Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Seasons of Change

By Pat Mitchell

APRIL 5, 1999:  Like Memphis, Kansas City, Missouri, has a rich musical history deeply rooted in the blues and jazz. But unlike Memphis, the K.C. scene isn’t known for much else; it’s still a town where the 12-bar blues reigns supreme.

So how does a heavy band playing in the hometown of Ben Webster and Charlie Parker make a name for itself? The key, according to members of Season to Risk, is to not give a damn.

“Sometimes it is easy to figure people out when they fear diversity,” says Season lead singer Steve Tulipana. “It’s like there are all these people who don’t know themselves and limit their diversity so they can be identified. They want a group to fit nicely into and enjoy its comforts. I don’t make music for those people.”

The four-piece Season to Risk started back in 1989. In an age when a lot of “hair” bands were using music as a fast track to fame and fortune, Season to Risk – which includes Tulipana, David Smyth (drums), Enaud Rewart (guitar), and Chris Sharp (bass) – formed for all the right reasons.

“We didn’t start this band to get chicks or anything,” says Tulipana, who, with his young Robert Redford looks, shouldn’t have needed to. “We were making music as individuals and the next logical step was to form a band. It’s great when you find like minds to create with. We live in the middle of the country, and because of that isolation we made our own rules and developed our own sound.”

Season to Risk’s biography reads like the beginning of a great success story. Their first 7-inch release, Bitter/Oil, turned a lot of heads with its heavy experimental sounds and John Wayne Gacy cover art. The band signed to Minneapolis indie Red Decibel in 1991. And after the debut of their self-titled full-length release, Columbia Records picked them up.

They toured and toured and toured some more, producing another 7-inch, Mine Eyes, and a CD called In A Perfect World. The reviews were positive, and Season to Risk found itself about to step outside the realm of the underground into the kingdom of music royalty.

So what happened? According to the band, the public’s tastes changed, and Columbia reacted by dropping many of its heavier acts, including Season to Risk.

“But you know, that was okay,” Tulipana reflects. “We learned in all those years how to survive. I never thought I would get signed in the first place. I keep getting called back to this band and the music. The things I have learned over the years are mostly personal, but as a band we get excited about the little things, the opportunities that come our way just because we make music and someone enjoys it.”

Last year Season to Risk inked a deal with Thick Records and the cycle began again. The Chicago-based independent re-released the band’s two CDs in January. Season is currently touring with fellow K.C. band Molly McGuire. The two split a special 7-inch produced just for this tour.

All this talk about Season to Risk, and nary a lofty music writer’s hyped-up word on the music. It’s heavy, that’s understood. The music is aggressive but not testosterone-driven, and while it’s intellectually stimulating, thinking is not mandatory for enjoyment.

“I think there are some misconceptions about the band,” Tulipana says. “We are not a metal band. We are too mutated and experimental for that, although we are a heavy band. We have been compared to Jesus Lizard and [Henry] Rollins. I think those comparisons come from our intense live shows. Our shows attract such a cross-section of scenes. I’m pretty proud of that. It’s been a problem for us that people cannot put a sticker on our sound. But I’m pretty proud of that. I am comfortable with the diversity.”

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