Their laid-back approach is perhaps the band's
best and most-defining characteristic. Never has there been a band more resigned
to the fact that it will inevitably break-up, knowing right down to the date of
their last show. But then again, that's been the plan all along.
as an opening band for a gig featuring former Omahan (now Portland resident) Mike
Jaworski's Hello from Waveland, The Sons of
consists of four well-traveled
veterans of other bands. Leader Kelly Maxwell and drummer Mike Loftus -- grade-school
and high-school chums from way back -- count among their past exploits Shovelhead,
60-Watt Saloon, and most recently Hong Jyn Corp., which also included Sons' guitarist/vocalist
Matt Rutledge, who has also been in Compost, Miss Lonely Hearts and Holiday, among
others. Bass player Mike Tulis -- arguably Omaha's hardest working musician --
is in The Monroes and has been in Full Blown, The River City Review, The Wind-up
Birds and The Great Dismal -- a short-lived chamber-pop ensemble that also included
Despite having all the makings of an Omaha supergroup, everyone
in The Sons Of
has known from the start that the project is a short-lived
labor of love. "Tulis called the band 'Terminal,'" Loftus said with
a grin during a band interview on the patio of his mid-town home after a practice.
bands only last so long," Tulis explained. "We knew that this would
end because Kelly was going to move. We focused on getting the songs working and
doing the shows."
Maxwell has planned for more than a year to move
to Pittsburgh with his girlfriend. It was that inevitability that brought an end
to Hong Jyn Corp. "When Hong Jyn slowly fizzled out I was happy to stay away
from music for awhile, always knowing that I'd play again someday," he said.
But after writing a few new songs, it didn't take long for Maxwell to get
the itch. "It seemed like old times when we first practiced. We didn't embarrass
ourselves when played in front of an audience for the first time. None of what
we do is really difficult; we're not reinventing the wheel."
generated a following with their unique brand of wry, bitter-sweet, wistful rock
that combines the best elements of The Replacements, The Feelies and the rural
twang found on jukeboxes in smoky saloons throughout the Midwest. Their live performances
carry a melancholy feeling of a last hurrah, as if watching the last waltz of
an old friend's band the night before he leaves to college. Their unmistakable
casualness only adds to an already laid-back vibe that wouldn't work if the band
wasn't made up of top-flight veteran musicians. Part of their relaxed nature comes
from age -- most are in their 30s, one's in his 40s.
"That's part of
it," Maxwell said, "along with the fact that we know it's ending soon.
There's no pressure."
"We knew we weren't going to be the next
great thing or the next new thing," Rutledge said. "That's why it was