By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
BIG SKY – The Riot Act celebrated the release of their debut album “Goin’ Snakepunchin’” on New Year’s Eve at the Black Bear in Big Sky. The 12-song LP was almost entirely written, recorded, arranged and mastered at the base of Lone Mountain.
The Riot Act consists of Brian Stumpf – who wrote all of the album’s music and lyrics – on guitar and vocals, drummer Shane Stalling and Evan Agee on bass and vocals. Stumpf and Stalling have been playing together since June 2011, and Agee joined the band on Halloween 2012.
Known for their high-energy, festive shows in and around Big Sky, “Goin’ Snakepunchin’” was the result of five days at Skylab Media House on the west fork of the Gallatin River.
“We could not have done this album without those guys [at Skylab],” Stumpf said. “[It was built] in an old storage unit, but you feel like you’re in a professional studio.”
The band arrived at Skylab each of the five days around noon and wouldn’t quit until well after midnight. When they took a break from recording, Stumpf and Agee would sit by the river as Stalling stalked trout with his fly rod.
Skylab producer Adam Stubbs spent about a month mastering “Goin’ Snakepunchin’” after the recording sessions wrapped up, and Big Sky artist James Clark provided the cover artwork.
The album opens with “Show Me Where,” followed by “Whiskey Richard,” two raucous cuts that typify a live show from the trio. The heavy guitar chords, thumping bass and Stalling’s feverish drumming are punctuated by dramatic changes abruptly altering the pace, before the tracks take off again.
Slower songs like “One Day,” “Nantucket” and “The Ghost” demonstrate The Riot Act’s range and ability to transition from their punk and metal roots to more melodic compositions. All three musicians consider Ween one of their biggest influences and you can hear it on this album, as they similarly shift from brash to beautiful with ease.
The Riot Act had a little help from their friends on “Goin’ Snakepunchin,’” including the lilting flute of Kylie Bechdolt on “Nantucket” and “Outside,” as well as the Gypsy Choir – buddies who stopped by the studio providing background party noise to capture the energy of a live Riot Act show on the recording.
“The songs are fun and goofy,” Stumpf said. “Our shows are fun, and we couldn’t be so successful if Big Sky wasn’t such a party town.”
The Riot Act plays Feb. 15 at The Broken Spoke. Brian Stumpf also performs every Sunday at Scissorbills from 3:30-5:30 p.m. “Goin’ Snakepunchin’” can be purchased at any of those shows or on iTunes, amazon.com and cdbaby.com.