Lazertag
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Lazertag

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Band Alternative Folk

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"In the Spotlight: Lazertag"

Name: Lazertag
From: San Francisco/Bay Area
Formed: 2005
Sounds Like: Pavement meets Elliott Smith with an MT 500 Casio
Albums: Modern Cuts for The Modern Man (5/08)

If California-based duo Lazertag makes it big, they may want to thank Brad Ungar, whose music video for “Silver State” introduced the band to thousands of fans on OurStage by winning the video grand prize for September. Ungar, who befriended the band at San Francisco State University and now works as a PA in hollywood, says the guys are too humble and laid back to promote themselves as much as they should. Sounds fitting for a couple of college grads from the Bay Area who make lo-fi pop gems on forty-dollar Casios and acoustic guitar.

I caught up with Mitch Buttress (guitar, lead vocals) and Ryan Spratt (keyboards) via phone to talk about South By Southwest, Casios, and why they hate/love jamming…


OurStage (Quinn Strassel): Brad (Ungar) tells me the video for “Silver State” was made on a road trip you guys took from California to Texas for South By Southwest. How did that work out?

Ryan: Yeah, we adjusted our setup so we could play out of a Dodge Magnum which we rented. Mitch had been to South By Southwest before and there were lots of bands just playing in the street. But this year they were cracking down and we got kicked out of a couple spots.


Mitch: We played one show in a parking spot on the street. “Silver State” was the only song we got through. We had actually built a pretty big crowd but this old antiques dealer came out and yelled at us and said he would call cops. We went through a lot of rejection on that tour (laughs).


OurStage: But you got a good video out of it. How did it feel to win the grand prize?

Ryan: We were surprised and honored when we found out we made the finals. Winning the grand prize was an even bigger surprise. We’re very grateful and proud of Brad.

OurStage: Is there any reason you formed a duo? Why just two of you?

Mitch: We’ve been in bands with other people before. I guess I’ve been writing songs for nine years with Ryan and he’s just got a good idea of what I like. It just works best with just the two of us. He reminds us to keep it simple.

Ryan: Mitch doesn’t like jamming…at all. That’s a kind of aesthetic we agree on. Well, actually we claim to not like jamming but we do it all the time when we’re writing songs. Sometimes when we practice, we’ll make up a funny song and just jam on something we think is horrible. We’re kind of exercising what not to do.

OurStage: Mitch, you write the lyrics. What’s the songwriting process like for you?

Mitch: More recently we’ve been recording demos with partial lyrics and partial keyboard and letting the songs develop for several weeks, not stressing out about the songs. They’ll be best if we let them float around a bit. I always think, I’m going to have to live with this song for a long time so it’s worth it to not hurry the lyrics and wait until stuff really comes to you and not force it.

OurStage: Ryan, you’re a classically trained musician, right?

Ryan: Yes, I’m the product of public school music. I played upright bass all the way from fourth grade through high school and college. I was a composition major.

OurStage: So why the lo-fi approach?

Ryan: We just got the idea to play Casios and that’s when I became a keyboard player.

OurStage: Brad (Ungar) says he put the “Silver State” video on OurStage partly because he just wants people to know about you.

Mitch: People are always telling us we need to do a better job of promoting ourselves and the business side of things. I guess it’s true. Elliott Smith said the job of a songwriter is not to promote yourself but to concentrate one-hundred percent on the writing. I don’t know the exact quote but it was something like that.

Ryan: Also, it falls under what we’re interested in doing. We like making and playing songs. So when we book a show, we practice for the show. When people say, “did you make flyers?,” we’re like, “no, we were practicing.”

OurStage: Where do you see yourselves in ten years?

Ryan: The future
- ourstage.com


"Indie duo crashes SXSW, takes lo-fi to new heights"

If there's one thing Mitch Buttress and Ryan Spratt know, it's how to make the best with what they have. Hailing from San Francisco, the duo known as Lazertag have made a name for themselves by crafting earnest indie-pop with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and some old, forty dollar Casio keyboards. This past year they took that same lo-fi attitude to South by Southwest when they hopped in a Dodge Magnum van, hit the road and played for whomever would listen.

"We played one show in a parking spot on the street," the band tells OurStage.com, where they have recently started creating a buzz with fans. "We had actually built a pretty big crowd but this old antiques dealer came out and yelled at us, and said he would call the cops." Fortunately, the guys left with not only a great story but also a film documenting the trip, which became their official video for the song 'Silver State.' The clip, filmed by their friend Brad Ungar, went on to win the grand prize in OurStage's video contest.

With the recent release of their debut record, 'Modern Cuts for the Modern Man,' the future looks bright for these DIY rockers. Lazertag may even find themselves at SXSW again, perhaps even on a traditional stage. If not, they may have to employ their secret weapon, which keyboardist Ryan revealed: "It is very rare, but sometimes Mitch will freestyle rap." Word. - spinner.com


Discography

Modern Cuts for the Modern Man available on Itunes
A Minor Loss Of Fidelity coming soon to Itunes

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Bio

Mitch Buttress and Ryan Spratt are Lazertag: two young men who have it figured out in their late twenties. Young men need only simple tools: a guitar, synthesizers, a drum machine, some heart and a quiet sense of humor to get you through the rough spots. This sentimental approach has been put to the test in lazertag's sophomore release, "A Minor Loss Of Fidelity".

In the spirit of their first album "Modern Cuts for the Modern Man", Lazertag continues to bridge the gap between old-fashioned sentiment and space-age wonder, resulting in a sound that is part acoustic folk and part synth pop. "A Minor Loss Of Fidelity" is nothing more than modern day thinking-man's music. It immediately sparks a sense of subtle nostalgia; similar to the feeling a child might feel when looking at pictures of his grandfather's past. In its entirety the record maintains a sort of futuristic optimism coupled with heady romanticism, resulting in songs that are honest, measured, and beautiful.