Air Dubai opens new tour in Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Air Dubai, a band of young Denver natives, just released a new extended play album last Tuesday and will make a stop at Belly Up Aspen on Friday as part of their Halloween tour with the Epilogues.
The seven-member hip-hop band originated when its two lead vocalists, Julian Thomas and Jon Shockness, met drummer Nick Spreigl. From then it snowballed and they added members in 2009, creating the group that it is today.
The EP, “Day Escape,” was released a little over a year after their first full-length album, “Wonder Age.” Both albums were recorded with a conscious effort to get tangible music into fans’ hands. Band members will say, however, that they make music because they like to perform it live.
“We love making music and we love writing music but our live performance is really where we all shine,” said Thomas. “We make sure that the experience for the audience is as great of an experience as it is for us.”
“It’s kind of just a party on stage,” Shockness added. “We are totally a live band. I personally love playing shows more than I like recording albums or anything. When I’m on stage as an artist, that is where I feel most comfortable.”
The band has been propped up by a Denver music scene that, over the past few years, has burgeoned with prominent, homegrown talent. Air Dubai won the 2010 Hometown for the Holidays contest offered by the Denver radio station KTCL as part of a promotion in which fans voted for their favorite local musicians. Their song “Restless Youth” from “Wonder Age” was in regular rotation.
“Denver just has a really committed and passionate local music scene,” said Thomas. “If we started the same band in a completely different town, we might still be playing in garages.”
Lead vocalists Thomas and Shockness share a back-and-forth combination of singing and rapping on top of drums, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and trumpet.
The group meshed over a common enjoyment of creating and molding a fresh sound. Most members of the band are influenced by all genres of music, Shockness said.
“I don’t think we tried to create something that was different,” he explained. “I think that’s pretty much impossible. I think we just play music and play what feels right to us. I guess it just comes out the way it does.”
Thomas said they are happy they can make their music the way they want to, and people enjoy it.
“It’s a bit selfish to say, but at the same time we’re really making this music for us. The fact that there are so many people who also dig it is awesome,” he said.
The band, as fast as it is growing, is made up of young 20-somethings. And like all young adults, band members still hold typical day jobs to support themselves while growing their fan base.
“I work with kids,” said Shockness. “Julian I think works at an Italian restaurant; Lawrence (the guitarist) works at Coors Field, he serves beer. Michael (the keyboardist) works at a doggy day care, Taylor (the bassist) works at the Hyatt.”
Belly Up is the first stop on a four-stop Colorado Halloween tour.
The band has twice had its music aired on the MTV show, “The Jersey Shore.” Shockness said his goals for the band are to continue growing and to play shows across the country.
“I’d want to get out of Denver and travel – just continue playing music and grow our fan base,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything wrong with expanding. We just want to see where we can take our music. I love playing shows, so if we can play everywhere, that would be the best thing for me.”
Anyone who attends a show or even pulls up Youtube videos of the band can tell right away that above anything else, they are having fun.
“If we’re not having fun then there is really no point,” Thomas said. “We have not stopped having fun since the first day that we started.”
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After nine months of being shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Wheeler Opera House will reopen for local acts. A touchless reservation system will be open to 53 people for in-person at the venue. Online live streaming also will be available.