Season To Risk, Kansas City Noise Rock

Season to Risk
(L-R: Wade Williamson, Josh Newton, David Silver, Steve Tulipana, Duane Trower)

Season to Risk are the luckiest band alive.

An American alternative rock (posthardcore, noiserock) band from Kansas City, Missouri formed in 1989 by singer Steve Tulipana and guitarist Duane Trower, the band built an audience for their post-hardcore music by touring relentlessly across the USA. Season to Risk got lucky during the early 90s major-label feeding frenzy and signed to Red Decibel / Columbia Records. They recorded demos at Sony Studios in NYC, and then lived in Chicago, IL to record their 1992 self-titled first album at Soundworks Studio with engineer Jeff Moleski. The band toured constantly throughout North America, returning home briefly for a few days or weeks, sometimes on the road 8 - 10 months each year. The album artwork by Frank Kozik was featured in an episode of 90210, on a drug dealer’s door. A music video was made for the song “Mine Eyes”.

Odds are high when you spend most of your time driving that vehicles will break down day after day, wheels will fall off or blow-out, drivers will fall asleep, engines (and people) will crack or burst into flames. The van once flipped over on a frozen highway in Minnesota. The 22-foot RV rolled backwards with no brakes down a hill in Seattle. They broke down all over the country, including on the Golden Gate bridge, and left a trail of dead vehicles in their wake.

Season to Risk SxSW 2018

They lived at Bisi Studios, NYC for the Summer of 1994 recording their second album In a Perfect World with producer Martin Bisi. The music was a darker, more complex collection of songs, and the album was received with rave reviews from fans, and puzzled looks from the people at Colombia records. There was no place on the radio for genre-bending music like this yet, and record stores weren’t sure if it should go into Metal, Punk, or “Other” bins. By chance, someone at Sony was looking for a band to play during a scene in the film 'Strange Days' and suddenly the band was in Hollywood, playing the song 'Undone’ on the film set. Drummer David Silver joined the band in 1994, after predecessor Jason Gerken moved on to other bands. The album art was done by longtime friend Derek Hess, which influenced the direction of the music video for “Blood Ugly”. Another music video was shot in LA for “Jack Frost”. For the following year, S2R was in a different city every night, which led to total exhaustion by the end of 1995 after tours with Corrosion of Conformity, Monster Magnet, ALL, the Toadies, Babes in Toyland, Plexi, and Unsane, resulting in the cancellation of their upcoming European tour scheduled with CIV. A few events quickly put the brakes on the band; Columbia Records dropped the band from future releases, and founding bass player Paul Malinowski quit to join Shiner.

Season to Risk quickly added Josh Newton on bass, hit the road, and got busy writing music. Tours followed with 7 Year Bitch, Craw, Today is the Day, Buzzoven, Zeke, Calvin Crime, Glazed Baby, Janis Figure...Pooling their resources, they spent most of the next two years building Trainwreck Sound Studios in Kansas City, MO. As floors, walls and ceilings were built, new Season To Risk songs were written, members worked with their other bands, and recording started at Trainwreck, including work by Casket Lottery, The Farewell Bend, Dirtnap, Iron Rite Mangle, Gunfighter and the Pornhuskers. They built their dream studio from the ground up: a 15 x 20 control room, equipped with a 1974 24-channel Auditronics console and a 2-inch tape machine, a 30 x 50 foot tracking room with reclaimed barn wood oak floors, and a huge apartment & rehearsal studio upstairs on the second floor. But in October 1998, shortly after the studio officially opened to the public, a sudden flash flood of a branch of the Missouri river totaled everything in the neighborhood in 15 minutes, destroying the building, their tour RV in the parking lot, their bank account, and almost everything else. They're lucky no one was killed. Luck never gives, it only lends. And the river takes. And then Josh Newton also left to join Shiner.

Fortunately, the self-produced third album was finished prior to the flood, and the band was able to wade through the five-foot deep, freezing flood waters in total darkness out of the building to safety. Unfortunately, they discovered that the album Men Are Monkeys, Robots Win (Thick Records) was printed 'out-of-phase', making the songs sound hollowed-out. The label never re-released the printed CD, but the remastered mix is now available.

MRMv2

Legendary punk rock drummer/producer Bill Stevenson (Black Flag, Decendents) has always been a friend and supporter of Season To Risk, and has brought the band on tour with ALL several times. In 2000, The Shattering album was recorded with Jason Livermore and Bill Stevenson at the Blasting Room in Ft. Collins, CO, and released on Owned & Operated records in 2001. Bass player Billy Smith and guitarist Wade Williamson of Kansas City’s Dirtnap joined the band in the studio and for subsequent tours. The Shattering album was more diverse than ever, fusing elements from all of the band's previous work and some new experimentation into twelve heavy, melodic songs.

Members of Season to Risk have worked on many other projects, including Shiner, Roman Numerals, Sie Lieben Maschinen, Offworld, Ex-Acrobat, Starhaven Rounders, and Drop A Grand. Still based in Kansas City, the band tours occasionally and plays hometown venues, including shows w No Means No (2006), Helmet (2009), Molly McGuire (2012), and Descendents (2017).

Season to Risk toured with their alter-ego band Sie Lieben Maschinen in March 2018, playing songs from all albums at shows including showcases at SxSW and Valley of the Vapors festivals. Vinyl reissues are now being mastered for release in 2018 and 2019, commemorating the band’s 30-year anniversary.

Luck comes to those who look after it. Watch the BLOG for news, updates and tour dates.

Live photos: JD Nilknarf