Call Halloween Town a local supergroup if you want, but its leader prefers a different term. “My vision is for Halloween Town to be a collective,” Ryan Pardey explains after his band’s fourth-ever performance, Saturday night at Beauty Bar. “It’s not just about the five musicians who played tonight. It’s about songs and film and art. And most of all, it’s about friendship.”
The red-bearded, shaggy-haired Pardey is an unlikely frontman to say the least, having gone a full decade without picking up a guitar. But the 29-year-old best known around town as a Bargain DJ Collective mainstay and a longtime Killers associate (that’s him playing the lead role in the video for their Christmas ditty “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”) is onstage again, after receiving help and encouragement from a friend who knows a bit about being in a successful band.
“Without [Killers bassist] Mark Stoermer there’d be no Halloween Town. November through February was probably my darkest, most self-destructive period, and I knew I needed to stabilize my life. Mark helped me bring my ideas to life,” Pardey says of his roommate, who stands amid tonight’s crowd moving to the music. “He even filled in on guitar at our first show [June 1 at Sin City Saloon]. Plus, Mark is a vegetarian, and he’s sober all the time, so he helps balance me out.”
Halloween Town’s Beauty Bar lineup—playing in support of visiting Vancouver outfit Constantines—features Pardey; Taylor Milne (guitar) and Alex Stopa (drums) of onetime Vegas act Silver State, now based in Brooklyn, New York; Rick Miller (bass) of Big Friendly Corporation; and Corlene Byrd (keyboards), most recently of A Crowd of Small Adventures. Their Americana-ish set is fairly ragged—made more so by a bum guitar cord that pops loudly on multiple occasions—but Pardey sounds optimistic afterward as he sips his whiskey in the alley behind the venue. “We’re not where I think we should be, but I’m proud of where we are,” he says. “I wrote these songs in a four-day period in my garage, and I’m pretty happy with them.”
Halloween Town will schedule no further local gigs through at least October, according to Pardey, but does have one date planned for the interim, this month in New York City. Beyond that, plans include a September studio session with Louis XIV’s Jason Hill and Brian Karscig (both of whom are in the crowd at Beauty Bar), a tour in 2009 and video work with local director/actor Matthew Gray Gubler.