Interstate Stash Express Helps Oskar Blues to Celebrate its 10 Year CANniversary

:: Oskar Blues 10 Year Canniversary ::
:: Oskar Blues Grill and Brew (Lyons) ::
:: November 17 ::

By Brian F. Johnson

“Garage” has such negative connotations. Be it a garage brew or a garage band, the addition of those two syllables seems to imply something cheap or sub-par. But for the Lyons-based power trio Interstate Stash Express and for their hosts this month Oskar Blues, the word garage isn’t something to be discarded. In fact, both entities —the band and the brewery — have come up with some of their best ideas in the garage, usually with a beer can in hand.

“Exactly,” said guitarist Terry Kishiyama, during a recent group interview with The Marquee. “We’re the garage band that worked out,” finished drummer Thom McKee.

Kishiyama and McGee, along with their bassist James Smith, standing on the side of Planet Bluegrass Ranch’s Wildflower Pavilion before a recent gig with The Grant Farm, together explained that while the band spent some hard time on the road trying to win fans over one at a time, they’ve finally arrived at a new point, where they are happy to simply be a tight rock trio and not out trying to prove themselves to anyone.

“It was a pipe dream of ours, you know, to get out there and pay our dues and do the road warrior things,” said Kishiyama. “And we did and we had some great gigs, but we had some bad ones too, the ones where you ask, ‘What are we doing here? We should be home writing new material.’”

So these days the band is most focused on setting the stage to do just that, stay home and write. The group is currently involved in turning a new garage space into a studio and they plan to start working on recording new material in 2013. Interstate Stash Express released its self-titled debut in 2007 and has issued two EPs since then, but Kishiyama said that the band is poised to make its first proper album in this new space. “We’re a live band, and that’s hard to capture. I think, so far with our recordings we’ve done well, but we haven’t gotten it and so we’re going to approach this one differently and really take our time with it to see what we can get,” said Kishiyama. “We have more than enough material and we’re just going to have a great time writing songs and getting some things out.”

The group concurred that this is the time for the band to take that direction and see what they come up with, and Kishiyama thinks the timing couldn’t be better. “I think we’re really at the top of our game right now. After six years there’s never been a lull in our progression as players together. We’re a trio and we take great pride in that, and at the same time, we’re really ready to experiment with stuff and change it up,” he said.

But even with their plans to stay closer to home, there’s no implication that Interstate Stash Express is going to become a collective bunch of hermits. They’ll still play live plenty, especially at Oskar Blues, where Kishiyama has a gig of another sort that pre-dates even the early days of ISE.

In 2002, Oskar Blues, which at the time consisted of just the restaurant in Lyons and had only been brewing beer for a few years in the restaurant’s back “garage,” had the novel idea of canning its flagship brew, Dales Pale Ale. Oskar Blues was the first U.S. craft brewer to can its own beer and it was the start of what the company refers to as the Canned Beer Apocalypse. Kishiyama’s wife worked in the restaurant and so when the company went looking for someone to design their cans it didn’t take long for her to offer up the fact that her husband was a graphic designer. “Dale [Katechis] probably regrets it now, but on the first one, he said, ‘Go ahead and put your initials on it. Put ’em on every can.’ So today, if you drink an Oskars’ beer take a look, there’s a little ‘TK’ on there and that’s me,” said Kishiyama.

The designer has gone on to do all of the company’s graphics as it’s grown from that initial Lyons location and its modest brewing roots of 340 barrels a year to being one of the top craft breweries in the country, with multiple award winning brews totalling nearly 60,000 barrels a year and multiple locations (Grill and Brew in Lyons, and Homemade Liquid and Solids and the Tasty Weasel Tap Room both in Longmont, as well as the company’s newest venture, its brewery, restaurant and music venue which is slated to open in December in Brevard, N.C.).

Along the way, Oskar Blues has taken care of those who worked hard for them and Kishiyama and McKee said that the brewery has done wonders to support them. “They got us on one of their samplers and they’ve patted us on the back all along the way,” Kishiyama said. McKee added, “They keep coming up with events and asking us to play for them and even after all of this, it’s an honor.”

In addition to free sets in the barn by Interstate Stash Express and Erik The Viking in the early evening, Oskar Blues will also host a special set by The White Buffalo, a California songwriter, who back when Dale was canning his first pale ale, was literally singing into talent buyer’s voicemails in order to procure gigs.

The White Buffalo’s latest effort Once Upon A Time In The West was released earlier this year and is a mix of outlaw country, storytelling folk and raspy rock and roll.


:: Interstate Stash Express ::

:: Oskar Blues 10 Year Canniversary ::

:: Oskar Blues Grill and Brew (Lyons) ::

:: November 17 ::



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