Punk's not dead

Local band Scatterbox celebrates 12 hardcore years

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Vocalist Tom White rehearses with the punk rock band Scatterbox Monday during a practice set in Post Falls. The band will be performing Saturday at the Grail.

COEUR d'ALENE - Dust off those old-school, punk-rock caps and break out the Chucks, because Scatterbox is back in town.

A performance Saturday at the Grail will be Scatterbox's first local show in about two years. It marks the band's 12th anniversary, to the very day when Scatterbox first stepped on stage in a Rathdrum venue all those years ago.

"I am thinking at this point, one of us will probably have to die for this band to stop," said drummer Scott Rozell.

Rozell and brothers Tom and Ryan White (lead vocals; bass) are original members. Guitarist Mark Cogburn joined in 2008 and remembers attending Scatterbox's first show. The band's sixth guitarist, Justin Smith, entered in 2010 and played the 10th anniversary in the Silver Fox.

So, why hasn't Scatterbox presented its raw, original, energetic music in Coeur d'Alene lately?

"Life, death, jobs, kids...name it," Rozell said. "Mostly, it's incredibly difficult to find a local venue, and we have so much going on outside of the band. Touring requires serious coordination and venues are few and far between, especially in Coeur d'Alene. It's super easy to jump over to Spokane and play there, but we don't want to play in Coeur d'Alene every weekend and bore everyone to death."

Rozell said he is looking forward to seeing a large turnout in the 500-person venue. He said even if it doesn't hit capacity, the guys will still "be happy playing for our friends and maybe even some new people who have never seen us before."

Ryan attributes the time between local shows more to factors other than venue problems.

"Plain and simple, life tends to get in the way sometimes," he said. "We had members getting married, having kids, moving out of state and so on. It was nice for everyone to take a break and regroup personally, I think."

While punk certainly is not dead, it has grown up a little. In the beginning, the band mates were in their late teens and early 20s, serious about punk and serious about playing. These days, Scatterbox members have matured into college grads, pet/homeowners, husbands and dads, but still thrive on the hard-hitting music that pulses from their hands, hearts and minds.

"It's a way of expressing yourself and it's something that defines so many personalities," Smith said. "Music brings people together. It provides an easy way of transcending social boundaries and makes it easier to find common ground with people you wouldn't otherwise ever talk to."

Tom said he wasn't even supposed to be in the band. He began as a temporary lead singer to help Ryan get something going, but he ended up in a permanent role.

"My favorite part about being in Scatterbox is playing with the best guys I've ever met, sharing the stage with them and knowing that right now, we are exactly where we are meant to be, and doing what we were meant to do," Tom said.

He said things just fall into place and feel right on stage, "It doesn't get any better than that."

Except for, maybe, the leg kicks.

So why the name Scatterbox, rather than something like Blood Sprinkler?

"We were just kind of spitballing," Ryan said, "and that's the one that stuck."

"Yeah," Rozell chimed in, "somebody said it out loud." It took about two months, but indeed, "Scatterbox" stayed.

The band played at the Hop in Spokane about a month ago, reminding the guys that they still have a dedicated fan base.

"It was weird. There were people that literally came up and said they were there only to see us, and there was a headlining, touring band playing," Rozell said. "We played, and half the crowd left after we were done. That was kind of neat."

Cogburn said he could hear people in the balcony of the venue singing along with the band. As lead singer, that is something Tom said he enjoys.

"You don't expect it," he said. "(Playing)'s something now that we do for fun. It's not as serious as it was back then."

Scatterbox has a devil-may-care attitude, one fans have grown to know and like. They don't have to prove anything to anyone. The guys prefer to stay out of the mainstream and do everything on their own terms, releasing albums and playing shows whenever they want. If a label is to be claimed, it is Rozell's Blackhouse Records. The band has contributed to movie soundtracks, skateboard videos and previously was with Clickpop Records. Scatterbox's seventh studio album (potentially titled "Ritual") is to be released by fall.

The passion and camaraderie shared by the band members is evident in their rehearsals, conversations and music. Being in this band is a part of their lives that won't easily disappear.

"For me personally, if it wasn't for this band happening when it did, I am pretty confident that I would either be in prison by now, or dead," Rozell said. "I was making a lot of really bad decisions when this whole thing started, and cut to 12 years later, I am really happy to still have this in my life. It kept me out of trouble and changed a lot of things for me in a positive way, almost immediately. So in short, it means a lot to me."

Spokane bands The Widower and the Lot Lizards will also play Saturday's show, which starts at 9. Doors open at 7. Tickets: $8 at the door, $5 in advance; ages 18 and older (21 in the bar). The Grail is located 4720 Seltice Way.

Scatterbox can be found on YouTube and Facebook.

Ryan White provides back up vocals while plucking the baseline during a recent Scatterbox rehearsal.

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