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Originally published April 16, 2009 – Red Pulse Magazine

Saturday, record stores across the country will be hosting events for Record Store Day, a nationwide celebration of vinyl tradition and the spirit of independent music. Local singer-songwriter Jeremy Chatelain, known for his work in Jets to Brazil, Helmet and Handsome, will be bringing home-brewed rock ditties with his band Cub Country to Slowtrain Records to revel in the day. A strong presence in the local music community, Chatelain believes in the importance of record stores.

“Independent Record Store Day is great because we’re celebrating tangible and communal services that are still offered even in the face of so much advancing technology,” he said. “These are places where you can go and talk to a real person about a common interest. They’re almost community centers at this point,”

Cub Country released their first album, High Uinta High, in 2002. Although Chatelain was living in New York at the time, the LP was inspired by Salt Lake City—breezy, alt-country tunes reminiscent of a different place and a different attitude. He grew up listening to AM radio country tunes in Holladay before taking off to New York and eventually ended up founding Jets to Brazil with friend Blake Schwarzenbach.

“I moved to New York to try something completely new and clear my head,” Chatelain said. “I’m not sure that 23-year-old Jeremy really knew exactly what he wanted out of life at that point but somehow I created a fruitful musical life for myself.”

Jets to Brazil went on to become an indie great and released three albums under Jade Tree Records. After Jets to Brazil disbanded in 2003, Chatelain briefly played bass with Helmet and moved back to Salt Lake City in 2006 to have a house and secure work for his family, but his work with Cub Country never went away.

“Coming back to Utah after 13 years and being around family and old friends has been grounding in a fantastic way,” Chatelain said. I’m able to continue making music in a creative environment and contribute to the culture of a growing city that needs art.”

Chatelain said Cub Country has played with more than 40 musicians in the past few years, radically changing the sound of the music even though his songwriting has remained the same. Working with members from bands like Helmet and local hotshots Band of Annuals has contributed to making Cub Country a solid rock band. He loves his new lineup, which will also be working with him on a new EP they will start recording some time this year.

In the meantime, Chatelain is stoked for the release of Stretch Out That Skull Cover and Smile, which comes out July 7. Almost four years in the making, the album was scheduled for release last fall but was delayed by misunderstandings in the development process.

Describing the thoughts and energy he’s put into the new record, Chatelain said, “Musically, I wanted to make a rich, layered rock record. I wanted to build something larger out of simple songs and arrangements.”

If the two new tracks out on Cub Country’s MySpace page, “Where Are You” and “After the Song’s Been Sung,” are any indication, then he has accomplished his goal. You can hear the progression in the albums throughout the years, with the twangy stripped-down alt-country sound of High Uinta High growing into the complex, full sound you will hear in the new album. The songs off the new album sound like a supercharged Wilco at their alternative country best.

Although Cub Country is making long strides in the development of its music, Chatelain isn’t interested in doing any hardcore touring and will be sticking to the local scene for now, which he still adores after spending years in one of the biggest cultural and musical hubs in the United States.

A father now, Chatelain works as a music instructor and manages a teen-run record label out of Spy Hop Productions. He is also working to hold weekly music sessions out of various homes in Salt Lake City to “strip it all back down to music for no other reason than sheer joy.”

It’s this kind of attitude that has made Chatelain so important to the local music scene, making music for the sake of making music. He said, “people want to own more than a CD, they want to own an artist. They want to feel that an artist is speaking for them.”

You can own Chatelain and Cub Country on Record Store Day when they play at his favorite, Slowtrain Records.

Originally published February 19, 2008 – Red Pulse Magazine

There’s something to be said about longevity in the music business, especially in a genre that spits out ensemble after ensemble in the name of giving angry teenagers a soundtrack for their aggression. Thursday is one of the only bands that can survive their fans growing out of that surly phase. Since Full Collapse, their breakthrough album, Thursday has continued to be a heavy presence in the scene. The band will headline the “Taste of Chaos Tour” that rolls into town Saturday, featuring a bunch of other bands with frosted hair and fresh tattoos that cry “Trust me! I’m not 16 anymore, promise!”

Almost since their inception, Thursday has been carrying the banner of the emo/hardcore/whatever-you-want-to-call-it scene. When Full Collapse dropped in 2001, Alternative Press dubbed it “The Year Punk Broke Again.” This came in conjunction with debuts from Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, the other two catalysts of the emerging “new punk” sound. Something funny happened along the way though, as Thursday continued to improve and build upon their proven brand of music while the others went by the wayside. Taking Back Sunday went too commercial, Brand New got too experimental, but Thursday kept honing their craft and pumping out pounding songs about self-reflection and world crisis.

“We never went for a gimmick or a look,” said Thursday drummer Tucker Rule. “Thursday’s competent because we’ve never tried to be someone we’re not, never tried to put on a show beyond the music. It’s not about makeup.”

