Volumen 1 :: Shane Hickey
Volumen 2 :: Doug Smith
Volumen^2 :: Bryan Hickey
bKCAWCK :: Chris Bacon
Volumen Beta :: Bob Marshall

Doug Smith Volumen 2
Doug Smith

If Shane is the high school Physics Club treasurer of VOLUMEN, Doug is the affable, popular guy who toes the fine line between band dork and senior class president. Cheerleaders leak the info that they want him to ask them out, but he’s always genuinely nice to the less popular girls and boys, too. In addition to writing most of what doesn’t get written by his longtime friend and musical partner, Shane (in the platonic sense, that is—at least we THINK so), Doug’s signature wikkid lyxx and fine tenor are the yin to Shane’s yang, the butter to Shane’s muffin, the hot dog in Shane’s....well, anyway, the other half of the songwriting equation. Additionally, Doug is a beacon of calm and tranquility in his other bandmates’ roiling sea of adolescent squirreliness, and a fine cook to boot. The last male bonding I did with Doug was undertaken when we spent two days in the Montana wilderness picking morel mushrooms. Oh, the magic he worked with those little morsels...

Here's some articles and other random press for your viewing pleasure.

The Missoulian 09/21/2005
URL: View Actual Article
Title: Keeping up with the Hickeys
Author: Joe Nickell

For the Hickey brothers (from left: Bryan, Colin and Shane), few things are as sacrosanct as the bond they share over music - few things, that is, except the bond they share over Sunday NFL football at Red's Bar in downtown Missoula.

It's been a wild ride for three brothers who've shaped the Missoula indie-rock scene

Even among the pantheon of legendary shows that took place at Jay's Upstairs during the twilight years of the last century, one performance stands singularly for those lucky enough to have been there.
It was December 1999 when five local guys took the dark, cramped stage of Jay's, under the name the Spiders From Mars. Several of those guys had played together in various short-lived bands before; and two - Shane and Bryan Hickey - were brothers.

But that one gig, put together more or less as a one-time stunt, would change the local indie-rock music scene for years to come.

Spangled and spandexed like they'd fallen straight off a spaceship from 1972, the band - which consisted of Shane on guitar, Bryan on bass, Doug Smith on guitar, Chris Bacon on keyboards, and Bob Marshall on drums - ripped through a raucous, end-to-end cover of David Bowie's classic album, "The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars."

Maybe it was the fact that Bacon was weathering a 104-degree fever that night. Maybe it was the packed crowd of screaming fans. Maybe it was, simply, the music. But whatever it was, the show had that electricity of something monumental in the making.

Spiders from Mars never played again - at least, not under that name. Instead, the lineup immediately became the band that we know today as Volumen - a band that, along with the Oblio Joes, has stood at the center of Missoula's indie-rock scene ever since.

"I think (Volumen) were responsible for opening a lot of people's eyes to the fact that there was local music that was as cool as anything anywhere else," says Josh Vanek, a longtime local music promoter and operator of the Wantage Records label. "They helped grow the whole mainstream college interest in fun, original, wacky music. That's something I really credit them for."

Right there in the middle of it were Shane and Bryan Hickey, two unassuming, goofy guys who seemed to arrive on the local scene in the late '90s from nowhere (in fact, they came from Laramie, Wyo., which is just down the block from nowhere).

And then there's their younger brother, Colin, a bearded firebrand whose rise to prominence in the local scene came even quicker. Almost from the day he moved here in 2000, he was responsible for booking the nightly parade of wild-ass shows at Jay's Upstairs. Colin also serves as lead singer with the International Playboys, a band that has probably toured more than any other local band in recent years, save perhaps Signal Path.

In the course of less than a decade, the Hickey brothers' musical family tree has grown like Kudzu, blanketing the far corners of the Missoula music scene. Name a Missoula rock band, and chances are, it either has a Hickey in its ranks, or has someone in its ranks who previously played with a Hickey. (See crude flow chart, Page E20).

But don't call it a musical monopoly. In fact, don't even mention monopoly. You might just start a fight.


Here's one sure way to get the Hickey brothers into a full-on shouting match: Ask them to rank the albums by Ween. The exercise also proves an excellent means to discern the social dynamic between the trio.

Shane, the eldest, sits back sagely on the couch in the U-area house that Bryan and Colin rent together, lobbing self-assured proclamations that he knows will only amplify the squabble.

"With `White Pepper' (the band's 2000 release), they could have pushed even harder," says Shane, 32. "Instead, they made it sound like Steely Dan or some shit."

Colin, the youngest at 27, leaps around the room, gesticulating wildly.

"Hold on, shut up, hold on; my point is, f--- you!" Colin shouts at Shane. "That album is awesome. They're saying, we're not a joke band, we can write great music that stands on its own without all the goofy stuff."

