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Defying Gravity in Minturn

Laura A. Ball
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyLocal Minturn hard rock band Defying Gravity practice for their performance at the Sandbar this Monday.
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MINTURN ” The guys that make up Minturn’s newest hard rock, heavy metal punk band have defied a lot more than gravity in the past four months ” they’ve defied time.

Their sound has the tightness and maturity of a band four years in the making, a communication some groups don’t find in a lifetime.

At 6 o’ clock Thursday evening, the sun still shines down the alley in Minturn where the trailer sits by the river. A small child clad only a diaper flaps his hand through a puddle. A man has his head in the hood of a pickup truck that quietly plays upbeat Latin tunes. The trailer door shuts. The light fades. Defying Gravity plugs in.



First on the agenda is “The Mermaid.” Lead guitarist Dan Renner wrote the beautiful, dark instrumental ballad for his wife.

“She loves it,” he said. “It’s kind of heavy and rowdy and she’s a rowdy woman.”



His shiny, long black hair falls in front of his face. He’s in all black, a sleeveless cut-off tee, baggy black cargo shorts, black sweatbands on his wrists, camo high-top sneakers. He loves the metal. He closes his eyes, concentrating on the opening riff, a slow, beautiful melody before the rest of the band starts in ” Hans Koyen on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Tony Gisel on bass and Austin Raddatz on drums, all Wisconsinites. Koyen and Raddatz have known each other their whole lives.

They met Gisel a few years back while working a summer job near their hometown. They moved to Colorado, started playing music together and when they heard Renner, they knew they had to have him. Their influences converge to create a metal sound with their respective fortes.

Raddatz’s dreads start flying. His body motions like a wave smashing forward. His squared glasses, black tee and plaid shorts make him appear intellectual. He likes the metal. He loves the punk.



Koyen’s shaggy hair flops from side to side as he sways and sings, sticking his tongue out when his mind focuses on his instrument alone. He’s taken with classic rock. “I’ll devote my life to playing guitar,” he later says. “I’ll just be bum on the street.”

Gisel is playful in the way he operates the bass and moves around the room. “Music gets me up in the morning. It gets me through the day. It make me happy anytime I’m playing in front of people. Music is life,” he shrugs, smiling innocently.

They play “Once Again,” upbeat and a little more punk. Koyen wrote the lyrics. “It’s about having way too many girlfriends and no girlfriends. ‘Oh, Hans, I love you, you’re such a good friend to me,” he says in falsetto.

They practice a few more tunes, each better than the next. “Blood Stain” has all the elements of a quintessential rock tune. It’s probably their favorite. They’re trying to make enough money to record a demo at The Blasting Room, a recording studio owned by punk rockers Members of the Descendants. They need $1,000.

“It’ll take a few gigs to raise the money,” Renner says.

They want to be big, start traveleing, maybe play with Korn. The band members’ “plans to take over the world,” Raddatz says with a twinkle in his eye, became a little more attainable April 8 when they opened for P.O.D. at the Sandbar after the Spring Back to Vail concert. “It was f***in’ awesome,” Renner says. Although no matter what level of fame the band encounters, Defying Gravity has already reached its pinnacle, just like their name implies.

“It means we’re higher than you,” Renner says.

“It means nobody’s gonna bring us down,” Koyen adds.

Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or laball@vaildaily.com.

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