‘What we needs is what we need’

Calling All Monsters blends former S.F. bands into one big rock beast

MONSTER MASH-UP <br>The S.F. rock pedigree of Calling All Monsters (clockwise from upper-left): Cinematic’s Matt Yetka (drums), Track Star’s Matthew Troy (vocals/guitar), Dipt’s John Nespeco (bass) and Cinematic’s Bill Chartier (vocals/guitar).

The S.F. rock pedigree of Calling All Monsters (clockwise from upper-left): Cinematic’s Matt Yetka (drums), Track Star’s Matthew Troy (vocals/guitar), Dipt’s John Nespeco (bass) and Cinematic’s Bill Chartier (vocals/guitar).

Photo By Ellery Samson

Preview: Calling All Monsters, West By Swan, Humble-B and Holocene Off Limits Sat., April 1 9:30 p.m., $5

Track Star? That’s an old Chico band, right?

No, not really. Though for nearly 10 years, from the late-'90s on, the San Francisco trio was a major part of Chico’s underground music scene. Track Star showed up every few months to play alongside locals such as The Imps and Cowboy at two now-defunct venues: Juanita’s and the Blue Room’s old “Wood Room.” And every show was an event—a must-see injection of energy featuring the band’s catchy pop interrupted by thrilling gigantic bursts of noise and volume.

That band and that scene are no more, but last November, part of the noise returned to town for a last-minute slot on a punk bill at Off Limits. Playing to a handful of locals, former Track Star co-frontman Matthew Troy and his new crew, Calling All Monsters, made their Chico debut, and this weekend the guys return to Off Limits for another go at joining the scene.

From the sound of the band’s debut CD, The Traps That Work Best (Turn Records), this could be the beginning of another beautiful relationship. The opening fuzzed-out notes, feedback leaks and muted start/stop chords of “We Are: Special Forces” tease for just a few bars before launching into Troy’s shouted, infectious, call-to-rockin'-out vocals on the disc’s opener: “What we says is what we says / What we needs is what we need … I said, ready man, let’s go!”

It’s the kind of simple catchiness that gets your fist pumping right away and repeats in your head for days after. The rest of the disc plays off similar spirited dynamics, dipping into eager-tempoed jangliness here and dual-guitar freak-outs there, and always punctuating poppy melodies with noisy release.

“It’s rock music, it’s loud, it’s got riffs and beats,” said Troy, putting it simply as we talked briefly about both his old and new bands. He added, half-jokingly, “It’s like an alligator that needs love, but you are afraid to hug it because of all the teeth (and tail) but you try to anyways.”

Calling All Monsters was started initially in 2003 just as Track Star was winding down (Troy says the band isn’t officially broken up; the guys just “aren’t playing together currently"). Troy and members of S.F. bands Cinematic and Dipt combined forces at first just to play some Clash songs for a Joe Strummer benefit.

“We continued to jam after the Clash show, thinking we would be a Clash cover band based on friends saying, ’Dude, play my birthday party,’ and ‘Dudes, next year you guys should play the entire Sandinista album,'” Troy explained. “So, after all that never happened, we just started writing songs together and decided to form a band, and get shows, and record, etc.”

CAM isn’t hitting the road as hard as Track Star did (the latter played more than 600 shows during its lifespan) because of “other interests and passions and doctor’s appointments and retirement meetings” taking up time, said Troy, but as they pass through Chico, the guys will be in the midst of their second regional tour since the CD came out.

They probably won’t need to do as much touring. With the help of the well-received debut disc and the members’ collective indie-rock pedigree, the band is already juiced into the high-profile S.F. scene. CAM is part of the lineup for this year’s Noise Pop Festival, and S.F. music magazine MESH put The Traps That Work Best at No. 8 on its end-of-the-year Best of Bay Area list, advising all to “Play this album LOUD and jump around while listening,” which is some good advice.