Love is a Dog from Nebraska
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Love is a Dog from Nebraska

Missoula, Montana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Missoula, Montana, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Rock Dream Pop

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"Travis Yost: Love Is a Dog from Nebraska"

Missoula musician Travis Yost says the quirky title of his first solo album, Love Is a Dog from Nebraska, is inspired partly by poet Charles Bukowski and in part by his love of dogs. Relationships, lost souls, loneliness, trucks and cars, nose to the grindstone – he’s all over the place thematically on eight original tunes.

Yost is a multi-instrumentalist who’s drummed for Tom Catmull for years and helped found Stellarondo. He has gobs of instruments and a mobile studio, recording and producing many bands, and he did everything on this CD. He plays guitar, bass, drums, pedal steel, and keys/synth. He’s obsessed with guitar effects too, and he uses them to sound like a lot of people, no mean feat.

Yost’s stories come to life with a combination of fine mid-baritone singing and technical prowess. On “A Dog,” we hear a Springsteen-esque wall of guitars and drums before the piece quiets to a spare acoustic sound. Yost sings softly, Neil Young-like, only to scream out periodically for dramatic tension. The lyrics tumble out with a stream-of-consciousness flair. “A dog behind the wheel, mess-kit electrolyte,” he intones.

Surfer-guitar sounds, sustained and reverb-y, drive the languid “After I’m Gone.” Yost’s sweet, high warble shows he can swoop easily into a pretty falsetto, giving an emotional lift to his melodies.

“Somebody Special” finds him channeling his inner Bob Seger, with the added touch of piano arpeggio and bell sounds (yep).

“All the Sin” follows a fallen angel who chooses to live among earthly sinners, absorbing their worries as any angel would. She wades through humanity and breaks hearts along the way; it’s an old tale retold as a country waltz with pedal steel. I like it.

“Broken Airy Heart” throbs with an acoustic guitar bestride a fuzzed-up Hofner (Beatle Bass) guitar. “Your life is on the line,” Yost sings, “you tell me that I’m dying working overtime.” This guy writes pretty interesting stuff, and knows how to use the gizmos to give it flair.

Visit themightytravis.bandcamp.com. - Lively Times


"A prolific collaborator acts as his own band"

Travis Yost once booked a gig to play live at a local brewery. When he showed up with his guitar and pedals, they asked him where his drums were.

Such is life for Yost, a Zelig figure in the Missoula music scene for more than a decade, whose many projects get people confused about what he does.

You've probably heard him playing drums for Tom Catmull's Radio Static.

Or maybe you'll see him playing guitars, keyboards and other gadgets with NextDoorPrisonHotel, his duo project with fellow magpie John Sporman.

Or maybe playing upright bass at the Beet Tops' regular square-dancing gig at the Top Hat Lounge.

("I already got introduced as a square-dance bass player the other day. It's like, 'Really?' " That's what you identify me as?" he said.)

Maybe you'll hear his score for local filmmaker Damon Ristau's documentary, "The Bug," which is premiering at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

For the past five years, he's also been working on his long-running solo project, called Love is a Dog from Nebraska, in which Yost performs his original songs, accompanied by guitar and a pedal-board.

"I don't want to show up with an acoustic guitar and my voice. I want to show up with an acoustic guitar and my looper to try to create a semblance of other people," he said. "I'd rather be in a band, but it's too hard to find people who want to dedicate this much time to being in a band."

For the project's first official, full-length album, Yost decided to cordon himself off and pretend to be the whole band, using all the multi-instrumentalist tricks he's learned. (He also runs a home studio, where he recorded indie-folk act Wartime Blues' last record, "April, Texas.")


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The album was mostly cut over the long Thanksgiving weekend last fall, minus the vocals.

"I'm going to be alone the whole time. The date and her family are out of town and so I just moved all the gear into her dad's house and busted the album out in three days," he said.

That's why the eight tracks on the self-titled album are unusually cohesive for a one-person project, where a lack of restrictions can lead the best musicians off on strange tangents. He brought all his gear.

Yost's work sounds less like a one-person band project than a songwriter-producer's album.

On "Broken Airy Heart," a striding, yearning tune has patiently unfolding arrangements, complete with a second half in which he double-tracks his own call-and-response vocals and guitar stabs.

The ballad "After I'm Gone" meanders over seven minutes, finding Yost crooning about the wreckage of a relationship and then cutting a contemplative guitar solo. "All the Sin," a country tune, is a straight-up country tune.

"There You Are" builds off chirping guitar loops the sort of vocal line that wouldn't seem out of place to fan of Catmull. "Gasoline" uses a humming synth line to create a dream-pop-by-way of Americana atmosphere. "Somebody Special" is the most driving guitar-rock song, and one of his most effective vocal tracks.

