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"Listen Up to Towncrier"

by tim paluch
juice staff writer


Towncrier wants you to hear their music. You and every other person in the entire world. The band, founded in 1999 by a group of high school buddies in Cedar Rapids, still has a way to go. But it's not for a lack of trying, busting their hump at shows all over Iowa and the Midwest. Thursday they'll perform at Nitefall on the River in downtown Des Moines, scratching a couple more names off their list. Juice chatted with Jerry Lorenson, the band's 23-year-old vocalist, guitarist and pianist.

Q: How did the band get started?

A: The band got started just like any other band, I guess. Myself and a couple of my high school buddies started playing whatever instruments we could in a buddy's basement after school. We played a few graduation parties, and I started learning guitar and writing songs in college. We got our first paying gig at a tiny tavern in a tiny town. This band has been the best job I've ever had since.

Q: Describe your music right now, and also the evolution of your sound from the time you started.

A: When we first started we tried the whole jam band thing and learned over the course of time that none of us was a good enough musician to keep a crowd interested with 10-minute guitar and drum solos. So we figured we'd improve at songwriting. We believe in the songs we play because we've seen their effects on others.

Q: It seems you're starting to build a nice following in Des Moines. What other cities would we find strong Towncrier fan bases?

A: In Iowa: Ames, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Sioux City, the Quad Cities. Markets we're building, playing every six to eight weeks include, but are not limited to: Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Madison, Minneapolis, Omaha.

Q: You played the South by Southwest festival in Austin this year. What was that like and what does an event like that do for a young band?

A: It's like summer camp for rock bands. The goal of Towncrier is for every person on the planet to be exposed to our music. At an event like SXSW, you get an opportunity to play for people in the music industry who can help you reach that goal.

Q: What's your affiliation with the Nadas? Are there benefits working so closely with an established band like them?

A: Our affiliation with the Nadas is friends first. They've expanded the roster of their record label, Authentic Records, to include more artists: Towncrier, The Josh Davis Band and many other artists the Nadas believe need to be heard. They've been an instrumental part in cultivating Towncrier and showing us what it means to be artists.

Q: Talk about the new album. When can we expect it? Is this the one that puts Towncrier over the top?

A: The new album is "The End And Everything After." The slated release is January 2007. Thirteen new tracks. We're extremely excited. The one idea is that it will show you some part of this world you haven't seen before. Yes, this is absolutely the album that puts us over the top.

Q: Nitefall on the River is a pretty unique event at a unique venue in Des Moines. Are you looking forward to playing outdoors in front of what could potentially be a large audience full of people who have never heard you?

A: We've done this long enough that we are always excited but never know how it's going to go until the show starts. Whether it's a crowd of five or 5,000, we always enter the night with the same mindset: Tonight is another step towards the ultimate goal.
- Des Moines Register - Juice


"Shine" January 2003
"Without a Trace" November 2004
New Album "The End and Everything After" November 2006



Only four degrees separate the members of Towncrier and actor Kevin Bacon. Not too shabby for a group of high school buddies from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Conceived in 1999 by Jerry Lorenson ( lead vocals/acoustic guitar) and Matt Hinz (bass guitar), Towncrier began as a duo playing cover tunes at parties and talent shows. But by 2001, Lorenson's penchant for putting pen to paper had created an impressive catalog of original songs and the two decided it was time to turn the duo into a full band. The eventual lineup came to include Ryan Plotz on acoustic and electric guitars and Will Locker on drums and percussion.

In September 2002 the quartet traveled to Kansas City to cut their six-song self-titled EP. The group had the good fortune to work alongside producer Rick Kloog (Jewel, Korn).

"It was a really cool experience being in the studio with someone so talented and experienced," Lorenson said. "We all learned a lot."

Enter The Nadas, the venerable Iowa folk-rock band. With one EP under their belt and a burgeoning fan base--not to mention a dash of nepotism--Towncrier was signed to Authentic Records, co-founded by Nadas frontmen Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith.

"I was blown away the first time I heard Jerry sing," said Butterworth. "I knew I wanted to have Towncrier on Authentic's roster right then."

And since Towncrier drummer Will Locker is the younger brother of Nadas bass player Jon, the union is a family affair.

"Every little bit helps," Lorenson said of Towncrier's association with The Nadas. "But it's still up to us to make good music and perform a kick-ass live show. No one else is going to do that for us."

Towncrier's first full-length album, Without a Trace, released in November 2004. The band has been touring clubs and colleges in support of the release.

And as for Towncrier's path to all things Kevin Bacon, it goes like this:
Towncrier know The Nadas. The director of the newly minted DVD A Decade of Nada is Travis Ballstadt, who was also a production assistant on the television show "Party of Five." Actress Neve Campbell co-starred on "Party of Five" and in the movie Wild Things... which also co-starred Kevin Bacon.