Cameron Miles Lavi-Jones looks like a young Claudio Sanchez with his frizzy mane covering his face while he bombards the crowd with the high energy vocals of “Heavy Handed,” one of Gypsy Temple’s latest creations. Gypsy Temple is an alternative-rock band using the power of rock and roll to spark activism for disenfranchised groups and anyone who feels like an outsider.
Gypsy Temple is a five-piece band based out of Seattle. Lavi-Jones is on lead guitar and vocals. Hamoon Milaninia is on vocals and bass, Kai Hill is the drummer, Cory Cavazos is their cellist, and wilsonlikethevolleyball on vocals and guitar.
Each member comes from a different ethnic background that creates a “powerful group of musicians that are more focused on playing authentically,” Lavi-Jones said; who identifies as an Israeli-Iraqi-Jew/African-American. Wilsonlikethevolleyball is Native-American/white, Cavazos is Latino, Hill is an Ashkenazi Jew/white, and Milaninia is Persian.
The band is “a bunch of dudes having a good time being brown as fuck,” Lavi-Jones said. “Everyone in the band is a person of color, except our drummer; but he has alopecia, so if we’re being honest he gets a pass, he’s pretty brown,” Lavi-Jones said jokingly.
Gypsy Temple makes music for the marginalized communities of the world, but their message resonates with any artist or creative who feels isolated in society. Their message revolves around the camaraderie found through feeling marginalized in American society. These disenfranchised feelings have spurred action, not only through their music but through grass-roots activism.
The band embarked on the Make Your Voice Heard Loud Tour with the Marshall Law Band last year. They spurred 3200 high-school and college kids to register to vote on the spot by setting up a make-shift stage right next to the registration booth. The tour was a major success and garnered bipartisan support from Senator Lisa Wellman (Democrat) and Kim Wyman (Republican) along with sponsorship from Washington Bus, APACE, the King County Department of Elections and, a sizable grant from the League of Women Voters, per gypsymusic.com/vote.
Gypsy Temple conducted valuable networking in their earliest days as a band. They met Sam Marshall at one of their earliest shows, and now they collaborate with Marshall Law Band on a frequent basis. Musical community and the relationships it creates drive Lavi-Jones’ love for Seattle, in particular, Fremont and Columbia City.
Columbia City is a “musical experience” whose centerpiece is the Columbia City Theater, a venue Lavi-Jones is intimately familiar with because his mother Lara Lavi used to manage it. He also finds himself in Fremont frequently because it’s “gorgeous” and “easy to be in.”
Gypsy Temple has been lucky enough to have memorable experiences in many of the city’s benchmark venues. They played their first gig ever at the Nectar Lounge, an industry showcase that created relationships they still have to this day. They played their first soldout show at Neumos, a moment that convinced them a career in music was obtainable. Whether it be the great venue booker’s like Michael Gill who is insanely supportive of artists, or the Crocodile’s immense history and rowdy atmosphere, there’s plenty of reasons to love playing music in Seattle.
Gypsy Temple will be playing the fourth stop of the Seattle World Tour Jan. 11 with Cosmos, Tres Leches, and All Star Opera.
*Edited 1/3/19 1:09 AM: Lavi-Jones name was spelled wrong on several occasions and identifies as an Iraqi-Jew, not an Iranian-Jew. Milaninia prefers to be identified as Persian, not Iranian.