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Mildrid, cat-inspired indie rock

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Tim Hotz, frontman for the indie rock band Mildrid, has a day job as a barista at Starbucks. One would think that the world of customer service and rocking a stage couldn’t be more different. But according to Hotz, the mental prep is much the same.

“It’s a very similar activity,” Hotz said, “(You) prepare yourself to get in front of people.”

Formed in January of 2008, Mildrid has earned a reputation as a fun-loving, make-you-get-up-and-dance band with a loyal following in the Sacramento area, playing bars and clubs like Capitol Garage, The Blue Lamp, Fox and Goose, Luna’s Cafe and Naked Lounge.

Unlike Hotz, Mildrid’s electric guitarist and co-founder Caleb Avila, who also works as a barista at Starbucks, sees the worlds of musical performance and coffee service as being totally separate.

“Working with coffee feels more like a nine-to-five,” Avila said, “Playing music is a passion.”

There was a time when three out of Mildrid’s four members helped staff the same Starbucks store.

Now, each member of Mildrid works to make music that they not only like to play, but that they’d also like to hear, Avila said. As that passion flaunts itself on stage, he said concertgoers can expect to witness some goofy dance moves and hear some really bad jokes.

“We take the music seriously, but we never take ourselves too seriously,” Avila said.

This point can be clearly seen in the band’s being named Mildrid. Who is Mildrid, after all?

“It’s my cat’s name,” Hotz said, “She’s got some personality on her.”

Taking their cue from Hotz’ cat, whose personality he described as manic, unpredictable and fun, Mildrid’s members aim to keep audiences on their feet with an eclectic style ranging from Latin to reggae to progressive rock.

“You never know when she’s going to strike you,” Hotz said of Mildrid the cat. He admitted that Mildrid the band acts in much the same way.

The unexpected nature of Mildrid’s sound can be attributed to the wide spectrum of music that influences Hotz’ writing – from Cake to Rush to Vampire Weekend, and to the more unusual influence of classical pianist Franz Liszt (unusual in that Mildrid’s rock ensemble doesn’t include a piano).

He said much of the music goes in as one thing, but comes out in a different way.

“I translate it in my mind,” he said.

If Mildrid had a mission statement, Hotz said it’d be something like, “Overcoming oppression, one song at a time.”

However, opposed to speaking about his band in a business tone, Hotz has turned some of his feelings on corporate greed and power into songs meant to empower those who aren’t typically heard.

“Recently, I’ve been inspired by the idea of power structures and the underdog, fighting for the little guy and sticking it to the man,” he said. “It’s not like we’re a ’60s rock band, but it’s about giving the oppressed a voice.”

When asked if these feelings were perhaps related to working for Starbucks, Hotz dodged the question with a laugh before saying that much of his inspiration is related to perceiving the world as being driven by a desire for money and power.

The Mildrid foursome will be making its fourth appearance at the Blue Lamp this Friday, sharing the night with The Soft White Sixties. Ticket information can be found here.



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