ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Standstill, Night Again, Slug Rejector

Slug Rejector

A myriad of stellar acts performed at Riverwest DIY space The Pocket Saturday night for beloved Milwaukee music scene figure Simon Beno’s birthday, drawing in friends and music lovers alike for a delightful time. The bill comprised Standstill, Night Again, Cozy Danger, Doom Goon and Slug Rejector. Happy birthday Simon Beno!

Standstill consists of vocalist-keyboardist-guitarist Aliya Moore, guitarist Carter Voras, bassist Ryan Sablay and drummer Alex Bender. Their sound encompasses elements of dream pop and shoegaze. Formed over the summer, the band’s name comes from being a synonym for “stalemate” – a word which Moore had become fond of. Saturday was Standstill’s very first show.

Moore shares about the band’s formation, “I made an Instagram post asking to find a rhythm section, and Alex and Ryan – who both had been in Cream Vellum – reached out to me separately saying they were down to jam.”

“It was really funny,” Bender adds. “Ryan and I didn’t talk about it all prior.”

“We just missed shows,” Sablay replies. “It’s been a year since the last time I played live music.”

Voras shares how they joined the band, “Aliya and I had been talking about playing music together for a while and nothing ever came to fruition, but I was at a place with my own project (Barf Lord) where I felt like it’d be good to do something else.”

“Standstill came out of everyone looking for a project and wanting to put energy into something,” Moore concludes. “Ryan and Alex had already had a beautiful relationship plus Carter and I already had a dynamic, so for the first practice everything came together like puzzle pieces. It was quite magical and serendipitous.”

Moore describes their lyrical process for Standstill. “I’ve been trying not to take it so seriously anymore. I write a lot of lyrics with Carter and we do a lot of building scenes and settings. Our last song tonight we wrote about doing laundry but you can interpret it however you want; whatever you get out of it is what you get.”

“There’s a lot of beauty in the act of lyrics,” Voras notes. “It’s kind of translated in the music too. Every song is like a build-off of one idea.”

Bender shares a bit about what Standstill are currently working on. “We cranked out a lot for this set. We had two songs pretty much down and were working on another two when we decided to start booking shows, so we booked three in a matter of like a week and a half, and that kind of became something to really work towards. This week we got together four times and had really long practices; our song “Button” came together like three days ago.”

Standstill play Some Fools Basement on October 12th and then Underscore Gallery on October 13th.

Night Again is the songwriting project of Jamie Yanda. Originally from Green Bay, Yanda lived in Milwaukee for a while but has since relocated to Chicago; he often returns to Milwaukee to play shows, however. He incorporates elements of folk, emo and post-hardcore into his emotive style. The name “Night Again” came from a book Yanda had read while studying the Hmong language. Currently he performs live with multi-instrumentalist Myles Coyne.

On the project’s origins, Yanda shares, “It had really weird and nebulous beginnings. Myles and I used to be in a band called Temple, and when that broke up we had a number of songs that were never recorded. I continued with those, plus I had a couple other songs I’d written on my own that were more a singer-songwriter kind of thing.”

Such material would eventually become Night Again’s debut record “Out of Body”, which came out in March 2022. Yanda recalls, “I recorded the drums with Shane Hochstetler, and then I had my bandmates from Temple (Myles Coyne, John Larkin, Steve Sampson and Cass DW) play on some of the songs too. I dragged my Honda Civic to everybody’s houses and set up a little studio to do their parts, and it felt very inefficient and piece-by-piece, but we made it work.”

Yanda has been working on new songs since then. “I played a new one tonight and was going to play a second one but decided not to,” he said. “But I’ve been writing a lot and we’re excited to play more shows.”

Night Again plays a Halloween show at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on October 27th.

Slug Rejector consists of vocalist-guitarist Derek Marinello, vocalist-bassist Eric Burant and drummer Joel Shultis. The band’s fuzzy sound incorporates elements of noise rock and post-punk. The longtime friends formed the band right before COVID hit and had just begun playing out before lockdown, as Burant explains. “It was March 6th, 2020 when just like most bands…we took a break (laughs). During that time we kept our social circle small and got really creative, moving between practice spaces and recording a few EPs.”

Marinello tells the tale behind the band’s name. “I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum and they had a cool jukebox there, and I saw on the little coin return thing it said “slug rejector” and I thought that sounded cool.”

The band prioritizes having fun with their songwriting, often bringing humor and silliness to their lyrics. “We try to keep our song structures very organic,” Burant said. “Usually we riff or jam into something and then build on it. Lyrics and vocals always come last.”

Their first EP “Slug Life” came out in February 2020, followed by second EP “Live at Frankenstein’s” released in February 2022. “We’ve been trying to come up with another EP,” Marinello shares about what Slug Rejector are working on now. “We’d love to do an album but the attention span of everyone with music is so small nowadays so it’d just be quicker to do EPs.”

“I think an album might be a good venture for us to take in the wintertime,” Buranty adds. “I was missing a lot this summer so we weren’t playing regularly but we’re back at it this fall.”

Slug Rejector play Promises on December 16th.

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