Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

Sometime in 2007, Stuart Confer emptied-out the pockets of his head and found something. What that was, I’m not entirely sure, but at this point – you’re listening to an excerpt of that entire discovery. For it was: a discovery, of moving proportions.

Life and the threat of accidental death is bizarre. But, if you listen to what Confer has produced: life is also beautiful.

Close your eyes to everything else and read a reminder:

Locked-away in somewhere in Denver, Stuart Confer spent a considerable and solitary chunk of the last couple of years writing and recording and sketching all the actors for his musical play, one that he would baptize “Hindershot” – a play on a family name. And while he is not an invisible character (he plays in Old Radio), nor does he stalk the streets alone at night, mad and seething like some misanthropic recluse – he did re-emerge in 2010, as a new man, with a new band and a new land.

Enter, Hindershot – a musical outfit that suddenly appeared on the Denver scene, with recordings, an all-star line-up and some internal momentum already in their new gene pockets.

Patrick Kelly, Lucas Johannes, Jesse Livingston, Spencer Alred,and John Fate are musicians that Confer either pulled, deliberately, around him – or they stumbled into the fold to provide a much-needed element to Confer’s orchestral marksman’s scope. Now, six months into it and the outlaws have amended Confer’s solitary vision and won what they’ve needed to inside the company for themselves: Their live show has separated itself from Confer’s initial recordings. The band is recording this fall, together – each with instruments of their own and voices to fill the spaces that Confer never called upon in his ghostly room.

And this is precisely the central mark that Hindershot should leave on your torso: this blitzkrieg of bullets began as Stuart Confer’s singular vision - his private, creative Russian Roulette. It is here, in this private sunlight of our lives where I find the most telling and profound hallmarks of power, inspiration and insight into the human condition. Yes: the initial recordings of Hindershot call to that kind of hope and drive that humanity can be good; that humanity can be bold and brave and, yes, even: beautiful.

I once saw a drawing of air molecules at sea level, to scale, and I remember my initial shock: there’s an awful lot of empty space all around us. A spooky, terrible dearth of those molecules that keep me alive. Hindershot is the electric ricocheting of these solitary molecules. Hindershot is the barrage of firearms exploding in the night – their sounds bouncing off all those solitary, misanthropic air molecules – leaving invisible trails of their existence as a wake.

“Not Ready to Go” is the sensation of the dreamy drive towards some unnamed, unmapped battle line in the night forest, with the top of the car peeled back and the canopy of the universe as the men’s military hat. “Black Hole” is the walk from the vehicle to horizon line, the battleground. It is the sound of men laying secretly on their bellies and taking aim at something down below. “Deter” is the Francis Scott Key painting of the firework violence that colors the night’s sky with gun powder, bullets and blood – and the murderous scream that no death is an accident.

To this museum-quality work, Confer and his military company have exerted some grand brilliance: in their chosen, complicated, but altogether watery, textures. The band’s attraction for dynamics – for the peaks and valleys in composition, makes the drive through the songs a rolling, rollicking pleasure.

Confer’s lyrics mirror all of this: he is an emotional man at heart. And in each of the recordings listeners will be treated to a different angle of his blood’s momentum. For where the other Hindershot men are simply holding their weapons next to him in that profound calm before the shots come, Confer has not only stripped himself of his clothes before this ancient battle, but his lyrics-as-testimony tell us that he has also peeled his skin off with any sense of facade.

Again, it cannot be understated: on the initial recordings, and what has become the primary direction for the band – it was Confer alone that dialed-in these complex textures, compositions, lyrics and dynamics. It was Confer, alone. To this end, I am unable to see Stuart Confer as anything but an expert marksman. A five-star chef. A grand human accomplishment to any measure. Any measure.

And to talk about this accomplishment – we must talk about the sound. And the vision – even more. Because that’s what you’re left with: sense impressions. Bullet holes. Wounds. Open hearts.

In all, Hindershot looks like it sounds: like something that swirls, something that hovers and something that stings – weapons and revolt, peace and violence. Theirs is a sound that is thick and cloudy, but also light and poppy. Their single string melodies and magnetic eddies are playful and mischievous. Apparent in Confer’s vocals and the outlaw, outfit’s chorus are a sense of the joker – of laughter and a grand sense of humor and assaults on who you are as a listener, and a man who is either ready, or not.

Where there is darkness, Hindershot will invoke light. Sit around a table of beer with the posse and you too will see the laughter yoking them together – always as that invisible arm of brotherly companionship.

Creative production, I do not believe, begins with some grand goal – a goal that is comparative in nature. You don’t set-out to draw like Picasso. You don’t seek to create something that Dali would have created if he were still alive. Or, if you do – you’re going to find, quickly, that you’ve begun – with winking legs, wobbly wood. It is within this picture where the second stall of intrigue resides: of how the players around Confer found their place. That they found a place at all is a bit remarkable. For musical relationships are intimate ones. They are personal and push a person towards the void of vulnerability.

To that end, Hindershot all began with an original sound – a personal vision. And then it graduated into a confidence, a grand confidence – in Stuart Confer’s work. Certainly: the players that Confer now so graciously, appreciatively plays alongside – all saw the same things in his work: that it was astounding. I can’t think of a greater compliment than having people that believe in your work want to come be a part of it – therein employing all of their intelligence to utilize their particular skill sets – all in the name of contributing to a greater project. And if you’ve ever been in any kind of meaningful relationship – you know that this kind of giving involves humility.

It is on account of this kind of collective humility, a great and proud sense of camaraderie and an explicit sense of friendship that this band has born rudders and maybe even some wings. For now, the company of rifleman has found momentum in their youth and the excitement that all they all now have a voice as large as Confers in this project – an axe just as large. And, the same caliber ammo.

Stay tuned – for this is only the beginning. Recordings are due-out this winter. Tours are expected and success is apparent.