Jeremy Chatelain has already had quite the musical career up until this point. He's played in hardcore bands such as Iceburn and Insight, played bass for Jets To Brazil and Helmet and sang for the all-star band Handsome. And as if all that isn't enough yet, he also has a very solid solo project called Cub Country. It's under that moniker that he recently released "Stretch That Skull Cover And Smile" (out now on Future Farmer Records). Check out the album if you get the chance and read the email interview we did with the man.
PRT: So let’s start with an easy one… when did you first get the idea that you wanted to get involved with music? Was there like one specific moment or occasion?
Jeremy: When I was a child, I worshipped the band Kiss. I had daydreams of being Ace Frehley or Gene Simmons and playing an electric guitar really loud in front of a stadium full of people. But, I grew up in suburban Salt Lake City, and I don't think that I believed I could actually be directly involved until I was a teen-ager and I got a guitar and discovered the simplicity and power of barre chords and punk rock music. My first band opened up for B'last and Soulside in SLC and I was hooked!
PRT: While looking up more information about you, I ended up on Wikipedia. What does it feel like to have your own page on there?
Jeremy: I hadn't really given it a thought until I was working as a mentor for teen-agers and one of them told me that he read my Wikipedia page. I had to go on and read about myself and make sure it was all true. The information is pretty spotty. I wish there was more history about projects that I actually cared about, but what am I gonna do? I'm not gonna get on there an doctor my own page. At the end of the day it's flattering to think that someone cared enough to create that page.
PRT: Also through Wikipedia I learned that there’s another Jeremy Chatelain in France who’s a singer as well as an actor and fashion designer to boot. Have you already heard about him?
Jeremy: Oh yeah. I've received letters from publishers and performance rights organizations asking me to claim royalties from all of these French songs. I think he's rather popular in France. I think he's a star. You couldn't say that about me. We are friends on Facebook and maybe we'll collaborate on music someday. Ha!
PRT: You started your musical career with Iceburn and Insight, which was one of Victory’s first bands ever. So it’s fair to say you were heavily into hardcore. What was it that drew you to the genre?
Jeremy: Obviously the energy, urgency and the fact that anyone could be in a hardcore band drew me to the genre. And, yes I was really really obsessed with hardcore for years of my life. In fact, I think it informs me even today.
PRT: Do you think all hardcore bands automatically come with an expiration date?
Jeremy: Maybe, since the beginning of hardcore, it's been about change, evolution and revolution. I think that bands burn brightly for short amounts of time and then break up early very naturally in that genre. I always looked up to the Dischord bands, and they usually only put out a single record or two if they were a little older. Hardcore, to me, is a youth movement, and youth is fleeting.
PRT: Handsome was up after that with an amazing line-up, one great album…and then nothing. What exactly happened there?
Jeremy: We actually released two 7" singles and the LP. We came together due to the dedication of Peter Mengede, who basically put the band together member-by-member. Therefore, naturally as we were making music we were also getting to know one another on a deeper level. I think it was a rough transition as everyone was a really disparate personality coming from radically different backgrounds to try and collaborate on this intense record. We couldn't last through the chemicals, attitudes and poor decisions made for us by outside sources. It was a brilliant learning experience that I'll never come close to again.
PRT: Have you ever talked about a possible Handsome reunion?
Jeremy: No, but it would rock! Pete Hines and I actually see each other regularly. He's a sick drummer and I'd love to play those songs with him again. We'd have to fly Peter back over here from Australia.
PRT: From there you went on to Jets To Brazil, which was completely different from anything you had done before, one of the original emo bands. If you see what they call emo nowadays, where do you think it all went wrong?
Jeremy: From my point of view, the original "emo" bands were Dischord bands. Jets To Brazil was a pop-rock band to me. I think that Blake's girlfriend at the time actually said that she thought we were all 50's music geeks living out our dreams. "Emo", like any other musical tag (ie: Grunge, Indie, Alt-Country, etc, etc) is a product of media sources that need to label music in order to market what they think might be a confusing sound. It's all music, isn't it? In fact, most of it is pop music. Emo now is nothing but haircuts and tattoos. The related music is void of most anything original.
PRT: While being with the Jets, you also launched your side-project Cub Country. This while I read somewhere that you grew up intensely disliking country music. And then you go on and start this rootsy folk/blues/country project. What’s up with that?
Jeremy: Following through with the ideals of "hardcore", I always wanted to try different things and keep myself creatively charged. Blake's prolific writing in Jets to Brazil inspired me to start writing my own songs. I came up with a moniker and new idea for my material and started writing. The songs poured out from a really pure and simple place and took on a life of their own. It was a whirlwind of creative activity involving everyone around me trying out new ideas and sounds. I still feel really proud of the records I've made and the people who have been involved. The "rootsy" thing happened on it's own..... it must be the way my soul sounds when it sings. Ha!
PRT: Is Cub Country it for you now? Or are there other projects in the works as well?
Jeremy: I'm writing for a new Cub Country record now. I think we're going to start recording in January of 2010. I've also got some plans to start writing sugary pop songs with a group of old friends in Salt Lake City. And, I'm writing a few songs for hire as musical practice. I think that Cub Country is the perfect vehicle to grow old with. I can see myself singing these songs into the Autumn of my years. These songs make the most sense in my life.
PRT: You’ve also filled in as a bassist on Helmet’s “Size Matters” tour but weren’t able to join the band due to other commitments. Again something very different after Cub Country and Jets To Brazil... what was it that made you want to work with Page Hamilton?
Jeremy: Page is a great and inspiring musician. I made the Helmet connection through an old friend of mine, Chris Traynor, who has played on all the Cub Country records as well. It's a small musical world. I would have been stupid not to play with Page, Chris and Johnny Tempesta. Those tours were incredible. Helmet music is really fun to play. It's like primally heavy and groovy. All the best qualities of a heavy band. I thought that it would be a great challenge for me to learn 30 Helmet songs, and it was.
PRT: “Stretch That Skull Cover And Smile” is the name of your latest album next to being a quote from Kerouac. Just like him you’ve lived and travelled all over the place. Is he one of your bigger influences when it comes to writing?
Jeremy: I wish my writing could hold a candle to his writing. I think that his writing is really fast and drunk and full of life and death at the same time. It's really fun to read. I would hope that my writing resembles his, but I don't think it does. I latched on to the phrase "Stretch That Skull Cover and Smile" while I was reading a Kerouac book in an airport, and it didn't leave my mind.
PRT: From what I’ve heard it seems that this one has more of a rock ‘n roll feel to it. Is that what you were going for or do you just wait and see what comes out?
Jeremy: It's a little bit of both. I always wanted Cub Country to be a rock and roll band. But, it has a lot to do with the people who participate and what they bring to the musical table. I think it's a really natural progression in Cub Country's musical life.
PRT: Looking back on all the different bands you’ve been a part of, are there any things you would do different if given the chance to do it all over again?
Jeremy: I always have moments in my mind when I have the perfect solution to save the band or send my musical career into a different direction. But, it's not real. I'm grateful for all of the people that I've had the opportunity to be involved with on a musical level and I know that everything happened as it did for a reason. It's been a great ride and it continues to be one.
PRT: What can we expect from you in the coming years? Any plans to come over to Europe anytime soon?
Jeremy: Like I said, I'm recording a new Cub record in 2010. I'd love to keep playing music with the people I love for the rest of my life, so here's hoping that it happens. I'm always up for a new musical experience, so we'll see what the future holds. I'd love to come to Europe and play. We'll see what happens this year.
PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Jeremy: I love you all. Check out "Stretch That Skull Cover and Smile" to see what I've been up to. Thanks.