Scamper. Will Hurt Your Neck
Midwest Band Series
by Bailey Gabrielle
Photos by Melinda Ehrp
The heavens open a little bit when Iowa City-based rock band Scamper. takes the stage. Their combination of raw vocals and bold guitar riffs make you want to head bang until your neck hurts. The band’s sound is distinctly reminiscent of Weezer and Radiohead at times, which makes Scamper. stand out from the rotation of acts in the current Iowa City music scene.
I met with the members of Scamper. on March 31st before they played at Gabe’s alongside Citrus Sunday and The Grapevines. Scamper. bassist, Braden Goyke, told me that they were trying something new by wearing suits for the show. But, they peeled off the suit coats during soundcheck, reminding the audience that they were the down-to-earth band the Gabe’s regulars had come to know and love.
As the set began, I watched the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Peter Dressel. The serious and collected man I had met hours before was now thrashing around the stage in front of me, putting his emotions on display for everyone to see. That night, Scamper. debuted their song “It’s Alright, Baby,” a brooding, boiling point of anger and frustration.
In our interview, Dressel mentioned that he had not intended on being the lead vocalist: “I’ve never been that crazy confident in my voice. I wanted to get a singer… and I could just do backing vocals and write stuff. But, we never found anybody that fit. Eventually our desire to play gigs usurped our desire to get the perfect arrangement of people.”
The band is made up of a tight knit group of friends. Goyke, Dressel, and Ross Schmaltz met at Waukee High School. Drummer Greg Beaver met Dressel through a University of Iowa jazz combo. Beaver previously played in the Iowa City-based metal band Nongrata. Scamper. has been together since 2017 but began playing gigs last year. “We play more for fun than to be serious and ‘make it big’,” said Schmaltz, the group’s guitarist. His smile is framed by a light, feathery beard. He is easy going and humble.
On May 1st, the band released their first single “Stalling.” The song opens with Dressel declaring, “Trying not to cry in a bathroom stall / See graffiti arguments on the wall / Calculate the time I have left to stay / And not seem like it’s out of the ordinary,” Bright guitar riffs contrast Dressel’s rough-around-the-edges voice.
“I don’t think you need to be a serious band to want to write your own music and play your own music,” said Dressel in our interview. “I think that can be a fun, chill thing that you can do in a relaxed band setting. We started doing it that way, not really with any intentions to record them or do anything with it.”
Regardless of their objective, the members of Scamper. have brought a new kind of rock to Iowa City that we can all be grateful for.
Photographed by Melinda Ehrp