Coldiron: Some Fear None
A couple of months ago I was at a local show in Auburn, California about a half an hour from my home in Sacramento. The headlining act for this random Friday night was Sacramento’s own, Some Fear None. Prior to this night I wasn’t particularly familiar with them, though I had heard them and seen them before. I knew they were a local band that a lot of people liked. I knew that they played a lot of shows, as I see their name on local press stuff all the time. Still, I knew their name much more than the band themselves. On this particular Friday night, a night when I hadn’t planned to embrace a new band, they caught my attention and made me re-think that notion. Their music and energy hit a nerve and I was able to connect with them in a way that doesn’t happen for me very often.
In the time after that show, I started doing my homework on the band. I went online and read and listened to everything about them I could find. At the end of all of that, I still had a burning question about them.
Why were they succeeding?
A lot of bands play good music but not many bands continue to thrive over time. This band does. In my life as a music fan and my career as a journalist, I am not always able to mix business with pleasure. In the case of Some Fear None I saw an opportunity to do just that and I seized it. I started by messaging their lead singer, Nathan Giguiere, on Facebook. A bunch of messages and a few days later, he invited me to a private practice. I happily accepted and arranged to join them on a Tuesday night at their practice space in Sacramento. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I had already been shown a big part of the answer to my question.
By the time the evening was over, I would have my answer.
After exchanging pleasantries with everyone in the room (Nathan Giguiere- Vocals/guitars, Jason Weisker- drums, Chuck Carrasco- guitar, Gina Salatino- bass/guitar, Gabe Cheng- friend, Desiree- publicist) we all start talking music.
Coldiron: “How did this band come to be?”
Salatino: “There were really two paths to this band. One was Jason and Chuck. They were in Snapdragon for a while.”
Carrasco takes credit for starting the band, by posting an ad on craigslist. He tells me about how things got going “back when the scene started evolving. Young enough to want to do it, old enough to know better.”
Coldiron: “dude, I’m your age. I was there.”
Eventually Carrasco gets to the part where he and Jason meet Nathan Giguiere in 2010, after trying out many potential singers. Then he tells the story of all the trouble they went through finding the right bass player. Carrasco describes being distraught by the process when Giguiere told him, “ya know, Gina is around.” Salatino had been around and had chemistry with Giguiere in various other projects. She joined the band and created what has become their permanent lineup in 2011.
After a bunch of praise for Salatino, the band tells me the wonderful story of the time she threw up.
Coldiron: “Is anyone in this room related or dating?” Gina responds, “Nate and I are in-laws.”
Then the conversation moves to Gabe Cheng, who is practicing with the band on this night in preparation to fill-in for Salatino in an upcoming show. A debate goes on about who can grow hair faster. (Oh-by-the-way- Cheng is only the son of one of the great bass players of the era. That’s right, when this band needs someone to fill in all they can find is the descendant of Sacramento royalty.)
Before things get too serious I ask the band if they are cool with poking fun at themselves. After a bunch of laughs, Giguiere chimes in, “as long as you are cool getting punched in the mouth.” I know he’s joking and it’s all fun and games. Still, it’s worth noting the physical presence he carries. He is powerful and intense. He looks like he should be a stunt-double on Sons of Anarchy. He’s the guy you are hoping you don’t accidentally piss-off in a bar. On top of all that, he owns the room. He is much like Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious movies in the way that all the characters seem to revolve around him. This personality carries over. He owns the stage every bit as much as the room.
Everyone: “We all have day jobs.
Salatino: “I think this all started as a hobby, then next thing we knew we were setting goals and meeting those goals, then setting higher goals… it has reached the point where our day jobs are a necessary evil in order to do what we really want to do, which is financially support our music.”
Then Giguiere said the first of many profound things of the evening.
Giguiere: “Your love of music, if it’s strong, is going to motivate you to diversify and do other things and be your best.”
One line to perfectly sum up a whole world and concept that could fill volumes of textbooks.
Giguiere quickly changes gears and starts talking about the band’s upcoming West Coast tour in August, then waxes poetic about how awesome it is to interact with fans.
(I won’t get into all the specifics of their show dates, because these guys have their web-site and updates down pat as well or better than any band anywhere. These guys make it easy for their fans. Go to their page. Find out about their shows, merch, album, etc. They spell out everything in this area much better than I can.)
Next, Carrasco talks at length about the value of making fans by playing in front of them. He is right on literally every point he makes.
A major point of the night follows.
Coldiron: “You guys are a lot more organized than most bands I meet.”
Salatino: “Personalities. If anyone in this band was someone else it wouldn’t work.”
I stop to make note of this and explain a couple of things. Their practice studio has lists and white-boards all around. Gear is organized. Instruments are well cared-for and ready to go. All the band-members are well aware of upcoming shows and everything else related to their band. To say that they are organized is an understatement. I am OCD when it comes to organization and management and I find their practice space to be close to optimal. Having been to many bands’ practice space and rarely seeing anything like this, I can say that this is important. This matters. This level of attention to detail is missing from most bands and absolutely makes a difference.
So, I believe this is part of the answer to my question: organization and preparation.
The night goes on.
Coldiron: “Who’s guts am I hearing in your music?”
Carassco: “Everyone. The lyrics from Nathan, but guts from everyone.”
When the topic of influences comes up I mention James Hetfield to Nathan. He seems to get defensive. “Why would you ask me that,” he asks. I look around the room like I’m taking crazy pills, as Nathan has a striking resemblance to Hetfield when he chimes back in, “no, I’m serious” with the rest of the room in laughter. I’m momentarily blown away, but quickly recover once he starts talking about his love for OLD Metallica and eventually admits, “I get that I look like Hetfield.”
The room discusses their musical influences for a while before hitting on the key point that, “We are children of the 90’s.” (Carrasco) This gets to a big point, which is that their influences are primarily 90’s grunge and post-grunge era music. It shows.
Next, the conversation moves to how amazing the musicianship of everyone is and how it only works for them because they all trust each other. It’s worth noting that the caliber of musicians in this room is insane. Everyone is elite at what they do. Combine this with them trusting each other and getting each other, and you can start to understand why this band works.
As the conversation carries on I feel like Giguiere is holding back. It’s as though he is somehow guarding or holding onto something. Eventually, he talks about what it means to be in a successful band and this comes out of his mouth:
“You reach a point where everyone is willing to throw everything out there. Then it becomes a matter of leaving things on the table for a while and some things stick and some maybe never will. But instead of getting butt-hurt over it and saying ‘I’m taking my ball and I’m going home’ you have to learn to just say, ‘no, it’s cool.’ There’s a benefit to maturity… and going through life-changing events of major magnitude… and having your band be there for you. You can’t fake that, you can’t learn that, you can’t go buy that. You have to earn it… for that, I love what we are doing.”
There it is. There is my answer. This is the reason why this band works.
Artist Name: Some Fear None
Location: Sacramento, CA
Genre: Rock, Hard Rock
Members: Nathan Giguiere, Chuck Carrasco, Jason Weisker, Gina Salatino