What is Mountain West Emo? Let SLC Band Grounder Show You


Band Grounder featuring Athens Boyle, Jackson Data, Preston Palmer and Titus Larrieu. (Courtesy Grounder)

By Avery Greig, Arts Editor

Grounder, I Hardly Know Her!

“This song is about just how pissed off I am,” Athens Boyle said during a bedroom show in the Marriott Honors Community, a common affair for an odd 2019 evening. As the chords to “Special Place” rang out, it was unknown that the tune would soon become the first Grounder song ever.

Self-proclaimed “mountain west emo” band Grounder was born in 2020 by bassist Titus Larrieu, the true mastermind behind the band’s formation, along with vocalist and backup guitarist Preston Palmer, lead guitarist Boyle and drummer Jackson Data.

“It just makes sense … we are a college band,” Data said on Grounder’s composition of all University of Utah students.

“It puts us in the same place,” Boyle said. “We wouldn’t have formed without the U.”

In fact, the U has been integral to the group’s music production. “We do have access to all the music rooms,” Larrieu said, referring to the recording studio and rehearsal rooms Grounder uses to produce their songs. With the group’s motivations in mind, what exactly is mountain west emo?

Mountain West Emo: The Final Frontier

“It’s a straight-up play on words,” Data said on the Grounder-exclusive genre, spun from traditionally-known Midwest emo. “Mountain west emo comes from our influences … a lot of country and a lot of jazz,” Boyle said.

Grounder, like Midwest emo sovereigns American Football and Modern Baseball, is named after a sports innuendo, but the group truly embraces the genre in their lyricism. “Titus has brought up that all of our lyrics are midwest emo,” Boyle said. “If there’s any umbrella that makes us emo, it’s our lyrics.” This is clearly evident in the band’s EP “Songs About Girls” which is available now on Spotify.

“I think a lot of emo comes from being emotional about being young,” Boyle said. “We don’t have the same experiences that a 40-year-old would under their belt, so really emotions are all we have to sing about.”

Kilby Comeback

Twenty-five percent of Grounder has been to New Mexico and fifty percent of Grounder is from Utah, but one-hundred percent of Grounder has been to Kilby Court, and the band is making their sophomore stage appearance at the venue on April 14, 2022.

“Our first ever show was at Kilby,” Data said, referencing Grounder’s debut in August of 2021 and highlighting the nostalgic importance of Kilby to the band. “The first time we played Kilby I was just overwhelmed with honor because that was one [of] the first venues I went to in Salt Lake,” Boyle said. “When we play Kilby, it’s like we are playing ‘the’ Utah venue.”

Attendees of the upcoming show will not only witness the group in their natural habitat, but will also access the utmost privilege of hearing tracks off Grounder’s soon-to-be-released album.

“I’m a little bit nervous as always, but I’m really excited and I feel very comfortable,” Palmer said. “We’re also just really excited about the groups we are playing with.”

The April 14 show is not one to be missed as the official lineup includes local music groups Lane & the Chain and Catgrove St. In tandem with Grounder’s headline, the lineup is a match made in heaven — or the mountain-west at the very least.


Snag tickets to Grounder’s April 14 Kilby Court show before it’s too late, and in the meantime, follow Grounder’s Spotify, Bandcamp and Instagram to stay up to date on all things Grounder.


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