Boomba Rec biography (1998)
The Honolulu rock scene is small. In fact, it's virtually non-existent. It seems logical that any band worthy of playing for a crowd of more than ten would pack it up and head for bigger horizons. That's exactly what a group of Oahu upstarts known as Chokebore did some 5 years ago.
Guitarist John Kroll first made the jump across the Pacific a year earlier to pursue a post-graduate degree in Art, Los Angeles. The rest of the band played the next 18 months as a three-piece, including a six-month layover in San Francisco before going south to L.A. and joining forces again in the winter of 1992. The band then toiled in relative anonymity, never getting a chance to tour let alone keep much of a profile in the overcrowded L.A. rock community, where bands often pay to play.
In March of 1993, the only good demo which arrived at AmRep in Minneapolis was damn good – and it was Chokebore. What followed in May was the 7″ pic disc Nobody / Throats to Hit. The band actually toured on that single, supporting Australia's Cosmic Psychos on a coast-to-coast US tour. Later in August, their debut LP/CD Motionless was released on AmRep.
Chokebore's initiation following their first record was a six-week jaunt through the US on the Clusterfuck tour, in the fall of 1993. Accompanied by fellow newcomers Today Is The Day and Guzzard, Clusterfuck hit city after city across the continental US for over six weeks. What followed was a 10 show support slot playing with Nirvana and The Butthole Surfers on the west coast. Later, in the winter of 1994, the Clusterfuck crew landed in Europe. One bus, 3 bands, thirty shows, and 11 countries. After 5 weeks the tour had served its purpose and our heroes had left their mark on the old continent.
Chokebore's second full-length LP/CD Anything Near Water hit the shelves in March of 1995. To people within the "alternative" music scene, Chokebore became a commonly known entity. Anything Near Water went a step further, breaking out of its underground eggshell to reach an "insider tip" status even in mainstream circles. In September/October 1995, Chokebore backed up Anything Near Water with a two-month-long European tour. 51 shows, 15 countries, from Bergen, Norway to Barcelona, Spain. If you saw the band play live this time around, there are chances you loved them. After 6 months of touring (from the arctic circle in Rovaniemi, Finland to Sarajevo, Bosnia), recording, video shooting, and hanging around in Europe, our heroes were back in L.A.
During their stay, Chokebore recorded their third album in France at Black Box Studios called A Taste for Bitters. This release definitely won more converts, especially in France, where the band enjoyed a great degree of attention in the music press. Seeing Chokebore on stage really made the difference.
For the last four years, Chokebore have been a live experience for people in 21 different countries worldwide. Black Black is the absolute high point in the development of these Honolulu upstarts. The feeling and power behind this masterpiece are pure and genuine – a perfect combination of strength, subtleness, and versatility. On Black Black Chokebore have gone as deep as any band could possibly go. Suffice it to say, Black Black is a very personal record. This is not only music to listen to, it's something to identify with – something to FEEL. Is it any wonder that more and more young bands today name Chokebore as an important influence?
One question, who do they remind you of? Some journalists have tried to draw comparisons but try as they may, no one has ever been able to put this in a category. Whether it's Troy Bruno Von Balthazar's distinct way with words and his alarming way of delivering them, or the lo-fi quirkiness which often preludes unexpected cymbal crashes and guitar powerblasts, Chokebore have a special charm of their own. The records are brilliant indeed, but the unforgettable experience of seeing this group live is the icing on the cake. They are absolutely life-changing!
Pale Blue biography (2002)
After completing extensive European touring in support of Black Black, Chokebore returned to their Los Angeles headquarters for some much needed rest and recuperation. As these idle months drew to a close Chokebore reconvened to begin again, the process of writing, arranging, and compiling their ideas.
It was at this time that drummer Mike Featherson announced to the others that he would be leaving the band. While sad to see him go, founding members (Jon, Frank G. & Troy) knew that they still had many more songs to write, so a phone call was made and drummer Christian Omar Madrigal Izzo returned to the band after a two and half year absence.
Following a swift transition, Chokebore released a gatefold double 7″ followed a month later by the U.S. release of Black Black, both on the Olympia, Washington based record label Punk iN My Vitamins headed by Vern Rumsey of Unwound. In early September 2000, after a performance at Los Angeles area club "The Silver Lake Lounge", Chokebore make the acquaintance of Christopher Smith of Redwood Records. He expresses his desire to release the song The Rest of Your Evening which was left off the vinyl release of Black Black due to the song's 15-minute length and the inherent time restraints of the LP format. Los Angeles version together with two new songs Sections and Be Forceful, which come out of the past year in L.A. make up the latest release from Chokebore: the Strange Lines EP released February 2001 on Redwood Records.
After 4 years of work and silence the new LP, the 5th album called It's a Miracle is released on the young European label Pale Blue. An ironical and prophetic title:
Yes it's a miracle to be back after such a long absence (quite unusual for the band) and yes it's a miracle because this album is a real wonder, a miracle for ears and soul.
You will find all of Chokebore's trademarks: a singular and sensitive voice, poetry in words, unexpected rhythms, and lightening guitars. But more than these, you will find a new face of their music: more mature and introspective, more sensitive and personal, less sad too. This change is due to the intrusion of piano, folk guitar, backing vocals, and singing mastery. These new arrangements open different horizons to Chokebore: more pop, the energy is fully controlled to catch your attention at the right moment.
If Chokebore was considered as a reference in a small circle of experts, It's a Miracle will enable them to be THE next big thing, the next reference in pop rock music.
The new generation will be Chokebore or... nothing.