Crystal City. Sunday. Gabes. Free. Early.

Bands come and bands go in a college town.  Crystal City moved here about 15 months ago from Marshalltown and set about transforming themselves from an acoustic duo to and electric band, rehearsing, recording, woodshedding.

Sam Drella and Dave Helmer got together about four years ago, developing a following in central Iowa and restoring Dave’s old house.  He’d  been writing songs, playing in bands  and growing topiary-level sideburns.  She’d had a white collar job that was grinding her down.  They recorded an eponymous album in 2010.  Brock  Muench plays bass.  Dan Peterson (formerly of Deathstryke!) drums and designed their album cover.

So, Dave, who’s influenced your music.  Who do you listen to for fun?

There was a ton of punk rock growing up. Paul Westerberg IS my favorite songwriter, period. All of The Replacements and PW solo stuff is the bulk of my influence. I see a lot of it in my writing. And after that you have all the normal influences for Songwriter Rock’n’Roll, Dylan, Petty, Beatles, The Boss etc.

Two bands that I have really grown to love are Tame Impala and Low Cut Connie. Two very different bands but both amazing. I may be alone on this but, I still very much like spinning around the FM stations. There is always something on I like as well as something that may catch my ear (Now everyone sing Katy Perry!)


What can you tell us about the new record?

The new album we are soon releasing is titled, “Change”. It is about half full blown rock and half mellow acoustic stuff. The album is very eclectic, and there are hooks all over it. We try to present music that can be casually listened to or picked apart with a musical comb.


Crystal City (the name comes from a Gram Parsons song) play a free, early (7 PM) show downstairs at Gabe’s  Sunday.   (The Replacements used to play Gabes).  The Men From . . . Beyond open.

–John Hiett

About the Author