By MIKE CHAIKEN
Legendary punk band The New York Dolls dubbed their final album, “Too Much Too Soon.” It was an allusion to the band’s history of burning brightly and then burning out.
It’s a title that pretty much sums up the career of Open Air Stereo.
The Southern California band’s lead singer Chase Johnson found himself and his bandmate become part of the storyline of the MTV reality series, “Laguna Beach.” The series ended with the band selling out the Roxy in Los Angeles.
The slot on the high profile show earned the band a recording contract.
But then things began to fall apart.
Faced with writing and recording a new album, according to press materials, the group was unable to follow through on their initial promise. Subsequently, they went their separate ways to do their own thing.
Then in 2011, they reconnected. And began the process of pulling together the album, “Primates,” which was released earlier this year.
Now, the band is out on the road with Hinder and Candlebox. The tour brings the band to Hartford’s Webster Theater on Sept. 25.
“We hit a creative roadblock,” explained Chase in a phone interview from his home in Southern California. “We were too young for some of the stuff coming to us, especially after the success of ‘Laguna Beach.’”
The television show, Chase explained, “took us away from our love of music…. We had to get back to what we loved.”
The band was no newcomer to music when “Laguna Beach” came its way. The band by now has been around for 11 years. But the band—which is Chase, Nick Gross (drums), Scott Pounds (guitars), Evan Smith (bass)- were still young at least in years lived.
And the years apart from each other, said Chase, allowed for the band members “to grow up as individuals.”
The opportunity to do their own thing during the three year sabbatical helped churn up the songwriting, explained Chase. “We lived a lot of life.” Along the way, they did some songwriting for other artists.
And, he said, “Sometimes we had too much fun.”
But, in the end, it was all beneficial for the creative process.
The overall sound on Open Air Stereo’s “Primates” definitely veers into the majestic side of rock. At times, with its swelling crescendos, it is reminiscent of 30 Seconds to Mars or U2.
When the echoes of U2 in Open Air Stereo’s sound was mentioned to Chase, he was pleased by the observation.
“You hit the nail on the head,” said Chase. “U2 left a big impression on us.”
Sometimes, Chase noted, in other bands, members will bring different influences into the mix. But for OAS, every single member is a fan of the legendary Irish band. “We all love U2.”
In fact, Chase has dubbed Open Air Stereo’s guitarist Scott as the group’s “Edge, Jr.” Chase said, “We joke about it all the time. Both shave their bald heads and wear a beard and have hats on all the time.” But the similarity goes further than mere appearances, Chase said. Both guitarists bring a distinct musicality to their respective bands’ sounds.
Also, Chase said 30 Seconds to Mars is indeed a band favorite. The band also is drawn to the Beatles, some pop punk groups, and Incubus.
Open Air Stereo finds itself on a bill with two high energy and hard hitting bands, Hinder and Candlebox. But OAS’s sound, although not “soft rock” by any means, is definitely more melodic and full of hooks then their fellow tour mates.
That’s just fine with the lead singer.
Chase said he sees Open Air Stereo as a “breath of fresh air” on the night’s proceedings.
That’s not to say Open Air Stereo can’t rock hard on stage, said Chase. There is definitely more of an edge to the group in concert. “We rock harder live then on the CD,” said Chase.
The band also knows how to put on a show, explained the lead singer. “We were kids who studied YouTube and live DVDs… trying to figure out how to put on a show.”
Open Air Stereo began the process of pulling together “Primates” in 2011. Two years later, Chase said the band is beginning the process of preparing a follow-up. “We’ve already written eight songs on the road.”
And what happens in terms of touring after Open Air Stereo says farewell to Hinder and Candlebox?
Chase said details aren’t ready to be revealed but he said Open Air Stereo is in discussions to tour Canada. Europe is also a possibility.
Open Air Stereo opens for Hinder and Candlebox at the Webster Theater in Hartford on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Devour the Day is also on the bill.
For more information, go to WebsterTheater.com or OpenAirStereo.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN