Gabe Stoll has never liked being told what to do — in fact, he says that’s the characteristic that led him to start local art endeavor Wet Pizza.
“I’ve been an angsty kid for years now,” Stoll said.
What: Hollagramz, Hideous Men, Via and Mystic Bummer
When: 10 p.m. Friday
Where: Catacombs, 2115 13th St., Boulder
Wet Pizza is Stoll’s Boulder-based DIY entertainment company — and is the essence of Stoll’s independence. He handles business for local bands that he likes by setting up shows for them and releasing their music on a series of compilations.
“Business ruins art,” Stoll said. “By controlling the business aspect you’re controlling the artistic aspect, too, and your integrity.”
According to Stoll, who has his own electronic act Mystic Bummer, it’s not that he’s against record labels — he’s just for artists having their own work in their own hands, with no one to control or contort it.
Tonight, Wet Pizza is hosting a show at Catacombs, 2115 13th St., featuring experimental local bands including Stoll’s Mystic Bummer, minimalist act Via, psychedelic electronic group Hideous Men and dub-dance group Hollagramz.
Stoll and friend Douglas Hawkison created Wet Pizza three years ago. Frustrated with the art and music scene in Boulder, they decided to spearhead something to help their friends’ bands as well as their own artistic projects.
“It was with the focus of it being the fringe of the art scene,” Stoll said.
It started as more of a joke, or drunken rambling, than a serious idea. Over time, it grew into something more real.
In the winter of 2006, Stoll released the first Wet Pizza compilation, comprised of tracks from his friends’ bands. Only 20 copies were made, all on CDRs, each with unique artwork.
After the first release, more musicians and bands wanted to get involved. For the second Wet Pizza compilation, Stoll had an open call for submissions. In the meantime, Stoll moved to Portland, Ore., where he made new contacts with musicians, and continued the Wet Pizza project there. While away, he still worked with his friends in Boulder to promote their music.
In the fall of 2008, Stoll moved back to Boulder. Since then, Wet Pizza has expanded. He released 100 copies of the third Wet Pizza compilation in the spring of 2009, mostly consisting of local bands and bands he liked from the West Coast.
According to Stoll, Wet Pizza now hosts one or two shows a week at house venues, bars and clubs in Boulder and Denver. Each venue, according to Stoll, offers its own experience and helps expand their audience.
The music Wet Pizza represents is diverse, ranging from metal to punk rock to experimental electronica. Currently, Stoll is pushing the Gucci Boiz, a local punk band; DLZN, an electronic act; and Denver’s acclaimed Pictureplane. The diversity of Wet Pizza music makes for a unique audience each night.
“The audience is a mixed bag,” Stoll said, “and then there are people that support Wet Pizza through and through with every variation of Wet Pizza.”
Stoll himself has diverse taste in music. He cites his biggest influences as Dr. Dre, Slayer, DJ Funk, Kid 606 and “anything else that inspires.”
Since he was 11, he’s played music. He first picked up the bass, and quickly moved on to guitar, drums and learned how to use a drum machine. He admits that his inspiration to pick up an instrument was early Metallica.
Stoll’s been in bands since he was a teenager, playing everything from garage rock to stoner metal to the electronica that he plays now as Mystic Bummer. His first real band, however, was Hoochie, and the first show he played was when they opened for Mojo Nixon at Tulagi in 1999.
Stoll recalls the late 1990s as a better time for art in Boulder, when Tulagi was still open on University Hill. According to him, Boulder has become a harder place to find shows for struggling local musicians that do not fit in with the popular idea of Boulder music.
“There’s not enough support for good artists in this community.” Stoll said.
Stoll, however, remains optimistic. With shows rolling in at local bars such as Catacombs and the Sundown Saloon, Boulder is becoming more receptive by the day.
“Boulder’s always teetered on having a real music scene,” Stoll said, “like when garage rock was big here, or even the jam band stuff. There needs to be more action going on with everything. More rock — less talk.”