IMAGE: William Bragg
[CAPITAL ROCK] Although the two cities are only separated by an hourlong stretch of I-5, Salem can often seem a world away from Portland. Especially when it comes to the state capital’s thriving, strangely isolated music community. To hear Monoplane singer-guitarist David Ballantyne tell it, that’s the way they prefer it.
“It’s a really tight-knit scene, but it’s one that we have never wanted to leave,” the 28-year-old says via telephone while his dinner simmers on the stove. “We want to succeed and get better, but we won’t fucking go anywhere.”
Not that Ballantyne and his bandmates (drummer Doug Hoffman, bassist Matt Hall and guitarist Mitch Duafa) are heading up north begrudgingly to play on Wednesday. The quartet is actually thrilled to be sharing its music with the folks at Portland’s Ella Street Social Club—and we should be happy to have it.
The still-flowering band (it doesn’t have anything beyond demos recorded and has only played a handful of shows) has a raw sound that calls to mind the garage/blues/metal hybrid of Queens of the Stone Age—as well as the ugly, unseemly musical charge that fueled underground label Amphetamine Reptile in the ’90s. Ballantyne’s ears perk up especially at the last of those comparisons.
“Definitely! For the longest time, I’ve wanted to be able to write songs like bands from that era,” he says. “And this band really feels like the culmination of getting a lot more experience and playing with people that share that influence. So, I’m finally getting to play in a band that has that ’90s indie-rock feel.”
The members of Monoplane also represent the tastemakers of the Salem scene: Ballantyne helps manage the store Ranch Records, while Hoffman books bands and runs the sound at the Space, a music venue that has brought in bands from all over the world, including a number of popular Portland groups.
So, while Monoplane enjoys the cloistered comfort of its local scene, the band’s members are looking up and down the interstate for new places to play and new ears to reach. They just won’t leave Salem far behind, especially on Wednesday. “Get ready,” Ballantyne says. “We’ll be bringing a lot of people with us!”
SEE IT: Monoplane plays the Ella Street Social Club on Wednesday, Aug. 11, with Matta Gawa and Kuan. 9 pm. $5. 21+.