Underdogs pile on to form new collective


Sitting against the back wall of the Naked City Audio control room on a recent Friday afternoon, Jon Gamboa speaks in the archly dramatic tones of a movie trailer voice-over.

He’s trying to sound like that “In a world …” guy, basically.

“It’s a story of a bunch of bands sticking together through brotherhood,” The Solid Suns singer-guitarist says, imagining a film based on some Las Vegas groups whose members surround him. “It’s like that Disney movie,” he adds, alluding to the against-the-odds storyline of “The Mighty Ducks.”

“We are the underdogs right now,” seconds Kevin Kilfeather, frontman for Strange Mistress and Jack &the B-Fish as well as a prolific solo artist.

And so what do underdogs do?

They band together.

That’s what Kilfeather and Gamboa have done, along with singer-guitarist Brian Gibson and his band Wax Pig Melting, Naked City Audio owner-producer John Kiehlbauch, both of whom are also present on this day, and 14 other acts who have united to form Brain Jelly Music.

It’s part record label, part art collective, part musicians’ union, part support group.

“If one band has a show and you get everyone in the other bands to support, now you have the draw of 20 bands instead of one,” says Kiehlbauch, who was also a member of the Macro-Fi music collective. “I haven’t been to a show yet with less than 200 people.”

The idea was a long-gestating one, put into motion by Kilfeather a couple of months back, though he says that he had wanted to do something like this for years. Since then, the Brain Jelly roster has chipped in money for T-shirts, is putting together a compilation of bands on the label and is fielding offers to host the collective’s own monthly showcase night at a local club.

Mostly though, they’re just looking out for one another.

“We’ve all been screwed over by promoters, we’ve all brought 50 people to a show and not made any money,” Gamboa says. “The idea is that if you screw one of these bands, one of us, then you lose 20 bands that aren’t going to play your venue any more, that aren’t going to bring in any money for you. It’s really just out of necessity.”

Advocacy aside, what artistically unites the Brain Jelly lineup, which ranges from Timothy Styles’ garage rock alter-ego Beta Bomb to alt-country duo Lawn Mower Death Riders?

“We’ve been asking ourselves that, haven’t we?” Gibson says with a grin.

Kilfeather has an idea, though.

It’s about taking a bunch of musicians who don’t fit in anywhere else and giving them a place where they do.

“We’re all a bunch of misfit bands,” he says. “We thought it was time to build something, so that we could all be a part of something.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.