ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Kleaner, Scam Likely, Delicious Monsters

Delicious Monsters.

Promises is a new bar and live music venue in Walker’s Point located where what was previously Walker’s Point Music Hall. They hosted a spectacular night of live music on Monday featuring local acts Kleaner, Scam Likely and Delicious Monsters as well as Buffalo, New York’s industrial hardcore punk band Science Man.

Kleaner is the conceptual artistry project of Gnat Bowden. Newly moved to Milwaukee, they have been performing since 2018 and are influenced by artists like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Adrian Piper as well as the no wave art movement. The project has gone through several different iterations; previously, they were known as Party Clown.

Their most recent EP “First Ladies” was released in June, featuring tracks made with bass guitar, drum machine, and Bowden’s haunting vocals. They explained, “Those songs were basically demos for my upcoming tape.”

Speaking of which, Kleaner has a new record titled “Alive With Pleasures” coming out on August 5th. “It’s come out of a couple years of research about post-9/11 surveillance culture and things like Black freedom and Black life in general,” Bowden said. “I’m interested in how those things affect the interpersonal or romantic relationships, so a lot of these are torch songs or faux ballads.”

Kleaner plays Quarters on August 5th for a friend’s birthday show that will benefit Butterfly Collective MKE.

Scam Likely is an indie rock band comprised of vocalist/guitarist Charlee Grider, guitarist Denzel “Ducky” Dondiego, bassist Thierry Diatta, and drummer Cary Elger. They have been a band for nearly six months although Elger joined just about a month ago. They’re influenced by a wide range of bands and artists; Grider cites Amy Winehouse, SZA, Sublime and Third Eye Blind; Thierry cites Dinosaur Jr, Mitski, Nirvana and R&B/rap bass lines; Dondiego cites Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Peach Pit and Frank Ocean; Elger cites John Bonham, Keith Moon, Steely Dan and jazz fusion drummers like Jeff Porcaro. They are also collectively influenced by local bands such as Social Cig, Bug Moment, Spoy, Interlay, Bath House Kill Squad and Shoobie.

On how they formed, Grider explained, “Me and Thierry met in film class, and then Denzel had reached out to an Instagram DM because I had posted something about playing guitar, and then Cary we met through this dude named Adam a week before tour. We played with him once and then he came on tour with us for a week.”

On the band’s name, Diatta said, “We had been brainstorming band names for a while…one of the ideas was Champagne Predator…but we decided to sit on it. One day I got a phone call that said “scam likely” and I texted Charlee asking if it we could run with it, and she said it was okay.”

“It’s good promo because people get calls like that all the time,” Grider added.

Dondiego shared, “It’s a funny story because my parents are immigrants and they don’t always understand some cultural stuff about the US; like in Mexico, scam calls aren’t really a thing. My dad got a call that said “scam likely” and I got a text at like 10AM where he asked if my band tried calling him. I told him that it was a scam call so don’t answer it. He goes “oh, thieves calling” and now that’s a song name of ours (laughs).”

As such, the band’s songwriting is often inspired by inside jokes and humorous situations. “A lot of times we’ll start a song with one random line or something funny someone said and then write around it,” Diatta explained.

Their debut single “Jesus Christ Stop Yelling I’m Right Here” dropped in June. Grider said about the song, “We were practicing in the basement; we used to practice from 3-11PM twice a week, just jamming and seeing what flowed. We were drunk and I had to go to the bathroom so I ran upstairs; while I’m upstairs, Denzel pulled out his pack of cigarettes and kept yelling that he was on his last cig. They just started jamming and I came down and we wrote the song from there. All of the lines came from when I was on a road trip away from these guys for a week…that was the longest time we’d spent apart. We were just messaging back and forth, and all those lyrics are basically just jokes. Most of the stuff we make are lyrically just like that so it’s really fun to perform every time because we’re just goofballs hanging out with each other – a barrel of bozos.”

Elger added, “I’ve only been involving in the writing of the most recent tracks; for our song “Sushi At Gunpoint” I had a punk beat with a little snare switch-up on it and then gave it to these guys to see what they’d do. They’re such hard workers…I knew they’d be up in their house back in their bedrooms late as fuck just grinding away. When they come back, they’ve got a basic verse to go with it, a chorus they’re working on, and then in four hours in the basement we practically have a song. A few more days of clean-up and then it’s ready to go. Not only are they refining their songwriting process, but I felt very welcomed to join in on that, so I’d say we’re sitting pretty.”

The band is working on their debut album and have been playing as many shows as possible to get their name out there; that said, they’re taking a break this fall to focus on recording. “We’re still writing new songs as we go, though,” Dondiego said. “We just wrote “Sushi At Gunpoint” and that was us just messing around, but we really liked one part and wondered how we could mix it up with other parts.”

Scam Likely play a DIY show for the Riverwest 24 on Saturday, Fox Valley Vintage Fest in Oshkosh on August 6th, Center Street Days and Cactus Club both on August 13th, Anodyne on August 14th, and the Back Room at Colectivo for Social Cig’s album release party on August 20th. They also run a DIY space on the East Side called The Wash Room.

Delicious Monsters consists of vocalist Zelda RayGun, guitarist Joe Cannon, bassist Matt Glassel, and drummer Jim Za. They play energetic post-punk and have been a band for almost a year now; they started practicing in October. Their first show was at Circle A on March 14th.

On how they formed, RayGun explained, “Joe and I had a conversation about making weird music a little over a year ago. Then at our friend Mark’s birthday party I asked Matt to be in my band that didn’t exist yet. But he said he’d do it.”

The band’s name comes from a large-leafed plant. “Delicious Monsters is “monstera deliciosa” in Spanish,” RayGun said. “I have a lot of these plants…they’re my favorite plants.”

On their songwriting process, Cannon explained, “There’s a lot of one-or-the-other between Matt and I bringing in an idea or two, and then the other just feeds off of that. There’s something about the way Matt plays bass that brings guitar lines out of me that I never would’ve otherwise had. Like, there’s weird extended melodies, and I never do that or even know how to do that. But somehow, when he’s playing bass, I can do that.”

“It just builds from there,” Glassed added. “We’ll talk over what direction it should go into and then we’ll find a structure. Somebody will say “what if we did this?” – Jim does that a lot – and then it goes from there from an idea to a full song in sometimes an hour and a half later.”

On their lyrics,” RayGun said, “They take me forever to write but once they’re written they’re quality content. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I hear all these stories, so I’ll take those stories and turn them into something relatable to me. If they’re relatable to me then hopefully they’re relatable to other people.”

The band is working on their debut album. “We’ve got eleven songs and are thinking that we’ll start recording around the end of August,” Glassel shared. “In the meantime, Blot from Noise Together is sending me the live recording from the show we played for their grand opening, so we’ll have that available to put out. That was a fantastic show where I think all of us played flawlessly. It’ll be polished for a live recording and pretty indicative of what you’ll hear from the studio recording.”

Delicious Monsters play the Logan Square Skate Park in Chicago on September 18th but do not have any more Milwaukee shows lined up as of now, so stay tuned!

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