Live at 'Rolling Stone': Chief

Breaking L.A. folk-rock band perform songs from their debut, 'Modern Rituals'

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WHO: Four L.A. dudes who play harmony-laden indie rock. They grew up attending West L.A. private schools and separately wound up at New York University. Singer-guitarist Evan Koga and drummer Michael Fujikawa knew each other in high school, but rarely hung out until they bonded over booze and John Lennon covers on a college break. The band played NYC clubs, winning so much buzz they played Glastonbury a year before the release of their new debut album, Modern Rituals. “We’re used to playing to friends,” says Koga. “But now people we don’t even know have started coming to our shows.”

SOUNDS LIKE: Recorded in Silverlake, Calif., Modern Rituals is full of Laurel Canyon-style harmonies and warm electric guitars. Koga grew up listening to grunge and alt-rock on K-ROQ, but in college discovered Neil Young, Tom Petty, and the Band, now his main influences. “It’s kind of folky-rock with a modern twist,” Koga says of his band's sound. “It’s a Crosby Stills and Nash meets My Morning Jacket kind of thing.”

TOO RUDE: “There’s not much censoring going on with us,” says Koga. “Pretty much any show, you’ll hear something seventy percent inappropriate.” It was clear the band didn’t dig the swanky vibe at Joe’s Pub in New York, the sit-down, two-drink minimum bar that hosted their CD release show. “It smells like fucking crab cakes in here,” Michael Fujikawa said from behind his kit shortly after taking the stage. “I’m never playing a venue with food again.” (The venue, for the record, doesn’t serve crab cakes.)
 
MONEY IN THE BANK: Onstage, bassist Mike Moonves looks like an everyday metalhead — a husky guy banging his head even to the mellow tracks — but his dad is Les Moonves, who earns a $26 million salary as president of CBS. The band doesn’t work their connections, though. “The connection with his dad doesn’t really filter into the band,” says Koga. “His dad just happens to be Les.”

Click to listen to Chief's Modern Rituals.