Off the Beaten Utrec

After conquering Gator country and relocating to South Florida, Utrec has resorted to none of the drastic tactics favored by other top local bands. No silly gimmicks, no self-released albums, no change in their approach. "We've always been anti-gimmick, because the music should stand on its own," Andy Kwiat says. "An album is just too expensive at this point. Plus we've been hoping to do it through a label. The Mavericks' success with their own project is making us reconsider. As for our approach, the longer we're together, the more resistant to change we are."

That's not to say they haven't done everything reasonable to grab the gold. They've received air play on Y-100 and WSHE, as opposed to the more common local-rock outlets WVUM and WKPX. They've opened for the Outfield, Winger, Alias, Jeffrey Osborne, the Guess Who. They even gave Star Search a shot, losing by audience vote after a tie on the first show of last season. Last year they were selected for Miami Rocks, Too! They sang the National Anthem at the first Miami Dolphins exhibition game of this season.

With that background, more than 40 original tunes, appearances in all the clubs, and a handful of winning demo tapes, Utrec has built a strong following, but remains unsigned. This might be one of those exceptional cases where a band just has to get out of Miami to get the recognition it deserves.

"We just played the Lone Star in New York," Mejia says, "and it went real good. The outcome was that people in New York said we should play up there, rather than have [A&R scouts] come down here. One gig wasn't enough to get a buzz going around town. So they said come up and do a dozen gigs. Just set a month when you want to come." Utrec is aiming at this January for the trip north, resorting to some cover-band gigs to raise funds for the trip. "Nothing against Miami, it has a great scene," says Andy Kwiat. "It's just too easy up there to get seen. You call an A&R guy and he can be at the show in fifteen minutes. But we want to stay in South Florida. We grew up here."

If they get signed, the scenesters can be expected to cloak their envy and jealousy by denouncing Utrec as sellout compromisers. "What they say and what a record company says - they can come up with any reason," Gomez says. "They'll label you whatever they want to label you. But we write from the heart. We're not phonies, we're not faking that crap just to get a record deal - we don't have a record deal. Calling us pop rockers doesn't bother me, I don't think much of it. As long as they say we're a good pop band."

Rich Kwiat offers a possible solution to all the misunderstanding. "Call us art rock. That's better than pop rock, isn't it? But rather than that, I wish they'd come see us play, and don't call it anything.

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