A lucky break allowed the Provo, Utah band to keep playing music.
It's a small miracle that Kyle Henderson and his band Desert Noises are playing Voodoo Fest this Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Le Flambeau Stage. The group is based out of Provo, Utah, better known more for being the most conservative city in the United States than a wellspring for psych-rock bands. And even when the twentysomething-year-old band members had music on their minds, it didn't seem like the most obvious career path.
"I had toured before once, but I came back and was really in love with this girl," Henderson says. "We got married and I started this life and was a business analyst. Our relationship was falling apart after we got married, and I was just not happy." He started Desert Noises with his brother while in high school, when it was more of a hobby than anything serious. Dissatisfied with his life, Henderson assembled a new lineup with three friends (Tyler Osmond, Pat Boyer, and Brennan Allen), booked a tour, and left town.
"I left everything behind. I moved out of the house, jumped into a van with three dudes and went for it."
The early midlife crisis was a huge risk that almost didn't pay off. Halfway through that first tour, the band woke up in Cleveland and realized they only had $20 between them. Broke and stuck in Middle America, they were trying to find a way to Lincoln, Nebraska when they got a call from a friend who noticed they had a day off between tour dates. He offered them an opening slot for a show in Indianapolis that night, and the offer was then extended to a six-week tour.
"It literally saved our lives. We were going to be able to get home. In a minivan, we were able to survive and actually eat and stuff. It was that moment (that changed everything). When we were like, Okay, this isn't going to work anymore, we're going to have to go back home, and then ended up being on the road for six more weeks, doing big shows and getting exposure. That boosted everything."
If they didn't get that lucky break, would the band still be playing together? Henderson doesn't know, but it seemed like fortune was ready to give them chances at the strangest times and places. The band has cultivated large followings in Lincoln and Toledo--not the typical hub for indie Utah-based bands--and Henderson doesn't have the faintest idea why. Some other expected but strange fans of Desert Noises: bassist Tyler Osmond's relatives, the Osmond Family.
"Tyler's dad has definitely seen us play. He's awesome," Henderson says. "We've gone to the Donny and Marie show a few times. Tyler's dad always gives us advice, but it's usually just like, Keep working hard! Change this world, it's upside down and needs changing! Just good, fatherly advice."
Desert Noises' sound is expansive, and though Henderson comes across as laidback in conversation, his band's music is tightly constructed. The songs on its most recent album 27 Ways have guitar-driven melodies insistent on a beat that keeps pushing its listeners forward. The album title refers to the different ways they can get out of Provo, but it's also indicative of how varied the band's sound can be. Desert Noises takes surprising, rollicking salsa-steps on "Shiver", but it just as easily switches to a meditative, serious tone on "Angels." Across the album, however, Henderson's voice is distinctly at ease, confident in its reach; and every song sounds bigger than four minutes it's contained in. The band writes songs meant to be played under the backdrop of mountains, under huge skies that never end.
Though the band is rarely home, it's what Henderson says they return to, whether in their music or personal lives. Their music's sound is influenced by the enormity of Utah's landscape--the towering mountains and strange nature that differs from every other place in the country. But his home is more about the people in it too. When he's not touring, he spends time with his family and is back with his wife now.
"I don't (miss it) until I get back. You're always ready and excited to leave because it's a new adventure, but you come back and you realize how much you miss where you're from."