Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Oct 21st
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

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay