Originally a derivative of the West Coast punk rock scene “Skate Punk” has became popular amongst the skate board community. Its music can be defined as being more melodic than punk rock, however when combined with the high energy of punk rock it creates a sound that’s distinctive to the skateboard commonality.
Emerging in the early 1980s in Southern California, skate punk has become one of the most popular forms of punk rock. The movement was aided by the emergence of LA hardcore bands like Black Flag, The Circle Jerks and The Adolescents. These bands were fast, raw and unfortunately unlistenable. In spite of their cacophony, the L.A. punk bands included a socio-political quintessence to their banter. Skate Punk was the perfect soundtrack for limb-threatening aerial stunts. The genre was thrash metal’s snotty younger brother. Most of the bands were between the ages of 16 and 18 and when you have the vehemence and drive to tell the world what you think you have the perfect storm to capture SoCal Skate Punk’s psyche.
The story behind the music’s genealogy emerged when punk and metal came face to face. Soon skate-punk bands started cropping up all over southern California and the rest of the country. The lifestyle proved to be a commercial goldmine for the fashion and video game industries. In the late 1990’s the genre exploded into the mainstream and hasn’t looked back since.
One can accuse SoCal Skate Punk band, Chaser of being formulaic and not treading on any new musical ground. It takes talent to keep things exciting and powerful for over 20 years; and after playing with some of the biggest names in punk rock, numerous festival tours and line-up changes, Chaser still manages to put out some solid straight up kick ass punk rock. Their current endeavor, “A New Direction” may not bring any new fans or change anyone’s perception of them, but it stands toe to toe with their earlier classic material. More importantly, it demonstrates that they are as comfortable as ever in their skin and maintain a passion for writing superb fast-paced skate punk. When so many bands have lost their shadow and neglect the ethos that had inspired them during their early years, Chaser are still throwing it down as they have for over two decades. Now this killer quartet are set to make their triumphant return with their forthcoming album, “Dreamers” which is set to be released this April on SoundSpeed Records…
We had the chance to do an exclusive interview with Chaser vocalist, Mike LeDonne about his music, history and politics … Great stuff…
Rock Bands of L.A.com: What music did you grow up listening to? I’ve read your reviews from your past albums…. They describe Chaser as a “retro 90’s Skate-punk band”… In between Bad Religion and Pennywise… that’s all well and good but it sounds to me that reviewers want to put you into a certain, “box”… a nicely kept category… you gotta hate this! The whole ethos of L.A. punk was to be different. Maintain a certain political stance… I hate the whole thing… What is the punk band Chaser all about in 2021??? You have gone through a world altering pandemic… I am sure it’s going to be the inspiration for your future music…
Mike Le Donne: This is a really cool question. I actually grew up listening to oldies because that’s what my parents would listen to in the car. And as I got older towards the end of elementary school, I got really into the Beatles, the doors, and Led Zeppelin. But it wasn’t until my eighth grade year that I had even heard about punk rock. There was a group of kids at my junior high who had spiked hair, studded bracelets and jackets with patches on them. And one of their patches that really stood out to me was NoFX’s heavy petting zoo. This was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I was really curious about what it was all about. Shortly there after a close friend of mine handed me two compilation CDs, Punk-O-Rama 3 from Epitaph and Deep Thoughts from nitro records. Upon first lesson from both of these albums I was hooked. It was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before and from that point forward I established my musical identity. Punk rock became my passion. It literally is all I listen to, even to this day. Some people close call me close minded but I really know what I like, and that is the energy and infectious melodies of punk rock. So having the type a personality that I do, I had to re-create this type of music that I loved. I taught myself a few power cords on guitar, and learned how to play a few Green Day, NOFX, and offspring covers and shortly there after I started the Chaser. I loved this music so much I just had to re-create it. And while Chaser does get dubbed a 90s style melodic punk rock band, I’m totally OK with that. There is a large audience of people like myself that crave that style of punk, and Chaser is doing everything we can to keep the style of punk rock alive and going. So I’m totally OK if people think that we sound like 90s era fat and epitaph bands. Those are the bands that we grew up listening to and we want to keep that style of punk rock going. And people really love that about us. As far as our lyrics go, we really do pride ourselves on writing positive lyrics and promoting PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). We stress the importance of being a good human being and helping each other out in life. Because ultimately that’s what punk rock is all about. Picking each other up when we’re down, and helping each other out. Fighting the good fight. 2020 really threw us for a loop, so I’m sure the next album will have a lot of material That relates to the hardships of this year.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: This last year has been cataclysmic as far as social unrest…. Do you think that Chaser has found a bountiful number of subjects to write about? What issues have inspired you the most? Politics has always been a staple in the skate punk ideology… I never ask this but I am curious… Is America due for a revolution????
Mike LeDonne: It’s funny because on our album that’s coming out in April, we actually wrote a song about how divided of a nation we are and how polarized we are. This song was written in 2019, way before the pandemic and all the social unrest that we experienced in 2020. I really do feel that there is a wedge that’s been drug driven between us all and it has been amplified by the media and social media. If we don’t find a way to put our self righteousness and unfounded opinions aside, then I really fear for the future. Everyone is so opinionated now and uses social media as a platform to speak their mind of what they think they believe. All that’s really doing is removing yourself further from your friends and acquaintances who don’t share the same beliefs as you, and I really don’t feel that many of these people really have that strong of an opinion. They do it just for the sake of being able to and to just be edgy. It’s very dangerous for a country, especially when it’s done in such large numbers. To put it simply and somewhat cliche, people just really need to chill out and enjoy the beauty of life and stop being so opinionated. But to answer your question, yes this does provide a lot of material for Chaser to write about on the next album, but we always try to write our lyrics in a way that puts a positive spin on things and ask the questions of what we can do as a whole to make things better. To make the world a better place, starting with you, the listener.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: So many of the original skate punk bands from the 90’s.. look so fuckin old…and when you see them live you can tell they’re old…Their tats’ are already starting to fade. Early skate punk bands.. Bad Religion and Pennywise… are their songs more relevant now than back in the day ??… I love your new single…”A New Direction”.. you’ve hit it.. its tamer.. more melodic than your earlier songs.. was this intentional? Are you trying to garner a more mainstream audience?