Two On the Rise: Middle Class Rut and The Good Natured

While you were home popping zits, collecting baseball cards, and/or straining your hands playing X-Box, Zack Lopez and Sean Stockham were setting off to become rock stars. The pair, who make up the raw rock act Middle Class Rut, have known each other since puberty and spent their teen years forging their music style in Lopez's mom's house. That hard work paid off -- albeit not right away.

The California duo's first band, Leisure, fell apart in 2003 and led Lopez to work construction and Stockham to become a studio runner in LA. Day jobs matched with the failure of their first band gave them the fuel they needed to start up a new act and over the course of four years, they put together tracks that would ultimately be placed on Rut's debut album No Name No Color.

"New Low" video

I caught up with Stockham last week to discuss the evolution from house sessions to road tours opening for the likes of Them Crooked Vultures, Alice In Chains, and Linkin Park.

I realize your album is new but it featured a lot of songs from your "vault." Are you excited to work on a new album featuring all new music?
Absolutely, although with the amount of unreleased songs we still have in the vault, it's hard to say whether the new album will be 100-percent new material or not. We're probably nearing the final laps of touring on our current record and starting to think about how we want to even go about beginning the second record making process. But, for sure the idea of getting into a room and making something new is pretty exciting.

You've toured with amazing acts like Social Distortion and Linkin Park -- what was it like being on the road with such huge acts?
Well first off, you're playing bigger venues to large amounts of people every day so it's nice knowing that the shows are [going to] be well attended. It can be humbling in one sense to tour with a band as big as Linkin Park, but there's also a lot less pressure on us as the opener, compared to when we go out and headline our own tour. All we really need to do is show up an hour before doors, pillage the catering tent, do a 30-minute set, and then fuck around for the rest of the evening.

You are known as MC Rut for short -- how misleading is that nickname?
People have pointed that out in the past but it's never really bothered me. Worrying about how accessible we are, being careful of who we confuse or whatever is just not something that concerns us at all. In fact if anything we'll probably become more confusing to people over time just to spite the whole concept. A little bit of mystery, to me, is cool and doesn't really exist in the mainstream anymore because everyone is so desperate to be noticed and so afraid to take chances.

Very true. Is it hard to stick out in the genre?
Another thing that you just can't think about. I'm not even really sure what genre we belong in, or what that even sounds like. All you can do is write music, and trust that it's inherently unique, and just keep moving.

Off topic, if you were a professional wrestler, what would your name be and what would your finishing move be?
I'd be "The Magician" and after I turn my opponent into a pile of mashed potatoes, I'd disappear into thin air.

Nice! Lastly, you've been on the road for awhile tell me a true rock & roll /Almost Famous moment that you guys have had thus far...
We get asked to tell tour stories a lot, and either nothing interesting has really happened, or I just can't remember any of them. Actually, come to think of it, we did end up at a party one night where I was on the roof screaming "I am a golden god!" I actually jumped though, and instead of a pool it was like this little koi pond and I think I killed one of the fish and we got chased off the property with people yelling "KOI KILLER!" Rock and roll!

Middle Class Rut are currently on the road supporting AWOLNATION. Upcoming dates listed below:
11/2/11 Bakersfield, CA @ B Ryders
11/3/11 Los Angeles, CA @ The Music Box
11/4/11 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
11/7/11 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
11/8/11 Fort Collins, CO @ Aggie Theater
11/10/11 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
11/12/11 Milwaukee, WI @ Rave II
11/13/11 Lansing, MI @ The Loft (at Harem Lounge)
11/14/11 Newport, KY @ The Southgate House
11/16/11 Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
11/17/11 Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
11/21/11 New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
11/22/11 Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
11/23/11 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

The Good Natured's "Skeletons" Music Video

Sarah McIntosh can't explain it either. For some reason, the UK has become a haven for strong female singer/songwriters. "I'm not sure why, but I think it's brilliant and really exciting," she said in an interview last week. It is, and listeners in the states have been reaping the benefits ever since Lily Allen's first f-bomb.

The electropop band McIntosh fronts -- The Good Natured -- are the latest to break out of England. Drawing comparisons to La Roux and perhaps a darker Ellie Goulding, the band which also includes her brother Hamish on bass and George Hinton on drums has received a lot of buzz following their 2008 EP Warriors and recently released EP Skeletons . The title track has been heating up as of late -- especially following the music video's release. The song, by the way, evokes the best of 1980s new wave.

I caught up with Sarah McIntosh, who's just 20 years old (What was I doing at 20? Certainly not this), and asked her to introduce her band to the world.

How would you best describe the Good Natured as a band?
The Good Natured initially started off as a solo project. However, when I started playing live four years ago, I needed some back up. I asked Hamish my brother to play bass for me. Two years ago, I went to university and met George, our drummer. It naturally evolved into a three-piece band, even though I still write the songs.

How long did it take to prepare the EP?
The songs on the EP were written over a couple of years. Some of songs were written very quickly and others were left for a while before I finished them -- I wrote the verses for "Skeleton" months before I wrote the chorus. The EP is progression of songs over time.

Your brother is in the band -- I assume sibling rivalry doesn't exist -- does it?
Unfortunately, or rather fortunately for us, I don't have any exciting stories to tell about sibling rivalry between us. I remember once when we were kids we had an argument about which television channel to put on, so I threw the television controller at Hamish. Great times. We don't argue anymore. We're best friends and we have a good laugh.

How much fun was shooting the video for "Skeleton?"
We shot the video for "Skeleton" in both a drawing room and a small chapel in Bethnal Green, London. It was very low budget and we managed to do it in a day. My favorite part was getting to sing holding sparkler fireworks. It was a bit scary at first but a lot of fun. Hamish and George had a strange day. We didn't realize the drawing room was over a cafe so when the boys went to play their instruments they got told to be quiet. They had to do their parts in one take which is why they aren't really in the video!

Damn cafe owners! The nature of your music is just asking for remixes -- how do you feel about others putting their own spin on your music?
I think it's great. It's interesting to see how different remixers come up with such contrasting ideas for the same song -- that in itself is really inspiring.

The Good Natured will tour the states in early 2012.