In this month’s issue of Salty Talk, Saja Spectacular sits down with punk metal band, I Am The Owl, at Music City Hot Chicken and got a lot more than she bargained for.
I met up with this month’s featured act, I Am The Owl, last Saturday at their favorite brunch spot, Music City Hot Chicken.
“Brunch?” I thought, but it was the perfect out-of-the-box brunch spot to interview this out-of-the-box band.
I Am The Owl skirts the line between punk and metal. The bio on their website describes them as “punk meets metal from the era when Rock gods wielded axes…high volume music that inspires mosh pits.”
I have to agree.
Not normally my go-to music, I found myself really diving into “Thoughts and Prayers,” a song off of their first EP Mission to Civilize Part I. It’s hard-driving with call-your-ass-out lyrics over some incredible rhythm changes and heavy-edged chord progressions.
It made me think.
“Most of the lyrics are politically charged and look at the [present] world and react to that,” says Josh Rivera.
I Am The Owl started in 2014, born from childhood friendships and synchronicity.
“Josh and I are brothers basically,” says the other Josh in the band, Josh Harrelson.
“We’ve known each other since middle school.”
They didn’t start playing music then.
It was years later thatthey happened to run into each other on campus and the journey began.
The band consists of four members: the two Joshes; Josh Rivera and Josh Harrelson on lead and rhythm guitar and lyrics, Kyle Krueckeburg on bass, and Corey Hatch on drums.
Josh Rivera was in the band Nutricula in 2009 when he met Kyle, having already reconnected with Josh Harrelson. (Boom! Synchronicity!)
Kyle was playing with Crow at the time and Rivera’s band was playing some shows with them. When Crow broke up, Kyle joined Nutricula and Josh Harrelson joined toward the end of the band’s run. When Nutricula split up the threesome still wanted to play music and formed I Am The Owl. They added Rob Barnett, their good friend and first drummer, but Rob moved away to Oregon.
The band didn’t have much luck finding a drummer that fit for a while. They went through a few before finding Corey Hatch whom blended beautifully with the band, feeling their vibe and laying down drums perfectly.However, following his own dreams, he recently moved to New York.
Yes, he’s still in the band, though from afar.
Corey moved to pursue his sound career in the musical theatre scene. Because he still vibes so well with the rest of the band and its music, he flies in for gigs and plans to return for the the upcoming major recording session to finish Mission to Civilize Part II in April at The Blasting Room. When asked if they are going to be looking for a local drummer they said Corey is able to continue playing with the band “so why look?” As Josh Harrelson put it, they are done with “drummer drama.”
I then asked Josh and Josh, over a delicious brunch of seasoned eggs on toast and jerk chicken tenders on the side, how they create their music.
Josh Harrelson gave me the skinny.
“Someone comes up with some riffs that really seem like they’re sticking, and we just build around that. Once the song is written, these guys are good at filling the song in and writing the lyrics that go along with it.”
While rifling around on their well-designed website, I could hear through the music that this was true. The collaboration sounds seamless and tight. A song of theirs I like, “Disgrace”, starts out with a tight, quick-paced feel and then brings in lyrics that are thought-provoking. You can also hear the lyrics in this metal tune! That I like.
They really are family.
Mission to Civilize Part I, released in 2016, was their freshman EP. It was all DIY, made mostly at Josh Rivera’s house. They recorded the drums over at their friend Oliver’s (from Slow Caves) , who helped them track the drums.
In 2017, they recorded three of the songs for Mission To Civilize Part II and are headed back into the studio to record the rest of the EP on April 9-13.
I asked why they have a Part I and Part II to Mission To Civilize.
“We wrote the first one as Donald Trump was running for President.” Rivera says.
”A lot of it was about disbelief that it might actually happen. Then, he gets elected and we start writing Part II.”
The song I love, “Thoughts and Prayers,” really calls out America’s disconnect and apathy with tragedy. It talks about how we react when a tragic event happens. We offer our thoughts and prayers and then there is nothing else. “Brother vs. Brother” tackles the issue of how groups of people who would normally get along are pitted against each other because of the American government’s role in fear-mongering.
“Why are we fighting each other?” Rivera continues. “We have more in common with each other as working-class people than with our president or our senator.”
Both Joshes in the band talk of dealing with this personally. They, like most of us, have family members who are politically different.
Josh Harrelson’s in-laws are from a more conservative area of Colorado.
“We basically stopped talking about politics when the trans-rights issue on which bathrooms to use came up. They weren’t understanding the issue.”
Josh Rivera’s family is more middle of the road and religious. His mom has worked with teen moms, the homeless, and non-profit organizations. Albeit progressive, her religion makes her more conservative on other issues. Regardless, Rivera was raised to help and support the community. Many a time his family took in friends who needed a place to stay. “That’s how I was raised,” Rivera states.
Because of that, I Am The Owl also gives a lot to the community. They have done toy drives at their shows and a fundraiser for hurricane relief last fall that was matched by Bohemian and Create Places in Fort Collins. They even played New Worst Fest, a concert that benefits the ACLU.
“It’s kind of our responsibility to look after our community,” Josh Harrelson says. “If it’s something we’re benefitting from it’s up to us to put back. If we’ve got a couple of extra bucks at a gig, [we’ll] buy a couple more beers or put it into a community fund.”
“It’s our responsibility to build the community up,” Josh Rivera continues. “If we can send that message out to our fans and 20 or 30 new people show up at our shows; in a few years that’s a big army of people that are willing to fight for what’s right.”
Fun facts about I am The Owl:
- Both Joshes are happily married guys. Harrelson has kids and is a chemist! He credits his time for music to his patient wife. He also plays in HOSS another local full-time band. How does he do it?!?
- Josh Rivera is the communications manager for The Music District. He also plays in another band Autumn Burn. Josh has a lovely wife and three lovely dog children.
- Kyle works at Little Guys Movers and also started running sound at SurfSide!
- Corey is in New York, but you knew that already.
Their amazing Owl art work was done by local artist, Dusty Ray. You can check out more at
I Am The Owl is certainly a band to check out. They have a really great sound, they support our community and their families, and are truly authentic beings.
They definitely do all they can to PLAY IT FORWARD.
I’m a new fan.
I Am The Owl gig dates in April:
April 8th @ Hodi’s w/ The Queers & Bricheros
April 9-13 in the Blasting Room w/ Andrew Berlin
FoCoMX Friday night @ the Whiskey 9:15pm
More info at: http://www.iamtheowl.com/