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Three for all

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It isn’t especially often that three of a city scene’s most exciting live bands wind up on a single bill. But that’s Friday’s free show on the University of Oklahoma campus, and the competition’s set for “fierce.”

For the blown-fuse vintage punkers of Broncho (right) ,that means sweating, riffing and mid-song crowd-surfing like never before. For electro rockers Chrome Pony, the synths will get bodies shaking en masse. And for psychedelic hillbillies Stardeath and White Dwarfs ... well, they’ll just have to freak out harder, better, faster and stronger. “I’ve always thought that was something special about Oklahoma — there aren’t a whole lot of places to play, so it creates a high level of competition to get those shows,” said Matt Duckworth, drummer for Stardeath and sometimes Chrome Pony. “If you don’t bring something new or different to the table, then somebody else is gonna get the show. It’s an interesting, competitive element that makes everybody better.”

Each band’s recent performance résumé is impressive. Stardeath played New York’s famous Bowery Ballroom to positive reviews. Chrome Pony (left) slammed an exclamation point on the end of Norman Music Festival 4, while Broncho ripped Tulsa’s Soundpony bar apart over the summer.

How do the guys all keep it friendly when everybody’s trying so hard to be the best? They agreed it’s a combination of collaboration and admiration.

Chrome Pony founder Steven Battles, who’s been helping with Stardeath’s sophomore LP, is kind of the king of Norman-area rock collaborations. He can rattle off the names of nine guitarists who’ve contributed to Chrome Pony, eventually stopping at Brine Web.

“Well, Brine — kind of. He just grabbed a guitar and got onstage at Norman Music Fest,” Battles said.

Added Broncho leader Ryan Lindsey, “He wasn’t plugged in at all.”

“We didn’t talk about it,” said Battles. “He just jumped up there.”

Stardeath front man Dennis Coyne said he’s always been jealous of Lindsey’s talents.

“We’ve had a few different guitar players, and every time a guy’s quit, we’ve courted him,” Coyne said. “He’s always been playing with another band, though, so it never quite worked out.”

Ask Lindsey what he’s taken from former roommate Battles’ onstage work and the flirting continues: “I’ve always admired Steven’s fearlessness to go over-the-top as Chrome Pony. That’s really encouraged me working with Broncho.”

Kidding aside, each group has pushed and pulled a lot into one another, whether in terms of conceptual influence or actual sonic contribution. They’ll be carrying that momentum into the near future, as each outfit has plans for more shows and releases.

Stardeath, which is signed to Warner Bros. Records, is about to start its last recording session at Norman’s Bell Labs Recording Studio. Battles is stretching outside his comfort zone on a gospel/ soul project with Broncho guitarist Ben King. And Broncho has a couple of tracks it intends to cobble together for a 7-inch release.

Click through for an exclusive interview with Broncho frontman Ryan Lindsey at OKSee, the Gazette music blog.

Broncho photo by Michael Cooper
Chrome Pony photo by Nathan Poppe


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