Fire in the hole 

Viscosity Breakdown searches for a harder, more cohesive sound

Dave Beaudin, drummer for Viscosity Breakdown, classifies his band as “new rock.” That’s a slippery term that doesn’t say much on the face of it, but further probing reveals Beaudin’s reluctant labeling as an attempt to describe that brand of hard rock you’re likely to hear on mainstream rock stations like The Blaze. System of a Down is one of the kingpins of this genre, and Beaudin hopes his local band can follow in step, though their first album, Outta-Site, is all over the place. In an unintentional homage to the band’s name, the oil that should be lubricating the trio’s cylinders isn’t quite there, and consequently, you’re as likely to hear some rhythm and blues gone punk as you are old school party funk. Both, mind you, are represented on the album.

Is Viscosity Breakdown concerned that the myriad styles presented on Outta-Site will open them up to criticism that they haven’t “found their voice,” as many a creative writing teacher would say?

“We’ve talked a lot about that,” Beaudin says. “Our next album is going to be more concrete.”

That means hard rock songs that are “more straight ahead, less out there.”

To accomplish this, bass player Devin Rau’s Zappa-ish jazz influences will have to be toned down, and forget about any more bouncy, second-cousin-to-a-jam-band stuff.

“We’re not going the funk route,” Beaudin assures.

Instead, Viscosity Breakdown is setting its sights on radio rock.

For better or for worse, it’s a sound that will sell right now—which is definitely Beaudin’s intent. The drummer is a co-founder of run8entertainment, a new label that’s currently recording an album with another local hard rock act, Elysium. The label debuted with the release of Outta-Site.

Beaudin’s goal is to provide a vehicle for Montana-made rock music that might otherwise be overlooked. He points to scorching local bands such as JC Auto (run8 will release a DVD of a live show the Bozeman band played at Jay’s Upstairs), Smash Division and Sunder as examples of the sorts of outfits he’d like to expose to a wider audience.

But even if radio stations love the kind of rock and roll that Viscosity Breakdown is gearing up for, the band, and others like it in Missoula, face obstacles. For one thing, with the demise of Jay’s Upstairs, rock shows have been moving primarily to the Top Hat and the Ritz, venues that Beaudin says aren’t down with the Viscosity sound.

“The bar owners haven’t gotten out of classic rock mode,” Beaudin says. “Rock is real. Pop is this materialistic la-la land.”

Unfortunately for Viscosity Breakdown, people in la-la land like to buy drinks. The band’s frustration with the Missoula scene is evident in the lyrics of Outta-Site. The song “Fly” pokes fun at the jam-band scene, comparing fishing to an evening at the bar looking for a hook-up. The song is played out in the same party funk style that it derides. If Viscosity Breakdown members are bitter, however, it may end up being to their benefit, since a healthily pissed-off attitude is almost essential to creating the kind of hard rock Beaudin is looking for.

Viscosity Breakdown shares a bill with JC Auto at Buck’s Club at 10 PM on Sat., Oct. 25. Cover TBA.

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