Low Skies will lift you up

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, June 9, 2004

If songs about murder, the casual use of guns and bad relationships get you all fired up, you're about as messed up as Low Skies.

Low Skies, a Chicago-based band that just released its second album, "The Bed," will be performing at Plush on Thursday.

"Music, for all of us, has always been that place where we can go and space out," said lead singer and guitarist Christopher Salveter. "I think we all just really enjoy music and enjoy playing it."

Formed in 2000, Low Skies originated after Salveter moved there from Missouri, started writing songs and put up ads for musicians to join his musical cause. Drummer Jason Creps was the only one to call Salveter.

After playing musical chairs with bandmates a few times, the band has wound down to five main musicians: Salveter, Creps, Luther Rochester (keys, switches, buttons), Jacob Ross (guitar) and his brother Brandon Ross (bass).

"I feel like I'm influenced a lot more by other things than music," Salveter said. "Obviously music is a big part of it, but as far as songwriting, the influence comes from different places: visual art, films, books anything at all."

Most of the remaining band members have art backgrounds and have been in bands since their teens playing punk rock a la the Dead Kennedys, according to Salveter. However, sounds of blues, rock, country and other genres make their mark on "The Bed" in an intriguingly dark but sophisticated manner.

Despite the eeriness of Low Skies' music, Salveter is actually a very pleasant guy. As the youngest member of the band he's 23 he grew up on oldies stations listening to rock 'n roll and soul music from the 1950s and 60s.

Salveter's vocal stylings have been likened to a cross between The Cure's Robert Smith and the late Jeff Buckley.

"I can definitely see it," Salveter said of comparisons to Buckley. "I think that's the artist I'm most compared to, or the singer I'm most compared to, voice-specifically."

But on any given song, Salveter can sound like Morrissey, Joy Division's Ian Curtis, Nick Cave or even Beck and Coldplay's Chris Martin.

No matter what Salveter sounds like, no one can argue that his adaptability is admirable. However, comparing Salveter (and anyone for that matter) to Buckley is not only excessive, but also blasphemous to some Buckley fans.

As the sole songwriter of Low Skies, Salveter admits, "Usually I will write the songs and bring them to the band in some sort of finished manner," he said, though he says the band members also put in their two cents.

"They're very much a part of the songs," Salveter said. "I usually will bring a song to them and trust that whatever they do is gonna be perfect and it usually is. I don't wanna be, like, some micromanaging guy."

As of now, the band is not on tour. But Salvater is, under the band's name.

Salveter concedes that he is not the musically controlling type, but the fact that he is currently on a solo tour performing tracks from the new album might give one the impression he suffers from LVS (Lead Vocalist Syndrome), a condition that causes lead singers to thrust themselves into the limelight while leaving their fellow bandmates in obscurity.

Meanwhile, where are his seemingly ousted band mates?

"They're all in Chicago," Salveter said. "They're all supportive."

Even though Salvater might appear to be hogging the glare of publicity, he said he and the rest of the band will "probably be touring constantly" throughout various sections of the U.S. soon.

Though Low Skies has yet to hit the mainstream and acquire a large fan base, it does not change the warm fuzzies Salvater gets from playing in intimate venues.

"My favorite [venue] in the country is, hands down, the Pilot Light in Knoxville, Tennessee," he said.

Whether it is five or 100 people in the audience, Salvater enjoys it. But Low Skies prefers touring the West coast the most, including Tucson, where they played at Plush last September. Low Skies this time, just Salvater will perform there again on Thursday at 10 p.m. Admission if free before 10 p.m.; afterwards it is $3 at the door.