Half of rock act Middle Class Rut enjoys calling Meridian home

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comAugust 24, 2013 

Middle Class Rut is Zack Lopez, left, and Sean Stockham.

Here’s a winning idea: Name your Sacramento, Calif., alt-rock band Middle Class Rut — then move to Meridian.

“That’s where you go, isn’t it?” singer-drummer Sean Stockham says wryly. “That’s the epicenter of everything for middle-class people.”

Stockham, 31, is phoning from a Midwest tour stop of the Uproar Festival, which will play Sept. 5 at the Idaho Center Amphitheater in Nampa (and be renamed X-Fest while here). Middle Class Rut performs on an afternoon stage before headliners Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction take over each evening.

Hold on, potentially offended citizens of Meridian: Let’s clear the air. Stockham, a refreshingly cynical and open interview subject, moved to your little slice of heaven just over a year ago with his girlfriend. Her parents are Californians who took the Boise-area plunge a decade ago.

“We really like it, actually, since we’ve been there,” Stockham says. “We just were ready for a change, to get out of the rat race in California and head out this way.”

Not that he’s home so much. Along with singer-guitarist Zack Lopez — the other half of Middle Class Rut — Stockham tours.

When Middle Class Rut formed about seven years ago in Sacramento, fans and critics were blown away by the depth of sound created on stage by two musicians. They landed a major hit regionally with “New Low,” a snappy track that got tons of radio airplay and now has more than 4.5 million YouTube views.

Middle Class Rut has a ’90s vibe to its sound, which is probably a big reason it was chosen for this trek. Stockham says he grew up listening to ’90s acts Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction.

Middle Class Rut’s sophomore album, “Pick Up Your Head,” released in June, has a fuller sound than the duo’s earlier material, so they’ve added three musicians while touring.

“It’s probably a stupid thing to do from a business standpoint,” Stockham says, before quipping: “We already make six dollars a year as it is. It’s hard enough to live off for two people, but now we’ve got to give half of it to some other dudes.”

Life on the cusp has not been easy. Even Uproar, an annual trek created in 2010, has been “kind of a slow tour,” he admits, before adding, “I feel that’s kind of been the case the last five years.”

But Middle Class Rut stays busy. When Uproar ends in a few weeks, the group will take a break before touring Europe in November with Papa Roach.

In between? Meridian, baby. Which probably sounds awfully good right about now.

Stockham feels “pretty lucky” to be on Uproar, he says. But living on a tour bus? Sleeping in a just-bigger-than-a-coffin-size bunk that you can’t sit up in? Realizing, after a 12-hour drive, that the bus just dropped anchor in a parking lot, meaning there will be no Wi-Fi or Netflix episodes of “Breaking Bad” tonight?

“Sometimes it all kind of comes down on you,” he admits.

Ah, for just one relaxing night at Meridian Speedway ...

When Stockham has more time back in Idaho, he’d like to become more involved in the local music scene, he says.

“Once I’ve been there for a little bit, and I can kind of organically penetrate myself into the scene a little bit and see if I can help in any way, I’d love to,” he says. “Because I do love the city. I’d love to feel like people were more excited to come and play Boise — even bands I like.”

Last March, Stockham heard about Boise’s growing indie-rock festival, Treefort, after driving back from Austin, Texas. Middle Class Rut had just performed at South By Southwest. (“Even though we swore we wouldn’t,” he says like a music-industry veteran. “We were forced into it.”)

“I remember coming back, and there was this whole (Treefort) thing going on that I didn’t know about until I got there,” he says.

So why didn’t Stockham go Downtown and check it out?

“But I’m all the way in Meridian,” he says like a true Idahoan. “It’s a whole 15 minutes to get down there. I can’t ride my skateboard there.”

CHECK THIS OUT: In April, Middle Class Rut released a freaky, entertaining YouTube video for the thudding, Jane’s Addiction-influenced song “Aunt Betty.”

Go watch it. Just do.

“I was in it,” Stockham says, chuckling, “and I still have no idea what really the deal was or what it’s about.”

JAZZ FESTIVAL RECAP

The inaugural McCall Jazz Festival attracted about 1,100 fans to the McCall Golf Club on Aug. 10, according to host and headliner Curtis Stigers.

“We will be able to donate approximately $30,000 to the Shepherd’s Home,” he said via email. “We had set a goal of $15,000. Very happy about that.”

TONIGHT IN ‘THE OTHER STUDIO’

Join Tim Johnstone and me as we spin music from Charles Bradley, The Head and The Heart, Haerts, Boise band Hollow Wood and more.

“The Other Studio” airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

IN SCENE ON AUG. 30

• An interview with OneRepublic, which finishes this year’s Outlaw Field series at the Idaho Botanical Garden with a concert Sept. 1.

• Are you up to date on Amaru Confections, the new bakery with gluten-free goodies?

• A look at the new Boise Creative Center in the old A-1 Heating warehouse at 13th and Front streets.

Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: mdeeds@idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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