Catching up with Eightrack Mind, the hip-hop ensemble from Bozeman, it’s clear that it’s an exciting time: the band’s first-ever album is now available, they’re about to embark on six weeks of touring and, after gigs opening for the Wailers and Wu-Tang, they’re getting some national recognition. It’s all good news, except for one small thing.
“We kind of lost our trumpet player,” says drummer Drew Fleming, steering the band’s Winnebago out of Great Falls. “He disappeared after the show last night. It’s crazy like that sometimes.”
Lately it’s been crazier than normal for the eight-man band formerly known as the Side Project. Their eponymous new album has been in the making for over a year and marks an important step: despite being well-traveled throughout the state, they’re still hustling to create an audience outside their hometown.
“It’s a big deal because for so long we’ve been touring, and people are into the shows, but we haven’t been able to say, ‘Now be sure to check out our CD.’ That’s made it tough,” says Fleming, who is joined by Chris Murphy and August Rutowski on guitars, MCs Brian Koenig and Nathan Kendall, bassist Rob Murdoch, Greg Delgado on turntables and, presumably, Tyson Granlie on trumpet. “We wanted our live show captured on the album as best we could, and I think we did that.”
For instance, the band’s frequent appearances in Missoula have been well-received but inconsistently attended. That may be due to the mid-career name change or the lack of a CD to flaunt. Either way, says Delgado, “I don’t get it. Every time we play there it’s like we’re starting over—great shows, but always new people.”
The band hopes the new CD will help solve that problem and create the kind of loyal following that has the band regularly selling out larger venues in Bozeman. The recording, mixed by Headnodic of the Crown City Rockers, includes seven songs that encompass the band’s earthy, diverse sound, ranging from slinky disco grooves (“Antidote”) to nasty funk backbeats (“No Frills”) to mellow, bouncing guitar riffs (“Slow Down”).
“Smooth,” says Delgado. “That’s the word we use to describe the sound.”
As for Granlie? By the end of the conversation he’d been found in the parking lot of a local shopping mall.
“He’s too popular in these parts,” explains Murdoch.
The band is hoping to develop the same problem.
Eightrack Mind plays The Other Side Thursday, June 16, at 10 PM. $4.