and nearly all left sweaty.
I started talking with Guardant’s Jason “Milo” Lockhart after the show; he plays bass, keyboards and drum machine.
“We started in 2007, so we’ve been around for a minute,” Lockhart says.
The band’s first show was in fall 2007 at Under the Mooch (former record store at East 14th Street and South Harvard Avenue).
I thought the band’s set sounded a bit like LCD Soundsystem, but I was off — by about 20 years.
“Our band’s favorite band? We love Devo,” Lockhart says. “Aside from that, we listen to a lot of funk and post-punk. I know (band mate) Fry is into Animal Collective, and we like Vitalic a lot. They are a really cool dance band.”
Tulsa earned a reputation as a musical oasis in the ’70s. A large part of that was because bands played in other bands. They shared ideas. It was a kinetic, cooperative, sonic discovery. And then our reputation evaporated.
Some blame the arcane “liquor by the drink” policy; others blame Leon leaving. I blame losing the partnership between bands.
But the partnership is back in Tulsa music. There are four people in Guardant: Lockhart; Greg Hullett, bass, drum machines, guitar, keyboard and lead singer; Steven “Toad” Hullett, keyboards; and Ryan “Fry” Thomas, guitar, keyboards and voice. They are in six other bands.
That is a lot of music going back and forth.
And also a lot of crowd participation.
“That’s happened often,” Lockhart says of the band’s shows, where it is hard to tell who is in the band and who is partying. “It’s one of the fun things playing on the ground. That’s how Dan Deacon (renowned electro-indie performer from Baltimore) does — he’ll leave the stage at a huge event to play on the ground. There’s an energy there we really love.”
Guardant’s Soundpony shows have become legendary. It is a mutual love affair.
“What we really like to do is for people to have a good time,” Lockhart says. “As a musician, there’s no better way for me to understand that you’re getting what I’m doing unless I’m seeing you guys move.”
Speaking of, look for Guardant at the Soundpony New Year’s Eve party.
December’s best bets for live music
12/1 Boombox, Cain’s Ballroom
A wintertime dance party is always hard to plan for. Do you dress warmly and make it to the show with flesh-colored lips, or do you wear dance-ready clothes and risk freezing to the sidewalk on the sweaty sprint back to your car? You will have to make that decision when Boombox brings its grooved, bass-heavy turntabilism to Cain’s Ballroom.
12/6 My Morning Jacket, Brady Theater
At press time, this show, for some reason, had not sold out. It will. Or at least it should. MMJ formed in 1998 in Louisville, Ky. The band’s front man, Jim James, has a distinctive voice, but the band is equally good. The song “Holdin’ on to Black Metal” was in heavy rotation this summer on my iPod. This will be a ghostly, ethereal show in one of the best-sounding theaters in the world.
12/9 Jeff & Vida, All Soul Acoustic Coffeehouse
Consummate professionals Jeff & Vida return to the Coffeehouse, where the duo’s last show was entirely entertaining for the music and the conversational style in which they engage the audience. They have a personality so funny and charming, you would force yourself to like their music if it were bad, but it’s not — so that’s a relief. It is bluegrass, but it is different in that it has Appalachian and New Orleans influences, racier lyrics and a bluesier sound. Whatever — it is a great night of music.