It’s unfortunate then that Thursday continues to get lumped with the kind of bands that are all about the makeup. In fact, despite being grounded in the soil music, Thursday has never quite been at peace with the world around them. Consistently mistreated by their record labels, Thursday has bounced around the punk landscape looking for a place to call home.

Thursday left Victory Records, basically the birthplace of the genre, in 2002 after accusing the owner of caring more about sales than the actual songs. The grievances came to a head when Victory distributed Thursday-themed whoopee cushions at the Warped Tour. Thursday finally said “that’s enough” and left for Island Records, leaving a whole lot of legal crap for the lawyers to mop up.

Thursday’s honeymoon with their new major label didn’t last as long as they would have liked, though. In 2003, they released War All the Time, which turned out to be a commercial success. They played on the dichotomies of love and war that seemingly cried to the Planet of the Apes-style futility of trying to exist in a conflicted world. Soon after the release, like any major label does, Island Records began to shy away from promoting the band. In 2006, after learning that Island had essentially pulled all of their promotion budget, Thursday gave them the middle finger and split for Epitaph.

To put things in perspective, Epitaph was still a “punk” label when Thursday released Full Collapse with Victory. It is amazing that a band in such a fickle environment has survived long enough to become a part of a whole new musical movement within a record label. Early this year, Thursday released Common Existence with Epitaph in a whole new display of technical achievement and refined ideals.

Singer Geoff Rickly has said the album is a realization that everyone is going through the same problems and ordeals, that there is unity in the fight against the “war.” In effect, the album is their answer to War All The Time.

“It’s definitely not a negative record,” Rule said. “I think the message is more along the lines of everything that’s going on right now. We are all going through things in our lives.”

Common Existence seems to bring forth a new era in the world of Thursday, finally coming to terms with the world around them. Rule said the band is definitely beginning to move more into this direction.

“I think we’re going to start writing commercial-happy Obama jingles,” the drummer joked, but quickly added, “The rest of the records should be more hopeful.”

Despite their newfound happiness in unity, Thursday is one band that you can always expect to bring jarring, fist-pumping tunes. It’s more than worth it to sit through the junk headliners that will be warming up the crowds for them this year. Maybe it’s intentional, like finding a glass of water after days spent wandering in the desert.

Originally published September 11, 2008 – Red Pulse Magazine

According to ancient Phoenician mythology, the phoenix is a mythical firebird that dies in a nest set aflame. Once the nest is reduced to ashes, a new phoenix arises. The bird was said to have regenerative powers, making it nearly immortal. Like the mythical firebird, U student radio station K-UTE has risen from the ashes to be reborn a stronger, brighter bird.

After continuous budget cuts and waning student support, 2007 looked like the end for K-UTE. It was an unfortunate but understandable situation. With a history of inconsistent program schedules and a weak AM signal, it was difficult for U students to access the content. Despite these nagging issues, the station was able to procure enough funding to keep itself afloat under the direction of former station manager Jamis Johnson. Since handing off the proverbial baton to marketing director Sean Halls and distribution director Bob Kubichek, K-UTE is poised to come back with a vengeance, offering a level of programming never seen before from the humble radio station.

Halls believes the standard radio signal is a thing of the past, and is currently developing a Facebook application that will allow students and other listeners to access streaming K-UTE programming. By using a Facebook application to connect listeners with K-UTE, Halls looks to add an unprecedented level of broadcaster/listener interaction. Online patrons will have instant access to opinion polls conducted by live programs. The station also plans to have the application give listeners access to archived programs, releasing them from the rigid programming schedule that constrains standard broadcasting.

Halls and Kubichek have an ace in the hole with the kind of content they plan on broadcasting this year. Even with the technical problems that have hindered K-UTE in the past, the programming planners tended to be complacent.

“People just wanted to stick with the status quo, there was no desire to innovate,” Kubichek said.

That attitude has been given a swift karate-chop courtesy of Halls and Kubichek’s new approach to K-UTE, which can best be described as nothing short of serious guerilla radio. Taking advantage of the station’s small size and their plans to focus on Internet distribution, K-UTE wants to be the balls-to-the-wall renegade radio that informed and discerning college students deserve.

She has the perfect face for radio

It's the perfect face for radio

Step number one was assembling a team of student DJs who were willing to provide the kind of programming content necessary to reach this level. All the new student DJs will work as volunteers, unlike in the past when they were given stipends. With the new approach being more of a labor of love, the DJs are given a large amount of freedom, empowering them to reach out and make some real noise.

“The difference is that we love what we’re doing. We’ve acquired a great team with really good chemistry,” said Kubichek.

DJ James Thatcher agrees, and is excited to have the artistic freedom to play basically whatever he wants, whether it be unfamiliar electronic music from Europe or playing “Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety.

“Radio is so commercialized, they play it because they have to, not because they want to. Radio has lost its edge,” he said.

The direction that K-UTE has recently taken seems to encompass more of a lifestyle than just a way to play music and talk shit. The station plans to sponsor a safe sex campaign in the fall, hold an open mic day weekly at the Heritage Center for students to dish out praise or vitriol, and they even want to start an online television station.

