Today we’d like to introduce you to Larri King.
Hi Larri, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
In April of 2019, I was miserable. I had been depressed and was doing everything I could think of to rebuild myself. Reconstruction is a fairly involved process these days, and I went so far as to rebuild myself on Facebook in an effort to support small businesses. One of the people that I randomly added to my friend’s list just happened to be the lead singer for Oddity Paradox: Mr. Ikky Stain. Yup. Even I’m still getting used to his stage name. I wasn’t really in the know or the loop or any part of the scene at the time because I was very focused on putting myself together – we’ve all been there, haven’t we? Of course, by May, Ikky had started nudging me to come out and see his band, and as luck would have it, they happened to have a gig coming up not far from me on June 6th. Now, to really get a feel for how wild a ride this has been for me, you’d have to first understand that I hated bars and I was plagued by social anxiety. I was probably the last person anyone would vote “Most Likely To Support Local Music.” After going back and forth for three weeks and enduring well-meant jokes about smuggling an emotional support guinea pig into the venue for me, I practically dove off a cliff and made arrangements with my (then) roommates to escort me to the show. Pro tip: This works especially well if you do get nervous about events like this.
That night actually changed my life forever. And, for the better. I drove separately and arrived before the roomies, which meant I had to go in alone or wait in my car in the parking lot. It was relatively terrifying either way. I got no more than three steps into the back room of the Tempe Tavern when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I instantly froze. Naturally. My heart was probably pounding as I slowly turned to see Ikky smiling at me. Then, he simply said, “Hi! I think you’re looking for me.” I realized that I had been holding my breath, so I let it out, said “Yup,” and quickly made up a bad excuse to retreat back outside for a cigarette. -Smoking has long been my coping mechanism. A few minutes later, Ikky came out to check on me and make sure I was ok.
I have to stop here. Who does that!? This guy was practically a rock star for all I knew, and moreover, we were only acquainted through social media. He even stayed with me outside, talked to me for a bit until I finally felt comfortable enough to go back in. I ordered a soda and found a place to sit where I was out of the way. Ikky kept coming over to check on me and introduced me to others so I wouldn’t feel like I was alone. To this day, I remain impressed by the kindness he showed me, and by the time my roommates showed up, I was already a fan. Music moves us, yes, and that is what this zine is all about… but it’s the people – the musicians and artists – in this scene that make it really special. I never even got to see the band play. Due to my work schedule, I had to leave before Oddity Paradox could take the stage.
On my way out, Ikky informed me of another show they had scheduled for the following day at the Starlight (if I felt like dropping by). I decided to go, whether or not I had to make it into work the next morning. On June 7th, I fought traffic, changed into my favorite shorts and t-shirt with lightning speed, and then set out to try again. Did I mention that I was WAY overdressed the night before? Ya. My social anxiety painstakingly picked out a dress, heels and commanded a face-full of makeup. Most assuredly, I was the dominatrix of the Tempe Tavern the previous evening, and I was not going to make that mistake again. Good thing too; I was running a little behind, the way we all are at the end of a workday.
When I got to the Starlight, Oddity Paradox was already on stage. I know, you’re thinking I was batting a thousand. It was my second attempt and I still hadn’t seen their entire act. Ordinarily, this would set someone with anxiety back a bit… but something had already begun to change in me. I slipped in with all the stealth I could muster, ordered my usual soda, and found a table in the back where I could enjoy the show. Midway through the set, while Horace was burning out one of his famous solos, Ikky jumped off the stage. He sauntered over to his family to let them know he was thinking of them, sauntered past a few others, and then stopped at my table to say hello and let me know that he had seen me arrive. WHAT!?
After the show, Ikky came back to chat for a bit, again introducing me to more people, again making me feel welcome and appreciated. Even more than that, I felt seen. I felt like I mattered. He also invited me to a private party after the show, hosted by one of the members of one of the bands I had seen the night before. I decided it would be a great opportunity to check “get a life” off of my to-do list; it did not take three weeks to convince me. Sure, I was going to a party, by myself, with musicians and rock stars and fans and who knows who else – a bunch of people I barely met and one or two I barely knew from Facebook. What could possibly go wrong? Excited, I texted the roomies with the address and let them know I would be home later than originally planned. Safety first, right?
