Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Solemn

Shawn pleaded with me to edit the bio on a band he was in back in the early 90's, entitled Solemn, but it was so jam packed with information, an amusing read...AND they have no website. Hence, I'm just gonna have to reproduce it in its entirety and function as the official web (hopefully that'll encourage the gentlemen to send pictures my way). Sorry buds. :)

For those of you who have an incredibly short attention span here's some of their music which is quite good...freakishly good when you realize how young they were when they recorded this. Most jr. high rock star dreams don't last long nor do they include a core set of people who continue to perform together into high school. Rarely do they even get gigs. So you're listening to true talent right here, folks. What I find most interesting is how much their paths diverged yet many continued with music.

Listen to:
"Trouble"
"The Unusual"
"Key in the Clouds"

One side comment, I watched some video footage of them performing the Backroom and still recall guitarist Josh Watson reaching over and tweaking Shawn's bass tuning in the middle of a performance while they were performing. That's what you call a sharp ear.

Read (bio by Shawn Westmoreland, via email):

Hi Cindy,

Solemn never had a website or anything - Solemn was before the internet.
Well, I guess the internet was still there, but we sure as hell didn't
know about it like most people. Let's see, I can relate a history of the
band. (I'm sure you won't want to use all of this..)


Founded in 1989 by Chad Hunter (drums), Shawn Westmoreland (bass), and
Danny Burrows (singer) while attending middle school. Danny Burrows left
for Amarillo very quickly, and was only in the band for a few months. Then
Ricky Valenzeuala joined us as guitarist. Eventually, Chad and I convinced
Josh Watson (the best guitarist in school) to leave the band he was
currently in and join Sin 'n Solemn. Josh's friend Chris Luton also joined
as rhythm guitarist. Ricky was then out of the band.

1989 lineup: [Sin 'n Solemn]
Josh Watson (lead guitar)
Chris Luton (rhythm guitar)
Shawn Westmoreland (bass)
Chad Hunter (bass)

Our main influences were Guns 'n Roses (even modeling the name of our band
after theirs), Motley Crue, '80s Metallica (that was the only Metallica at
the time), Whitesnake, big-hair bands and stuff. I'm glad now that we
never really sounded like our influences! I don't really like the kind of
music we used to listen to anymore.

We got our first gig in 1990 at a "teenage night club" in Round Rock known
as Boltz. Now, that place is known as "Joy." That's right, "Joy" the strip
club. By 1991, Chris Luton was gone and the band was a trio. We also
shortened the name to "Solemn." Our parents didn't like us having "Sin" in
our band name anyway.

1991 lineup: [Solemn]
Josh Watson
Chad Hunter
Shawn Westmoreland

In 1991 we playes several gigs at the Backroom in Austin and other clubs.
We were only like 14-15 years old. We couldn't play the clubs unless our
parents came along with us, and they did. The crowds were always quite
small, consiting of family and friends. Our following was extremely small
but it was loyal and seemingly fanatical at times.

At some time in 1991 - 1992, we got another rhythm guitarist, Steven Haas.
He only stayed with us for a few months and moved on to a very successful
local metal band called "Soul Gate."

In 1992, Josh quit the band, and this devestated Chad and I. We sought a
few new guitarists, but had problems finding someone that Chad and I both
liked. Eventually, we ended up getting Ricky Valenzuela back and also a
fellow by the name of Jeremy Langsworth. We continued playing clubs around
Austin occasionally. (Oh yeah, keep in mind we still didn't have a singer.
We were "instrumental rock.")

1992 lineup: [retrospectively nicknamed "Solemn 2"]
Jeremy Langsworth (lead guitar)
Ricky Valenzuela (rhythm guitar)
Shawn Westmoreland (bass)
Chad Hunter (drums)

In late 1992, our dream of finding a great singer finally materialized.
Since 1989, we had been looking for singers, auditioned several people.
But they always sucked and just didn't fit with us personality-wise
anyway. But Brian Lamere was like a gift from God. He had a great voice,
and was pretty cool overall. Well, there was occasionally some friction
between some of the other band members and Brian which I never really
understood. At any rate, Brian was incorporated into the band and I quit,
leaving bass guitar duties to Jeremy Langsworth. The reason why I quit was
beacuse I was no longer interested in music. I wanted to conentrate on
physics.

