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Fox Cities Amplified: Scarlet

A few weeks back, I stopped into Triple P’s in Grand Chute, making a pact with my friend to only stay for one drink. Upon entering the bar, we noticed a band setting up, waiting to start their set until the end of the Badger football game. Still sticking to our guns, we ordered our drinks. But then, the band began to play and what was supposed to be an early night turned into staying out until bar close. What I heard was truly amazing. Each band member was beyond incredible at their respective instruments. The lead singer had a ridiculously wide vocal range. Their stage presence was comparable to highly professional bands. Even their outfits stood out to me. They all had some sort of deep red color on. Their logo, which was hanging from two banners on either side of the stage, was a girl’s face with red hair, red lips and red irises. The name of this band — Scarlet.

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Following the show, I talked with the lead singer and pleaded for an interview. We agreed on meeting at the same bar on December 16, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was eager to learn more about this band that so captivated me that night a few weeks prior.

On the night of our interview, only the second story of the bar was open, but it was much too noisy for an interview. So, I had to question the band in the darkness of the first floor per the bartenders approval. It wasn’t ideal, but we made it work. Scarlet was pretty laid back about the whole situation, and I discovered they are indeed not afraid of the dark.

Scarlet consists of the lead singer Alexander “Zondo” Sendelbach-Elizondo, “Trucker Tim” Kempen on lead guitar, Nathan Waters on bass and Danny “the Man” Sendelbach-Elizondo on the drums. The entire band has lived in the Fox Cities their whole lives.

“They’re pretty reliable. I’ve been in bands before where people flake, because ultimately it’s like a form of expression what we do, but there’s also a business side of it. These guys I feel like they understand that, and they’re level-headed, and we all respect each other, so I like that,” Zondo says.

Scarlet’s musical style is hard to define, according to Zondo.

“The way I would describe it I guess would be this modern hard rock, but it’s not extremely hard — it’s not like the typical hard rock, it’s more like this semi-hard rock,” Zondo says.

Zondo’s musical influences are lead singers for their bands — Matt Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold and Patrick Stumpf from Fall Out Boy.

His brother, Dan the Man, is also a fan of Fall Out Boy, but his favorite band is Megadeath. Waters’ musical influence is his godfather, Greg Waters, from the Cool Waters Band.

“They are very influential, they lent me a book to start learning how to play, and helped me pick out my first guitar to buy, which lead me to playing bass guitar,” Waters says.

Trucker Tim responded with the most influences — AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.

“All the old [bands], I dig deep into all of that,” he says.

These guys started young. Even though the band has an average age of 21.5, they have a combined 37 years of experience playing their instruments.

“Both my brother [Dan the Man] and I go to school in the Milwaukee area so we only practice once a week…we all have a higher skill set so we can make up ground quickly — I think a lot of bands can’t do that,” says Zondo, who utilizes his advertising education to support the band. “I implement what I learn in class through advertising for the band, like making posters and the social media stuff and everything.”

Scarlet’s song writing process is pretty straightforward.

“We come up with a riff, then the lyrics they are formed from what I’ve personally gone through, like my personal life experiences,” Zondo says.

Waters works full-time as a kitchen manager at Greene’s Pour House in Neenah and Trucker Tim works at a factory making frozen pizzas. They still somehow manage to make the band work with their busy schedules and produce an amazing sound. 

You would never guess that Scarlet has been together since only the end of July, their first show being in August. They have only played six shows total at the time of the interview, so they are brand new to the scene.

“I just think that it’s great that we’re all passionate about the same thing,” Trucker Tim says. “We go out on stage every time at the same time together and we just give it all we got.”

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Zondo has a definitive opinion on what the local music scene looks like, and also a vision for the future.

“I think that there’s a lot of cover bands around here and that there’s an open market for what we’re trying to do with creating original music, and I think that the songs the cover bands are playing are all ‘80s rock songs — we don’t really want to be a part of that,” Zondo says. “With the covers that we do decide to play, we want to be more modern, so we sing everything from the ‘90s to current right now, so I think that the area is the perfect opportunity for what we’re trying to do.”

Zondo’s favorite local venue that he’s played is Milltown Still and Grill in Combined Locks. The venue Zondo has his sights set on is Mill Creek on College Avenue in downtown Appleton.

Waters and Trucker Tim both had an interesting take on how the Fox Cities are making the area advantageous for music makers. Waters discussed how 105.7 FM radio station has a new metal rock period of their show where they have new bands a lot. Trucker Tim chimed in saying how much the radio helps out musicians. He continued to say how Mile of Music helps out a lot too, and that there are plenty of bars that love to have bands as well.

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Fun fact: At age 14, Zondo and Trucker Tim spent one glorious week together as members of a short-lived band. They lost touch after the group suddently split, as bands of 14-year-olds often do. They were reunited last year when Zondo placed a Craigslist ad in search of a guitarist in a “desperation move.” His former band’s guitarist had quit and they were in need of a quick replacement. The two exchanged several emails before Trucker Tim put the pieces together and realized he was communicating with Zondo, the bandmate from his youth. The moral of the story? The Fox Cities music community is cozy, so don’t burn bridges and if you advertise for talent on Craigslist, you’ll probably be reconnected with a long lost friend.

“So Tim and I are like the founding members of Scarlet,” Zondo says.

Dan the Man joined the group because his brother is Zondo, and Trucker Tim and Waters have been best friends since high school — that was Waters’ in.

Scarlet’s first album, “Higher,” is fully recorded, but they have not yet decided when it will be released.

Zondo urges readers and fans to like their Facebook page for updates on shows and their album release date.

Check out music from Scarlet at their next show on January 13 at Road Trip Food and Spirits in Kaukauna from 8 p.m. until midnight.

“We’re a very high energy band, you should definitely come out check us out,” Waters says.

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