Local metal musicians are making Ugly music together
In a small 8 by 10 foot room of a rented house in Blue Earth, a full drum set, multiple speakers, sound boards, and amps are being set up for band practice.
It’s a tight space, but it works for one local metal band.
With a quick tune up and a rundown of the songs to be practiced, “Ugly” band members Seth Stauffer on guitar, Junior Lopez on drums and vocals, Shawn Spellman on lead vocals, and Jovany Martinez on bass are warmed up and ready.
They are not only ready for their weekly practice, but they’re also getting ready for a fairly big show in Algona, Iowa, during the month of March.
These local musicians are preparing to open for a band called “Motograter,” a band best known for their homemade instrument, the “motograter,” designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that creates a unique bass sound.
“This is a big deal for us,” says Stauffer. “We have looked up to them for a long time and we never thought we would have this chance to play a gig with them.”
The band, named “Ugly,” has been a project of Stauffer and Lopez for many years, but in the fall of 2014, the pieces fell together when frontman Spellman joined the group. He had never been in a band before, let alone sung lead vocals, but he was a natural for the group. They also just recently added Martinez which completed the sound for the band.
When it comes to band names, “Ugly” may not be one that comes to mind, but the members of the band say there is important meaning behind the name.
“Ugly is a word that everyone knows and it holds a negative connotation, but to us, ugly is a perspective,” says Stauffer. “To some, ugly things may be beautiful, and beautiful things may be ugly. That’s what we want to do with our music we want to let our listeners come up with their own perspective whether they think it to be beautiful or ugly.”
The members of the group are all self-taught musicians. They have experimented and learned their instruments all on their own.
The band feels this is a major reason why they have such a unique sound compared to other local groups.
“It’s that ugliness we were talking about,” says Lopez. “It may seem different to some at times, but it’s been perfected through our own techniques and learning different sounds and styles.”
And don’t ask them to do covers of different songs.
“We do all original music,” says Stauffer. “If you’re trying to make a name for yourself, you don’t want to be remembered for playing someone else’s song.”
Their techniques and sounds have become proficient enough for them to record their music.
“We are expecting to have a single come out within the next few months,” says Lopez. “We are excited to get that going. Not only will it expand our listening audience, it will give us opportunity to share our music with venues that will give us shows.”
Practice has made this band close to perfect. They say practicing is a huge component to their skill and their success so far.
“We practice at the very least once a week, but try to practice two or three times, especially when we know we have a show,”
Stauffer has words to live by when it comes to practicing “if you don’t do it at practice, you don’t do it at the show.”
“If we goof up or we make a mistake, we do it over,” says Stauffer. “Even breaks in the songs are practiced, so we know we don’t miss anything when we’re on stage,” says Stauffer.
For most, being a musician holds a hope of becoming famous and wealthy.
Though it would be nice, Ugly members admit that it is not their end goal.
“We enjoy playing music. We do this for us. It’s fun,” says Spellman.
“If people like us, we will continue to do this at public venues, but if they don’t like us, we probably won’t stop anyway,” says Lopez.
“It’s about community, really,” says Stauffer. “The music community. When we go to shows and venues, we meet more local musicians who are doing the same things we are doing, and our community becomes bigger and bigger. This is more than just a hobby, it’s a passion of ours we have all had since we were young.”
Ugly hopes to continue their own music, but wants to inspire other young, local musicians as well. After all that is where they first started.
“Growing up in Winnebago and Blue Earth, we know there isn’t a huge platform for local musicians, but we know that there are musicians here that want to continue on just like us. It’s a way to connect with each other,” says Lopez.
The boys of Ugly hope to inspire young musicians in the area and hope they continue their dreams as well.
“Don’t give up, no matter the circumstances,” advises Spellman.
“Don’t limit yourself to what other people tell you. Always broaden your horizons,” adds Stauffer.
And, most importantly, Lopez reminds young musicians of the community to “just do what you love.”
Whether it is just a passion, a career move, or a way to connect within a small community, music is important for these local men.
Maybe within the next few years, they will make even more progress and hopefully have a larger practice room.