Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

It is axiomatic that the virtues we possess as children fade as we age. It is also axiomatic that those precious modes of living that we all possessed as kids are virtuous.

For centuries artists and thinkers alike have sought to unlearn what they’ve learned as adults in an attempt to relearn what they knew as children. And if you listen to the Young Coyotes, you will find a little bit of this present in their approach, their interactions and especially their sound.

The Young Coyotes sound like cavemen on acid. Er, not really. Actually, not even close. But engage them in conversation and, depending on the day, this is one answer you may hear. Said, of course, with a sly, childish laugh.

In all reality Adam Halferty (drums, vocals) and Zach Tipton (guitar, vocals) are a bit more serious about their music than some of their descriptions may lead you to believe. Building on the cavemen analogy, Tipton will describe their sound as being more tribal – mostly on account of the percussive elements that pervade their entire sound. From their diverse drum arrangements, to the xylophone and even Tipton’s guitar and vocals – the Coyotes have a heartbeat that is undeniable. And powerful.

These Coyotes will drop your jaw. Young or old. No other band in town right now has such a pronounced penchant and aptitude for employing so many movements, so eloquently, into one song. These Coyotes are wild but keep you guessing in the most charming and sophisticated of musical ways – in ways that speak of supreme refinement and ability. These Coyotes do not discriminate on landscapes where they roam: they float neatly from the mountainous caves of “When I Was in the Fire” to the soulful Harlem streets of “Rooftops”.

And now, only months into this new project and the Young Coyotes already have a booking agency, one for U.S. shows and another for International gigs. By the end of the year, their first full length will be complete (the track on this page is from that collection, and it this sample is unmastered). All this and the band isn’t even a year old.

While on tour with their previous bands, (Tipton with Moros Eros from Georgia; and Halferty with the Denver act The Axe That Chopped The Cherry Tree) the pair bonded. After the tour, each act disbanded and Tipton drove from Georgia to unite with Halferty (who also drums for Chain Gang of 1974), with the idea of a creating a new musical project. Just what, exactly, they were going to create was a matter of mystery.

Much like their arrangements, Tipton’s personal belongings were and still are, scarce. After their previous projects dissembled, Halferty and Tipton set-out to create an act that that could tour in a small car. When the Coyotes first began, Halfterty was using a suitcase a kick drum.

I believe that something about these boys spells: vagabond.

Are you sometimes presented with a vignette of some small act that you performed as a child and are struck with the overwhelming sensation of pleasure and perfection? To approach this in a more-simplistic manner: what was so magical about building mansions out of cardboard boxes, or playing with matchbox cars for hours on end?

Well, the Young Coyotes are moving backwards to those kinds of spaces, toward those kinds of answers. Or, they’re trying to anyway. If anything, their music does bear the fruit of retaining an adult version of childhood curiosity. In most instances, the Coyotes’ music flutters between the beautiful xylophone-induced vocal harmonies reminiscent of cradle songs and the scream of a thesis born from a lifetime of insomnia and bad dreams.

In all, the Coyotes songwriting process is hitting on this idea of childhood simplicity. They write quickly and they write often. Songs come with a rapidity that has had the three Coyotes (with the inclusion of Matt Wilcox on xylophone and drums) shaking their heads in delight.

Charles Bukowski talked about writing work that came screaming out of you, with little effort and a noted simplicity (“so you want to be a writer?”). If you’re producing work, Bukowski said, that comes out of you as though it had no choice – you’re probably doing the right thing. To extend the crayon picture, it’s as though you were a child with a drawer full of markers and a cardboard box that was about to become the largest mansion the world has ever seen. It is within this space where the Coyotes have struck it rich. But there are other caches of treasure littered all around their musical landscape.

It seems that the Coyotes songs have come like a case of insomnia – without warning. In talking about their songs, Tipton and Halferty rattle off several influences: creepy dreams, awkward silence, nostalgia. And certainly, somewhere in there, they are influenced by their diverging ideologies that, somehow, they leave off the table when there’s music between them. Music, for each of these complicated boys has been a refuge of sorts; a place to put that nervous energy and all those strange ideas and far-fetched dreams. And if the music isn’t that place, then they have found a rare safe haven in each other.

In-person, Tipton and Halferty possess the grace of authenticity and this new musical product is an example of that weight. Often, Tipton sings from his toes – bellowing beyond the microphone. Other times, he revolves around the microphone in some unconscious laundry-spin. Halferty, in sustaining the bands’ ever-changing beats, has no time to comb his hair behind the drums. Rightfully so, when you play this kind of honest, up-tempo, fierce and complicated work – there is very little time to look cool.

But in reality, the Young Coyotes are producing some of the coolest music in the Queen City these days. I can’t remember the last time that there was such a quick and pronounced buzz as there has been with a band in town, as there is with Coyotes. Look for the band’s upcoming full-length, which is – at this point – being eagerly anticipated by many. But really, you need get out to a show and see this unorthodox and beautiful caveman experiment thriving and turning whole rooms on their heads by going to their Myspace page: www.myspace.com/youngcoyotes.

This is certainly that kind of band in Denver where you most certainly will have the pleasure of saying, “I knew them when…”