SENSE FIELD & REASON TO BELIEVE - JON BUNCH
Published January 28, 2012
My friends and I all started to pick up instruments. We messed around playing songs, mainly Bad Religion covers. The reason why I sang was because I didn’t have an instrument. That was the first time we started to actually practice as a band. I was probably around 13 or 14. We used to rehearse and party at my friend Lance’s garage. Then we met the PV punks from an area called Palos Verdes. They were older than us and played in a band called Dissonance, we looked up to them. We ended up playing music with those guys. Throughout junior high and high school, there were two bands. There was Active Response, which were one group of my friends and then Chris Evenson and I started Reason to Believe. Chris was in college and he was taking a recording class and he ended up recording some songs, they were instrumental and he asked me to sing on them. We wanted to start a band from there, R2B started from there. We got a couple of other guys to join and R2B was born. It was probably like ’86 at that point.
I think it’s 3 years. So I was about 15 or 16. He was 18 or 19. We started to play shows from there. We played mostly backyard parties. Our first show was with D.I. in the desert. There was a record store in Long Beach back then, called Zed Records, and Zeds was like the hub of the punk rock record stores. Guys from South Bay, Orange County and L.A. would go there to buy records so it was kind of the central nervous system of the punk rock scene at the time. Bands like Farside, Hardstance, Half Off, VD, and bunch of others would make cassette copies of their demos, Xerox copy lyric sheets, put them in manila envelopes and sell them at Zed on consignment for $2. Most of the people that bought them were kids from other bands. So we all bought each other’s demos and if there was a chance to play we would call each other up to do shows. We ended up getting to know a lot of the guys in other bands that way, if we hadn’t met them already. That’s how the community of bands from my generation started to get to know each other. We’d see each other at shows, but this is really how we got to actually start talking on the phone, playing shows and hang out as well. From there, Big Frank, who was basically the godfather of the punk scene, started a record label called Nemesis Records and he ended up putting out Reason to Believe’s records.
Yeah we did a 7-inch and then the 12-inch with Nemesis. What happened was we were going out on our first tour in ’89 and we really didn’t have a band. We scraped a band together for that tour. It was really difficult to keep Reason to Believe together because we never really had a solid drummer or solid bass player. So then we got Rodney, who was Reason to Believe’s original drummer and then we got John Stockberger as our bass player. From there, we toured as Reason to Believe. It was sort of the end of Reason to Believe on a certain level and then…
Yeah, because Rodney didn’t want to play drums anymore, he wanted to play guitar. And we had played Scott McPherson’s backyard because I was friends with his sister and he got a chance to see us play as Reason to Believe. When Sense Field started we needed a drummer so we called him and he played with us. And that’s how Sense Field was born.
He was in quite a number of bands. I don’t really remember their names. But he’d been playing drums for a long time. He was in bands and he had a lot of friends in the same scene as we did.
Back then in the 80s, it was much different than it is now. When you got into hardcore there was a line drawn in the sand and that’s all you listened to and everything else was considered the enemy. So it was a time when if you had an Ill Repute shirt on or a MDC [Millions of Dead Cops] shirt on and you had short hair and you were walking down the street and a guy had long hair with spikes and wearing an Iron Maiden shirt was coming up your way, it would be an unpleasant situation. It would like ‘Fuck you!’ ‘No. Fuck you!’ You would just automatically have static. It was weird, it’s wasn’t like you didn’t have some commonality in music like, ‘You like metal, I like punk. We’re both outsiders, so we can hang out.’ It was like, ‘You’ve got long hair, I’ve got short hair. I like MDC, you like Mötley Crüe and we’re going to throw down right now.’ It was just a crazy time. It didn’t make sense but that is the way it was. Basically your music world consisted of hardcore. At least my friends and mine did. Metal was the enemy. New Wave was the enemy, with a few exceptions. But you just were almost in a cocoon. So any band you liked you would want to emulate. We loved 7 Seconds, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Poison Idea, MDC, Ill Repute, Decry, Adolescents, Bad Religion, the list goes on and on and on. What drove us was the energy of the music we were listening to and that is what inspired us to want to create it.
