With the fourth annual ASUCD Entertainment Council, KDVS 90.3 FM and The California Aggie sponsored Search Party competition on the horizon, one might wonder what’s become of its previous winners. Like many college bands, many student musicians have left for new hopes and projects. Three previous winners from each year of the competition stopped to talk about their current goals.
2008 – Unit Panic
Ignat Printsev and Michael Rush made up the eccentric electronic and rock-based duo Unit Panic, one of Search Party’s winning groups in 2008. Formed in a Music 106: History of Rock class, the band went on to perform at various venues in Davis, Sacramento and San Francisco before what would be their final performance at the 2008 Search Party show.
Rush, a graduate student at the time of last year’s Search Party, left the band upon his graduation. However, Printsev is currently involved with Caravan Breakers, a project he created with the help of fellow UC Davis student Josh Phillips. He described the new group as more distorted and guitar-centric than Unit Panic while still containing an electronic foundation.
When asked if he has any advice for student musicians, Printsev said groups should “write and play as much as [they] can.”
“Even if you don’t win, not only is it good practice but it’s good to get yourself out there,” Printsev said. “A lot of being a musician is performing and being in the public eye, so to speak. Search Party is a really good way to do that and have people hear your music.”
To hear Printsev’s new work, visit myspace.com/caravanbreakers.
2007 – Chris Thielen
Chris Thielen, one of three winners in the 2007 Search Party competition, took the stage as a solo guitarist. He described his style as “a kind of 4-track folk & bedroom pop, just the sort of thing you do when nobody’s listening.”
Yet shortly after the 2007 competition, Thielen moved away from his solo act to Davis-based band The Standard Tribesmen. He continued to play with them throughout his senior year in Davis, Sacramento and San Francisco, before the band dissolved after its members graduated.
Thielen said that Search Party moved him toward the public eye.
“In my years of playing music, I kept it private,” he said in an e-mail interview. “Search Party put me in the light, and I got used to it – [I] can’t go back to playing alone in my bedroom any more, and that’s probably good.”
Thielen graduated last summer and currently works in the UC Davis history department. He is working on a new musical project, to be completed later this year.
“Davis is one of the best colleges I know for down to earth, honest music kids to really do their thing,” Thielen said. “If you put out a demo, even on cassette, you’ll probably land a show somewhere if you look; the attitude toward music is very amicable here.”
2006 – Baby Deathray
When Evan Hart took the Search Party stage in 2006, his identity as Baby Deathray was only a temporary fix. Even so, it served as a starting point for his later creations.
“Since the name was not associated with anything yet defined at that point – in combination with a belief that I was putting my entry into a sea of entries – [it] gave the song I created a feeling of not being restricted in any way,” Hart said in an e-mail.
Hart continued on with his music, later joining the Davis and Sacramento-based band Buildings Breeding. After graduating in Dec. 2008 with a degree in psychology, Hart said he hopes to combine his former background in the band with his own experimental tendencies for a future project based in Oakland.
When asked about the tendency for Davis bands to break up upon their members’ graduations, Hart said the university setting also serves as “truly the creator of the context in which interesting music flourishes.”
“Another perspective is that the scene is not weakened by band turnover, but rather reborn and refreshed every year as a new amalgamation,” he said.
Hart said the encouragement of the Davis community was a driving force in his artistic career.
“I have received enough encouragement from the Davis community to propel me with a bit self-confidence into a new region as an unknown, hopefully with the benefits of a rebirth without the wisdom of a newborn,” Hart said.
JUSTIN T. HO can be reached at email@example.com.