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Local Limelight: Stiletto Formal is back in town

Phoenix group says there's no place like home

 by Si Robins
 published on Thursday, November 2, 2006


After months of touring, Stiletto Formal is back in Phoenix. And it feels good to be home.

The band brought their energetic stage show to an eager crowd north of the Memorial Union last Thursday, Oct. 26.

"It was a lot less awkward than I thought it would be," says cellist Sunny Davis, who used to attend ASU. "It's weird to be back, but it was definitely fun."

This is the culmination of a whirlwind year for the band. They played more than 100 shows all over the country. Their second EP, This is My Boomstick, was released in March. The band spent the summer playing afternoon sets on the Vans Warped Tour.

"(Playing here at ASU) was actually a lot like Warped Tour," Davis says. "Lots of people walking by who aren't familiar with us."

Despite their unfamiliarity around the country, the band may have found a home away from home during the tour - in Canada.

"We tripled the number of people [in the crowd] at the Canada shows," says singer/percussionist Kyle Howard. "Montreal was one of the biggest crowds we've ever played for."

Despite the new fanfare, the strenuous pace and schedule of the festival wore on the band.

"(Warped Tour) is like high school on wheels, lots of drama all over the place," Howard says.

Davis describes the unpredictable summer shows, including the inter-tour gossip spread between the bands and the wild parties each night.

"It's like a little city," Davis says. "You wake up in a new place everyday, but everything looks the same."

The daily schedule was intense: waking up at 8 a.m., playing at the festival until 10 p.m. and then traveling all night. Some nights the drive was more than 500 miles between venues.

"Paul (Neely, bassist) drove the entire tour," Davis says. "The bands really need a driver that isn't working all day, but Paul is such a champion, kind of a superhuman."

The social side of touring is just as strenuous.

"Besides all the work, you're expected to socialize and meet people [on the tour]," Howard says. "It's part of the job."

Howard says there were often wild after-parties on the tour, including ones with moustache and trailer-trash themes. Even the band's love for gambling was fulfilled on occasion.

Still, Stiletto's intense live shows have not gone unnoticed. They caught the attention of producer Darrel Thorpe, who has spent time perfecting the sounds of Radiohead and Beck.

The Stiletto Formal, which includes bassist Paul Neely, guitarist Jimi Lamp, keyboardist Brady Leffler and drummer Pat McCarthy, used Thursday's show to gear up for a trek to Los Angeles this week for perhaps its biggest accomplishment to date. Stiletto will meet Thorpe at an Los Angeles studio to work on two tracks to be shopped to record labels - an exceptional feat for an unsigned band from the desert.

While in Los Angeles, the band is playing at Hollywood's legendary Knitting Factory. A Phoenix show is scheduled at the Brickhouse Theater on Nov. 11 with Glendale band Desole.

The band will continue logging miles until December as they play California and Nevada venues with the Valley Arena. The tour will end with Stiletto's last local show of the year on Dec. 8 at the Sets in Tempe.

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