Bryan, 29, hangs back, letting his brothers duke it out.

"I'm not gonna get in a Ween fight with these two," he says, grinning devilishly, his staccato voice blurting blurs of words punctuated by sudden pauses. "That's something that will always end badly."

To understand the brothers Hickey, it is helpful to understand Ween, the New Jersey duo that burst onto the national indie-rock scene in the early '90s with several albums of bizarre, drug-addled music recorded on a consumer-grade four-track tape deck.

On a musical level, there is no greater or more obvious influence on Volumen than Ween - that combination of explosive racket, cheesy melody, lo-fi technology, and absurdist lyrical themes.

But Ween stands as more than simply a band in the Hickey family history. Back when Bryan was attending high school in California, Shane (who was at the time living in Laramie, attending college) sent his younger brother a mix tape of music that he'd discovered through friends.

"It was the best mix tape ever," recalls Bryan. "It changed my life."

On that tape was music by Ween, as well as other cutting-edge bands including Pavement, Frank Black and the Flaming Lips. Bryan, who had just picked up the bass guitar, was instantly hooked.

"I was into rap and top-40 at the time, and Shane totally turned me onto that kind of music," recalls Bryan. "From then on, Ween was it."

According to their mother, Melinda Hickey, it was also the beginning of a bond that would reshape the two brothers' relationship.

"As kids, they fought like cats and dogs. Shane made Bryan's life miserable," says Ma Hickey, who currently lives in Nashville. "But (Shane) turned from bully to brother because of the common bond in music."

Despite their youthful antagonism, Bryan says he always looked up to his older brother, even imitated him. He chose to play the bass guitar because that's what Shane played. When Bryan decided he wanted to learn how to play his very first song on the instrument, he called Shane on the phone.

"I wanted to learn `Gratitude,' by the Beastie Boys," recalls Bryan. "I called him up, and he told me over the phone where to put my fingers on the frets. It was probably the longest phone conversation we ever had."

From that point onward, the relationship between Shane and Bryan was tied up in bass guitar strings. Shane formed a band in Laramie called Some Kind of Cream, which also featured future Volumen co-member (and lifelong friend) Doug Smith. Bryan, still living in California, formed a Ween-inspired group called the Charles Dumar Trio.

"I sent Shane a tape of what we were doing, and he called me up and told me he loved it," recalls Bryan. "I completely idolized Some Kind of Cream; so when he said he liked what we were doing, from that point on, playing music was what I was about."

After graduating from high school, Bryan moved to Laramie, where he joined up with his older brother in a band called the Squares. At the time, there was hardly a thriving music scene in Laramie. The Hickeys and their band were pretty much it.

"In Laramie, there are two dudes who play drums, and three hot chicks, and that's about the extent of it," says Shane. "And everybody fights. You ask some other band's drummer to play with you, and you can pretty much expect the other people in that guy's band are gonna show up at your doorstep and start a fight."

"Laramie was fun for awhile, but I definitely hit a wall where I had to leave," adds Bryan. "It was like high school."


Shane Hickey moved to Missoula on July 5, 1996. He remembers the date for a reason so many of us remember specific dates: He had just broken up with a girlfriend. He chose Missoula because Doug Smith had recently moved here to attend culinary school. Shane came to stay with his friend, and never left.

Just as Shane departed Laramie, Colin moved there, fresh out of high school. The scene he found was chaotic.

"I got there, all the plants were dead, they had Old Milwaukee beer cans sitting in all the pots," recalls Colin. "It was disgusting."

Colin quickly brought the plants back to life; and soon enough, he was growing even wilder things. Unlike his older brothers, Colin was never much into learning to play music. Rather, his angle was organizing shows.

"I was always into talking with the bands, schmoozing," says Colin, whose raspy voice and thick beard often lead people to assume he's the oldest of the three.

"Colin is definitely more comfortable talking to people," says Bryan.

"I got that from mom - she sells Mary Kay," adds Colin.

Colin began organizing ever-larger music shows at the rented house he shared with Bryan in Laramie. For several years, what music scene existed in Laramie existed in their garage - where hundreds of people would often pack in to hear touring bands perform.

Needless to say, such events came with their share of hazards. Colin recalls several instances in which fights broke out because people whom he had never met would show up and insist on being let in - even in the middle of the day, just to hang out.

Nevertheless, Colin felt like he had found his niche.

"Booking shows and managing bands is what I was born to do, I think," says Colin. "I love that feeling I get when a band tells me that a show I put together worked out and everybody went home happy."


Meantime, in Missoula, Doug Smith and Shane Hickey were starting to perform around town, under the name Shane, Doug and You. The two played whacked-out original music accompanied by a drum machine - just the kind of thing that would have fit in at Jay's Upstairs at the time.

Trouble was, they couldn't find the place.

