End Of An Era: The North Atantic

Now that it’s official, Cullen Hendrix, drummer for San Diego noise-psych-punk act The North Atlantic is hanging up his sticks as the beat master (though he’ll continue making music and beating any number of things, like that pesky indictment…just kidding). As for singer/guitarist/brother Jason Hendrix and surrogate brother/bass player Jason Richards a much talked about and ballyhooed move to the windy city is in store where they will continue to create amazing songs and perform to a whole new subset of seenster folks who’ll hopefully fill out the crowd in any club and bar they play while in that city. It’s fucking cold there and it’s swallowed a few good friends already. While I wish them luck I’m a bitter and vengeful old man and I hope they grow to hate that city as much as the characters in Upton Sinclair and Ralph Ellison novels.

I remember when I first met Cullen and JH and JR. a mutual friend from Denver who had migrated to the Whales Vagina took me and my then girlfriend to a ‘Vegan’ dinner party, which was luckily for us being only several blocks away. I immediately found kindred spirits in Jason H and Cullen H. Jason and I talked about music like two savants. An instant bond was created. Of course they told me about their band, The North Atlantic, I thought, “Cool, I was in a band in Denver and I’m gonna try and start one out here, maybe we can jump on your coat tails and play some dive bars with you guys.” And it totally worked out for the better. But aside from self-serving band bullshit I truly grew to love those three assholes as friends and I respect them as musicians and activists as well.

My point, I’m sure you’re wondering if there is one. And there is (though it’s nebulous and its relevance and quality debatable). I’m a huge fan of their band but it’s always taken a back seat in my eyes when it comes to what they mean to me as people. Yes I’ve missed a few of their shows but I’ve been at all the ones that count. The release for Wires in the Walls when it sold out the Casbah was notable. Or when they played the Purevolume showcase in Austin to 12 people, those12 people that there at noon in the rain that hadn’t heard them before were instantly in awe of their energy. Cullen made quick to introduce himself and thank them for coming out to watch even if they were there to see Stephen Pedersen’s Criteria or 06 SXSW darlings, Minus the Bear.

Seeing them at Black Box Studio one halloween, dressed like Ron Burgundy in a pale blue suit and red velvet turtleneck and mustache, I swayed in time and shifted my feet to ‘Street Sweepers.’ One can always count on Jason Hendrix for some heady, literati word salad, spit with vitriol. Though I would have to say that Jason Richards is the best dancer in the band by far, which is interesting knowing he has several cubic feet more mass then the brothers Hendrix. Then there was the time Planes Mistaken for Stars (RIP)came and destroyed our livers and ears along with Bear Vs. Shark (one of the only good bands Equal Visions put out in the past 10 years – also RIP). We ran out of ice for the whiskey and Gared and Mikey got the last of the clear cubes, I noticed the tray of brownish cubes in Cullens freezer and popped those in my tumbler of whiskey: suffice to say vegans freeze vegetable stock and I drank a horrible whiskey soup concoction that day.

And of course all the shows at Scolari’s before it went from seedy dive punk bar to interior setting shot for Veronica Mars and a ‘slumming it’ style watering hole for all those fucking yuppies that live in those ugly ass condos across the street on 30th. When Gabe, drunk and sweaty sang to every lyric from Buried Under Tundra and Charlie played some keyboards to what would become new songs for Wires. Can you believe I proposed to my wife in Scolaris while the band played ‘Submariner?’ How cool is that? It smelled like puke and she said yes to the eventual bombast and crash of the “Lotus Eaters.” I’ve loved loving them and I’ll hate to miss them as I’ve known them. You know we can’t all be lost boys chasing Wendy Darling forever. Being that they have always been more than just a band to me their music will always be more than something I passively listen to as well.

They’ll be at Black Box Studio this Friday, make sure you drive right past Turf Club and its requisite buffoonery and head right behind the 7/11 for the party of the summer!

Thanks for the memories.

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