Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Dec 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Living in the Shadow

music_PictureAtlanticPicture Atlantic tosses ‘that band that opened for Coldplay’ title, forges own path
When asked about the time his band opened for Coldplay, Nikolaus Bartunek deflects the question with a languid, matter-of-fact, “We won this contest,” then adds, “We were one of three final contestants, and Coldplay chose us.”

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Bartunek isn’t too-cool-for-school, or feigning humility. The singer and songwriter for Picture Atlantic, a San Jose-based alt-rock outfit, is concerned that he and his band are living in the shadow of the gig.

“It was a show,” Bartunek says of the 2008 performance at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. “At the time that it happened, it was great. I'm really glad we got to play it.” Then again, he worries that when his band's name is mentioned at a party, or in a bar or coffee shop, they will simply be that band that opened for Coldplay.

“I'd rather have the music speak for us,” he says. “A lot of really bad bands opened for Coldplay, we could have been one of those bad bands.”

It’s hard to believe that Bartunek is so wary of his band’s future, considering he puts everything he has into Picture Atlantic. Over seven years, Bartunek’s wavy croon has propelled the band through three EPs, one full-length, and more than four West Coast tours.

The urgency in his voice meshes well, both with shimmering folk strumming and the explosive, heaving whirlwind of electric guitars and electronics that Picture Atlantic adeptly navigates—maintaining accessibility even at their most tangled and spastic.

That accessibility may have helped persuade Coldplay in its decision to award the band. It also couldn’t hurt that, in his mellower tones, Bartunek is reminiscent of Chris Martin, and the piano-driven pop of “Parliament of Two,” off of the group's 2011 Amalgamash EP, wouldn't seem out of place coming from the British mega-band.

However, as Bartunek pushes harder, he takes on a psychotic wavering akin to Muse’s Matt Bellamy, until his voice begins to break up into something that sounds more like Jim Ward of Sparta. And as the band picks up steam, they can only be compared to more psychedelic groups such as The Radio Dept, Facing New York and Santa Cruz's own Mountain Animal Hospital.

Picture Atlantic lost its original drummer when he went off to college; and a few other members have rotated in and out around core members, Bartunek (who plays guitar in addition to singing), bassist Ryan Blair and keyboardist Brian Graves. But despite its fluctuating lineup, the band's persistence is another clue that none of the members think of themselves as “one of those bad bands.”

“We don't really make any money off of this,” he says. Nonetheless, Bartunek, who first dropped out of college and then later quit his 9-to-5, devotes as much time as he can to Picture Atlantic—teaching guitar lessons and picking up other odd jobs on the side.

Currently, the band is working on its next full-length, which, according to Bartunek, will focus on the “very strange digital age” in which we live. He hopes to have it done and available for fans in the next eight months.

There have been times when he has thought about going back to school, “but I think at the end of the day I really do love playing music with this band,” he says. “I don't think there is anything that I am aware of in my life that would make me stop playing music.”


Picture Atlantic plays at 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 429-6994.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire