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23 Oct 2003

Salt Lake City Weekly
Think Pink - Salt Lake City’s Sons of Nothing turn Floyd tunes into a great gig in the sky.
by Randy Harward

It’s not enough for Sons of Nothing to be one band; they have to be two. First, you have Sons of Nothing, a four-member group who play original, thought-provoking, technically precise rock and/or roll. Then, there’s Sons of Nothing, the eight-headed purveyor of the increasingly popular FloydShow, tributizing prog-adelic stoner legends Pink Floyd.

Singer-bassist Thom Bowers, singer-guitarist Tim Hollinger and keyboardist/jack-of-all-axes Matt Meldrum and drummer Greg Thomas hesitate to differentiate. They represent three-quarters of the core Sons of Nothing, so even when they’re joined by vocalist Juli Mueller, keyboardist Eric Livotsky and local jazzer John Flanders (sax, flute), they’re “pretty much the same since we started combining the two [band’s] shows,” Bowers says. “This past summer, we began opening for ourselves, doing a short set of original tunes, then launching into the FloydShow.”

Hey, that’s a hell of an idea. Clubs are hot to book the FloydShow, because Sons of Nothing weave note-perfect versions of some 60 Pink Floyd tunes (spanning Piper at the Gates of Dawn to The Division Bell, and including the entire Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall), nailing the warm, alienated guitar tone and vocal nuances and including all the ambience (cash registers, ticking clocks, light show, et al). Those who’ve taken the Pepsi Challenge say it’s as good as¿some have said better than—the real thing.

“We’ve experienced a bump in our general name recognition,” Bowers says. “And it also gives us an incredible opportunity to play our own music to big crowds in big-name venues that otherwise would never hear of us.”

Sons of Nothing germinated with Bowers as a solo project. While putting together a backing band, he found Hollinger; the two ”instantly clicked because of our mutual Floyd fandom.” FloydShow was born when Sons of Nothing were recruited for something called the Flyin’ Zion Easter Party 2002. “When the organizers found out that we knew a lot of Floyd tunes,” says Bowers, “they asked if we would play a full set.”

Rather than casually jam the songs, as they did at their regular gigs, SoN resolved to put on a ”real show.” To that end, they hired extra musicians, cut some sound effects together, and “really polished it all up.” They wound up playing both nights of the festival and afterward, word spread—the FloydShow has been a hot ticket since. “It was only supposed to be a couple of gigs for fun, then right back to the original plan.”

But while the “original” plan has been altered, you’ll hear no complaints from SoN. Bowers says the realization that the FloydShow was “maybe verging on starting to possibly make something vaguely approaching the semblance of a tiny profit,” provided the impetus to hit the studio and track some originals. This produced One Left Turn (SonsofNothing.com), a versatile five-track prog-pop EP which was deemed good enough on its own original merits to be named one of City Weekly's Top 50 local CDs earlier this year.

Not a bad result stemming from an idea that went wild. Perhaps adopting a tribute band alter ego would solve our local bands’ ubiquitous carp about club owners shunning original music in favor of cover shows? Do SoN give this method their unconditional endorsement? Will they sell the secret on late-night infomercials after Super Dell’s Homestyle Psychosis Hour? Could other bands benefit from such a measure?

“Should an ostensibly original band to start learning the complete catalog of some other random classic rock artist?” Bowers counters. “I wouldn’t recommend it as a surefire career move. We just happened upon this thing that turned out to be a really popular idea. What we do is also a tremendous amount of work, and is not the sort of thing you can just knock together quickly or arbitrarily. You gots to love it. ...”

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