The young mathematicians
The Secret Stolen likes punk … and jazz
The Secret Stolen is a Chico born-and-bred band whose four members are young—two of them are students at Chico State—and enthusiastic. Guitarist and vocalist Cameron Ford and drummer Billy DiBono have been friends since grade school; guitarist Nolan Ford (Cameron’s brother) and bassist John Wold have been friends almost as long—since junior high. So it’s no wonder they’re so comfortable with each other.
Last summer, when Cameron came home from school in Santa Barbara, he told his longtime buddy, “We have to start a band.” He’d been writing some songs and envisioned himself playing in a two-piece. His brother and Wold jumped on board, and they’ve been together ever since. (Cameron decided to go to Chico State, rather than return to Santa Barbara.)
The music is difficult to pinpoint, mixing punk-rock energy with intricate guitar noodling and extended instrumental passages. DiBono describes it simply as “rock.” Ask Wold, he says, “mathematical punk-core”—and Cameron is quick to jump in with “And we like to throw in some jazz chords, too.”
The Secret Stolen is about to re-release its debut album, Absent Without Leave, remastered and with new artwork on Santa Cruz’s Unfun Records, Nov. 21. And it’s all original material.
“We have never done a cover,” Wold said. Instead, the band first relied on Cameron’s early songwriting and now writes most everything as a group.
“As we get better, we are more collaborative,” Wold said.
It shows on stage—all of them completely immersed in the music.
“I don’t ever want to play a show where we’re all not sweating up there on stage,” Wold said before a recent performance.
Nolan and Wold are both in their mid-20s, but Cameron and DiBono are only 20 years old. One thing the band is particularly passionate about is the fact that Chico doesn’t have any good all-ages venues left.
In one small effort to remain available to their younger fans (they also often play at Off Limits, which is 21 and over), the members of The Secret Stolen have organized an evening of music called Festivallages, featuring other local favorites like La Fin du Monde and West By Swan. Their flier touts the event as “The last all-ages rock show for some time to come!”
After that, since the band has just wrapped up writing new material, it will be time to hit the road. The Secret Stolen plans to travel for about 2 1/2 months starting in January. The highlight, they say, will be the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Even if they don’t get onto the bill, there’s a good chance they’ll get to play one of the after-parties, Wold said.
DiBono explained with a chuckle: “It’s part of our scheme to network ourselves to world domination.”