Despite Struggles, They’re Still Four Peas in a Pod

TALYNN SOGHOMONIANS
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Imagine your band just won the Best College Band in America contest and signed a contract with Interscope Records.

Seems like the hardest part would be over, but for Los Angeles-based Pseudopod, the struggle was yet to come.

Pseudopod, with its is blend of jazz and folk-rock sounds, beat 1,000 bands at the contest sponsored by Rolling Stone.com in 2000.

The four UCLA alumni-vocalist Kevin Carlberg, bassist Brian Fox, guitarist Ross Grant and drummer Tim McGregor-never expected their college band to lead to a career.

The band changed its name to Pseudopod after its original name, Pod, was mistaken for the Christian rock band P.O.D., which was breaking out in San Diego. (The word “pseudopod” is defined as “a temporary projection of the cytoplasm of certain cells, such as phagocytes, or of certain unicellular organisms, especially amoebas, that serves in locomotion and phagocytosis.”)

Throughout college, the four friends spent the weekdays studying for classes and weekends playing the nearest venues.

“I was really busy,” Grant said. “My entire social life was the band, and it did become my No. 1 priority.”

With the prize money from the contest, Pseudopod created its demo CD, “Rest Assured,” which caught the attention of Interscope Records.
Almost immediately, the band put out its debut self-titled CD and was touring the country with a list of well-known musicians including O.A.R (Of A Revolution), Maroon5, Sheryl Crow, Tonic and Blues Traveler.

Comparing promoting a band independently as opposed to through a label, Grant said, “It’s funny because the label pays a lot of our bills and helps us get on the radio.”

The good luck was quickly interrupted when the band members started to notice Carlberg was suffering from headaches and severe nausea.

After doctors diagnosed Carlberg with a brain tumor, he was rushed into emergency surgery. Instead of focusing on promoting, the band decided to delay all touring dates by at least six months.

“Kevin’s illness was definitely a huge wakeup call for us,” Grant said. “In the beginning, we got caught up on the business side. We finally realized some things are out of our control, and we started to appreciate life much more.”

By the time Carlberg was physically well enough, Pseudopod returned full force as it promoted the first single, “All Over You.” The catchy chorus expresses, “All the time we spent, all the plans we made. And it’s all over you.”

Another track, “Music Maker,” tells the story of a musician, “There alone stands the music man. You’ve heard him once, but you won’t notice his bristled beard hides smiles of pleasure. His callused hands hide signs of pain. He earns his wages for sets of string.”

While the last track, “Lackadaisical Memory,” is nine minutes long, it is certainly one of the best tracks. The chorus says, “Oblivion and back again, well, baby hang on. When you’re carving destiny by the hand. Well, maybe try to hang on.”

Grant offers advice to college bands: “It’s harder to be a band in L.A because it’s harder to get attention from people. It’s a much better idea to break out in smaller cities and draw a ton of people. It’s also necessary to promote a lot and to never hate each other.”

Pseudopod’s debut CD proves to have the essential ingredients to branch out into mainstream rotation and create a genre of its own.

The band encourages listeners to visit its official Web site, www.pseudopod.net, for free bootleg information.

Pseudopod will perform at the Troubadour at 10:15 p.m. tonight. Tickets are available at the official Web site. Telepathy will be the opening band.