Acoustic group plays the Mill


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When he was young, Chris Otepka was obsessed with the idea of a fictional movie theater staffed by animals. The goats were kept out front in a parking lot with helicopter blades strapped to their backs. They could be controlled remotely and flown into the theater through a hatch in the roof to wait on the moviegoers inside.

That's where he got the name Heligoats for his band.

The group will perform with the Grand Tetons and Paleo at 9 p.m. Friday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $7.

Needless to say, Otepka has a wild imagination; this innate creativity allows him to write brainy and interesting songs. They tell brilliant stories about various topics from how humans interact with the natural environment to why we see stars when we use our fingers push our eyeballs into our heads.

"My songwriting is always an intimate occasion," he said. "It is inspired by the natural world, our collective places, the human organism. It's kind of a meditation on all things. And it's also just trying to place some words appropriately over some beats."

Beats are something he's quite familiar with — his first instrument was drums. He started playing as a teenager and joined a band as a drummer but eventually quit because he didn't enjoy the songs the band played. This led him to start writing his own music.

"I play the guitar percussively like a drum," he said. "I think it's the best of both worlds to be able to just do some poetic ramblings or words in meter and apply them to what I see as rhythmic songwriting. I also just enjoy the tones of the guitar; I've played electric and acoustic through the years. I think I just enjoy everything about the guitar."

His time with Heligoats follows his time as part of another band — he was a member of Troubled Hubble. The Chicago-based indie-rock band gained a great deal of fame, especially on college campuses, before breaking up in 2005.

Heligoat guitarist Steve Mitchell said people keep touring interesting.

"Meeting people in different cities is definitely pretty awesome," he said. "We feed off the energy when it's getting crazy. It could be two or 500 people — the songs are really fun to play, and if everyone is enjoying it and we're all in tune, it definitely takes the show to the next level."

"When I was with Troubled Hubble, I learned that I don't know how to not tour," Otepka said. "People are welcoming, caring, loving, interesting, and looking to share experiences with people who make an effort to cross distances to perform for them. And I am very thankful for that."

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