Artist Spotlight: Dinosaur Rocket

Smoke N’ Mirrors held their “Wolf Party” CD release party at Company Brewing Saturday night, playing along with psychedelic rock band Dinosaur Rocket and Madison’s The Civil Engineers. Folks turned out and enjoyed themselves as each band rocked out with memorable sets.

Dinosaur Rocket consists of guitarist/vocalist Steve Peplin, saxophonist/vocalist/percussionist Jesse Montijo, bassist Jenna Rades, and drummer Jack Reed. The group incorporates a wide variety of musical elements from blues to soul to funk to improvisation, celebrating the vast beauty that is Western music. Although Peplin writes the majority of the tunes, Montijo formed the band.

“Steve and I have known each other for like eight years,” Montijo explained. “I moved back to Milwaukee after moving away for a few years to teach in Albuquerque; we didn’t get to play together too much before I moved, and when I moved back, Steve (who has always been a brother to me) immediately helped me tremendously get back on the scene. I’d always really wanted to spend some time playing with him, and I got a call to do The Jazz Estate to do a residency there for a month – I called him and Jack, who I knew from another gig, and Steve knew Jenna. We all got together and formed the band, and then played The Jazz Estate for five Fridays in a row.”

“We were a little loud for that place,” Peplin added. “There was a little flack we had to deal with but it was a really fun run. Then we had a steady thing at Dinos – we played around thirty gigs in our first year. We wrote and recorded a record, and it’s in the can.”

This had been their first gig since August.

“We all play with a lot of different people,” Montijo said. “We all freelance…Steve has a couple of bands, I have a couple of bands, Jenna plays with Abby Jeanne, Jack plays with everybody plus he has his own group…we sometimes see each other in other situations in the circle, but it’s been a minute since we all played together.”

Peplin elaborates on this record they are working on.

“Matt Smith over at MATC (where I work) helped us out with some studio time, and we’ve got six tunes on there including a Radiohead tune – “Everything In Its Right Place.” I’ve got this cover from my friend Oliver Benson, who is a Rembrandt-level painter and it’s gonna blow peoples’ faces off. I want to call the record “Dragonfly” because it’s all about the song “Rocket Ship Blues” and “Dragonfly” is the name of the ship.”

“We went into the studio really early on as a group,” Montijo added. “Everybody has their own methodology with how they work, but with this we wanted to get the meat-and-potatoes of it so that we could go back and do vocals and all the extra things inside of it. Because we were so young as a band when we went into the studio right away, now that we’ve been playing for awhile we’ve learned a lot of the nuances of the music. When that happens, you’re able to embellish upon the ideas you originally came up with in a much fuller way. We’re not rushing it…it’ll be done when it’s done.”

“You can yell at the grapes but they won’t ferment any faster,” Peplin laughed.

Dinosaur Rocket play Linneman’s on January 12th.

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