The drums sound great, as you'd expect from a drummer's son who began playing at age 7 and first got paid for a gig at age 12. (He earned $100.) The bass, too, despite his worries, read as a bass player and not a drummer playing bass. The guitar work has nice color and sense of space and arrangement, the way to build a track up to a close.

It sounds like a band, and he figures in a year from now it might have other people in it. -


"Missoula instrumentalist pens score for Korean monster film"

Perhaps Yongary, a Korean knockoff of Godzilla, is like a grizzly bear – a misunderstood predator roused by the humans.

That's the frame of mind Travis Yost, a longtime Missoula musician, had to assume while writing an original score for "Yongary: Monster from the Deep," a 1967 B-movie about "a prehistoric gasoline-eating reptile that soon goes on a rampage through Seoul," according to the plot summary.

He had to create suspense for certain scenes while trying hard to ignore the fact that on screen, what's clearly a man in a rubber monster costume is battered with real fireworks.

It was "the worst job as a stuntman in the 1960s," he said.

Next Thursday, Yost will perform the score along with the movie at the Roxy Theater, armed with a guitar, keyboards, a drum machine and pedal board.

He'll play it all live, with some sequencing but no sampling. It has elements of rock and bubbly electronic, some atonal parts and some lighthearted moments.

"There's going to be a little tiptoeing into the clever," he said.

It is, after all, a man in rubber suit.

Roxy executive director Mike Steinberg gave Yost a list of suggestions for movies he could score, including some old Mexican wrestling films and sci-fi flicks.

The late 1960s look of "Yongary" immediately appealed to Yost, a fan of classic Connery-era Bond.

It has green-screened scenes of characters in automobiles, speeding along past repeated background loops. (Didn't they already pass that gas station?). It has lo-fi action sequences, such as helicopters on a string.

It has bizarre sequence in which an astronaut is summoned for a space mission. In classic B-movie style, he agrees regardless of the fact that he's on his honeymoon.

***

"Yongary" is Yost's first solo live score, but he's not new to genre.

He and composer/multi-instrumentalist John Sporman have performed six at the Roxy since 2013 under the name Next Door Prison Hotel.

Those were classic silent films – the animated 1926 classic "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" or the 1922 Dracula film "Nosferatu." He's played two others as part of art-folk group Stellarondo.

This score, under Yost's solo name Love is a Dog from Nebraska, focuses on a significantly goofier film. It's not even a silent film – it will be muted with subtitles on.

He hopes that the somewhat misunderstood live-score concept becomes more prevalent.

Often, people come to the live scores expecting to hear full-fledged songs – a soundtrack instead of a score written to accompany the film.

And that perhaps a kitschy rubber monster costume will bring out the sci-fi fans like him. - The Missoulian


"'Dance Up Close' concerts a 'lab' for choreographers' imaginations"

Jess Mullette, a professional dancer and choreographer, thinks of the annual "Dance Up Close" performances as a "laboratory for choreographic exploration."

She's taken part in the University of Montana dance program's fall showcase since her days as an undergraduate. She says they're a place choreographers can test ideas, play around with them, get feedback and then refine their work further.

What's more, the Masquer Theatre, with seating on three sides, is a creative environment for choreographers.

Audience members nearly surround the dancers, who are lit from above by six different student lighting designers.

“The choreographer is challenged to create work that’s visually interesting from different audience perspectives,” said UM professor Karen Kaufmann, head of the dance program and the show's producer.

The UM Dance program emphasizes that students create new work, and in their courses, undergrad choreographers discuss ways to project creative sight lines in multiple directions during a performance.

She noted that the choreography process always begins with a blank slate - in this case, an empty room.

"Our students are creating their own movement vocabulary and connecting to different themes," Kaufmann said.

Themes this year are as broad as you'd imagine, including robots, jungle scenes, oceans, 1960s throwbacks, and more.

Senior Arina Hunter will present "Voop!," a portion of an evening-length work she's developing as her BFA project. Dancers will create a soundscape through vocalizations and different effects such as clapping, snapping their fingers, or the various sounds from parts of the body making contact with the floor.

UM assistant professor Heidi Jones Eggert and guest choreographer Mullette will perform “Oh There You Are: Preliminary Investigations," a duet piece they've created together.

Mullette said they're exploring ways to conceal and reveal movements. The 10-minute piece's title alludes to how early they are in the process on the piece, and the movable walls created by Mike Monsos, a professor of scenic design and technology. Kaufmann said they're using set elements, a relative rarity in dance, in "unique and interesting ways," such as moving them mid-performance to create separate segments on the stage.

Missoula musician Travis Yost wrote the score on pedal steel, a drum machine, and a "Critter and Guitari" Pocket Piano synthesizer.

"The collaborations with these designers and musicians is going to make our show really stunning," Kaufmann said.

