The cancellations of events and shutdowns of bars and restaurants due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic have affected everybody — and that includes local musicians who have seen their regular gigs canceled and, in some cases, their lifelines profoundly compromised. As a result, we are checking in with one musician a week to see how they’re doing, what they’re listening to and if they are up to creating new music while they quarantine with the rest of the world.
This week, we caught up with Brett Putz, lead singer of local hard rock band Crooked Hills. Among the things we discussed were what it’s been like falling back in love with our record collections due to the quarantine, why Supergrass is good for your soul, and, who he believes are the true heroes of the music scene while the world remains on pause. To learn more about Crooked Hills, you can check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/crookedhills, or on Bandcamp at www.crookedhills.bandcamp.com.
1. What have you been listening to while self-quarantining and what about it makes you want to listen to it these days?
Putz: Being quarantined has effectively made me fall back in love with the record collection that has meant so much to me personally. Finding peace in listening to everything I went out of my way to purchase throughout the years. Spinning my father’s hand-me-down records alleviate stress and anxiety whether it’s through Cheap Trick’s ‘Live at Budokan’ or Sha-na-na’s ‘Golden Age Of Rock & Roll.’ The same can be said spinning those coming-of-age records, like Broken Social Scene’s ‘You Forgot It In People’ or Minus the Bear’s ‘Menos El Oso.’
2. Have you come across any live-streams/internet-based performances over the last few weeks that have stuck out as a result of COVID cancellations?
Putz: A few of my favorite artists have been really coming through for my mental health, whether it be Brendan Bayliss of Unphrey’s Mcgee hosting instagram live #winenot sessions or Keller Williams’ ‘Live from Keller’s Cellar.’
3. Are you using this time to write new material for Crooked Hills? If so, how’s that process going?
Putz: Crooked Hills being a five piece heavy rock act has made it tough to keep going as strong as it could. A big part of the band is through live performance, and because of things out of our control, that will mostly be simmering. New riffs and ideas are floating around between us, though. Personally, it’s given me time to pick up the bass guitar again to maybe get a true passion project of mine back on its feet. I’ll leave it at that for now.
4. What’s the most positive takeaway you’ve been able to experience from all the self-quarantining and the music industry being on pause for the time being?
Putz: The music scene is so fragile that I was really prepared to see a lot more doom and gloom during these times. Alas, the spirit of the scene and true unadulterated passion from musicians and fans alike have given me hope that we’ll all come out the other side with an even stronger heart for the game.
5. If there’s one song that you think could help everybody get through these uncertain times, what would it be and why?
Putz: A million songs could sum up the pure emotion of these times. So I’ll just stay in the positive and suggest you unplug from the constant headache of the news cycles, walk outside in the sunshine with your nicest headphones and crank ‘Alright’ by Supergrass. It’ll be good for your soul.
BONUS QUESTION: What artists, local or not, do you think have done a great job staying engaged musically online and what about what they’re doing sets them apart?
Putz: I can’t play favorites and pick any particular band or musician over another. I’ll just come from left field and say when it comes to engaging in the scene and helping us all through this, the unsung heroes are the owners and workers of every small record store who have adjusted the entire model of the business to accommodate the folks who need their music fix while quarantined. To take up shifting an entire catalogue to being available online, or delivering locally, these people are going above and beyond for their clientele, which is more than customers — it’s us musicians and performers as well.