STS9 on Giving Back to the Community and Why "Time Is Art"


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Drummer Zach Velmer

"[B]ringing all these people together in celebration of music and bringing all these people together to dance and have fun and let go," Velmer says. "We're honored each and every time we get an offer for a festival, when they want us to come play and be a part of something that's bigger than us with other hugely talented musicians."

These larger venues also give STS9 a great opportunity to give back, as partnering with non-profits is a big passion for the band. They've worked with organizations such as Conscious Alliance, who ran food drives at shows and the Make It Right Foundation, who helped build a new home for a family in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do what we do and in our community, locally and globally and we enjoy doing things for other people," Velmer explains. "People do stuff for us -- they come out to our concerts, and it's a really beautiful way to bring people together ... and a portion of that profit goes to something. It's providing the masses to kind of be a community ... You're going to go to a concert, you're going to go but a ticket and listen to this band, but a dollar or five dollars a ticket goes to something you might not believe in, but you're giving something back."

But it seems STS9 is a little more wary of online community. On their 2008 album, Peaceblaster, the band sampled a speech by University of Massachusetts communications professor Sut Jhally who said, "The current generation of kids are literally saturated with media. And when you're surrounded by an environment that way, you have to be shaped by it. That's how culture works, culture shapes identity. Culture shapes how we understand the world. So it's not just how we're surrounded by media, but we're surrounded by this commercialized media."

Velmer was quick to say he's not a psychologist and it was just his opinion, but he sees a lot of people wasting their time "on Facebook or looking at your friends pictures or their perception of themselves, which is how they view themselves, which is they're great all the time."

Velmer has never had a Facebook page, but doesn't see this as a point of pride. Instead, he just cited one of STS9's philosophies: time is art.

"Your time could be spent just creating, being creative or doing something special in the world," Velmer says. "It's very interesting ... I don't want to be perceived as opinionated on this matter, because I don't really know. I know how I live my life and I know how I try to perpetuate my particular time."

McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2014 takes place from Friday, March 28, to Sunday, March 30.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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Margaret T. Hance Park

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