Stomping Grounds: Conduits (Omaha, Nebraska)
Shoegazey Omaha-based quintet Conduits emerged with their debut in March 2012 and immediately hit the road with hometown heroes Cursive. Drawing comparisons to Portishead, Slowdive and Spiritualized, the band deliver soundscapes that embrace everything droney, psychedelic and rhythmic. Fronted by vocalist Jenna Morrison, known for her work with indie rockers Son, Ambulance, the band is quickly becoming a mainstay of the Midwest indie rock scene. Ghettoblaster caught up with Morrison to ask her a few questions about her drama-some current home.
1. What’s your town’s nickname?
2. What’s your nickname for your town?
Years ago, I am pretty sure that I coined the phrase, Dramaha. However, like anywhere, it is only dramatic if you allow it to be. I like to call it “The O.M.A.” – But I really only call it that to myself.
3. Why do you live there?
I live here because I’m connected to and surrounded by a really wonderful network of businesses, artists and musicians. I’m not sure that this is true, but I feel it would be incredibly hard to replace what I have here. This city is getting better and better, and on top of it, I can actually almost afford to be an artist and live here!
4. Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?
I grew up not far away (in Iowa) and would always come over for shows. Singing has always been my greatest passion. I got tired of driving over, so I moved here, despite keeping a job in Iowa.
5. What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
I had a re-occuring angry homeless man who seemed to find me everywhere. I even woke up one morning to a knock at my door, looked out, and there he was, grunting angrily. He yelled at me for giving him $5, once. Our short relationship went quickly south, after that.
6. What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
My favorite monuments are just over the river in Council Bluffs, because you can actually look out over Omaha, the airport, etc from them. Louis and Clark Monument, and the Lincoln Monument. The Black Angel in Council Bluffs gets an honorable mention.
7. What is your favorite local event or festival?
Maha Music Festival is my favorite, thus far.
8. What is the best time of year to be there?
Spring and Fall, of course. If I can eventually start going south for the winter, I will. In a heartbeat.
9. Who is your favorite local celebrity?
Trey and Lallaya Lalley. They are one.
10. Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
Brothers Lounge. It’s a punk rock/rock bar with an old school jukebox (most 21 year olds can’t seem to figure it out). And everything is cheap. That is the special. But there is a cocktail menu, and drinks made from home made simple syrup with different herbs, depending on the time of year. The vibe and the genuine owners really top it all off.
11. Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
Ha. Again. Brothers Lounge. There’s Nick Cave, Brian Eno, Cursive, Ladyfinger, Capgun Coup, CSS, My Bloody Valentine, Souxsie and the Banshees, and Man Man. Lots of local/regional faves. Obviously, more than I can list.
12. Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
It really is a tossup. I enjoy The Slowdown and The Waiting Room. If we are in the mood for a more intimate show, usually Brothers or O’leavers.
13. Does where you live influence your music?
Definitely. And more than anything, I think that the music scene here influences us to strive to be better. There are a lot of heavy hitters in a relatively small city. I wouldn’t say we are competitive, or at least I am not, but we see people who live here doing great things, and we strive to do great things, too.
14. What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
Bright Eyes actually played my favorite show in Omaha at Memorial Park a few years back. The band was definitely going all out on stage, and behind the stage the sun was setting. The sky opened up and exploaded with rain on all of us. It was suddenly freezing, and my paper thin summer dress was sticking to my body. I felt naked, and my phone got destroyed. Bright Eyes music tied the whole scene together. It took me over and I stood by myself, shivering in the crowd until the whole thing was over. It was just the kind of beautiful disaster that you never forget. After that, I would say Godspeed! You Black Emperor at the Music Box (a venue that doesn’t exist anymore) was a particularly important show for me. I feel seeing that show really shaped me as a music patron, and as an artist.
15. What is your favorite local band?
Do I have to only have one? I just can’t do it. Cursive, Gus & Call, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, Icky Blossoms, InDreama, Honeybee & Hers, Millions of Boys, Little Brazil, The So So Sailors, Dim Light, Neva Dinova, UUVVWWZ….. Can’t I just love everybody? Because I could keep going.
16. What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
Vietnamese Asian Restaurant on 72nd street is definitely my favorite and most frequented eatery. We actually have our band meetings there, now. If you aren’t vegan, I would recommend Pho with chicken or tofu. If you are, the vermicelli with tofu. I actually spent our entire month long tour with Cursive trying to find pho that was just as good, and it never happened. I had pho five times on tour.
17. What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
The Antiquarium is my favorite record store. I haven’t bought records there in some time. I lost my record player in a breakup, and haven’t picked one back up. My last purchases there were CD’s. I do remember getting my Electrelane CD, there, upon a friends request. That was a pleasant surprise.
18. What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
Lazy-I.com would be my top. Tim McMahan has been leading that shit for years. I am really happy about the startups that have popped up over the last couple years – Omahype and Hearnebraska. These are all music based websites/blogs.
19. What is your favorite local shop?
I’m really a thrift store girl (I bet you knew that I was going to say that), but as far as local goes, I’m a big fan of Second Chance in the Old Market. Also, there are a few Antique Stores on Leavenworth St. that I am kind of fascinated by.
20. If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
I’ve always wanted to live in either San Fran or NYC, but was never sure I would be able to get on my feet there. However, in the last couple of years, I have visited friends in Austin a lot and I really dig the general vibe there. It seems like it might be more my speed, with just enough culture to hold me over.