At the party, I met even more people. I had a great time making new friends. I had a good time all the way around – until the cops showed up. Before you jump to any conclusions, I promise, it was just a noise complaint. Long story short, I had such a great time and felt so encouraged to step outside of the person I had been (depressed, isolated, lonely) that I wanted to give something back, particularly to Oddity Paradox. With that in mind, I started sharing their posts for their upcoming gigs, spreading the word, and trying to get others to come out and experience something special for themselves.
A few weeks later, Ikky put me on the band’s guest list for their show at The Rebel Lounge, and I felt like a VIP. I wanted to do something to show the band that I was grateful for that gesture, and that’s basically how I got started doing live video of shows. I busted out my camera and recorded the event for posterity. -Ok, ok, ok, that first one was kinda lame. I admit it. I was sitting in a chair off to the side of the bar, as you might have guessed (in the shadows and out of the way), and I didn’t even think to take a break between songs. As a result, my premier footage was a solid 45 minutes of not-great film fed to Facebook… but, it was fun anyway, I was determined, and thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since then. It is my hope in telling you all this, in sharing my foibles with you, that I inspire you to get out there and support local music too – in whatever way, even if you’re new, even if you don’t know what you’re doing, and even if you mess it up. You certainly couldn’t be any worse at it than I was, and we’re all human after all. Anyone can do what I did.
Here are some tips on taking videos at shows:
1. Make sure to get the full band in the shot. Everyone should have their 15 seconds of fame.
2. Do not take video of the full set without taking breaks. The file will be huge! Too large to send to anyone after the fact, and viewers want a break too.
3. Do not video every song of the set. If people want to see the whole show, they should have come to the show. In a way, this undermines the band playing.
4. Probably the most important thing (as taught to me by Patrick Flannery) = If the crowd is good and the venue is packed, get as much of the crowd in the shot as possible. If it isn’t the band’s best night ever, get up close so no one at home can see the crowd at all. This can be a cutthroat business for bands, and whatever you put on the internet is out in cyberspace forever and ever; you might unintentionally harm a band’s reputation if you actually video crickets chirping.
5. Don’t end the video without capturing the sound of applause.
At the next show, I went to, Matthew Taylor, the drummer for Oddity Paradox, introduced me to Shan Gilbreath, who was the guitar player for Desert Vikings. This, too, proved to be another life-changing moment. Shan and I chatted for a while, and I told him how I was trying to help Oddity Paradox get more attention. Music to a musician’s ears, he invited me to his next show, where he would be playing with Scott Rowe and Redrum. I told him I would try to make it, but that show was scheduled for the same night as Oddity Paradox (at a different venue). What does one do when everyone is playing at the same time at different venues?
The night of both shows, I went to Starlight to see the former first. I didn’t know it, but this would be the night that Badboy Guitars officially announced their sponsorship of Horace and introduced the new line of guitars they were building to honor him. It was a really special night, and I was so happy to be there for it; after Oddity Paradox finished their set, I said my goodbyes and headed over to the next venue to see the other band. Shan introduced me to a whole new group of people at that show, and I found I had a lot of fun there as well! Even better, I got some videos up on Facebook for the bands that played.
Seemingly overnight, I emerged from my depression as something of a social butterfly. I had made new friends, begun building quality new relationships, and was seeing myself in a different way. I wasn’t the same person I was before, and in a very real sense, the music – and the people behind the music – in this town had given me something to connect with and look forward to. I went from super awkward to not-that-awkward, was growing as a person, and wanted more than ever to get out there and live. Rock-and-roll does tend to have that effect on people…
Needless to say, it took a grand total of three (maybe four) months for my Facebook feed to be filled with music stuff. I had no idea what my friends or my family were doing anymore. I realized rather suddenly that my account had been swept up in a tide of algorithms designed to pull me deeper into the ocean of whatever I had been thumbs-upping, expressing interest in and Google searching. Unfortunately, those algorithms eclipsed my true purpose for having social media accounts at all, so I thought, ‘why not start a separate Facebook group to support the local music community?’ Maybe that way, I could stay in touch with my inner circle better.
