Happenstance meeting leads to new band

By EMILY FOWLER/Montana State News

I’m standing towards the front of a large crowd at the Filling Station, a local favorite of the Bozeman bar scene. If I tried to stand still, I would be jostled by the crowd dancing and moving around me. Instead, I dance with them, partly because I would fall over if I tried to be stationary, and partly because it’s hard not to. The band onstage has an energy that is infectious.

Their speech is sprinkled with yurt puns. They all own tee-shirts proclaiming themselves “Members of The Steve Buscemi Fan Club.” They are delightfully weird and delightfully talented. They are YURT.

When I first approached the Bozeman-based band to ask them some questions, I was told they’d agree as long as it was conducted in an actual yurt. Although I wasn’t able to find a portable, round tent with a fireplace in the middle, the band eventually came around to meeting at the singer, guitarist and keyboardist Shane Laver’s, house.

Laver’s room is messy. The small room is crammed to the brim with various instruments, a few drums and a snare. Every surface is covered with CD’s, books and scraps of songs he’s working on. Sitting on his bed, which rests on the ground, are the three members of YURT: Shane Lavers, Olivia Kesterson and Marlo Kapsa.

YURT formed in October 2015. In a whirlwind of a few months, they learned and practiced six songs written by either Kapsa or Lavers, played a packed show at The Filling Station, and successfully recorded their first EP entitled “I’m Gonna YURT.”

The band’s name was the brainchild of drummer Kesterson. “It is the funniest word! I love to say it. Yurt, yurt, yurt!”

Kesterson is still becoming accustomed to Mountain time after a month-long stint snowboarding in Japan. With her signature grin she said, “The snow was amazing. It was like riding on clouds.” The souvenirs she brought back for YURT only partially made up for her long absence. “We missed our Liv so much,” said Kapsa.

Right before Kesterson left for Japan, YURT took a 20-hour road trip to Chicago in a car they’ve affectionately named “The Red Rocket.” The band took in most of Chicago on rollerblades, caught up with old friends, and “We recorded an EP at Treehouse Records,” said Kapsa excitedly.

Treehouse Records is host to bands like Twin Peaks, Violent Femmes and Cage the Elephant. “Recording there was the highlight of my year,” said Lavers.

Kapsa, who contributes vocals, guitar and keyboard to the band, graduated from Montana State University last fall. “We all met so randomly,” she said, “just through mutual friends, and a mutual desire to play music on a regular basis.”

YURT knew they were onto something right away.

Already, the band is changing rapidly. They claim it all comes down to the level of comfort. “We learned, practiced, and recorded songs pretty quickly after meeting each other for the first time,” Lavers said.

“Yeah,” added Kapsa “Then we had the road trip to Chicago…And now we’re way too comfortable with each other” finished Kesterson.

“The music is much more of a collaboration now. We’re getting really experimental,” said Lavers.

Although their ultimate dream is to perform in a yurt, for now they’re looking forward to a spring break tour around Washington. Lavers said, “We’re living the dream. Live, laugh, YURT, baby.”

Live, laugh, YURT indeed.

Their new album is available to stream on SoundCloud. Just search “YURT.”

– Edited by Zach Fent

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