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Alarm 58 in the News!

Alarm 58 performing on the Portland Today Show to promote the KGW8 Great Toy Drive Benefit Concert!

Go! Magazine: Anatomy of a Song

Artist: Michael Divita and Mikel Lomsky

Featured song: “Orange 2,000 Years”

Upcoming show: Alarm 58 at The Brown Owl, 550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 120, Bend; 7 p.m. Tuesday; free.

Childhood friends Michael Divita and Mikel Lomsky are the lead singer and lead guitarist, respectively, for local rock quartet Alarm 58. The band is working on its debut EP with producer Jim Goodwin, which will include this song, “Orange 2,000 Years.” According to an email from Lomsky, Goodwin has also invited the band to perform in New Orleans on April 22 alongside Goodwin’s reunited new wave band The Call (with Divita filling in on vocals with The Call) — so stay tuned for more. Divita answered the following questions:

Q: What’s the story behind this song — how was it written, recorded, etc.?

A: In this particular case, I heard the riff that (Lomsky) had worked on for a couple weeks at least when I first heard it. I think I tried something with this one that didn’t stick with, and then I drove through the Columbia Gorge, and it all hit me. And I have to drive up there a lot. We help take care of my in-laws who are up there in Washington. So driving through the gorge, all of a sudden it really — I was thinking of the song, had it in my head, and it all came to me driving through the Columbia Gorge.

Q: What’s the story inside this song — what’s it about?

A: The song is just the place, the eastern Columbia Gorge. I drove down from Shaniko through Biggs Junction and across, and then headed east on 14 … so drove along the river east on the Washington side, and then headed over to Prosser, which is kind of near Yakima, where I needed to go. Behind the Dalles Dam — the Dalles Dam backs up, on the Columbia River, what was Celilo Falls. … It’s the longest inhabited place in the Americas. People lived there for over 12,000 years straight, and that’s just what they could verify; a lot of people would say it was longer. But Celilo Falls backed up the salmon and made it possible for Native Americans to net salmon. Some of the most wealthy, if you will, and powerful tribes gathered at that area. Some, like the Wasco, lived there year-round, others came just for the fishing in the spring and fall. So it was this amazing metropolis almost of Native Americans that had this incredible almost year-round supply of protein. And then you drive through this area now and it’s railroad tracks and freeways, wind turbines, power lines and dams, so there’s a big contrast (between) what it might have once been and what it is today. I’d love it if we could all remember it for what it was as well as what it is now.

— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin

Alarm 58 Brings Musical Journalism to Brown Owl in Bend – by Brian McElhiney (Bend Bulletin)

Michael Divita and Mikel Lomsky wanted to start a band together when they were in high school. There was just one problem: At 15, the two childhood friends were too old — or so they thought.

“I’ll never forget: We had a music store in downtown Eugene — that’s where we’re from,” Lomsky said. “And we were gonna rent a whole band setup for one week, all the equipment, but then we decided we were too old. I mean, that’s the truth; that’s just insane.”

It was the 1980s, and both budding young musicians had recently discovered U2’s album “War.” The Irish rock group quickly became Divita and Lomsky’s favorite band, but its members’ young ages initially daunted the pair.

“We were huge U2 fans,” Divita said. “And they started when they were like — Larry (Mullen Jr., drummer) was like 14 and those guys were like 16, and somehow we just — I don’t know. It was dumb, for sure. … And there were other young bands. We thought you had to make it when you were 18 or 20. I don’t know what we were thinking.”

And then, as Lomsky puts it, “life got in the way.” Divita spent six years in Seattle, where he fronted a band called Painkiller and performed with local cover group The Beatniks; Lomsky moved around the West Coast, including a stint in Arizona, and likewise played guitar in other groups. The two reunited in Oregon in the mid-’90s when they were both 25 and spent the next few decades playing together off and on, stopping for stretches when one or the other would move somewhere else.

Three years ago, Lomsky decided it was then or never. He and Divita, both living in Bend, reunited to form Alarm 58.

The quartet — also featuring bassist Jon Fahr and drummer Caleb Trowbridge — solidified eight months ago and hit the Pacific Northwest touring circuit. So far they’ve played as far out as Seabrook, Washington; highlights this year have included a Saturday afternoon set at Bend Roots Revival in September and an appearance earlier this month on Portland’s NBC affiliate KGW to help promote the station’s holiday toy drive. The band will close out the year at frequent haunt The Brown Owl on Tuesday.

“In the back of my mind it was always, are you too old at 15? You’re not too old at 45 or 43, so let’s go,” Lomsky said (he and Divita are now 46). “And so we’ve really pushed it. And we have time now, we feel like.”

“Well, I don’t know if we have time, but it’s time,” Divita added. “If it’s ever gonna happen, this is our time.”

And they’re making the most of it. In the short eight months since Trowbridge joined, the band named itself, amassed at least 20 songs and is now in the process of recording its debut album with Sisters producer Jim Goodwin.

“Alarm 58” — the song from which the band took its name — has already been mixed in Los Angeles. It’s fitting, as it was the first composition the quartet worked on together and set the template for the band’s creative process. Lomsky wrote the song’s icy, The Edge-esque jangle of a riff; Fahr and Trowbridge added the song’s dark, pulsing groove; and Divita improvised lyrics about the AK-47 shooting that occurred on the west side of town in April.

“It’s only when I hear his guitar does a vocal melody come to me, and usually I just stay with my first — whatever I bust out first,” Divita said.

“It’s raw, it’s out, it’s subconscious. It just pours out of him,” Lomsky added.

Divita’s gruff baritone draws immediate comparisons to Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. The band occasionally covers Pearl Jam songs, though its music bears little resemblance to that band’s arena rock/grunge anthems. (When Divita lived in Seattle, “all of a sudden, overnight … people kept coming up to me and being like, ‘Dude, you’re covering Eddie Vedder awesome; like, how do you do that? Who else can you imitate like that?’ And I’m like, he stole my voice, man; I’m not trying to copy his.”)

The band’s members like to think of themselves as “musical journalists.” Their songs are based on observations — primary lyricist Divita, a river guide by profession, often tackles issues such as environmentalism or economic inequality in his lyrics. Lomsky likens the band’s storytelling to another old favorite — Bruce Springsteen.

“As (Alarm 58) became a possible name, we realized there were alarms going off all over the world and all over our country, and we wanted to wake ourselves up — try to stay awake to what’s going on, try to keep paying attention,” Divita said. “… And you know, maybe wake other people up, I don’t know. That’s not our mission, but maybe we can wake a few people up along the way.”

It’s not all heady subjects and gloom-and-doom, though. Often Divita will switch up lyrics in the band’s live show based on what’s happening around him. At one show at GoodLife Brewing Company, he made up an entire verse about a pirate-themed bachelorette party that wandered in the building.

“I don’t think they noticed, but everyone else noticed,” Trowbridge said.

© Alarm 58 2016 All rights reserved.