Definitely, when Jordan Cooper of Revelation Records moved from east coast to California, everybody was kind of experiencing some shift in the music they were playing. We all had gone to shows where it was just so violent that we ended up trying to create our own underground shows. There was camaraderie amongst the bands and we all started out in the hardcore scene. We all wanted to be as loud and fast as we could, but when you discover that you can actually write a melodic song and still have it be somewhat aggressive or have some sort of emotional impact, you go with it. But we were coming from a place where that first Dag Nasty record changed our life or we still had that old hardcore blueprint. It’s just what was engrained in us.
You got to think too that a lot of the Reason to Believe stuff was written from ’86 to ’88 and we did our record in ’89 and it finally came out 2 years later. So at that point, if you listen to the Reason to Believe, the music was written during 1986-1988 but then you listen to ‘Far From My Hands’ by Reason to Believe and you could see that it could’ve been a Sense Field song.
Right. The older hardcore stuff was when we were much younger and you can hear it. I think the thing with Sense Field was we had an opportunity to create something that we hadn’t done before. I’m not saying we were the only band or the first band doing that, because we had a generation of bands like Jawbox, Jawbreaker, and Samiam. We wanted to do our own thing and create our own sound too. Something that we hadn’t done before and we were trying to do something that wasn’t being done in our own scene. Not saying there hasn’t been melodic music in the hardcore scene before, but we wanted to do it in our own way. We wanted to do our own band, our own sound from our perspective. That was the big motivator. It was our chance to write a song like ‘Trip Poem’ a song that nobody we knew of was doing from the hardcore scene. Just like nobody was doing what Jawbox, Jawbreaker, or Samiam were doing.
Yeah. I remember this kid printed something in either Flipside or Maximum RocknRoll that Reason to Believe broke up because we didn’t want to do hardcore anymore and that we were turning our back on hardcore. He said it in a way like we were anti-hardcore or something. There was a difference between a predominately SXE show compared to a show with SNFU, the Dickies, D.I. R2B would play with all kinds of bands. Punk/Hardcore/SXE Hardcore, so thinking we didn’t want to have anything to do with all those bands or the scene was not true. That wasn’t the case at all. Otherwise we wouldn’t have signed to Revelation. It was more that we didn’t want to be a part of a scene with so much violence. Even with Reason to Believe, I didn’t want to play shows where it was predominately a gang fight. I wanted to be part of something new and different and help to cultivate a new scene and Sense Field did accomplish that. The post-hardcore scene of the 90’s had the same sensibilities as the hardcore scene of the 80’s.
We started rehearsing together in 1990. We got Scott somewhere around that time. We started playing shows around L.A. sometime around ’91. We put out those two cds ourselves and Jordan from Revelation would take 200 of them and sell them through his distribution. He’d run out of the CDs in a couple weeks or in a month, which was big time for us. So we ended up asking him if he would put both of those eps out on a CD as a full length. Then we ended up doing Killed for Less and by ’94 we had two full lengths out on Revelation. We started touring and from there we starting recording Building. So we were very active early on…
No. Way too slow. With Reason to Believe going from touring the country and playing shows in L.A. to having to start over as Sense Field, it felt like it took forever.
I can’t remember playing a Reason To Believe song with Sense Field. I think we played Reason To Believe songs at the Hot Water Music House, while we stayed there on tour as Sense Field. But we pretty much left R2B behind.
Yes, the post-hardcore bands were all punk rock/Hardcore kids. The Post-hardcore scene of the 90’s was not unlike the punk rock scene in the 80’s. Everybody knew each other, we all stayed at each other’s houses. The bands were all friends and everybody knew each other’s name. The difference was you never saw a fight in the 90’s post-hardcore scene I don’t remember any fights at a Sense field show… it was a great time and a great scene.
That was the thing with Sense Field. The one thing we found out quickly was we were never in competition with other bands, ever. That was not part of our blueprint. Then all of a sudden there was competition amongst bands that we we’re friends with and still are friends with. SF were never competitive on any level, competing with other bands wasn’t even in my realm of thinking.
