The Package delivers
Chico’s Severance Package plays rock, drags children to Devo concerts
It’s about 10 o’clock on a Monday night—a little late to be calling a married couple with two kids. Then again, this is Josh and Robin Indar—punk-rock royalty in some parts of the world. They’re probably leading their boys through a sugar-induced sing-along of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice,” right?
“I just got my ass kicked in Wii Baseball,” Josh blurts out through the phone. “I need to redeem myself.”
As it turns out the kids are already in bed. Indar is playing video games and is now telling me how Wii Baseball is sort of the sad equivalent of Combat, the freebie game that was included with the Atari 2600 back during Reagan’s first term. I get the feeling that the last thing we’re going to talk about is his band.
But what is there to say, really? Severance Package—or SevPac to the initiated—plays some of the purest, dirtiest, most unapologetic music in Chico. It’s punk rock for sure, capturing the vestiges of early-’70s glam and garage and broken up by the occasional choogling riff (which no doubt comes from Indar’s not-so-secret love for ZZ Top).
Severance Package got its start, fittingly, in the Indars’ garage. Josh’s previous band Lott Lyzzyrd (full disclosure: I, too, played in the Lyzzyrd) had run its course by the end of 2006, and life and school took over the next two years (Josh received his MFA in creative nonfiction in 2008). Robin was concentrating her energy into mosaic art and hadn’t been in a band since her days as caterwauling frontwoman for Black Fork, the Oakland punk quartet she and Josh claimed in the early ’90s.
They returned to writing songs as a two-piece with Robin on bass and Josh on drums (“It was really bad,” he admits). In December of 2008 they added the missing piece in drummer Steve Bragg, the UK/Chico’s answer to Marky Ramone who’s done time in such seminal Chico bands as Vomit Launch and The Asskickers.
And while Severance Package is very much a Chico band, it is a relatively unknown anomaly in a city that’s currently heavy on metal, jam and indie rock. The band has been right at home, however, at recent shows in Portland, Ore., and the Indars’ old stomping ground at 924 Gilman St. in Berkeley, playing to sweaty crowds that like their rock skuzzy and their beer pissy.
Portland-based Shut Up Records just released the band’s All Down Hill 7-inch—three tightly wound songs clocking in at around seven minutes on which the Indars trade off vocals over crackling guitar and a deceptively tight rhythm section.
Indar says they have lots of songs in the rock ’n’ roll coffer. Severance Package will likely record a full-length in 2010, and more shows in the Bay Area (Jan. 23, at Gilman St.) and the Pacific Northwest are already in the works. This may sound pretty ambitious for punk-rock parents; then again it was only recently that he took his 8-year-old to see Devo, a band that was near and dear to Indar in his formative years.
“I saw them in a beer hall in Germany when I was 13; it was the best band I had ever seen up to that point.”
And though the band draws its influence from a bygone era, SevPac still manages to sound like nothing else in Chico while remaining a relative mystery outside the town’s tight-knit punk community. Even Indar, a former journalist who’s hardly ever at a loss for words, doesn’t know quite what to make of it.
“What are you gonna to do? We’re all here. That’s what we play.” He pauses. “I don’t know how to play anything else.”