I reached out to Ikky and Shan with the Facebook group idea. Both had become good friends by this time, and I wanted to know their thoughts. Ikky tried to warn me it would be a ton of work (he was right). Shan was hyped about it and offered to help me get it up and running. On September 3rd, THE LOCAL BEAT was born as a place for people to connect on the topic of local music. I figured we might attract a few members and that it might last a few months before interest waned and I shut it down, but I was totally wrong. Shan knew more musicians than I did, and together, we started inviting everyone to join the group. He put a lot of time into helping me create something pretty awesome and made a really cool banner – that we still use a version of to this day. I started loading all the videos I was talking to the group and thought the bands could share them from there. This forced me to be even more social than I ever anticipated because I had to go talk to the bands and let them know where to find their videos.
In exactly that way, I met Ray Coon of Dawn of the Rising, and his then-wife, Brook; I was at a birthday show for Brook when I took a video of the band’s performance. Ray was busy after the set, so I decided to just walk right up to Brook and explain the video thing to her. She was so pleased that she called Ray over right then and burst out with the whole explanation on my behalf. I told them it was nothing special – just a video I had taken with my phone. No special editing. No editing at all, for that matter. They thought it was super cool anyway. Wait, what!? They were thrilled! Their joy made me feel so good about what I was doing like it was actually a big deal…
By November, I had already been hearing back from a lot of bands that I had shot footage of, and some had said that the videos helped them get more shows. This was incredible news to me! Remember, six months prior, I was a nobody with no life. I had no background in filming bands, and I was learning on the fly. I had no inkling I would be doing any of this in such a short period of time. You must be able to imagine how amazing it felt to be told that something I did made such a difference! Knowing that made me want to keep going, to keep learning, and to keep fighting for the bands that had become my friends.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
This has not been a road as much as a roller coaster ride and as with all roller coasters, it’s had its up’s, down’s and even a few loopty loops.
For me personally, I deal with depression and social anxiety so for a while they’re walking in to bar where I knew few people, if any was a personal challenge. There are the logistics of the fact that when I first started doing this, I had a job where I worked weekends, so balancing put until 2 am with having to be at work by 10 am the next morning took some practice.
I’m also the background kind of person. Being in the spotlight is not a place I am comfortable. It has taken a lot of deep breathing and encouragement from my friends to kelp me step out of the shadows and put myself out there to help spread the names and music of the bands that I love so very much!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Well, in my 9 to 5 world O work in Property Management. I am currently and Assistant Manager for HOA’s…
In the music world, I wear a few hats.
1. I am the owner operator of two groups on Facebook.
The Local Beat where I help promote local Arizona bands.
The Worldwide Beat where I help promote local bands from around the world.
2. I am the owner of a Podcast station by the name of The Underground Radio. Where I host two shows.
The Bands of the Beat A show I put out weekly with guest co-hosts where we spotlight bands that have shows coming up the next weekend as well as helping get new music out there for the world to hear.
The Bands of the beat Power Hour where I play an hour of un-interrupted music three days a week.
3. I also put on shows about once a month or so just so I can get to see my bands take the stage!
What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is getting to be a part of something that can and does have a hugely positive effect on so many. Music is universal and forever. It can bring back memories and feelings. I have actually been stopped mid-sentence when a song came on that I saw one of my bands play live. I want to share the amazing feelings I get when I see my friends on those stages with the world! I want everyone to feel that high feel that pride in their friend’s success!
When I am lying in my death bed, I want to look back and smile about my life and I can say that yes, the last two years have given me LOT’S to look back on and smile about!
- Email: BandsftheBeat@gmail.com.
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LocalPhoenixBands/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/355454812171109
- Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4DeuCkcR8aUa8HnkJ4SqAQ
Members of St. Madness Patrick Flannery, Sid Ripster, Evil T, Ted Beer, Devlin Lucius.