Two hours before they were scheduled to perform at the Student Band Showcase in the Hub, members of the local Isla Vista indie/rock band, Careless Cub, sat down with The Bottom Line to talk about their lives before the band, their current music, and their goals for the future.
Careless Cub formed back in 2017 when Grant Chesin, the lead singer and guitarist, met Andrew Becker, the drummer, in the dorms while visiting his friend. He revealed, “I found out he was a musician and when I moved to Isla Vista the next year, we started playing and decided to start a band together.”
The pair played their first show in April 2017 but did not officially form Careless Cub until the beginning of the following year. Less than a year later, Ray Muhlenkamp, the bassist, joined the band after watching the two perform a show in front of Chesin’s house in Isla Vista. At the time, Muhlenkamp was part of a band called The Mallards and recalled, “We did a show together, kept in contact, and soon after, they asked me to join their band as the bassist.”
When asked how they came up with the name for the band, Chesin revealed that, although wolves are his favorite animal, he felt that it didn’t fit with his music taste or the vibe of the band; so, he went with the next logical animal — a cub. He also explained that none of them hold any expectations for themselves or their listeners which is where the ‘careless’ part applies.
Becker added that the name also works for alliteration purposes while Muhlenkamp mentioned the branding aspect of it; Chesin characterized the group as a “college band that would eventually love to break out of Isla Vista.” Becker added, saying, “We enjoy what we do: making music for people and playing live.”
When asked about the beginning of their music careers, Muhlenkamp remarked that he used to “to jump around on couches with [his] brother while listening to Green Day’s album Dookie,” which led to him playing instruments in fourth grade.
Likewise, Becker listened to a lot of Green Day growing up but didn’t fall in love with music until he heard the album London Calling by The Clash, which is still his favorite album today. He said, “I am forever in search of that same feeling of listening to that album … and trying to give that feeling to other people.”
Chesin revealed that he has been singing ever since he could remember and that the moment he realized that music was his dream was while listening to Abbey Road for the first time when he was seven; he said he began writing songs in late elementary school, most of which were about girls — to which both Becker and Muhlenkamp joked that nothing has changed.
The band’s process for music creation and songwriting typically starts with an idea from Chesin. Muhlenkamp said, “he’ll have lyrics and a guitar part and Andrew and I will start playing while he showcases it until we figure something out.” Chesin admitted that they’ve stopped performing most of the songs that he introduced with more structure. He said, “It’s really a group effort to get the song off the ground, and figuring out all the parts to have it work together.”
Careless Cub has been fortunate with securing gigs as Becker noted, “Isla Vista has a vibrant music community so a lot of gigs come to us.” Typically, people seek them out to host shows at their IV homes and the band members themselves will throw their own shows in their backyards and invite friends and other bands to come play; this comradery, Becker expressed, is “just part of the Isla Vista music community.”
When asked about which performance has been their favorite thus far, all three members mentioned playing at the Honeytrap house at 6692 Trigo. Becker described it as a “steamy, sweaty garage with an old couch. It’s the perfect place to play gigs because it’s always packed and there’s good energy and dancing.” Muhlenkamp added that it “feels bigger than an Isla Vista venue” as the host often brings bands from out of town to play as well.
Moving forward, the band hopes to continue creating and performing their music, and eventually perform on a professional stage. Chesin said he wants to record more singles, expand past the Isla Vista music scene, and potentially go on tour next summer. He also credited other local IV bands such as Odd Army and The Advocates for their passion and support, emphasizing that “it really is a community because we all build off of each other’s successes.”
Ultimately, Careless Cub represents a core member of the Isla Vista music community with its playful and unique sound. Each blow on the drums, chord struck on the guitar, and note hit throughout their songs yields a burst of high energy and exudes the emotional synergy between the band and the audience. The “careless” portion of the band’s name also rings true during their laid-back yet spirited sets. In Becker’s words, Careless Cub is “fun and goofy… we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we have a good time with it.”