SKAROUND The World # 23
February 9 , 2021 by Josh Coutts
In our ongoing SKAROUND The World series, we take you a little closer to home. Series story # 23 takes us to a Metropolitan Statistical Area known as Torrance. For those of you on the other side of the world not familiar with Torrance, it’s a little hamlet in beautiful Southern California.
In this segment, we’ll go beyond the boundaries of the music. We’ll go one step beyond. In fact, this story is about the hands that take care of the bands. This time, we cover the essence of the Southern California music scene. A friend to all bands – Chris Graue.
Ask any of the locals and they’ll tell you that Chris personifies what’s good and decent about the SoCal music scene. Specific to SoCal, Chris has had a special place in his heart for bands from Orange County. For years, this area has made a name for itself in the world of music with legendary acts like The Righteous Brothers, Aquabats, Bite Me Bambi, Dirty Heads, Lit, No Doubt, Offspring, Reel Big Fish, Save Ferris, Young the Giant, Suburban Legends, and the Vandals just to name a few.
Chris Graue with The Specials
These bands are just the tip of the iceberg on successful acts from the area and its borders. The truth of the matter is that their success did not happen by talent alone. There are a ton of talented bands out there, sadly not all make it. The ones that move forward do so because of the support of their friends, fans and people just like Chris Graue
So, why is Chris such an integral part of a place with such a rich tradition? First, there’s the music angle. Graue has his own band called Lo(u)ser, which we’ll circle back to. Second, he’s also a gifted graphic artist, videographer, film director and an author.
I recently caught up with the Incredible Mr. Graue to hear his story, and here’s what I can tell you. He was born and raised in Torrance, the youngest of two. His mom, dad and sister have always been supportive of his endeavors. Like Adam Goldberg, there’s a great background to this story
He comes from a musical family; mom was a music teacher and a pianist, his grandmother was also a very accomplished pianist. So it should come as no surprise his first instrument was the piano. In a very Goldberg-esque way, Chris loved telling stories as a kid, and VHS was the medium that called to him. Graue would film everything he could. As life went on, he grew into being a very accomplished filmmaker. Like all creative types, before his music and film projects blew up, he did something else. In this case, he wrote a children’s book. The book is titled “The Castaway Kids and the Pirates of Zactrala Island,” and it did very well and is available online.
TO CHECK OUT THE BOOK
Over the past decade, Graue has helped up-and-coming bands and the legends get their music out by way of video production. He’s directed and produced music videos for NOFX, Reel Big Fish, We Are The Union, Bite Me Bambi, The Bombpops, Short Necked Giraffes, Gentlemen Prefer Blood, Half Past Two and Frank Turner.
“Ska Show” by Reel Big Fish, Directed by Chris Graue
Putting out the video is only half the story. In this new high-velocity world of social media and all things online, the tech world has become just as important a part of the music itself.
Whether or not a band can afford anyone’s help, if their music is good and they’re doing it for the right reasons, Graue has ALWAYS been there for the bands. If media outlets can use the help and services of a professional, Chris is there to lend a hand. He finds a way to get things done to help the cause. That’s why so many people in the music industry will sing his praises.
The Eighth Dimension
“We’ve collaborated so often with Chris he’s like the 8th member of Bite Me Bambi. He plays an essential role in helping bring out a visual presence for our music.”
Brian Mashburn | Bite Me Bambi – Save Ferris
“I Don’t Wanna Be” by Bite Me Bambi, Directed by Chris Graue
To get a better idea of who Chris Graue is, we turned to Jimmy Alvarez of TNN RADIO. Alvarez has been doing radio in Southern California for three decades and he has a good idea of who does what in the music scene. Alvarez said, “Chris really is the guy every music scene needs to survive and thrive. Yeah, he always puts out top notch music videos. And yes, he always helps out anyone in the biz who deserves help and a break. To me that ‘s not what stands out most. I’ve known Chris a while, we’ve worked on projects with him gong back many years, he’s still a young guy… so I think he was like ten when we first met him.”
Alvarez continued, “It was about this time last year when Chris reached out to me and ask me for some help. He said he just finished up working on a project with a band called the Bombpops – video for “Double Arrows Down.” He was looking for help pushing the video. I get asked stuff like that all the time, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. I asked why it was so important, he said… because the lead signer has type 1 diabetes, I see what she goes through, and this video will provide a link to get people to a website to help the cause. That, and all of us helping out is the right thing to do.”
Alvarez finished with, “Most people know about his music videos, what they don’t know is why he helps bands out the way he does… I thought this was something people should know about Chris.” Almost 200,000 views later on YouTube, I think Chris made a difference.
“Double Arrows Down” by The Bombpops, Directed by Chris Graue
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON YOUREJUSTMYTYPE.COM
Now that we know a little about who Chris Graue is, let’s see why he’s featured in this segment of SKAROUND The World. I can tell you he’s been part of several bands from a few different subsets of alternative music. punk, ska, ska-punk, indie, alt rock as well as the weird and whacky.
He’s been in local favorites The Maxies, Suburban Legends, and The 131ers. During the pandemic, he’s been busting out his own jams and music videos, plus directing for some of the aforementioned local favorites.
As a solo artist, Graue created his alter-ego project Lo(u)ser. He’s had his music in a few compilation albums such as “What Do You Know About Ska Punk – Volume 5” where you can find “Growing Up.” Another great song is “Breaking Up For Christmas.”
TO CHECK OUT THE SOUND
Now with his solo thing, Lo(u)ser taking off, he’s giving us “Growing Up.” This single is a mixture of ska, punk and 8-bit music. He got the idea while playing Super Mario Maker and making one of the levels for the game. The track was produced by former Reel Big Fish drummer Ryland Steen, and Chris played all the instruments, wrote, and directed the video.
Trust me, you can always catch an interesting music video or great tunes and cool conversation with Chris. His latest release off his forthcoming album is “Set It All On Fire.”
It’s another look into the immersive world of music video gaming. It’s a pop-ska song with a George Harrison vibe. Weird combination I know, but give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean.