After landing in Chico, the members of 24 Satellites take to the country
Illuminated by Christmas-tree lights, vintage instruments, racks of vinyl and music biographies rest in between walls plastered with posters from groups like The Zombies and 13th Floor Elevators. It’s obvious the Chico rock/country band put a good amount of work into the room, which is located on drummer Steve St. Cin’s property, and the laid-back atmosphere perfectly captures what the guys and their music are all about. In fact, the casual vibe may even be a little too infectious.
“We try to practice once a week, but sometimes it turns into about once every three weeks,” St. Cin says, laughing.
That’d be difficult to discern, however, hearing the band’s music, a well-balanced mix of twangy country and jangly, ‘60s-influenced rock. Along with St. Cin on drums, Dusty Evans and Carvel Bass share songwriting, guitar and vocal duties, and newcomer Jason Wooten rounds out the lineup on bass.
The band’s roots go back more than 10 years, when Evans, Bass and St. Cin were all parts of a handful of San Francisco-based bands. Playing in a group called Tucker in the mid-'90s, Bass and St. Cin hoped record contracts were right around the corner.
“I moved to San Francisco to join a band that was going to put me on world tours,” Bass says.
Although Tucker ultimately disbanded, St. Cin would enjoy a five-year stint with Beulah, a successful indie-pop group linked to the Elephant 6 collective along with Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power and The Apples In Stereo. The success of the band afforded St. Cin irreplaceable experiences touring all over the world and even opening for Wilco during a handful of East Coast shows. The touring lifestyle eventually caught up with him, however, and he quit to focus on his family.
“I would wake up every morning with my ears ringing,” St. Cin says. “I knew I needed a break.”
In stark contrast to the prior expectations and pressures of trying to make a living out of playing music, the formation of 24 Satellites couldn’t have been any less stressful. After individually relocating to Chico, Bass met Evans at a whiffle ball competition, an activity that still brings the band together thanks to a make-shift field just a stone’s toss from the practice space.
Soon, St. Cin was on board and former bassist Kevin Ryan hung around until Wooten took over in April. The result is the sound of a band entirely content with where it’s at and rediscovering the joy of just making music with friends.
“I just want to play for fun,” St. Cin says. “I always look forward to band practice in this band.”
The group just released a self-titled, self-recorded album of shuffling rock songs and sweet ballads, all full of memorable melodies and harmonies that proudly evoke some of the band members’ mutual influences like Neil Young, The Byrds and The Kinks. A couple of local contributors were recruited, including indie-rock queen Barbara Manning lending vocals to “Missing the Ground,” and the late John LaPado playing pedal steel guitar on “Legend,” which would turn out to be one of his last recordings before he passed away in December 2006. The band plans to start recording again in July and hopes to have another album out sometime next year.
As of now, 24 Satellites shows tend to be few and far between, which is something the band is admittedly working to remedy. Even so, don’t count on seeing their name on fliers on a weekly basis, but mark your calendar when you do.