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Gunpowder has a sound so unique that they have to combine three genres to describe it.  This western/metal/punk band is local to the Bay Area, playing shows at bars and events anytime the opportunity presents itself.  The band consists of Major Erik Core (vocals/acoustic guitar), Doc Sauter (electric guitar), Al “Yippie” Cayeda (bass), and Pancho Lamonte (drums).

The four men have all been playing for at least 20 years, each starting their own bands in high school and college.  The current Gunpowder members have all been together since 2000, when Sauter’s band at the time needed an impromptu drummer and a man called Kenny Lawless volunteered.  Lawless and Sauter played so well together that they started a group with Core as their vocalist.  Cayeda and Lamonte joined the band shortly after, and Lawless went his own way.  The group got their name from a friend of Lawless, who called Lawless after he listened to their demo tape and said that the group sounded, “like gunpowder.”  Lawless brought the name idea to the other members, who quickly agreed on it.

Core writes most of the songs, but Sauter contributes his own lyrics from time to time as well.

“Doc’s trying to kill me,” Core jokes, explaining Sauter’s habit of packing as many lyrics as he can into one song.  “I think it’s a passive-aggressive thing.”  Core says that he wants his lyrics to make the audience really think as they walk out of a Gunpowder concert.  He says that the substance in their lyrics really sets Gunpowder apart from many bands today.

Each member of Gunpowder brings something unique to the stage, as demonstrated during their April 13 performance at Thee Parkside, a bar in San Francisco.  Core, front and center, sings with a passion that the whole crowd can see.  He dominates the stage, drawing the audience into the world he creates in his music.   Cayeda brings a kind of goofy, wild energy to the stage, jumping and dancing as he plays guitar.  Sauter, the bassist, keeps a serious face in the background, providing a steady backbone for the music.  Lamonte, on drums, lets loose with a constant smile, inviting the audience to share in his fun.  Despite their clashing stage personalities, Gunpowder comes together to create an intense sound that consistently brings audiences to their feet.

But the members of Gunpowder aren’t just about the music.  Lamonte is a single dad, with two kids and a cat to take care of.  Core teaches Communications at a local university and spends a lot of quality time with his dog.  Sauter and Cayeda are both self-employed.  Sometimes, the group gets together outside of practice and has a cheesy movie night, or a game night with Sauter’s mash-up of Dungeons and Dragons and rock and roll trivia.

Despite their full schedules, each member makes time for shows.  They all agreed that they would take a day off of work if it conflicted with a show, “without a doubt.”  Gunpowder is composed of creative people who enjoy taking time out of their daily lives to make something new together.  They have fun with their music and they love sharing it with their audience, no matter how big or small.  So next time you’re in the Bay Area, see if Gunpowder has a show coming up, and be prepared to walk out of the concert with a new perspective.

You can obtain Gunpowder’s CD for free at

Words Tessa Murphy

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