I couldn’t. Maybe I’m a communist. I don’t know, but that’s not why I got into music and that’s not what I’m about. You find out quick, people will take advantage of you. It just wasn’t in my world and maybe that’s why we didn’t succeed. I don’t know. I just don’t have that in me. I’ll share what I have. That’s how I am. I grew up poor. I didn’t grow up with money. I just don’t have that mindset. I think that it probably hurt Sense Field in the big picture. It’s just that we weren’t competing to scrape and scratch to get to the top, it just wasn’t part of what I was even thinking.
Yeah, I agree. We grew to have a bit of professionalism toward the end of SF but we were pretty relaxed on the business end of things. It was literally almost impossible to get us to get with the program. We didn’t have it in us. That wasn’t part of our blueprint either. It wasn’t part of our vision. The business side and the professionalism was not there. We got there toward the end just out of necessity when we had to be professional, but we didn’t have out shit together, especially compared to bands of today. Bands today are more professional than we ever were, they come with it. It’s crazy. And good for them but it just wasn’t part of the way we grew up and what we knew.
We didn’t really have a business minded person in our band. And that was a problem. We certainly were at the meetings but we just didn’t have a business mind. We were more focused on the music than the business.
Yeah. It became tense at times. I don’t want to speak for Rodney this is just my perspective, but he certainly wanted to sing and wanted to sing for a band. So basically, we were trying to figure out how we could get him to front a band and still keep Sense Field together. So I just said, ‘Why don’t you start your own thing?’ And he did, he started Whirlpool. Rodney had songs that Sense Field wasn’t playing, so Whirlpool was an outlet to get every idea he could out. It did cause tension, there was a bit of a dividing line between the Whirlpool camp and the Sense Field camp. But at the same time, it kept the band together. If it kept Sense Field together, then it helped. Then I think after a couple of records, Rodney was like ‘I don’t want to front a band anymore.’ I think he got it out of his system. When you’re in a band, the less distractions you have the better. Joe Strummer said it best, “Your band has to be firing on all cylinders.”
Rodney and I have been through everything under the sun. When you’re in a band it’s like a marriage and you may not like what your band mates are doing, but you still love them. But yeah, it was difficult. The Sense Field years were always difficult years. But being in a band is a complicated thing.
We signed to Warner Brothers and we decided that they wanted to take a year off to write music. That was definitely not the right decision. I think the last thing you need to do is take time off. Even though writing and we did want to make a great record. But it’s almost like say a triple A baseball player getting to the Major Leagues and saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to take it easy now.’ It’s almost absurd to think you’re going to take a year off once you get signed. So what happened was bands were getting signed after us, recording records, putting them out and selling hundreds of thousands of copies and we still had nothing to show for what we were doing. And those bands were spending less money too. So we were spending money, we were taking too much time. Scott left the band… so that was a dark time for the band.
I think that with Scott, he just no longer wanted to be part of it. He wanted to play with other people and he ended up doing it. So, hats off to him. He was good enough to do that though! He left and it hurt us because he’s a great drummer and he was part of the bad since the beginning. So that hurt the momentum of the band, but he had to do what he had to do for himself. And he’s been successful ever since and you know what, it was probably the smart thing to do. He one of the most sought after touring drummers out there…
That’s why we got him! People will say to me, ‘I heard your drummer Scott played with so and so. He’s fucking awesome!’ He was awesome fucking 25 years ago. That’s why we asked him to play music with us.
We signed to WB and decided to take a year off to write songs. What we did was we ended up recording the record. We didn’t have a title and if you got a promo it was probably Under the Radar. Unless it came out before that promo copy that WB sent out. It’s tricky because I don’t even know now. The Warner Brothers record that we recorded, the label didn’t understand the scene at the time or where we were coming from or where we fit in with them. They didn’t know that there was an actual underground scene even though we tried to explain it to them and they just didn’t get it. At that time it was all Limp Bizkit and Korn so they didn’t know where to put us, as far as, how to label us. And at that point, bands like Jimmy Eat World and New Found Glory started to infiltrate the top 40 radio. Commercial music started to change. Warner Brothers gave up on us and they held the title to that record we did with them and we couldn’t get it back. So Chris ended up taking it upon himself to re-record the record Tonight and Forever. That’s when we signed to Nettwerk Records in 2000. So those four years from ’97 to 2000 were pretty much just a wash. That’s a long time for a band to be floundering.
