All Roads Lead to SLO Brew Rock: Understanding High Pulp’s DIY Spirit

SLO Brew’s main stage room was sparsely populated with eager attendees awaiting a mythical, mystical septet. The seven Seattle musicians delayed taking the stage, knowing a wave of stoned 420 merrymakers would overrun the concert space a few minutes late.

High Pulp drummer Bobby Granfelt cleansed the gathering of the common show-going curse of standing an awkward distance away from the stage by voodooing them forward with the forgotten ancient craft of politely asking.

The band commenced their performance, summoning wandering psychonautic jazzheads and other stragglers outside the venue to join the show.

Each member of the group contributed distinguished energy to the collective sound. Together, they assembled a glowing orb of vitality which they passed around like a joint in the form of spirited solos.

Saxophonists Victory Ngyuen (tenor) and Andrew Morrill (alto) didn’t need to exchange words to have a spirited conversation. “Mad scientist” keyboardist Antonie Martel melted the room with his arsenal of synthesizers.

Guitarist Trevor Eulau was as frantic in his ecstatic solos as he was meticulous during a silencing lullaby. Ultra-cool bassist Kaeli Earle and drumming shaman Granfelt steered the ship with a bumping rhythm.

High Pulp’s undying desire to connect with listeners left them defenseless on stage. Instead of going through the motions and performing songs as expected, they tapped into their emotions and kept listeners on their toes with experimental improvisations.

Keyboardist Rob Homan began jamming instead of ending “Kamishinjo” where it did in the studio version allowing the band to pivot and create a living and breathing song. Homan’s diversion from the expected melody was one of many moments unique to SLO Brew patrons.

“When those ‘in the moment’ occurrences happen, it’s the band’s collective job to adjust and build from there,” explained Granfelt, “those moments keep the touring fun for us.”

While High Pulp sprinkled covers of Cortex’s “Troupeau Bleu” and Radiohead’s “Feral” into their performance, they showcased original tunes from their new album “Pursuit of Ends,” such as “All Roads Lead to Los Angeles.”

High Pulp is a euphoria distributor in their new album, dealing ecstatic jazz jams, shoegaze dreams, and electronic trances that paint pulsating visceral soundscapes.

They deliberately synthesize the essence of liberating influences Aphex Twin, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra, blending expressive jazz with space-age experimentation.

Not content with limiting the span of their community, High Pulp collaborated with three talented musicians to expand the soundscape of “Pursuit of Ends.”

Esteemed Roy Haynes Quartet saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, Shrek Is Love and JacobMann Big Band pianist Jacob Mann, and GRAMMY-nominated trumpeter Theo Croker.

Granfelt called Haynes’s contribution to “All Roads Lead to Los Angeles” “humbling and a dream come true.” Mann hypnotizes “Kamishinjo” on the keyboard, and Croker delivers buttery trumpet skills to “You’ve Got To Pull It Up From The Ground.”

The collaboration on “Pursuit of Ends” is only a tiny section of the diverse community the collective has created. High Pulp’s members have different origin stories and skillsets thanks to their emergence from a mix of metal, indie, and jazz DIY bands.

Yet, it’s not their past concoction of genres that fuel High Pulp’s aura; it’s their DIY spirit. For Granfelt, DIY is not only about doing it yourself but “making decisions based on art, emotion, and vulnerability as opposed to making decisions to please others.”

High Pulp commitment to instinctual communication on stage is a necessary risk that Granfelt emphasizes as fundamental to performing live, “when you make artistic decisions for yourself, you’re more likely to connect with and please other people!”

As experienced at SLO Brew, the DIY mindset creates the invisible glue that bonds listeners with the artists. High Pulp’s meticulous instrumentation and frantic improvisations would not seduce listeners without the glue. Both parties would not get that sweet rush of escaping the real and mundane world.

DIY attitude doesn’t evaporate when the music goes quiet. It continues beating like a heart. Listeners will follow the beat as long as the artists stay true to themselves. If High Pulp keeps producing extraordinary music from the heart, we will continue waiting for their next conjuration with eager anticipation.

Evan Gattuso writes for .WAV’s Content Team. He wrote the article. Natalie Rockhold is on .WAV’s Art Team. She made the graphic.