After a year of existence, Loudmouth experienced the gamut of local band emotions in a fairly compressed time frame. For starters, Loudmouth would never have existed if former Now Entering Rehab guitarist/vocalist Mike Ulanski had opted for a Florida teaching job. An encounter with drummer Bret Summe convinced him that he should try to assemble a serious Punk/Ska/Rock band here.
“Bret and I were on the phone for three hours a night,” Ulanski says with a laugh in the living room of the band’s Warner Street rehearsal space, known affectionately — and appropriately — as the Loudhouse. “And I was like, ‘Are you for real? You can’t bitch out after a month.’ ”
Summe was the connection to the rest of the band — guitarist Adam Brown, bassist Jack Boh and frenetic vocalist Tim McClain — because of his affiliations with all three, including their high school band, Dexter.
“Mike found Bret, who came to us, then he went back to him and said, ‘If you want to do this, you’ve got to accept the whole package,’ ” McClain says.
As a band, Loudmouth was on the same page from the moment they got together.
“We’re kind of a Rock/Ska/Reggae band — everything sounds Punk because we’re kind of quick,” McClain says. “When you play fast, everyone calls you ‘Punk.’ ”
In short order, Loudmouth secured management (in the person of Mad Hatter owner Frank Hulefeld), rehearsed and recorded its debut EP, Loudmouth Soup, and played its first real show … as the opener for legendary Ska/Punk outfit Mustard Plug last October. To assure a good crowd, Loudmouth pre-sold 100 tickets on its own.
“We worked our asses off,” Brown says.
The quintet made an immediate impact locally, generating a buzz at home and on a handful of regional dates. This past spring, the band turned out another great five-song EP, Loud Music for Loud People (some songs from both EPs came from a crucial demo Ulanski recorded with The Frankl Project’s Jake Tippey), inspiring comparisons to the early Fat Wreck Chords scene. But just as Loudmouth was poised to capitalize on the growing momentum, Boh left to concentrate on his architectural studies.
What could have been a setback for Loudmouth turned out to be fortuitous with the arrival of Look Afraid bassist Sam Duff (who had also played with Ulanski in The Proles when they were at Miami University).
Duff’s addition energized the quintet.
“It’s a good transition from what I was doing before,” Duff says. “I was in a Rock band, but I’ve always been a Punk rocker at heart. I always felt like I brought a Punk vibe to (Look Afraid) and I feel like I can bring a Rock vibe to this band. It’s worked out well so far.”
“When Sam came along, we gelled so well playing live shows and being down for being a band,” says Summe. “It just made more sense.”
“He’s going to be the star of our Behind the Music,” McClain says with a laugh.
The crowning moment for Loudmouth was their recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards nomination for Best Punk, an impressive achievement given the group’s brief history. Clearly proud of the nomination, an even bigger source of pride for the band is being considered amongst such a strong pack of fellow nominees.
“We’re really honored,” Brown says. “It’s great to be there with people like Jake (The Frankl Project) and The Dopamines. It’s good company.”
“There’s a lot of great music in Cincinnati,” Ulanski concurs. “We didn’t get a lot of press, so we weren’t sure if the city knew who we were. We knew our friends, and their friends knew. Then to have the MidPoint gig and then to be honored with the CEA nomination literally days after we turned a year old, it was humbling and encouraging.”
[See all the CEA nominees and get details of Sunday's CEA show here.]
The past year has been about confidence and faith for Loudmouth, and there’s no shortage of either within the band. They love what they do and whom they do it for.
“Starting a band when you’re 23 takes a certain level of stupidity and a disregard for a comfortable life,” Ulanski says. “When we started, having Frank (support us) was important. We set up a party atmosphere when we play and that came from Frank, who gave us some sound advice. He said, ‘Musicians like to go to shows, but everyone loves to go to a good party.’ That’s a sound philosophy and it helped us jump off.”
The CEA nomination is certainly a validation for everything Loudmouth has been working toward, but however it turns out, the quintet is gearing up for a brighter future.
“People we look up to, like NOFX, we’re watching them, 25 years in the game, and we want to keep the torch going — we love it that much,” McClain says. “We want to keep that dream alive. We’ve got the songs ready. It’s about the strategy for success; don’t think you’re more than what you are. We have more fun than any band I know — it’s a joke that we take seriously.”
LOUDMOUTH (www.myspace.com/theloudestmouth) performs Friday at Mayday (the former Gypsy Hut) in Northside for a benefit concert in support of community radio station WAIF (88.3 FM). Get venue and event details here.