Each concert will include eight dances and run about an hour and a half. There are two different programs. The first will run at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, 6 and 8; and the second program will be performed on Nov. 5 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.

Eggert has contributed a second piece that will close out both programs.

"Today's Artemis," a large-cast all-female ensemble piece, is named after the "goddess of the hunt and protector of wilderness and fertility," Kauffman said.

Joy French, an adjunct and creative director of Bare Bait Dance Company, is presenting "If You Aren't Pretty," inspired by hearing some of Helen Gurley Brown's old advice for women. "What’s so interesting is that some of that still exists in the modern world," Kaufmann said.

She said French's dance is "playful, somewhat sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek," and the dancers are "precise, grounded and interconnected in their movement." - The Missoulian


"Shuffle"

In a college town, music can live and die on the tide of an ever-rotating student crowd. But in Missoula, a handful of mainstay musicians somehow keep the familiarity afloat. Big names like Tom Catmull and the Clerics have been rooted in local culture for years — but even when a band sounds new or unfamiliar, there’s a good chance one of its members is not.
Take, for example, Caroline Keys. She’s is no stranger to the Missoula music scene: she’s been written about endlessly and even called a Missoula all-star. Her name is everywhere, and for good reason.
Keys is everywhere.
The bands she belongs to, projects she works on and collaborations she’s part of cover a fair chunk of the Missoula music scene. The 36-year-old started and fronts astral-art folk Stellarondo, and plays in a harmony-driven string girl trio called Whippletree and the bluegrass band Broken Valley Roadshow. Beyond spending time on her three most active bands, Keys teaches music lessons, belongs to a handful of less active bands and almost continually joins in on collaborations. Keys also constantly books gigs and organizes money for bands like Stellarondo.
“When I’m not playing music, I’m planning more ways to play music,” Keys said.
The bassist in Stellarondo, Travis Yost, is the same kind of musician. He, too, is connected to many projects and always looks for new gigs and bands. He and Keys have played together in a number of collaborations and even worked as a duo for a while.
“Travis Yost would not stop bothering me,” Keys remembered. “I didn’t know what I was building (with Stellarondo) but he wanted really badly to be a part of it. He’s amazing.”
Yost is primarily known to local music regulars for playing drums for the Clerics with Tom Catmull. The 30-year-old also drums for the rock band American Falcon and plays for the two bands he started, Love is a Dog from Nebraska and the New Hijackers, which was the Missoula Independent staff pick for the best new band of 2010. In addition to playing with whatever bands he can get his hands on, Yost also runs a mobile recording studio.
“I’ll start a band a week if I can,” Yost said. “I enjoy working with certain people more than others and gathering people into that is just so great. In a lot of bands, everybody can do anything they want but you mold into something and you have a place.”
Behind Yost’s beard and bearlike form is a man whose excitement about music is ever-present in his voice. His passion sparked in childhood. He sang with his dad on stage when he was 10 years old and started playing gigs as a drummer around 12 or 13. Yost watched his dad work 60 hours a week and then play shows all over Montana every weekend. The idea of fitting as many shows as possible into one weekend never seemed strange to him.
Many of Yost’s band mates overlap between projects, and he said it’s because he surrounds himself with about 10-15 people whom he actually enjoys playing with – Keys included. Yost knows that if he needs something in a band or a song that he can’t do himself, he can call up someone who’ll do it and be excited to help.
“It’s always a joke that three of the bands I’m in are the same people, just playing different instruments,” Yost said “People (assume) then that those bands wouldn’t have their own personality and that’s a lie.”
Keys brings her own personality to each of her bands. Her laugh is as eccentric as her untamed curls. Her speaking voice bounces with passion and perhaps a bit of nerves — but when she sings, it transforms into something confident but calming. She sang in a church choir as a child, and took piano and violin lessons too, but her drive to do music in the long term didn’t surface until she was in college. Keys was attending a party in Missoula when she heard one of her favorite Phish songs floating up from the basement. Initially convinced it was coming from the radio, Keys stumbled upon “just some dudes and a guitar.”
“I thought, ‘if they can do that, I could do that’,” Keys said.
So she did. Overnight, she borrowed a guitar and went back to her dorm room where she spent all night teaching herself chords. By morning, she was playing a song from the Little Mermaid. From there, Keys stayed in Missoula and started to establish her musical career. She said it’s taken her 10 years to become the musician she is.
Both Keys and Yost are making their livelihoods solely off of music. Keys said she decided to try music for a year, and by the end of that year it was paying her mortgage. She has a supportive husband with a “real job,” but who is also musically inclined. Yost wanted to be a full-time musician by the time he turned 30 and quit his job in December of 2011.
He said it’s been the most satisfying year of his life.
