Winter Park / live Music " Meanbottle: ‘Velvet Underground, had they grown up on a farm’ |

Winter Park / live Music " Meanbottle: ‘Velvet Underground, had they grown up on a farm’

by Cyndi McCoy
Winter Park, Colorado

Alternative country, “cow punk,” rockabilly, Americana, rock and garage ” Meanbottle’s sound is jam-packed. Audiences who caught them last time they were in Grand County, and fans looking to be introduced to new music, are up for a treat.

Meanbottle practices take place on a farm and the chickens that line up on the shelves in the garage were the inspiration for the band logo, a proud red rooster inside a blazing sun.

The band name came while Miller was reading a biography about Hank Williams Sr., one of his major influences. The author said the first time he heard a Hank song he thought it sounded like it had crawled up out of a mean bottle. Miller thought it was a perfect description for the kind of music he wanted to make.

Meanbottle members are Brandon Hiett (drums), Derek Miller (drums, guitar, lead vocals), Nate “Curly” Butler (electric bass, 6- and 12-string guitar), and Scott “Scooter” (or “Bubbles”) McCumber (guitar and pedal steel).

With supportive family members and exposure to a variety of music, the four grew up dreaming of the stage. McCumber’s grandfather was a professional saxophone player during the Big Band era and he said his grandma continues to motivate him with the tales. He always wanted to be like his grandfather but didn’t have a knack for the sax, so he “branched out.” Miller “sprang from the womb” ready to rock, it’s all McCumber and Butler’s ever wanted to do, and Hiett’s mom told him he has been singing Bon Jovi songs since age 3.

Band influences include legends like Elvis Presley, Ritchie Valens, Brian Wilson, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Patsy Cline, the Beatles, the Ramones, Dead Kennedys and the music of Idgy Vaughn, Cracker, Uncle Tupelo, Social Distortion, Leadbelly, White Stripes, Anthrax, Misfits, Nirvana and Wilco.

“We’ve been described as sounding like the Velvet Underground, had they grown up on a farm,” Miller said. Hiett said it is a conglomeration of “four different backgrounds all tossed into a big pot of fermenting moonshine.”

“When it comes to our musical style,” McCumber said, “I think we all bring our own experience and influence to form our sound.” Miller, a.k.a. “Sarsaparilla,” says it’s Ben Nichols of Lucero who inspires him to write better songs and Josh Zee of the Mother Truckers that inspires him to be a better musician. Musicians like George Jones and Lefty Frizzell inspire him to be a better vocalist.

Frank Zappa, Mike Patton and Tony Levin “are pretty high on the list” for Butler. He finds happiness in playing and hopes he can bring a grin to other people’s faces at the same time.

McCumber, a self-described “aspiring musician with grandiose dreams,” is mostly inspired by Western swing, rockabilly, and the other guys in Meanbottle. His mission: simply to entertain. “Music can be a lot of things to different people but we do this for fun,” he said.

Hiett (a.k.a. “Salty” or “Critter”) feels the band falls into a certain niche and that there are definitely people who enjoy and appreciate it. He is motivated, he jokes, “by the possibility of being able to tour around the country in a big purple school bus with velvet-lined seats and a disco ball.”

Most of their material is original and McCumber is proud to say the band was founded on the singers’ song-writing abilities.

Miller can’t describe the feeling he gets after a show, but estimates it “makes you want to go start a band, or write the greatest song ever, or go clean your bathroom really good.”

If nothing else, McCumber said, new listeners will also come away with a new favorite band.

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