A common love for Bulleit Bourbon and a shared idolization of David Bowie united members of Down and Outlaws on a smoke-screened journey toward raw, bluesy rockstardom.
On a summer night in 2012 at the SUB-Mission Art Gallery, the gritty stylings of Down and Outlaws entranced a live audience for the first time. Having played this year’s Noise Pop Festival and a first EP, “Backwards From the Dead” on the way, the San Francisco-based band is progressing — and fast.
Unlike the ’80s infused synth pop normally heard throughout San Francisco these days, Down and Outlaws don’t hold back their rock roots. The demanding guitars and solid beats provide frontman Peter Danzig, 24, with the ideal canvas for painting with his whiskey-soaked screams.
“Random happenstance played a large role in the actual formation of the band,” Kyle Luck, 25, lead guitarist and SF State graduate, said. “(Brothers) Peter and Chris had just gone through a breakup with their old band, and I was band-less.”
Chris Danzig, 27, and his younger brother, met Luck through friends in the San Francisco music scene and they happened to rent out units in the same practice space, according to Luck. Their band, however, was not complete. With the younger Danzig on vocals and guitar, the older on bass and Luck on lead guitars, they lacked a backbone to their band — the drummer.
Though the road to finding a fourth member was a rocky one, they knew they found their match with Jason Jones, 27. After sharing a bottle of whiskey at a barbecue in the Panhandle, their soon-to-be bandmate, Jones, agreed to jam with the band.
“We were all feeling pretty down and out at the time the band started,” Danzig said. “(It) felt like the best way to solve our problems was to be outlaws in a rock band.” Hence the name Down and Outlaws.
The band wasted no time and started hitting the San Francisco music circuit straight away.
“I instantly was feeling the vibe of their music, or maybe I just thought their cohesive black attire was the coolest thing,” Stephanie Escoto, The Depot’s assistant manager, said. ”I can’t really say, but point being: they caught my attention.”
After hearing the band, Escoto, being assistant manager at SF State’s own free music venue, was eager to book the band herself. She then asked them to play at The Depot for the first show of Fall 2012.
“I hit it off with the guys and we’ve been friends ever since,” Escoto said.
Down and Outlaws is now in collaboration with Escoto’s promotion group, Lone Wolves, which she runs with The Depot manager, Gio Acosta. They’ll be throwing an EP release show at Elbo Room in the Mission, March 8.
“(I’m) stoked that they wanted me to help,” Escoto said. “This show is gonna be a lot of fun, my mother is even coming up just for the show. Down and Outlaws is her favorite band.”
Courtney Gattuso, SF State senior and Down and Outlaws fan, said she is excited for what is to come from the band.
“Their sound is so nostalgic,” Gattuso said. “You can definitely see their musicianship in their delivery, style and presence. They’ve definitely shown a huge improvement and that is saying a lot because the first time I saw them, I was blown away.”
Sound engineer Keith Milutinovic agreed saying their genuineness shines in their performance.
“I tend to gravitate towards music that has a bit of an edge to it, stuff that’s more band oriented in the rock, metal, punk arena. I love live drums, loud guitars and rockin’ vocals, which they definitely have going on,” Milutinovic, who recorded the band at Hyde Street Studio C, said. “When we were tracking vocals for ‘Truth Be Told.’ That song has a sad, melancholy tone to it to begin with, but when Peter started singing his vocal lines on top of the other tracks, our jaws hit the floor. The feeling and passion that came through the speakers had us all in awe. It was just beautiful — very inspiring.”
As for the band, they eagerly anticipate listeners’ reactions to their music.
“We chose to record a nice bit of rocking songs and ballads to create symmetry for the listener. We always write with the unified theme of walking hard,” the lead vocalist said.
Currently the band plans on organizing their first tour for summer 2013 and hope to soon record a full-length album. For now check their Facebook and website downandoutlaws.com for news and updates and check out their EP release show for $10 at the Elbo Room, Friday, March 8 at 9 p.m where they will have their six-track EP for $10 and released online to download for $1 per song.