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100 Watt Mind unveils 'Creatures'

It sounds strange that a hard rock band would choose a country cabin powered by solar energy and a generator to record an album.

"It was our intent to record music that has all of the energy and sounds of a live show while maintaining a clean recording, one without crowd noise," says Skyler Squglio, lead guitarist for Ashland group 100 Watt Mind. "It was challenging when the power ran too low. We'd flip the generator on and notice a difference in the sound."

It was an obstacle the band overcame, recording nine songs in three days with no trace of power lags on the tracks.

"We pretty much knew what we wanted when we went there," Squglio says. "The cabin has great acoustics. It was a midpoint between a live show and a studio recording. Our engineer and producer, Milan Nikolic, let us have all the creative control."

100 Watt Mind's new album, "Creatures," follows the band's 2013 debut release "Out of Night," a conceptual collection of music meant to create an impression of a rock band's lifestyle ... those moments performing late at night in bars. Its last six tracks run together, melding into a short rock opera.

"Creatures" deviates from that path with distinctive songs that feature 100 Watt Mind's signature hard rock — edgy, aggressive and frustrated — along with pleasingly melodic music with a softer appeal.

The band will celebrate the release of "Creatures" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, with a concert at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. The show will feature Portland blues-based rockers Patrimony, Medford garage rockers Boomrang Kids and alt-country duo The Brothers Reed. Tickets to the all-ages show cost $10.

100 Watt Mind formed in 2012. Along with Squglio, its lineup includes vocalist Brynna Dean, bassist Nathan Hurlocker and drummer Robert Morris.

"I think the new album represents the band's evolution and direction," Squglio says. "We've morphed parallel to the album. The sound is polarized. The hards are harder, the softs are softer, the reds are darker, the yellows are brighter, the ugly is uglier and the pretties are prettier. 'Bad Intention' and 'Justified' are the heaviest, edgiest songs we've ever written, kinda nasty, and songs like 'Painted Hills' and 'StarZ' are smooth, tranquil and beautiful." 

Dean's vocals — called Joplin-esque by fans — contribute to the songs' variety on 100 Watt Mind's sophomore recording. She lets us hear a little soul with "Love Sometimes," super-fast, punk rockabilly on "My Baby" and lilting melodies on "Painted Hills" and "StarZ." 

"I worked hard on my vocals recording this album," Dean says. "There's more of a mix of styles, and a focus on making the lyrics more accessible for listeners."

Now the band plans to tour as much as possible, building fan bases up and down the West Coast.

"We've played High Dive in Seattle, Dante's in Portland and the Milk Bar in San Francisco," Squglio says. "People liked us at those places. It's encouraging. We'd like to perform at venues like those regularly. I think that's the direction we should take at this point."

The CD will be available at the show and online at Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and Facebook. It also can be purchased at local record stores Musichead in Medford and Music Coop and CD or Not CD in Ashland.

Left to right: Skyler Squglio, Brynna Dean, Robert Morris and Nathan Hurlocker play for a video shoot inside Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad's Tunnel 13 south of Ashland. Photo courtesy of Kayla Gold