“I’m not trying to win a Grammy, I just want to pay my bills with instruments,” Yost said.
Joey Running Crane, while not connected to Keys or Yost, is another musician whose various bands frequent flyers and bookings around Missoula.
Running Crane, 23, is in four bands. But unlike Keys and Yost, he isn’t living off the income.
“I’ve been mostly unemployed for the last year. I needed things to fill time with,” Running Crane said.
Running Crane started in a band called Goddamnitboyhowdy from his home on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning after his cousin from Missoula got him into music. Their lyrics dealt with social and tribal issues and they played among a few other DIY bands on the reservations. They booked gigs in Missoula and would hitch rides with annoyed family members — and in some cases, strangers — to make it to town for shows.
After moving to Missoula he was picked up as the banjo player and drummer for Bird’s Mile Home, though he was recently kicked out. He also started the “crust” band Gretchen and the pop-punk band King Elephant with his best friend Ryan Bilunka.
Running the bands and booking the gigs have made it hard for Running Crane to find part-time jobs to make money or garner any savings, he said. This summer he helped fight wildfires in Montana, but he often has to choose between money and music.
King Elephant spent three weeks touring. When the opportunity arose for Bird’s Mile Home to play with the Minutemen, Running Crane had to decide whether to play or go fight a fire and make money. In the end, he chose the music and got to play with his musical hero, Mike Watt.
“I consider the alternative of not playing music for extended periods of time and I just feel disconnected,” Running Crane said.
Like Running Crane, Yost can’t stay away from playing. Yost plays multiple shows a week, sometimes three in one day. He said he hasn’t gone on a date on a Friday or Saturday night in ten years because of his constant shows. Of what he guesses to be about 1,000 Tom Catmull and the Clerics shows, he’s only missed three.
“If you don’t walk your dog, your dog is going to eat all the dirty clothes,” Yost said. “If I’m not playing music, I’m pretty frustrated with my life.”
None of the musicians could pick one of their bands as a favorite. For Keys, they each offer their own joys and challenges, but there’s one very special thing about her all-girl band.
“We’re more likely to fart in front of each other,” Keys said, starting to laugh.
Running Crane said he groups them into two categories: bands he drums in and bands he plays guitar for. “They both do different things for my person and that’s the reason to play music. I’d rather not be on antidepressants.
“With drumming, it’s definitely more of a visceral thing,” he said. “But then when I am singing and playing guitar and writing my deepest darkest feelings and singing them to people I barely know — it’s different. It allows me to verbally get things off my chest.”
Yost said he loves all his bands but the Clerics have provided the most stability. The benefit, he said, of having multiple bands is no matter what kind of song he writes, he has the perfect group to play it.
“If it’s a rock song and it deserves the big anthem ridiculousness, it goes to New Hijackers,” Yost said. “If it deserves something more sensitive and I want people to actually hear what I’m saying it goes to Love is a Dog because it’s more story-driven.”
All three musicians have busy springs ahead.
Recently, Running Crane started working at the VFW Post, hosting Open Mic night and working the door. King Elephant started its residency at VFW yesterday and will play there every Thursday night.
Stellarondo released its second album, “Rick Bass & Stellarondo,” at the Festival of the Book last fall but now they are going on the road to promote it to the rest of the Northwest. The unusual album combines the narratives of Rick Bass and acoustic accompaniments. In addition, the band is scoring a short film and will perform visual artist Burke Jam’s MFA thesis “Shadow of Polaris” on March 1 in the Musical Recital hall of the University of Montana School of Music.
Yost said no matter the size of an area, there’s always going to be a small portion he’ll enjoy working with. But with fewer musicians in Missoula, there’s less of a chance of being underbid.
“In Missoula, typically some of the money’s there,” Yost said. “Guarantees are a little better in some places and if you can get people to come into a bar, you can make a little money.”
Although Keys said she has considered moving to a bigger city like Portland, Ore., every time she goes there she said she sees a tour bus in front every fifth house. For her, there’s something to be said for Missoula’s size and isolation.
“In some ways I feel like there might be more or different opportunities in other places,” Keys said. “It’s ridiculous how many artists and musicians and dancers there are in this town. For a person that aches to collaborate, this is just really a fertile place to be.” - The Montana Kaiman


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Travis Yost aka “Love is a Dog from Nebraska” is a musician, engineer and producer from Missoula, Montana. He has performed all over the west, solo and also with Close, But No Seger, Tom Catmull, Stellarondo, The Glass Spiders, and Faster Rabbit. 

Travis was a recent guest musician on Eric Funk’s 11th and Grant show on Montana PBS, played at the Red Ants Pants Festival, and has shared the stage with James McMurtry, Alejandro 
Escovedo, The Decemberists, The Lumineers, Jason Spooner, Martin Sexton, Wartime Blues, Sallie Ford, Jason Isbell, Dale Watson, and Brandi Carlile to name just a few.

Band Members