Totally. So Nettwerk picked us up. Tonight and Forever got out on the shelves and we started touring and “Save Yourself” sort of spearheaded that album. So then it people who knew Sense Field for the record Building now hear “Save Yourself” and that’s like a 3:4 time ballad. So soccer moms are digging it now. But you know what, I’m happy with anybody that digs our music. Then we ended up having some commercial success. We did the Tonight Show and the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. We toured Europe and the US a bunch of times. At that point, we ended up doing Living Outside. I think the week Living Outside was released and the label lost its distribution so we had nobody to distribute the record. And that’s when we did the final tours and just called it a day. Those were good years though because we got to play on a lot of radio stations and do interviews. It was fun. That’s the way I kind of always wanted it to be.
I would say all five of us at one point. When we were in it, we were in it. It was our band that we started together. It was our vision and everyone in the band played an important role in the band.
We were on tour in Portland and he got a call saying his daughter had been in a car accident. Somebody had run a red light going 90 mph and smashed into the SUV his daughter was in and she was paralyzed. At that point, Rodney left and told the rest us to keep going. He said it would be worse for him if we had to stop so he wanted us to keep going. So he left and it was a hard time to go through, as far as seeing Rodney so distraught. It was everybody’s worse nightmare. We saw his daughter four days before we left for tour and she was just bouncing around the studio. It’s hard to think about even now.
I think Rodney is more of an artist. He wrote from more of a stream of consciousness . He wasn’t thinking of hit songs whatsoever because he’s just going by feel. I think with Chris, he was more of a practical writer and he had a certain feel as well. But I think he’s much more calculated and more precise in what he wants. Rodney wrote more along the lines of if a note felt good, he would add it. Chris was more methodical and practical. Rodney had more of a free spirit to his writing.
As a songwriter, he was very open to writing around the vocal melodies. We would craft songs together working around melodies usually on his acoustic guitar, that’s how songs like Tripoem and Voice were written.
I honestly don’t know. I just remember some bands doing it. I just don’t know where the source came from. I remember hearing Jeff’s recording of “Building” and it was awesome. I just don’t know whatever transpired of it.
There are few reasons, one is that being in a band was all I knew. I think when you’re a kid playing live show is probably the most important thing. But then as you grow over the years and you learn how to sing, write, build a song and put lyrics to a song, that part of it becomes a staple for you to want to do music as well. There’s a difference between touring and creating an album in the studio. And both of them can be incredibly gratifying and incredibly frustration. But putting a song together is one of the few ways that I can fully express myself and it’s one of the ways I communicate to the outside world. I mean I’ve always loved music and I think putting a song together is just as gratifying in ways that nothing else can be for me. It’s kind of all I’ve known. It’s the only true way I’ve ever created anything. It’s just been a part of me since I was 14 years old. Some songs have come out nice, some of them have come out like shit. But that’s how you learn and how you grow. So if you want to be honest, there is the creative side, there’s the live show, and making money. Everybody wants to make money although it’s not a driving factor. It doesn’t hurt if you can make a couple of dollars doing what you love. It’s a necessary evil.
Over the years you end up making friends out on the road. I think for me when I sing a full set so much of it comes from my gut and physically I miss getting all sweaty and yelling or singing these songs. It brings something out of me that nothing else can. So I just feel like I can’t get that feeling from anything else. I got that feeling from recording too when I recorded for long periods of time. It’s just the physical act of singing, moving around, being in front of people and getting to express yourself. You want to bring it every show, every night when people come out to see you. It’s fun, man.
I agree. It’s probably why I’m still alive today. It was like my only cognitive therapy.
We opened up for Fugazi when we were in high school, no one compares to them live. It just doesn’t get any better than that their live show. We got to play with them two or three times. That was probably the most incredible live band we’ve ever played with. You know there was a band we toured with called Soundtrack, I don’t think they’re together anymore, but they were so much fun to watch. Their songs were so good and they were really good guys. I sat and watched them every night and I don’t normally do that. I’m usually trying to get my voice back in shape for another hour of singing. I’m a diva like that. The (Mighty Mighty) Bosstones were fun to tour with because they brought it every night. The Goo Goo Dolls were so much fun because they’re such good guys. Reason to Believe had actually opened for the Goo Goo Dolls in Texas on that ’89 tour. We hung out with them and partied with them. When they would come to LA after that we would go to see them and hang out with them. So to get back out on the road with them 10 years later was a really special thing for us.
