The names of the two men at the helm of this band should be familiar to local music buffs - but the same can't be said of Warm Gadget as a whole or the music this band produces. Colton Williams and Tim Vester have a couple of decades worth of local music experience between them - Williams played in the now-defunct Vihara and Vester served as the hilarious front man of the Kronkmen until just recently - but what they're doing now is nothing like either of those acts.
Warm Gadget is the dark, slightly electronic and mostly industrial brainchild of Williams and something he's been toying with since Vihara disbanded a couple years back.
"After Vihara, I stated writing all the songs and doing all the programming and keys and all that stuff. I was sending Tim the songs and he liked them, so we went from there," says Williams.
Vester, freshly out of the Kronkmen, joined up with Williams and Warm Gadget went from a basement project to a band signed to an independent record label (Decisive Sounds Records, based in Maryland) with a CD currently being mastered and set tentatively to be released this fall. Typically, and quite obviously, a group doesn't make an album let alone line up a record label before truly assembling the band. With so much sound incorporated into Warm Gadget - plenty of programming, effects, guitars, heavy percussion and vocal gadgets - Williams and Vester didn't think they could replicate the sound the way they wanted to on stage without some extra help.
"It started out just me and Tim in the studio and we just thought well, we should try to get this stuff out there as a live band. From there, it was basically trying to transform the songs to see if we could pull them off," Williams says.
The duo then roped in bass player Eric Metzger of local band the Eclectic and all-around drummer Jared Forqueron (Person People, Anastacia and others) and began cultivating a live show. There are duos that can play a show without much additional help live, but Williams and Vester weren't interested in trying to go that route, relying rather on live instrumentation to give the band the rhythmic power it displays on its record.
"Maybe if we had some extra arms or something we could pull that off," says Vester.
People will almost certainly describe this band as "metal." But that's a lazy and maybe even condescending take on Warm Gadget. In a region not terribly experimental in its listening tastes, the darkly industrial rock of Warm Gadget might baffle some, but for the power behind it, the music is astonishingly accessible. Oh yeah, and it's not metal, reinforces Vester.
"You get the [metal] label more for show. We don't have beards or long hair and we're not wearing black or anything like that," says Vester.
You simply don't hear anything like this in Bend. I saw a Facebook posting promoting Warm Gadget's free show at Players this weekend and the tag read: "The most original night of music in Bend all summer." Yeah, this sounds hyperbolic, but it isn't. Warm Gadet's most readily available comparison is Nine Inch Nails and when I brought this up a couple months ago in a conversation with Vester he said: "It's kind of like Nine Inch Nails but it has less of the 'I hate my mom' stuff." If you listen carefully, there's also the percussive energy of sludge rockers the Melvins - an admitted influence on the band.
Williams and Vester are aware that Bend might not rush to welcome them with open arms, and aren't afraid to hit the road, and larger markets if need be, but the guys think they'll gain a following - if people are willing to take a chance.
"I think people will come out," says Vester while still acknowledging the band's near-lone-wolf standing in the local music community, "There's more out there than Tegan and Sara."
9pm Saturday, August 15. Player's Bar and Grill, 25 SW Century Dr. Free.