Only time will tell how many of K-UTE’s recent innovations will take root, but it’s certainly a good start for a station that has been irrelevant to most students for some time. Kubichek understands the challenges that await, and looks forward to meeting them. With as much energy and care as they’ve put into their station, it’s easy to believe that quality entertainment will come of it. Like the imperishable phoenix, K-UTE has been reborn.

As Kubichek says, “We’re back from the dead, people!”

Originally published September 4, 2008 – Red Pulse Magazine

Artopia
60 Exchange Place (350 South, just west of State Street)

Located in the blossoming Exchange Place business area, Artopia has expanded its modus operandi to appeal to a broader scope of patrons.

Originally just a glass shop during its Sugarhouse stint, the new location has allowed Lee Cano, owner and principal glass-blower, to transform the shop into what he hopes will be an “alternative community center.”

First and foremost is the inclusion of an art house-style basement music venue decked out with canvas graffiti paintings by local artists.

With a coffee shop on the main floor, a growing collection of local art for sale and peaceful vibrations filling the air, Artopia is your one-stop shop for cultural bliss. Don’t forget to check out hip-hop night on Thursdays.

The Depot
400 W. South Temple

The commercial behemoth known as The Gateway has its movie theater, sports bar and children’s museum, but, perhaps most importantly, it exhibits a high-end music venue called The Depot.

Two packed levels in the venue are supplemented by four 42-inch plasma screens and two large projection screens to allow concert-goers to experience the concert no matter where they are located.

All that glitter comes with a cost, though-no smoking allowed and the bar rests on the more expensive side of the spectrum. Besides that, The Depot brings a lot of good quality musicians that appeal to more refined and mature musical tastes (Bob Weir & Ratdog have played recently, and Chris Isaak and Xavier Rudd are scheduled to play in August).

Burt’s Tiki Lounge
726 S. State St.

SLUG Magazine’s favorite nightspot continues to rock ‘n’ roll as hard as ever with an almost endless barrage of local and national underground bands.

Kitschy and fun, Burt’s Tiki Lounge is DIY style with a small stage and walls littered with posters and vintage retro art (best characterized by the juxtaposition of a picture of Tom Waits next to a framed one of the Pope).

Like a teenager’s bedroom, the Tiki Lounge makes the best of what it has. So, shave a mohawk and put on your s***-kickers, because Burt’s Tiki Lounge is going to kick your ass if you can’t kick its first. Don’t get too rowdy, though-the Tiki Lounge sports a pint-sized bouncer named Netty whose rage more than makes up for her stature, and she will kick your sorry behind out, no questions asked.

Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East

Urban Lounge is an intimate music venue located near the heart of Salt Lake City.

Visitors come for the great atmosphere and reasonably priced drinks, not to mention a hip lineup of artists. The Urban Lounge is a hive of hipsters who come nightly for rock and hip-hop groups that range from the GZA (of Wu-Tang Clan) to the Circle Jerks, both of whom are performing in August.

Despite its inherent coolness, the crowd is typically mellow and accepting of anyone who comes to have a good time.


Avalon Theater
3605 S. State St.

For those who haven’t quite gotten over their teen angst, Avalon Theater hosts a bevy of emo and pop-punk groups on the regular.

Transformed from an old movie theatre into a hot “scene” spot, The Avalon offers a generous floor area and ampitheatre-esque bench seating behind it for anyone who would prefer to sit down, relax and enjoy the show.

Artists are frequently spotted working the merchandise booths at either end of the entrance to the venue, and there is always a good chance to score an autograph.

No alcohol is served at the theater, though, and if you’re 21 or older, you might feel a little out of place among the braces and training bras.

So here we are, The Electric Panda is up and running. I started The Electric Panda to focus my writing attention in one area. All of my previous writing ventures are scattered about with my formal writing in the Daily Utah Chronicle and my blogging ventures existing in now deleted blogspot URL’s. WordPress is the mother of all blogging sites and I wanted to harness the full power of the blogging scene to present my message.

My message of course being that the internet is crazy, virtual worlds are amazing and that everyone deserves good music (and entertainment for that matter). I’ll just let my future posts take care of that. As a side note, panda related things WILL make appearances from time to time so be prepared for irresistible cuteness.

I suppose this is a long winded way of saying I’ll be posting some articles from my time at The Daily Utah Chronicle and Red Pulse magazine. With Red Pulse magazine going under, I want to preserve my writing done from that time as it was the only magazine in the state geared towards A&E for college kids. Most likely I’ll blog about this later, but the death of Red Pulse was a big smack in the face to college age kids in Salt Lake. C’est la vie, I guess.

Now I will take advantage of having a wordpress blog and upload a couple songs I like. You will find them cool and refreshing like a cold lemonade on a hot summer day.

Slow Club – Sunday

Blue Roses – I Am Leaving

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