March Fourth marches back to the Beav Monday
If you go ...
What: March Fourth!
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Cost: $25 advance/$30 day of show.
More information: Visit http://www.vilarpac.org or call 970-845-8497.
BEAVER CREEK — The circus is back. Thanks to a slew of stilts, marching band costumes, drum corps, brass and its sheer number of members, Portland-based band March Fourth has a circus-type feel and appeal. The band has performed in the Vail area a handful of times over the past few years and returns for a show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek today. The band looks forward to its mountain-town gigs, according to John Averill, the group’s band leader and bassist.
“Our last show in Vail there was really fun,” he said. “I mean, you just can’t go wrong with the Colorado mountain towns. That whole area is magical, and the energy of the people and the land — and air — is pretty rarefied. I can see why people want to live there: It’s robust, and the communities are strong. We travel all over the country, and Colorado always feels like coming home in a spiritual sort of way.”
Averill took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
Vail Daily: Along with writing and arranging your music, you guys also design and fabricate your own costumes. Tell me more about this.
John Averill: Yes. A good costume starts with finding a vintage marching band jacket (or some other fun thing) and then augmenting it. Some people in the band design their costumes, while others have other people do the sewing. It’s really up to the individual. The best-dressed people in the band obviously spend more time with their costume design.
VD: Do you guys travel via bus or plane? It sounds like you have more band members and gear — or at least more stilts — than the average band.
JA: We own our bus, which is a 1995 MCI, which we redesigned the interior to suit our needs (a kitchen, plus sleeping bunks for up to 24 people). We definitely have more people than gear; we generally tour with 21 people total.
VD: Who came up with the idea for the band? And what inspired that person?
JA: There were a few of us who sort of had this idea around the same time (in 2002), so we got together and brainstormed. From a spectacle standpoint, all of us were inspired by some of the “alternative marching bands” we’d seen at Burning Man in 2001 and 2002 (namely Extra Action from San Francisco and Infernal Noise Brigade from Seattle). I had been producing these hybrid theme parties that included creating one-off house bands. So we threw a Mardi Gras/Chinese New Year party called “Chow Yun Phat Tuesday,” and the date was March 4. We just named the house band after the date of the party, and the rest is history.
VD: What’s been inspiring the band recently?
JA: Teamwork. The band has been constantly changing, and this year started out with some new members. The nice result is that now everyone really seems to be on the same page. I’m actually happier with the recent incarnation of the project than perhaps any other version, and that has everything to do with everyone’s individual and collective work ethic. Now when I say “Hey, let’s learn this song,” people jump on it. In the past it used to feel like pulling teeth. The new March Fourth has a more professional attitude, and everyone’s really positive.
VD: What’s on the horizon for March Fourth in 2015? Did you guys make any New Year’s resolutions as a band?
JA: We decided a couple months ago that we are officially changing our name to March Fourth (dropping the “Marching Band”). Aside from that, we didn’t make any formal New Year’s resolutions as a band. We just played a couple of great New Year’s Eve shows, and I think that spoke a lot about our resolve: continue to get better and constantly work on new material. We’ll be going into the studio in a couple months to work on a new record, and we have some great tours planned for the spring. The band is excited about returning to some of our favorite festivals this year after being away.
VD: What do you like about touring in Colorado? And what’s the most challenging part?
JA: The people and the environment. The altitude is the most challenging aspect, and sometimes the roads get problematic in the winter.