Extreme Heat release All the way Gone
“History is a beautiful thing, maybe because it makes it feel like life has a purposeful trajectory. Take Extreme Heat. Forty years ago in the burning-up bars and bandstands in Austin, a crazy mixed-up funk band called Steam Heat stood as a party of one in a city more caring of country cliques and blues bands.”
-Bill Bentley, Bentley’s Bandstand
Austin’s very own Funk and Soul veterans, Extreme Heat are an 8-piece group of musicians who have sprouted from every corner of Texas with a single Coloradan added to the mix. This funk group is led by, Bruce Spelman (vocals), followed by, Mike Roeder (bass, vocal), Neil Pederson (keyboard), Mike Barnes (guitar), Eddie Cantu (drums), Steven Vague (sax), Ken Mills (trombone), James Fenner (percussion). Formed in 1977 from the critically acclaimed band Steam Heat, Extreme Heat cut its musical teeth playing legendary Austin venues including the Armadillo, Liberty Lunch, Steamboat, Antones and the Saxon Pub. They recently released their latest studio album, All the Way Gone. The title, All the Way Gone is a reminder to Extreme Heat on how much the city has changed since the 1970’s. Regardless of the massive changes in Austin, Extreme Heat wants their audience to remember that, “life is good,” when they are enjoying the music.
All the Way Gone was produced by frontman, Bruce Spelman himself. The basic tracks for the EP were engineered by Jacob Sciba, and Joseph Holguin at Arlyn Studios in Austin. Overdubs for the record were recorded in Austin at Oxford Audio and engineered and mastered by Mac McNabb. The cover art was created by Billy Perkins. The albums cover art represents how the old Austin vibe has been buried and nearly forgotten by the new developments in our city. The songs in this album are about modern life, politics, love and relationships. Extreme Heat wants their audience to take away the feeling of going with the flow as they listen to the fun and soul of this octet.
Extreme Heat has been a staple to the Austin music scene for the last 41 years. The band’s eclectic, funky, jazz and rock influenced sound has been heard all over the globe. During the 1980's and 1990's their sound was heard throughout Texas as a constant presence in the clubs and music festivals of Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio. In the 2000s the band has released four albums including a single, “What would James Brown do,” in 2009, followed by two releases in 2012, Live at the Saxon Pub (LP) and Put Some Weight on It! (EP). Soulstice released in 2013, was picked by Margaret Moser, with the Austin Chronicle, as one of her top ten records of 2013 and Year Before The War was released in 2016. They were the winners of readers polls and the subject of reviews and articles in music publications across the state. In the 41 years they have been together, Extreme Heat has traveled and performed extensively throughout the U.S.A. They were especially well known to audiences in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas where they came to represent the Texas and Austin music scene to a generation of listeners in those states.
All members of Extreme Heat came from musical families. Bruce Spelman’s grandmother was in vaudeville while his other grandmother encouraged him to sing in church. Ken Mills had siblings who played trumpet and saxophone while he was growing up. Each member either played in their junior high and high school bands, orchestra or sang in the choir. The members have played in various Austin bands as well Mike Barnes: Brother Magnum and the Razor Bumps, Blue Millennium, Back In Stride, Trip Trio, The Atlantics, Monster Big Band. Bruce Spelman: Satellites, The Fabulous Vibrolas, The Insinuators, The Chevelles. Mike Roeder: The Bustamovalators, Crackerbox Gospel Band. When the group first formed in Austin they strove to be “exceptions and alternatives to what people thought of as the ‘Austin Sound’ (progressive country, or blues). Our vision came from funky jazz and soul music. We stick to our original vision.”
Extreme Heat are inspired by their families and being immersed in a music-rich environment. When they are not playing a gig, they enjoy pursuing other forms of art, like reading and drawing. Extreme Heat members also have a vast variety of daytime jobs when they are not playing music, Mike Barnes is a music/guitar teacher. Bruce Spelman works as a high school social studies teacher. Mike Roeder is a surveyor. Steven Vague works as a radiology technician. Ken Mills is a lawyer and James Fenner repairs instruments at Strait Music. They live by the saying, “it is what it is.” Going with the ebbs and flows of life is how Extreme Heat prosper and continue to create music after decades in the Austin music scene. They are inspired by some great musicians such as; Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, Average White Band, Earth, Wind, and Fire and Little Feat. As well as some local Austin musicians who continue to flourish in the city and act as contemporaries to Extreme Heat; Beto y los Fairlanes, Mingo Fishtrap, Trip Trio, and Uranium Savages.
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