Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Jesse Stopnitzky Of CHASER

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Artwork for ‘Look Alive.’ Courtesy of Earshot Media.

On Sep. 4, 2020, California skatepunk act CHASER will release their ‘Look Alive’ EP, to which they’ve now unveiled the music video for the namesake track, which is now streaming digitally everywhere.

The band has already sold-out of the 333 7” vinyl copies, which was available worldwide in four different color variants via Thousand Islands Records (Canada), Sound Speed Records (United States), SBAM Records (Europe) and Pee Records (Australia). Sale proceeds were donated to four different handpicked organizations, each based on the color variant – Equal Justice Initiative, Educational First Steps, Crisis Aid International and Surfrider Foundation.

CHASER is singer Mike LeDonne, bassist/vocalist Jesse Stopnitzky, guitarist Bill Hockmuth and drummer Davey Guy.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Stopnitzky about the upcoming EP and more.

Music Bugle – What made you want to release “Look Alive” as a single? 

Jesse Stopnitzky – With our tours getting canceled due to COVID, we wanted to push the album back to when we could tour again and support it, but we didn’t want to leave our fans hanging without new music, so we took a couple of songs off the new album and made them exclusive to the Look Alive 7” EP. “Look Alive” has a different feel and vibe to it, as well as our upcoming song, “Found Myself Again,” so they both work well together as Side A and B for a 7”.


Music Bugle – How would you describe California to someone who has never been there before? 

Jesse Stopnitzky – It’s pretty much how you see it in the movies. The sun is always shining. The beaches and the people are beautiful. Though, like anything, it has its setbacks. Growing up in Southern California, skating, surfing and listening to punk rock, we couldn’t ask for much more.


Music Bugle – What excites you the most about punk rock?

Jesse Stopnitzky – The unity. People from all over the world share likeminded philosophies, such as equality, compassion, peace, or for that matter, challenging the status quo and fighting against oppression and corruption. All through punk rock.


Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?

Jesse Stopnitzky – Buckle up.


Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Jesse Stopnitzky – Compared to what others are experiencing, we have not been affected. Yes, our tours were cancelled and our album was pushed back, but we have our health and fortunately, we all still have our jobs. There are people losing everything in health and in business, so we are blessed to have made it through so far unscathed.


Music Bugle – What’s the biggest challenge in being a group with four different members?

Jesse Stopnitzky – Coordinating everyone’s schedules, especially as life has become more complicated as we get older.


Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience? 

Jesse Stopnitzky – The interaction with the crowd. Anyone who has ever been to a CHASER show knows how involved we are with the crowd and how much we appreciate our fans. Sharing those moments on stage with them is truly the greatest feeling we experience as a band.


Music Bugle – Looking back, what has been your biggest memory so far as a group? 

Jesse Stopnitzky – One of our greatest memories was playing the Beach Stage at Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia. It was only a few weeks after our 2018 album ‘Sound The Sirens’ and we didn’t know how the crowds were going to respond. There was something magical in the air that day and the Beach Stage absolutely went off. It’s no surprise though, since Punk Rock Holiday could in fact, be the greatest punk festival in the world.


Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder to stand out as a band these days? 

Jesse Stopnitzky – Much easier! The accessibility to affordable recordings has allowed so many more bands to record and produce music. This has made it more difficult to stand out, especially when there is so much great music out there. Unfortunately, people are usually reluctant to explore new music, but if you listen to those playlists on streaming services, you’re definitely going to find new music you’ll enjoy. As far as social media, it allows you to connect with fans without having to spend months on the road and away from home, playing dive bars to a handful of people, often who would rather have a conversation with their friends than listen to you bang around for half an hour! (Laughs) At least this is how it was when we started 20 years ago and it was the only way to introduce your music to new fans.


Music Bugle – What inspired the artwork for ‘Look Alive’? 

Jesse Stopnitzky – The song is a declaration about which side you stand in this modern fight of good vs. evil. At first, we were thinking about the concept of a king. Which type of king would you be? One for peace and compassion, or one for war and greed? I have to give credit to my wife who actually mentioned the idea of a playing card. From there, we thought it would be cool to have the two types of kings – king and skull – with the album title ‘Look Alive.’

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