If you have listened to a St. Louis rock band in this millennium, chances are that Jason Hutto had some kind of impact on it. The veteran rocker guesstimates that he has recorded around 100 bands during his tenure in town, and his work in groups such as the Phonocaptors, Sexicolor, Walkie Talkie USA and Warm Jets USA has shaken the city with pure rock fury. And that's even before you get to his occasional sideman work for local legends Bunnygrunt.
Unfortunately, Hutto is drawing his epic seventeen-year run in St. Louis to a close. He recently packed up the latest iteration of his Smoking Baby Studio that had been working in the basement of the soon-to-be shuttered Apop Records, and is set to move with his girlfriend to Houston. Before he leaves, he's rounding up the members of his best-known band, he Phonocaptors, to play one last show at Plush on October 10.
Hutto is leaving a St. Louis that is vastly different from the one he arrived in all those years ago. Fresh from his hometown of Kansas City, where he had been playing in bands since high school, Hutto didn't adapt quickly to his new city.
"I tried to get out of here for the first six years," Hutto says about his early time in St. Louis. "A lot of the city seemed kind of...different fractions all over these little pockets. Nobody kind of mingled with each other too much. And it was sort of discouraging coming from a town that was the exact opposite of that."
Hutto embraced the change in the scene to which he bore witness over the intervening years as both a member of his aforementioned groups and as the man who could record your band. The Phonocaptors served as his main act; it was the first group he started in St. Louis and the one he would return to when Sexicolor and Warm Jets USA broke up.
Phonocaptors music video shot by Bill Streeter.
In some ways, the names and lineups of the groups didn't matter. Warm Jets USA was often caught playing Phonocaptors songs and, by Hutto's admission, the groups sounded similar.
"That band kind of summed up a lot of whatever I even attempted to do just because it was sort of the blueprint for the other bands," he says of the Phonocaptors. That blueprint called for crushing loud rock with rare Neil Young-esque mellow respites, and Hutto always delivered, regardless of his many collaborators. Different groups had different spins on what this meant -- Warm Jets USA owed to '80s indie bands like Dinosaur Jr. while the Phonocaptors was more influenced by the Stooges -- but each act brought the volume. A master of both guitar technique and tone, Hutto's music thrives on heavy but tuneful riffs and his sincere but attitude-laden vocals. His accomplished soloing and fun stage presence don't hurt either.
What did sometimes hurt was Hutto's self-professed "flakiness with how I was with my own music."
Continue to page two.