"It took us forever to figure out where Jay's was," says Shane. "We were playing these weird, semi-acoustic shows at coffeehouses, telling people at every show that we weren't gonna stop doing them until someone told us where we were supposed to be. Finally, someone told us."

In 1998, Bryan traced his older brother's tracks to Missoula. Soon thereafter, Colin joined them. For awhile, Bryan and Colin crashed at their older brother's house. But that wasn't bound to last long.

"I would come home, and they (Bryan and Colin) would be sitting around on the couch watching sports on TV," says Shane. "They weren't paying rent, weren't paying for food. I was getting tired of it; and back then, I wasn't a very diplomatic person."

The conflict came to a head one night over a game of Monopoly. Drunk on bourbon, the three got into an argument that ended, ultimately, with Colin moving back to Laramie.

For brothers of a lesser bond, that might have been the crack that broke the relationship. But things evened out, and soon enough, Colin once again tired of the scene in Laramie - particularly after Shane sent him a videotape of that Spiders from Mars gig in 1999.

"I remember sitting on the couch in Laramie, drunk in the middle of the night, watching that video and thinking, `Damn, that's where I need to be,' " recalls Colin.

Colin returned to Missoula in 2000, and was promptly offered the gig booking shows at Jay's Upstairs. The job fit him perfectly - especially when he learned that it gave him behind-the-bar access.

"I remember asking for a PBR, and one of the bartenders told me to get it myself," recalls Colin. "I was like, really? I can go behind the bar and grab liquor? My life was changed."

One night in October 2000, Colin was hanging out at Jay's Upstairs, when a man he had never met came up behind him, grabbed him around the chest, and shook him violently.

"He said, `You're my new lead singer,' " recalls Colin. "I said, `OK.' "

The guy was guitarist Jake Morton, formerly of Rhythm & Booze Soul Revue. Later that night, Colin went over to Jake's house, where he noticed a picture of ZZ Top on the wall. Colin mentioned he'd been listening to a lot of the ZZ Top album, "Tejas," recently.

"It was like I'd thrown a match on a pile of dynamite," recalls Colin. "Jake grabbed me, bit off my shirt pocket, and flipped over the couch with me still on it. I was like, `Whoa, is this what being in a band is like?' "

Thus was born the International Playboys. In the early days, that band seemed more a lark born of drunken tomfoolery than anything serious. But as other bands in the scene dropped like drunks around a bottle of absinth, the Playboys stuck around, banging out their blues- and punk-inspired din behind Colin's explosive screeching. The band has managed to tour the country several times, working Colin's black book of contacts for all they're worth.

"Colin's quite an entertainer," says his mother, Melinda. "I'm not sure he can sing, but he's quite an entertainer."


Here's one way to get the Hickey brothers into a full-body group hug: Ask them if they realize how lucky they are to all be living together in the same town (and, in the case of Bryan and Colin, in the same house), in an age where familial splintering is the norm.

"These guys are my best friends," says Colin. "Nobody touches my brothers."

"I've got a lot of great friends around here, and Doug (Smith) is definitely a fourth brother to us," adds Shane. "But the way I feel about these guys, no other relationship could ever touch that."

Given their insinuation into the local music scene, it's a bit of an irony that the three Hickey brothers have never performed in a band together. Only once did they come close, when Colin briefly joined his brothers as a member of the Squares, as the band's drummer. But suffice to say that it didn't work out.

"I was like a one-armed Meg White," admits Colin, referring to the notoriously quirky drummer of the White Stripes. "It wasn't my calling."

Still, the three often share stages, performing with their respective bands at shows around town and around the region.

More than that, they share a bond that transcends the music they so love. Not to get all Freudian, but maybe that has something to do with their childhood. Because their father was in the Air Force, the family moved around numerous times, to bases in Montana, Nebraska, Texas and elsewhere. Never could the younger Hickeys count on maintaining long-term friendships (aside from Doug Smith, whose family somehow kept ending up in the same place as the Hickeys).

All they had was each other.

"They had to be able to make friends fast, and they were always the hit of the neighborhood," recalls Melinda Hickey. "They've always been real connectors of souls. Even when they were little kids, they would always have groups of people around them."

That sounds a lot like the Hickey brothers of today.

"They're really committed to their relationship," says Melinda Hickey. "That's something that's so great for a mother to see."

Whether the three can all stick it out in Missoula remains anyone's guess. Colin in particular has been scoring an increasing number of jobs managing bands on tour, including some bands from out of town.

But for now, the brothers Hickey will continue to hold court at the core of Missoula's indie rock scene.

"There's such a great support system here for musicians," says Bryan. "It's why I moved here, and it's why I stay here."

"Missoula is a utopia, as far as I'm concerned," adds Shane. "This is the most supportive rock scene I've seen anywhere. I'm just glad we found our way here."