In the vibrant landscape of the Champaign-Urbana music scene, Terminus Victor has been a commanding presence, infusing hard rock with a punk spirit for over 23 years. The trio, consisting of Scott Kimble on bass and vocals, Don King on guitar, and Terry Wathen on drums, embodies a rare authenticity and dedication to their craft. As they gear up for the release of their fourth studio album, Everending, their story unfolds as one of passion, evolution, and deep connection to their musical roots.
I had the privilege of sitting down with Kimble and King to delve into their journey, creative process, and the influence of the local music scene. Their insights painted a vivid picture of a band that is as much about creating powerful music as it is about staying true to their artistic vision.
Kimble reminisced about the band’s formation, marking the transition from their earlier project, Hushtower, to Terminus Victor. “It was a natural progression,” he explained. “We just carried that energy, that intensity into something new, something that felt more us.” This sentiment of evolving while retaining their core essence is a recurring theme in their music and approach.
Terminus Victor’s songwriting process is a meticulous and introspective journey. Evident in the creation of their latest album, Everending. Scott Kimble, the primary songwriter, approaches the craft with a unique blend of introspection and spontaneity. “I don’t start with a preconceived notion,” Kimble shared. “It begins with a feeling, a rhythm, maybe a baseline. I like to let the song develop organically, almost taking on a life of its own.” This contemplative process results in music that is not only intricate but also emotionally resonant, reflecting the depth of thought that goes into each composition.
Collaboration plays a key role in refining their songs, with each band member bringing their unique flair to the music. King, the guitarist, adds layers of complexity to the initial structures created by Kimble. “Once Scott lays down the foundation, it’s up to us to build upon it,” King said. “Our rehearsals are where the magic happens, where a simple riff transforms into a full-fledged Terminus Victor song.” This collaborative spirit is a hallmark of their songwriting process, ensuring that each track encapsulates the collective energy and creativity of the band.
The recording of Everending was also a collaborative effort, drawing on the talents of several notable figures in the local music industry. The band worked closely with Matt Talbott of Earth Analog Studios, known for his artistic approach to recording and production to record the tracks. Talbott, a fan and supporter of Terminus Victor, played a pivotal role in capturing the essence of their sound, especially in the vocals as well as the intricate drum and guitar tracks. The album was further enhanced by the production and engineering skills of James Treichler at Wave Upon Wave Studios, whose technical expertise and understanding of the band’s artistic vision brought an additional layer of depth and clarity to the project. King and Kimble said Triechler did a multitude of things to produces a mix true the sounds and performances of T-Vic. For the final touch, the mastering was entrusted to Dave McNair, a seasoned professional whose impressive resume includes work with top artists. McNair’s mastering added the polish and finesse, ensuring that Everending resonated with the quality and intensity that Terminus Victor envisioned.
The C-U music scene itself has been a cornerstone in the development and sustained inspiration of Terminus Victor. It’s a community that has nurtured their growth and fostered deep connections, both with fellow musicians and their audience. Kimble vividly recalls the early days at the Blind Pig, a venue that was instrumental in their formative years. “The Blind Pig was more than just a venue; it was our proving ground, a place where we meshed with the scene and really found our voice,” he reflected. This iconic venue, known for its vibrant atmosphere and diverse lineup, provided an early stage for Terminus Victor, helping to shape their sound and approach to music.
King echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the local scene. “Back then, just like now, there’s always something new, something exciting happening in Champaign-Urbana,” King said. “Our time at the Blind Pig, those early gigs, they were pivotal. They taught us how to connect with an audience, how to evolve with the scene.” King’s perspective highlights the transformative impact of their early experiences, underscoring the deep connection they feel to the local music landscape. For Terminus Victor, the C-U scene, especially their formative experiences at the Blind Pig, has been more than a backdrop for their performances; it’s been a fertile ground for inspiration, experimentation, and artistic growth.
Following my interview with King and Kimble, I had the chance to witness their rehearsal in King’s basement. The room buzzed with energy, showcasing the band’s strong commitment and collaborative spirit.
One particularly striking aspect of the rehearsal was King’s use of a Balthazar amplifier, a custom creation by Balthazar de Ley of the local band Menthol. The amp, with its rich, distinctive sound, is a testament to King’s attention to detail and commitment to quality. “This amp is a huge part of the Terminus Victor sound,” King explained, his eyes lighting up with the same passion he brings to his guitar playing. “I have another on order and I can’t wait until it’s finished,” enthused King.
Equally intriguing was Kimble’s unusual choice of instrument, a custom 3-string bass. The story behind this distinctive instrument is as unique as its sound. “I realized I never used the G string, so why keep it?” Kimble mused. In a moment of ingenuity, spurred by a conversation with King, they removed the string. The restringing, done in a woodworking shop they happened to be rehearsing in, transformed the bass into a perfectly balanced 3-string instrument that Kimble has played since 1996. It’s a choice that underlines his innovative approach to music and contributes significantly to the band’s unique sonic identity.
The rehearsal also illustrated the members’ deep connection, despite their contrasting personalities and appearances — King’s methodical engineering mind and suit-wearing stage persona and Kimble’s relaxed approach and ultra-casual attire. At a rehearsal, back-up/touring drummer Greg Kneller adeptly filled in for Wathen on drums, underscoring the band’s adaptability and the tight-knit C-U music community. Known affectionately as “T-Vic,” their rehearsal offered a glimpse into their creative heart, blending craftsmanship, innovation, and friendship, hallmarks of a band that remains true to its roots while exploring new musical horizons.
Looking to the future, Terminus Victor is focused on bringing Everending to new audiences and exploring new territories. King, doubling as the band’s de facto business manager, outlined their plans: “We’re looking at touring more, getting the music out there. It’s about reaching people, sharing what we’ve created.” Their dedication to their craft and community remains unwavering as they continue to evolve and reach new heights.
When asked about the message they hope listeners take away from their music, Kimble’s response was poignant. “Music is therapy,” he mused. “It’s about connecting, sharing experiences. We put our music out there, and it becomes a part of someone’s life, their story. That’s the real power of what we do.”
Terminus Victor Album Release Party with Edna and Sweetmelk
Rose Bowl Tavern
F Nov 24th, 8:30 p.m.
$10 to $15