From the punk rock scene, the Bad Brains were always my favorite. Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Scream, that first Dag Nasty record. All the old punk classics like MDC, Agnostic Front. Poison Idea was big favorite of mine. The Misfits. I love the Misfits. If you listen to the Reason to Believe record, there’s a lot of Misfits backing vocals that I attempted to recreate on the LP. My all time favorite bands, I really love The Verve. I love Richard Ashcroft’s voice and I love the way he sings. I’m trying to think of what I find myself listening to over and over again. I really have just fallen back on my own old trusty hardcore records. Like the first Bad Religion records and all the old trusties like the Circle Jerks. Just the fun stuff, you know. I like, … I don’t even know what I like. I mean I really don’t have anything mind blowing to share as far as what I love.
Umm…trust no one. Just kidding. There are a lot of different lessons. It’s a business. Everybody would tell us before hand the music business is shady, and it is a shady business but you have to try to do you’re thing. The five of us coming up as punk rockers from the South Bay in Los Angeles and forming a band as friends and actually creating a following, helping to contribute and cultivate a post-Hardcore scene that didn’t have the violence, means a lot to me. Hopefully the songs helped kids along during the hard times and were there for them in some good times. If the songs made kids feel a little bit better then we did our job, that’s what music is for. And hopefully they came and saw us play and had fun at the shows. I think we were a good band, I don’t think we were a great band, but I think we were a good band that had great moments. I wanted to make people feel better than they did before they heard my songs. I wanted to contribute to somebody’s experience in a positive way and maybe lighten up the room just a little bit. I just wanted to make people feel just a little bit better. Just to contribute to them getting through their day. Does that make sense?
Me, not really! No, I’m just kidding. Of course it does.
Yeah. It’s true. You don’t necessarily write about who you are but more who you want to be or what you know you want things to be like. You don’t know all the answers just because you’re the singer of a band. You’re hoping you can get some answers some how. That’s just the way it is. It’s true that you’re almost singing about what you wish you were or what you wish you wanted things to be.
You want to find hope in your life and I attempt to put that in songs. I’m an optimist even if I’m writing a song that’s negative or sad. I feel that there is always hope and I always try to put that into a song, even when the lyrics are dark. . “Found You” is a perfect example. The lyrics don’t have a particularly positive outlook but it’s saying that there is hope to find something out of the darkness. You know what it is Tommy, I’m singing to the broken people because I’m a broken person. I’m right there with all the rest of the broken people in the world. I’m singing to people who have felt hopeless, because I’ve felt that way before too. Not all the time, but many times. It was a band for broken people. Some people got it, some people didn’t. Some people are broken, some people aren’t. But it was for people that aren’t fully whole and they’re looking for some reason to have hope. I don’t write books. I don’t write poetry and all that. Music is the one avenue, the one channel that I’ve been lucky enough to find that I can say what I want to say. For better or worse.
It makes me feel good. Some times you ask yourself if you wasted all those years of your life or if anybody cares and you want people to care. Anybody that’s in a band and says they don’t care what people think of their band is full of shit. Anybody who does music wants people to appreciate it. You put yourself out there to connect with people and that’s the whole purpose. So it makes me feel good when anyone give props to SF. I appreciate it when people tell me they wish I was singing again.
No, I’ve always appreciated it and I appreciate it now still. That’s never changed. I don’t feel like I took it for granted. Being in a band is hard and difficult. It’s very trying, but I think that I’ve learned so much about myself by being in a band. I’ve learned so many things in my life through the band.
Well, like everything from business to loyalty. I got to travel all over Europe. I got to go to Japan. I got to see United States. That in of itself gives you a lot of experience about the world. There’s a whole world out there that you can’t really understand exists until you’ve seen it for yourself. I’ve seen only a minimal part of the world. When it comes down to it, you learn most if not all people are the same. People want the same things. They want to have a good life. They want their families to be safe…
Yeah, they want to be happy. Everybody does, you know.
