Face the music

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Published 2013-03-06T06:00:00Z”/>


Graduating band members look toward futureLiz Bowen

For those who have not yet opened their ears to local music in Chico, several ambitious student bands have been lighting up venues for as long as they’ve been in college.

But many of the musicians face a difficult decision as graduation looms — whether to continue playing music with their college band or go to work in some other capacity, perhaps as a producer or manager.

Some of these students have found success in the music business while at Chico State, and others are planning a future as performers.

What it takes

Professor Joseph Alexander, the associate dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, wants graduating students to consider the immense amount of work, time and determination it takes to succeed in the music industry.

“People have to be infinitely more diverse and more motivated,” Alexander said.

Students must make connections, focus on obtaining a loyal fan base and learn the business aspects of music, such as licensing and merchandising.

“Success in music today is associated with so much more than simply playing gigs, having a Facebook page or touring,” Alexander said.

It is possible to succeed in modern music, which is a youth-oriented business, he said. However, with an industry largely based on image and autotune hits, bands have to monitor the business vigilantly.

“You don’t get the knowledge base together, you don’t have a shot,” Alexander said. “Even with that it’s so difficult, because it’s a fickle industry based on trends.”

Hugh Hammond, a senior music composition and recording arts double major who is currently recording an album, plans to pursue a career in score writing after he graduates from Chico State’s program.

He is currently recording his own album through a tentative EP project that the recording arts and music industry programs are working together to produce for students.

“Moneywise, I think that the people who are really dedicated to going above and beyond are those who will find success,” Hammond said. “Those who are believing in music and working to make great things happen.”

The big time

Ryan McLain, who graduated from Chico State in 2000 with bachelor’s degree in recording arts, found success working for major companies like Ernie Ball Inc., which provides mobile stages for music exhibitions like Vans Warped Tour.

John Riddle, who graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in recording arts in 2004, now owns his own audio company, Palantir Soundworks. He is also the audio director for XI Media Productions, a company with clientele including music tours like South By Southwest.

Musician Mat Kearney, who attended Chico State from 1997 to 2000 on a soccer scholarship, went on to play packed arenas as a musician and just released his fourth album, “Young Love,” which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, according to Inpop Records.

<strong>The Deaf Pilots</strong>

One word describes The Deaf Pilots in terms of sound, style and musical interest — rock ‘n’ roll. The sound is what the bandmates describe as modern rock with a classic feel.

The Deaf Pilots have been playing in Chico since 2010 and have played multiple venues, toured the West Coast, released several music videos and two EPs.

The latest EP, “Rollercoaster,” was released last year.

The next stop for the rockers is recording their first full-length album by June, which they have been raising money for through donations on Kickstarter.com.

“Our main focus is to raise that money to make the album happen,” lead vocalist Derek Julian said.

The members, whose influences include Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and The Foo Fighters, plan to professionally pursue their music after graduation.

“I wanna see our music on the radio,” Julian said. “And we’re all very ambitious about it.”

Though their passion fuels their career path, they are happy to be unsigned for now, drummer Ryan Fairley said.

“We have an independence to tweak our sound, because we aren’t on a label yet,” he said.

The Deaf Pilots’ next show will be on March 29 at 1078 Gallery in downtown Chico.

“I’m not gonna lie, I have always had a dream of becoming a legendary band,” Julian said.

<strong>Clouds on Strings</strong>

Clouds on Strings’ sound brings a jazzy-art rock sound with hints of influence from artists like Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Sufjan Stevens and Chick Corea.

The five-piece progressive rock band gives listeners a palatable experience, guitarist Michael Bone said.

Four of the five members graduated from Chico State in May and have since found refuge in Chico’s music scene.

“Chico is kind of allowing us to be professional musicians now and in general allowing us to be artistic,” keyboardist Josh Hegg said. “And affords us the luxury of doing it full time.”

While balancing work life, band life and school, the eccentric group members focus on a few short tours, recording an acoustic demo and working on their chops.

“Right now we are building up fundamentals, so once we start writing again, it’ll be a lot more smartly written,” Bone said.

The band is centering in on a “music re-education,” he said.

Clouds on Strings has toured the West Coast four times to play original works.

The band will soon perform at the CAMMIES, Chico News and Review’s music award show. The date is yet to be announced.

<strong>Final Last Words</strong>

A self-proclaimed “party rock” band, Final Last Words has been creating music in Chico since 2010.

The band’s sound is influenced by artists the members enjoy listening to, such as Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line and New Found Glory, but they don’t model their sound after anyone, vocalist Johnny Kosich said.

They started their own label, DubHouse, which allows them to manage themselves and represent other promising artists.

After graduation, Final Last Words plans to stay together in town and continue a professional line of work, bassist Travis Wade said.

“We work with artists, we have a lot of experience and a lot of connections to reach out to once we are done with school,” Kosich said.

They have played multiple venues, toured the West Coast seven times, played gigs on the East Coast, in Seattle, Northern and Southern California and Mexico.

This hectic tour schedule leaves little room for distractions.

“You’ll be out of school Thursday then be in Mexico that night, stay till Sunday and be in class Monday morning, which seems insane to some people,” Wade said.

Final Last Words has released four albums. The latest release, “NORMAL,” is named for the street on which they reside in town.

Their focus now is more touring, writing and graduating college.

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Liz Bowen can be reached at <a href=”mailto:[email protected]”><em>[email protected]</em></a>

  1. Rock ‘n’ roll
  2. Chico boys
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