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Sexy And Seventeen

Christopher Appelgren of The Pattern is part of a legacy of snot-nosed brat singers like Darby Crash and Liam Gallagher. "I love Oasis!" responds Chris. "I actually stole a little bit of the lyrics from "Supersonic" for a Pattern song." The song...
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Κείμενο Jenna Pameson

Christopher Appelgren of The Pattern is

part of a legacy of snot-nosed brat singers like Darby Crash and Liam Gallagher. “I love Oasis!” responds Chris. “I actually stole a little bit of the lyrics from “Supersonic” for a Pattern song.” The song, “Sunned Things Speak” does plagiarism proud. It’s as memorable and exciting as anything Oasis did when they were cool although it sounds very little like Britain’s heftily browed rock brothers. Like all of The Pattern’s work, it is impossible not to MOVE to it. Chris describes his band’s sound as “rock-boogie,” and he’s right. As he puts it, “We’re trying to do something kind of classic, but hopefully modern.” More than anything else, The Pattern make the kind of ecstatic music that only a group excited to be together can make.

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Like a few other American bands (some worthy and some not) The Pattern are approaching “Big In England” status (BIE). They’ve been talked up a lot over there recently, lumped in with groups like The White Stripes and The Strokes (both are bands for which Chris professes admiration). This past August, The Pattern traveled to England to play both the Reading and the Leeds festivals and, in a classic BIE move, The Pattern’s debut EP was released in England first.

Lookout!, the punk rock bastion and original home of bands like Operation Ivy and Neurosis, is Appelgren’s day job, if you will. He’s the president. A California resident since the age of four, the teenage Appelgren found himself in the rural wastelands north of San Francisco. “I ended up being able to get a radio show on this tiny community station up there,” says Chris. “I sent a letter to Lookout! requesting promos for my show, and got a reply from the label founder, Larry Livermore.” These and other cool records ended up being hand-delivered by Livermore himself, along with his talents as a guest DJ. It also turned out that Livermore owned a cabin in the woods near the radio station, and he and Chris went on to do a show together for three years. Chris eventually became a Lookout! employee, stuffing seven-inches into plastic sleeves and filling mail orders. After high school, Chris moved down to Berkeley, the home base of the label. Along with Livermore and another partner, Appelgren helped to bring the business from a fledgling punk label to a bona fide entrepreneurial wet dream, largely due to a little pop-punk group called Green Day. At the end of ‘96, Chris bought out Larry and the third partner, Patrick. “As a result of Green Day having so much success on Reprise, our sales were really huge too. By the end of 1996, things were starting to come back to normal and I think that Larry and Patrick both felt like they weren’t sure if they wanted to go another round.” Chris decided that he had to continue the label: “My involvement with Lookout! was based on being a fan, so I kind of feel like I’m trying to put out records for the seventeen-year-old version of myself.” It’s a good thing, since he and his two new partners have been putting out gems like The Donnas, Ted Leo, and the recently reunited Bratmobile (including Molly Neuman, one of the three new label partners, on drums).

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Molly, who happens to be Chris’s spouse, also played drums in his former band, the criminally not-as-popular-as-they-should-have-been Peechees. For four years, Chris and Molly, along with Rop and Carlos, (of the group Rice), created quintessentially smart and fast punk music. “It was the mid ‘90s, and there was a lot of mainstream punk rock sort of solidifying around us. I mean, we played our first show at a skate park in San Diego with Rancid, and another one of our early gigs was headlining the Los Angeles Riot Grrl convention with Sleater-Kinney.” However, the Peechees, compounded by Chris’s time obligations to Lookout!, couldn’t fully get in the ring. Carlos and Rop moved to New York, and the Peechees called it quits.

Today, the music world is starving for a sound as unabashed as The Pattern. It’s sort of the culmination of Chris’s efforts in both his previous band and the record label — straight-up danceable rock music that is, at the same time, multifaceted and clever. The brains of The Pattern are the occasionally indecipherable lyrics. You don’t find clichéd punk platitudes hiding behind his expertly sneered words — some songs are based on random phrases that get stuck in Chris’s head, while others are quite personal. “A lot of songs that I write are about situations, and a lot of it’s about being young. A part of me is still kind of caught up there. For instance, we have a new song called “Selling Submarines” that’s about selling drugs. When I was young, my mom was a very low-level cocaine dealer, and I observed that. I think I’m still close to a lot of the important experiences that I had as a child.” It’s great to hear someone sing, and talk, about such subjects with a complete absence of melodrama or pretense. Kind of like seeing The Pattern play live which is a joyful and loud reminder of how fun rock shows can be - rock shows that have made Chris an infamous combination of James Brown and Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

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And how does Chris prepare to spend up to forty minutes throwing a tantrum in front of crowds of strangers? Darby swallowed whatever was handed to him. Iggy would puncture himself with broken bottles. Chris Appelgren of The Pattern listens to beautiful British suicide-folkie Nick Drake. “On the Peechees tour of Europe, I listened to one of his songs over and over again for the whole month we were there. Now, the rest of The Pattern puts on Deep Purple when we drive into a town we’re gonna play and I always end up listening to some soft, quiet stuff.”

JENNA PAMESON

Their debut EP

Immediately

is out now on Lookout! Records.