No. This is how it went down. It wasn’t a band, it was the name of a tour. What happened was Further Seems Forever went to Europe and our drummer walked out on the tour. So we were essentially forced to play the rest of that tour acoustic, be. So what happened was my friend Marco (Walzel) from Avacado Booking suggested we just do an acoustic tour and play some Sense Field and Further Seems Forever songs. We called it Fields Forever obviously for Sense Field and Further Seems Forever but that was just a one-time thing.
I’m not apathetic about the band or about the guys. The thing that I think we should have done was not use that band’s name for that record. I think being the third singer of a band is…
Right. You know what it was? It was never my band. I mean you’re getting compared to (Chris) Carraba, you’re getting compared to Jason Gleason who are both exceptional. It wouldn’t have been my first choice in the sense that we used that bands name. In hindsight, we should have just used a new name and then played a Further song instead of trying to continue it under those circumstances because it was never my band and people aren’t comfortable with somebody joining a band they love. For me the reason why I joined was because I have a lot of friends down in South Florida. I’m friends with Carrabba and I asked him about it and he said go for it. And when we first started I think they basically said they were trying to finish this record, do one tour and then call it a day. That one tour turned into three years of touring. I appreciate that I got to be a part of it but I think we should have changed the name for that one particular album and then they could have fallen back on FSF anytime they wanted. I don’t mean to sound unappreciative about the opportunity. I’m glad I got to be a part of it. I’m proud of that record I got to do with them. There was a limited amount of time to create Hide Nothing record and there was a lot of pressure because I wanted it to be good for the Further fans, Sense Field fans and myself. It was a stressful project in the sense that I knew it had to be above and beyond what I’ve done before. At least in my mind.
Thank you. And that’s what I wanted to do. It’s almost like it’s an adult rock record. It was a reflection of where I was at in my life at the time. It didn’t sound like a kiddy record. It’s not my first choice to be the third singer of any band, but the good thing was, I wasn’t in the position to try to start a new band at the time. I didn’t want to try to get four guys together and start from scratch. Further had a record that was done and all I had to do was write lyrics and sing to it. And they were ready to tour and for me that’s exactly what I wanted to do at the time. I wouldn’t join a band as a replacement again. I wouldn’t join a band that lost their singer, for me I did it and I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m trying to fill someone else’s shoes. That’s just not my thing anymore. I tried it and maybe it was not the best move, but it was good for me at the time. I love that I got a chance to tour for three more years and I met some great bands and great people. Further has reunited with Carrabba and their original line up and that’s what I think should have happened for FSF…
I’m working on a history degree at Cal State – Fullerton. I’m also working on a batch of songs. I want to do is get about an hour’s worth of music, pull some guys together and then go to Europe in 2013.
No, it’ll be full band.
I’m working with my friends Brad Lehmann, Matt Clark, and Derick Cordoba and we’ll write songs together, and I’m writing songs by myself.
It’s weird. It’s hard to not have some one to bounce ideas off of but I enjoy it. I’m not stressing on songs being perfect. I’m just having fun with it. I want to make songs people like but I’m not worried about any sort of commercial success. All I’m doing is writing songs for the love of writing songs.
My friends say it sounds like a cross between Reason To Believe and Sense Field. I think if Reason to Believe and Sense Field were to form a new band this probably what you would end up picturing it sounding like.
I wouldn’t say it’s aggressive. There’s not aggression at all, but it’s upbeat, fast and fun. It’s in its early stages. I only have about six ideas right now so I can’t say where the music is going to go. I want to get like 20 songs together. I don’t even like to talk about wanting to do something, I just want to do it.
I’m just going to try to get some of me people that I really love and trust to help me. If I go on the road, I would definitely ask some of my old friends and bandmates to come out with me. I would ask a couple of other guys like Derick (Cordoba) from Further to see if he would want to join me. But everybody has families now. So I’ll just ask the people I love, respect and trust. People I know what walk out on me in the middle of a tour.
I talk to John, Rodney and Scott occasionally. I haven’t talked to Chris in a while. I’m in touch with Rob, our second drummer.
I know Scott is a touring drummer. I think he’s out with Bright Eyes right now. I don’t know what everybody else is doing.