Nick Hagen of Stench. Courtesy photo.

Nick Hagen of Stench. Courtesy photo.

(December 17, 2013)

If there is one thing that brings people together, it’s the holidays, and with the holidays comes two of the longest running bands to come out of the desolate very-late 90s music scene here in town. Montrose is the home of Fractalia and Stench, two bands that will always be remembered because they will always come back home. This year only a week apart you can catch a glimpse of the both Stench and Tales From Ghost town at Suds on Dec. 21st, and Fractalia New Years Eve at The Turn of the Century. And here are their stories (abridged).

By Bailey Vince
The conception of beauty through chaos. This perhaps best describes the nearly 15 year-long musical journey of Western Slope band Fractalia. Founded around 2000, the group’s initial inspiration drew from the concept of fractal geometry through a use of self-similar polyrhythmic patterns to build its elaborate sound structure. Through this early hypnotic and often improvisational sound, Fractalia soon established itself as one of Western-Colorado’s most formidable original acts. First-place titles in Durango and Grand Junction battles of the bands further affirmed this reputation, the latter securing them an opening slot on stage at 2007‘s Rock Jam. The following year Fractalia members released the album “Fractal World” under the name Sons of the Addicted on the Phantasma label. Just as fractals can be analyzed in countless naturally occurring phenomena, so too has their self-proclaimed “fractal music” continued to undergo seemingly infinite manifestations over the years.

Urning for more large-scale recognition, Fractalia’s core members left their Western-Slope home and relocated to Denver in 2010. Further accolades earned there include an additional first-place title in a city-wide battle of the bands held at the historic Cervantes Ballroom. In spite of this and other accomplishments, the band struggled to establish its musical identity in an environment increasingly dominated by rap and electronica. Frustrated, band members decided the best course of action would be to take some time off to pursue individual projects. Fractal founder Stosch Dembitsky relocated to Santa Fe, NM- immersing himself in a fresh music scene and fronting a new band Alstoschorama. Bassist Joel Waller chose to come back to the Western-Slope, breathing new life into the local psychedelic music scene that he and Fractalia helped to establish. Norwood and Telluride locals might know him from projects like Improv Malicious, Jason Hunter Band, Zippermouth and others. Drummer Bailey Vince stayed in Denver, pursuing his interest in electronic production and establishing the now infamous Fractalia Remix Project.
The band is so excited to come back home, and perform for all of our close friends and family. This is the environment which has nurtured and encouraged our creative expression since the project’s inception, now well over ten years ago. We’ve come a long way since those early years, and none of it would have been possible without the tremendous support from this community. We grew up here and deep down we’re just the same local kids with big dreams. Come be a part of our Fractal Family- let’s relive some cherished memories and create some new ones. Together we can re-kindle the Fractal Flame.

By Jamie Berndt
MONTROSE–I can remember it all, not like it was yesterday but close enough. I remember the phone call that would bring the three of us together. Rafe and I had been banging on a few different instruments for a month or so when we decided that the next best thing to do is start a band. With logos already drawn up and a handful of band names (Stench was not one of them), we were ready. We knew this kid from school, Nick Hagan and were sure that we had something in common, punk rock. We called Nick knowing that he played bass, so Rafe put down the guitar and got a drum set and I put down my bass and picked up his guitar, and together we learned how to play a few songs (some that we still play today). The three of us molded well, Nick stepped in with an endless amount of lyrics and the exact amount of energy that every front man needs, and for us it worked. I can’t speak for everyone, but for us it did.

We tried to play out as much as three 16 year old kids could, not a simple task in Montrose, the town of lost (bored) children. We played a lot, and when we couldn’t we would find somewhere. There are a few stories, some appropriate, some not. One particular that will always stand out in my mind.

There was a night sometime before 2005 that we are most proud of… We were supposed to play a show that night but it got canceled. All our equipment was already loaded up and we weren’t about to head home just to unload again. We decided that we would still play a show somewhere… So we parked outside of Riverbottom park at midnight, hauled all of our amps and speakers past the gates on skateboards, plugged in to the gazebo in the middle of the park and played a full show till 2 in the morning. There was only about 10 to 12 people there, didn’t matter–it was sublime. We were sure that the police would find their way down and put an end to the night, and had little concern about the consequences if they were to show up. That was a night we will always remember.

Over the years we have grown wiser, a little more mature, but still manage to hold onto the aggression and immaturity it takes to play in a punk band. Nick, who relocated to Montana a few years back braves the weather and drives down to Montrose every December, while Rafe and I must dust off our instruments and get back in the punk rock state of mind for the annual show.

Remembering back to trying to plan for the 10th rock for food, we were going to have a BIG show. We would get bands that would never even think about playing here in Montrose. But that never happened, the 10th was just like every other one, close friends, some fresh ears, and personal. In a way I think we agreed on just doing what we have always done and that’s play what we do best, our music. It might be sloppy and the feedback from the cheap equipment might make you want to run for the door, but its who we are and the sounds we make. Who knew that when we started Stench that we’d still be able to pull it together every year, to finally make it to the 14th annual rock for food. Even though I don’t put all my focus into playing music these days–it was my youth, and I will always be proud of what we have done as a band even if the idea of “making it” was not the hand we were dealt.