Fading Away: Lucky Boys Confusion, September 8 at Augustana College Print
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 29 August 2007 02:49

Lucky Boys ConfusionIn band-speak, "indefinite hiatus" is the equivalent of filing divorce papers; it's the formal beginning of the end.

That might ultimately be true with Lucky Boys Confusion, but nearly a year after the Chicago-area band announced its hiatus, it will be visiting the Quad Cities for a show at Augustana College.

And if fans continue to shell out money for shows, the band will probably stick around for quite a while longer. Think of it as staying together, with the freedom to see other people. Just don't expect an album of newly written material.

"The band is basically just playing for their fans," said lead singer Kaustubh Pandav (known as "Stubhy") in a phone interview this week. "We're not really looking to branch out or move on farther or become the biggest band in the world. We just want to play for the fans that we have and hopefully make a few others on the way."

Members of the quintet are putting their creative energies into other bands, but Lucky Boys Confusion is still playing a show or two a month. (Pandav is performing in a dance-rock outfit called Shock Stars, while guitarist Adam Krier - who co-wrote most of Lucky Boys Confusion's songs with Pandav - and bassist Jason Schultejann started American Taxi.)

Lucky Boys Confusion, with a stylistic stew of pop, punk, ska, and hip hop, parlayed Chicago airplay for "Dumb Pop Song" into a major-label contract with Elektra. The song "Fred Astaire" got the band a national audience, but Pandav said the group's expansive style made it hard for audiences to grasp.

"The band was kind of confusing on a national level," he said. If you heard "Child's Play" right after "Fred Astaire," he said, "it wouldn't sound like the same band to you."

On its second Elektra album, 2003's Commitment, the band streamlined its sound to punky pop that recalls Green Day (with less of a sneer) and Jimmy Eat World, with a few shards of reggae, hip hop, metal, and Killers keyboard thrown in for good measure.

It's still not a coherent aesthetic, and Lucky Boys Confusion has never been distinctive enough to thrive long-term on a national scene. But while the sound is derivative, the band executes its catchy songs with verve and panache.

Pandav said the band was on the verge of something big, with the single "Hey Driver" testing well on Denver radio. "We're about to do this," he recalled thinking. "We're not going to be home for another six years."

This was in early 2004, a few months after Commitment's release. "Elektra folded two weeks later," he said, and Lucky Boys Confusion had lost its label home.

Pandav doesn't deny that it was a rough period - "How would anybody feel?" he asked - but also said it wasn't as if the band went from number-one hits to destitution. "Did it affect my life in any way?" he said. "No, because I never had it. ... I'm definitely not bitter."

The band released a B-sides collection in 2005 and recorded some demos to shop around. But it didn't get any offers it liked, so it released those recordings as the EP How to Get Out Alive in June of last year. The hiatus announcement followed in September.

And if you're tempted to read a lot into that title, feel free. "Every single one of these [recording] titles ... has been pretty reflective of what we've been through," Pandav said.

The group has tempered its expectations, and Pandav described the band as a regional attraction at this stage of its life cycle.

"People's standards change once you go to a national level," he said. "‘Well, the band isn't doing too well anymore.' I'm like, ‘What are you talking about? We just sold 5,000 records out of the back of our van.'"

Lucky Boys Confusion plans to clean out the vault a little more later this year with a CD of more outtakes and demos - "stuff that should have become a full-length," Pandav said. "We want to get that music out there."

That might sound like milking it, but Lucky Boys Confusion has adopted as its credo a twist on Neil Young's famous admonition, preferring to fade away instead of burning out.

"The point is that we made good music that people liked, and still like, and still want us to play after 10 years, and I still am surviving, living and breathing off of it," Pandav said. "As long as we keep getting shows and people want to hear us, we'll keep doing shows. ... Why not? A lot of people in the Midwest grew up on our stuff. ... If we like playing the music and people want to hear it, why take it away?"


Lucky Boys Confusion will perform at Augustana College's Centennial Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 8. Tickets are $12 and available by calling (309) 794-7306.

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