OGDEN — Making the long drive home from a show in Provo one night, members of the indie rock band Mother Lights had an epiphany.
“I think we’d all gotten tired of what it means to be in a band and play in dive bars for the same three or four people who could care less,” said guitarist/vocalist Jake Rogers, of Ogden.
That is, when they could actually get into those dive bars. Because in the last six months it’s been especially difficult to book gigs, what with an underage musician in the band.
“Our drummer isn’t 21, so that means no bars here in Ogden,” the 35-year-old Rogers said. “That limits where you can play.”
And so, on this particular night they were coming back from a Provo show and passed an old auto-repair garage off Wall Avenue. One of the band members pointed and remarked, “We should’ve called and asked, ‘Can we play in your auto garage?’ and then invited a bunch of friends. That would have been a better use of our time than driving all the way to Provo to play for 10 people.”
Thus was the upcoming “Polyphonic Shrines” tour born.
The tour is an entire week of nightly shows at unconventional venues in town, played in conjunction with fellow Ogden band Water Babies. The tour starts Monday, Jan. 28, at SimpleLife Studio, and concludes Sunday, Feb. 3, at Booked on 25th. In between, they’ll hit — in order — Live Natural, The Corner Barbershop, Pearl Milk Tea Club, Coffee Compound, and Lavender Vinyl.
The tour got its name because, “It’s like a little shrine to underground music,” according to Rogers. He says they’re taking the best of what a concert has to offer and distilling it into an hour-long show.
“Short, sweet and digestible,” as Rogers describes it.
Each band will do a 20-minute set, with 10 minutes of poetry — performed by writing faculty and students from Weber State University — sandwiched in the middle.
“One of the things we don’t like about club shows is the 15- or 20-minute break between bands,” Rogers said. “So then there’s this lag, and about half of the people leave.”
To combat that, the two bands have agreed to share amplifiers and drum kit, to cut down on take-down and set-up time. And they’ll provide some background music while the poetry portion of the evening is offered.
Unlike the typical three-hour bar show this one will clock in at about an hour.
“The last thing a band wants is an audience that doesn’t want to hear them anymore,” Rogers said. “You always want to leave them wanting more.”
Originally from Brigham City, Rogers moved to Los Angeles to try to make it in a band. But he says he got burned out, and tired of the “cutthroat attitude” there.
After marrying a woman who got a job teaching creative writing at Weber State, the couple moved back to Ogden about three years ago. Rogers says he quickly learned that there are plenty of musicians in Ogden that are every bit as good as the ones he played with in L.A.
“And, Ogden is a much friendlier town,” he says.
It took him five years, but Rogers says he realized that, these days, there no reason to be in New York or L.A. to pursue a musical career.
“You used to have to go to places like that to get in front of the right people,” he said. “But now you can do it on the internet, from anywhere.”
Mother Lights has been together for about a year and a half now. Rogers met fellow musician Brent Sorensen on the sidewalks of Historic 25th Street one day, when Sorensen just happened to be jamming at one of the decorated instruments in the city’s street piano program. They started chatting, and soon decided to start writing songs together.
Later, guitarist Rogers and keyboardist Sorensen would meet multi-instrumentalist Jake Dolan, from Johnson City, Tenn. He became their bassist.
“If you know about alt-country, Johnson City is kind of an alternative to Nashville,” Rogers said.
After going through a couple of other drummers — who left to go back to school or take other jobs — Rogers says the final piece of the puzzle came together about six months ago when Oregon transplant Joey Lucius answered a classified ad.
As for the band’s name, Mother Lights, Rogers says that came about from a classic misunderstanding of song lyrics.
“One of my friends was talking to me about a song he’d heard by one of those ‘80s bands — Tears for Fears or Simple Minds or something,” Rogers recalls. “And you know how you hear lyrics that aren’t the right words? It was one of those things. We were driving around listening to the song, and the line was “some other lights.” But it sounded like “some mother lights,” and my friend said, ‘How about Mother Lights?’”
Next up for the band, after this seven-venue mini concert tour of Ogden, is the new album “Night Magic,” due out in late March. Rogers says he has a good feeling about this one.
“It’s funny, because I don’t want to get my hopes up like I’ve done in the past,” he said. “But this album we just recorded, I’m mixing it right now and when it’s done I really feel like this album is going to go places.”
He describes Mother Lights’ songs as melodic indie rock, a sort of “new-age Beatles.” He says Water Babies’ songs are “psychedelic folk.”
Admission is free to all concerts, and all ages are welcome.
“One thing I’d want people to know: Don’t be afraid to come to this event, because it’s very friendly,” Rogers said. “You will feel welcome. We’re all friends.”