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A Dirty Dozen with JESSE STOPNITZKY from CHASER – August 2020

| 27 August 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “California skatepunk unit CHASER have unveiled a music video for their latest single “Look Alive.” Comprised of Mike LeDonne (singer), Jesse Stopnitzky (bassist/vocals), Bill Hockmuth (guitarist) and Davey Guy (drums), CHASER shares the same love for punk rock as the rest of us, hoping to make a difference. For the last two years, CHASER toured internationally, playing some of the biggest punk festivals in Europe and Canada. They quickly developed a reputation of a “can’t miss” live show and rightfully earned main stage festival time slots. In 2018, CHASER released, “Sound the Sirens”, on Effervescence Records. With over 500 vinyl LP’s and 1,000 CD’s sold, it was voted by fans as a top punk album of the year. For CHASER, it was a return to the basics of what started it all for them.” We get bassist Jesse to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

This is an awesome question! We usually do throw some in Easter eggs for our fans, and we have on the new album, but since this is only a 2-song EP, there isn’t anything in these songs. When we played SBAM Fest in Austria in 2019, we filmed a quick promo video of us playing acoustic guitar and singing some lyrics like, “Chaser’s on the way, on the first of May, the Monster Stage, etc.” and that was actually to the melody of our next single “Found Myself Again.”

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My mother got me into music. My older siblings got me into punk rock. I got my first bass guitar when I was 12 years old. My friends wanted to join the middle school talent show. We already had a guitarist and a drummer, so at is goes for many bassists, that was the only instrument left. Going to live shows and watching my favorite bands is ultimately what made me want to be a musician.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

My passion and love for punk rock was definitely guided by the early 90’s melodic skate punk scene, and particularly Face to Face. Though, I would say the musical style of CHASER is a combination of Pennywise, Bad Religion and No Use for a Name.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

When it comes to song writing, my personal main five influences all come from punk rock: No Use for a Name, Bad Religion, Pennywise, Face to Face and No Fun At All.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

We don’t see too many collaborations in our genre, which is a shame. I guess there isn’t much room to spit a verse or a rhyme, and we don’t have DJ’s or producers creating a beat with guest vocalists. But we did have our good friend, Jason Devore of Authority Zero, provide guest vocals on one our earlier songs, “In This Together,” which was rad.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Our music is best described as energetic and powerful, with a melodic and upbeat melody, and positive and thought-provoking lyrics. When you’re playing shows all over the country, you often talk to people who don’t know much about punk rock and compares you to Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy or other 90’s style alternative rock bands. I certainly respect and envy the hell out of those bands, though I wouldn’t say we have a similar sound.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

When we’re on tour, we’re all holding down the bar until they kick us out. But at home, Bill is always raving about his vegan cooking, Davey and Mike will usually be the first to let loose, and I’m usually sitting with my guitar in hand waiting to show them a new song.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

All the time. And it never gets old. We love this scene, and you will always find us either at the side of the stage or at the barricade with the fans, singing at the top of our lungs. I think seeing Bad Religion at Punk Rock Holiday in 2018 was one that really had me starstruck.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Unfortunately, being a musician doesn’t pay the bills. So, my dream job would be to be a full-time musician! The best part, without any doubt, is knowing that you get to create music that can help someone, brighten their days, for a moment, take away their pain. That’s what music has done for all of us, and for me countless times. So we try to give it back.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I think an important question that doesn’t get asked often enough is: “What does the band stand for?” Mainstream music has become so shallow and superficial that I believe people are grasping for any type of authenticity and deeper meaning. We feel that if you have an audience, you have a responsibility to spread a positive message, to any degree. I’d like to see more mainstream artists use their platforms for good. So, to answer that question, CHASER stands for PMA, compassion, understanding, unity, and equality. A question I’m tired of answering is, “How did you get your band name?” Not only have we been asked it for 20 years, but we don’t even have a cool story to go with it! Maybe this is the right time for us to make up a new story for each interview!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

The recording of our 2010 album, The Big Picture, was one I certainly wish we could do over. The songs themselves were very well-written and still some of my favorite material we’ve done. However, this was a pivotal time for the band where we had differences over the direction of the band and the sound of the record. In the studio, the production quality was very flat, and the vocal delivery was restricted. In the end, it fell short from what we had hoped for it.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Sublime, 40oz. to Freedom. I can only imagine how fun that recording process must have been.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Going to shows and playing shows. No question. Music is food for the soul. Live shows reinvigorate you and you make you feel alive. Plus, in our genre of punk, you’re bringing people together who share the same life philosophies. There’s something spiritual about that.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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