The Utopians set out to change music

The Utopians may be a new band, but the members are not new to the Joplin music scene.

Guitarist and vocalist Jason Michael Dunnington and percussion and vocalist Cliff Call have been in projects together before, and the most recent addition, Kelly Maddy of Joplin NORML, has come in to fill the bass position.

“When we first invited Kelly over to jam with us it was kind of jam once or twice or a few times but we just meshed really well and over time the music was just sounding better and better and better, and Kelly was getting it too,” Dunnington said. “You have guys that when you’re playing music with you either you get it or you don’t, and Kelly gets it and he’s been a good singer right from the get go. Kelly was more open to unique ideas and doing something that nobody else is doing.”

Call and Dunnington have done previous musical collaborations with Maddy before on NORML shows and they clicked quickly when they began playing together. The band had gone through several bassists before discovering onto Maddy.

“We’ve had I think maybe four decent ones, and I think right now with everybody’s different musical backgrounds meshes with everything we’re trying to play and the stuff we’re coming up with I think is awesome and everyone has a say, and that’s awesome,” Call said.

Some of the differences The Utopians pride themselves on  include deviating from the standard blues based rock music.

“We’re breaking the formula in that we’re using things that are more associated with classical music, jazz, a lot of Latin flavor in there also,” Dunnington said. “The formula for all the songs and everything that’s going on is not a standard at all.”

Dunnington also said the band likes big vocals, taking note from the Beatles and the Ben Miller Band. They also like to play songs no one usually plays.

“We try to play obscure covers so maybe the audience will think they’re ours,” Maddy jokes. “No, just playing but we like to play obscure covers of songs we really like that have a niche so and are listening so we’re not going to go out there and play ‘Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2′ or classic rock covers. They’re probably all songs that anyone of us like, like a lot personally so I think that’s fun. I think that if they hear those covers and they’re like, “oh shit,” nobody’s ever done that before.”

The band also feels the music industry has grown stale on a national level.

“I think the music industry as a whole has grown stale and it really needs to be overhauled,” Dunnington said. “Recently with the whole Super Bowl half time show, I mean nobody liked it. I was watching the twitter feed and there was only two positive remarks about the Super Bowl half time show and out of millions of tweets yesterday, there was only two positive remarks on it? It’s obvious that people are getting sick of what the RIAA is pushing on the plate.”

The Utopians have decided they are going to push for a new industry model, adapting with the internet and the putting music out for free in order to get their music heard.

“If you can’t give it away you certainly aren’t going to sell it,” Dunnington said. “I’ve been saying that for a couple of years now and I think that’s important because the other band’s out there notice that. If your music is good, people are going to put it on their mp3 players and put it on cd and listen to it in their cars and then people will come to shows. I will burn 100 copies of cds and give them away at show.

“I would rather have my music out there and have people listen to it than say I’m go to charge you for it because to me I would rather have them come to shows and make money that way and buy merchandise.”

The reason for this decision comes from a deep rooted love of music and seeing successes outside of the mainstream such as Clutch and The Mars Volta, and just loving to play with the enthuseiasm they held at the age of 15.

“I just want to jam,” said Call.

The Utopians are not out to be rock stars either, as personal addictions have proven to be determents to personal goals in the past.

” I’ve come quite a ways myself since I was 15,” Dunnington said. “I lost about 10 years to addiction and if I hadn’t had an addictive point of my life I probably would have been at this point in my life 10 years ago, but I went through this thing in my life where it was a thing I had to go through and get out of my system so that I could move on.”

Dunnington feels overcoming his personal addiction has made him a better person and a better musician, and feels it is important to work with other bands in order to maintain good relationships and continue to play shows with them in the future.

“Basically we don’t want to be dicks; we want to be friends with everybody,” he said.

The Utopians will be opening around 9 p.m. on Feb 26 at Blackthorn Pizza and Pub. They will be opening for Third Party.