Late late 1992:
Brian Lamere (vocals/guitar)
Ricky Valenzuela (guitar)
Jeremy Lansgworth (bass)
Chad Hunter (drums)

(My absense from Solemn was so brief that it is easily overlooked, even by
the other band members.) But then I heard what things sounded like with
Brian's vocals and I thought it was great. I figured that I could play
bass and still study physics, so I talked things over with Chad and
replaced Jeremy as bassist. I was only out of the band for about a month
at the most. It was not long until Josh heard the stuff we were doing with
Brian and he also came back to the band. Thus, the canonical incarnation
of Solemn was born

1993: [Solemn}
Brian Lamere (vocals)
Josh Watson (lead guitar)
Ricky Valenzuela (rhythm guitar)
Shawn Westmoreland (bass)
Chad Hunter (drums)

Brian and Chad forged a very fruitful collaboration on writing songs.
Ricky and Josh also made substantial contributions. Although I had been a
major contributor in the past, my interest in music had waned, and I was
no longer contributing creatively to the band. I just played very simple
bass lines to support the amazing songs that the other people were
writing.

We just continued writing songs, playing clubs, and such until we
eventually dissolved in 1995. Although the band appeared to have been
short-lived, it was our whole world for a few years, and the innocence of
youth made those few precious years seem to stretch out for decades.

Looking back, I wish I hadn't burned out on songwriting back then and took
the music a bit more seriously. We were just starting to get attention
from producers when we fizzled out and went separate ways. Selfishly, I
did not want a career in music. I should have put more effort in it for
the sake of the others, though.

I don't know what caused the break-up, but it was pretty clear that Solemn
was no more at some time in 1995.

There was the occasional talk of reunion, but it never happened.

Where are they now?
Chad Hunter went on to work with children at his church and devoted
himself to Christ. He was also a good poet and some of his poetry has been
published. He died in a tragic motorcycle accident in August 2005.

Josh Watson released an awesome solo album in 1995. It was only circulated
among friends and was never released on any large scale. (Which is
unfortunate because it was fucking awesome!) He is currently getting back
into music and has built a new home studio and working on a new album.
He's also playing guitar for a Christian metal band.

Ricky Valenzuela went on to form several bands after the break-up of
Solemn. Notably the funk-rock band QP. Shawn Westmoreland joined QP as
keyboardist in 1999 and stayed with QP until that band disintegrated in
2000. Currently, Ricky is married and living in central Texas. Last time I
saw him (about a year ago), he wasn't that interested in music anymore and
said that his guitar is just sitting there collecting dust.

Brian Lamere eventually married his girlfriend, who he started dating
while with Solemn. He now lives in New York and last time I talked to him
(about a year ago) he said that he was thinking about going back to school
to do a Masters degree. He attended Texas A&M. I don't remember what he
majored in, I assume he graduated. He was really smart and I enjoyed
talking to him about philosophy and stuff when I was around him.

Back in the day, Shawn thought that if Solemn broke up it would be the end
of the world, but the breakup of Solemn in 1995 was tolerable since he had
come to believe that his true calling lie with physics and mathematics. In
2002, he released a solo album titled "Mystery Box" under the alias "Das
Mobius." Currently, he is working on his PhD in mathematics at Kansas
State University.


OK I'm trusting that you will use your good taste and editing skills to
make this into a descent sounding biography! :)

Too bad I don't have any pictures. Maybe I can get some to you sometime,
but that won't be anytime soon!

Thanks,

-Shawn.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments:

Anonymous Shawn said...

Don't know why I listed both Chad and I as bassist in the initial line up! Oh well, no one is going to read all that boring stuff anyway.

Thanks Cindy, for posting these songs! I really appreciate it. Now more people can enjoy Solemn.

Thursday, January 04, 2007  
Anonymous cchang said...

And if Josh keeps finding demos and perhaps loads footage onto youtube, I can continue to post them here. THere's even a "solemn" tag so all the Solemn posts can be grouped together!

Thursday, January 04, 2007  
Anonymous dazed1 said...

hah...crazy stuff. Was sitting here talking to some coworkers about HR folks doing searches on people, and I saw this page. I talked to Shawn earlier this year a couple times. I should catch back up with him again.

Moved back to San Diego a few months ago. American Idol is coming here and my wife thinks I should go. I think she's insane. Was good times back then, though. Everyone was so talented...oh well.

(Brian LaMere)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007  
Anonymous dazed1 said...

ps - Chad's mother has a bunch of really cool pictures of us that we did. Black and white stuff in various places. I saw them and was shocked - I was almost as cool then as I am now! ;)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007  
Anonymous cchang said...

Wow can you maybe send some of those pics to me or Shawn?

Friday, July 06, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home