Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dirtnap's Pete LaPorte has a new perspective for an old band

Posted by on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Dirtnap back in the day: Billy Smith, Pete LaPorte, Wade Williamson and Steve Vandeven
  • Dirtnap back in the day: Billy Smith, Pete LaPorte, Wade Williamson and Steve Vandeven

In 2011, Dirtnap is an anomaly: the first local indie-rock band to use keyboards and an oft-referred to foursome that scenesters could possibly lump together with some of the founding fathers of the Kansas City sound. There have been a few line-up changes, but drummer Pete LaPorte has been around since the band's inception in 1996. This weekend, he'll fly in from San Francisco to play a set with other members Billy Smith, Wade Williamson and Dave Gaume.

We caught up with him and asked him about this latest scheduled go-around with the band that hasn't really seemed to die down.

The Pitch: How do you feel Dirtnap fits into the Kansas City music scene?

Pete LaPorte: I guess we'd qualify as having been around for quite a while. We come from the first time when I can remember bands actually getting signed out of KC and going on the road for extensive periods of time. Back then there was a "KC Sound." Think Molly McGuire, Season to Risk, Shiner, Germbox, et al. Back then, we were the lesser known of those bands. We were a little more emo, too. I guess our place now is to remind ourselves of how much fun it was back then, and hopefully, some people will still enjoy it or discover it for the first time.

Do you think Dirtnap was the best project you were involved in while you were here?

Yeah, but I've liked all of the bands I've played in. They all share similarities but are all very different. The common thread in them all, for me, is Billy Smith. But Wade (Williamson) is in both Dirtnap and Olympic Size, too, which is what made playing in that band so much fun. Roman Numerals felt like new territory for all of us at the time, which made it both difficult at first but very rewarding to write and record. Dirtnap has 20 years of memories for me, and still growing, so it's much more than a project. I am definitely amazed at the passion some people have for Dirtnap and their willingness to come to the shows. It's flattering.

This is the second time that you've come back to town for a Dirtnap show. How does the rehearsal process run?

Usually I roll into town, and we play once or twice for a few hours, and then it's showtime. Kind of a knock-the-rust-off and go-with-it approach. I'm practicing back in Oakland a bit more this time, playing to our CDs.

Will there be any new songs on Saturday night?

Not really. If anything, we may try a cover or something. It would be fun to write some new material, though, and see how it would go. I wouldn't mind laying down some tracks at Weights and Measures, Duane Trower's recording studio, if we did.

Have you heard any KC-influenced bands, or bands that sound like they best fit the KC sound, out in San Francisco?

It was interesting to me that there could have been some influence from Kansas City music on the West Coast. I don't think the music scene here or in KC is the same as it was. Before it was about being aggressive and somewhat prog. Intricate drum lines with lots of triplets for emphasis. Now there is much less dissonance in a lot of the music I listen to and hear others playing from both out West and in Kansas City. I don't think Kansas City has a "sound" anymore, but that's not to be taken as a bad thing, I think it just means there is more variety.

See Dirtnap with the Slowdown and Traindodge at 10 p.m. Saturday at Crosstown Station and on Sunday at the Eighth Street Taproom with Maps for Travelers.

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