Cement Season
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Cement Season

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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2007- Self titled 3 song Single.
2009- EP Never Late Than Better



Cement Season frontman Ian Powell is a man of extremes. Though you’d never guess it, the bearded and soft-spoken Portland native was driven to drug addiction by love. He recovered in jail. He once left a band with mounting momentum to run away to Alaska with two women. “I had a lot of fun,” Powell says without regret. He also fondly recalls walking across the country with a group of American Indians and hopping a freight train afterward. In the course of five years, he shifted from very liberal to conservative and back. He's anything but moderate.
Yet Cement Season’s music—the vehicle for the tales of wrecks and swerves—is characterized by the utmost subtlety and craft. With the Doors and grunge as their Old and New Testaments, Powell, and Berklee-trained, fellow guitarist Shawn Zapata, forge textures that alternately resemble a rain-decayed Northwest wilderness and a Southwest sunset.
The songs that would become Cement Season's 2010 debut record, Never Late than Better, sat in Powell's notebooks for years. They might have stayed there and rotted had it not been for a friend who convinced the songwriter to dust them off and play some open mics with him at Southwest Portland's 45th Street Pub. It wasn't long before Zapata wanted in.
“The songs were just so dynamic,” he says, a big compliment from a musician who’s done everything from organize the first Northwest Industrial Festival, to play in jazz combos. The multi-instrumentalist mastered guitar late in his career, in order to expand his understanding of music theory and composition. With a beret and pony tail, Zapata exudes musicality and shreds with arena-worthy precision.
After a Craigslist ad turned up Korn fans with gigantic kits and other horrors, the band stole one from their friends, Pet Ghost Project. The jazz-trained, extremely versatile Tim Gitner—who Powell describes as “an afro-beat superfreak”—turned out to be a perfect fit for Cement Season.
Like Zapata, the songs spoke to Gitner and they continue to inspire his playing, “The music is interesting and I don’t want to do something ordinary,” he says. At softer moments, where a lesser drummer would simply tap the beat, Gitner adds another layer with creative rim shot patterns. When things get heavy, he has fun and locks in with bassist Andy Grover, who did, in fact, find the band in the classifieds.
“This shit rocks,” Grover said to himself upon finding Cement Season's ad after a fruitless month of looking for a band. In Portland, he explains, “everybody is either in a punk band or it's like an indie jangly rock band.” So the imposing bassist, who stands just over 6'2”, began practicing for his audition. With his swift hands now driving the low-tones, Powell says, “We. Have. Rock.”
One local sound man took it further, calling the band's down-tuned heavier numbers “sludge as fuck” after mixing them live. On lighter numbers, Powell has taken to singing with his eyes closed or averted for fear that audience members will take lines like, “She’s been hanging around and she’s worn out her welcome” the wrong way if they’re delivered with a stare. The dark, sarcastic lyrics often function as a backdrop for the bright instrumentals that alternately imitate Pearl Jam’s heavy pop and the chug and whistle of a train.
Powell says the band’s base in classic influences suits its message in an indirect way. “When you think of a cement season,” he says, “it’s wet and rainy and it’s not conducive to life. And that’s the thing about it, if you have a cement season, it lasts forever.” Heavy words coming from a man with a career in construction. Anyway, it turns out it's easier to hear premonitions of your own self destruction while being hugged by warm harmonies.
Take the psychedelic “Lizard Skin” for example. Powell explains, “I’ve been at a bus stop when it’s really wet and really fucking cold and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing—you’re still getting wet—and it seems like a challenge just to keep breathing.” He finishes while exhaling smoke, “Why not just rock out at that point?”
With a growing fan base and a second album just around the corner, that’s exactly what Cement Season intends to do.