Independent development of a cub

By Chase Straight, Red Pulse Writer

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 City8212;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.

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