‘CaliRock’ for a cause: Juneau bassist, band Dankrupt come to town

Los Angeles’ Dankrupt, a band including Juneau-raised bassist Nick Banaszak, will soon bring to Juneau a night filled with energy, share their unique Southern California rock, and raise money for Southeast Alaska Cancer Connection at the same time.

 

The group is made up of five musicians: Grant “Bogey” Bogorad of Camarillo, California, as lead vocalist and guitarist; Enrique “Kiké” Márquez Paris of Caracas, Venezuela, as lead guitarist; Derek “Deez on Keyz” Shields of Salt Lake City, Utah, as keyboardist and vocalist; Justin “Twitch” Lotti of Long Beach, California, on drums; and Juneau’s own Nicholas “Nicky B” Banaszak as bassist.

Winter Wipeout

The band’s first appearance locally was in August when they joined Harrison B, a.k.a. Seattle-based Jordan Baron, for the Summer Shakedown concert. The event went over well. Band members said they so appreciated the vibe that Juneau’s music scene had to offer that they began immediately planning a return.

Banaszak is very close to his uncle Lance Lawhorne, an intricate part of Dankrupt’s appearances in Juneau. He let band members sleep on his couches during their first visit and now has an Alaska concert promoting license so he could orchestrate their next event: the Winter Wipeout Music Festival.

“(Summer Shakedown) was a blast!” Lawhorne said. “They had so much fun and we were on such a high afterwards we immediately thought, ‘can we do this again, but this time with the event featuring them?’ That was when the idea was born. Our family just took over when Dankrupt went back home. When they could get the time off I rented out the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and once we started pulling triggers it was game on.”

Many of Banaszak’s family members still reside in Juneau and have been involved in the creation of this event, with Lawhorne leading the charge. Soon, however, it became something more than a concert.

Banaszak’s family has been impacted by cancer and are intimately aware of how widespread its impact is in the community. It’s that knowledge that inspired them to turn the event into a fundraiser.

“What started out with just wanting to bring something fresh, bring something new, grew into a fundraiser,” Banaszak said. “…We try to be thoughtful in whatever we do and we want to leave (Juneau or Southeast Alaska) residents with a fresh take on life, and for them to realize all the goodness that’s around them.”

There will be a full bar provided by The Prospector Hotel. The Dawg House, which sells gourmet hot dogs, will have its “dawgs” on offer. There will also be a silent auction including a two person round trip Alaska Airlines package, two Temsco Helicopter tours and more. The JACC will be set up in what Lawhorne calls a “user-friendly” fashion so that everyone can “boggie woogie” in an open space.

Two local bands, Gamble & the High Costa Living and the Tongass Tokers, will be opening for the event.

Dankrupt’s philanthropic activities will begin the night prior to the Winter Wipeout. They will be the concluding performance for Thunder Mountain High School’s fundraising event, Thunderfest, which raises money for the school’s music department.

Nick’s story

Banaszak, who was born and raised in Juneau, initially wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. When he didn’t get into the college he had wanted to, he started considering other possibilities.

That’s when a friend he met at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, Leland Shennet, reached out to see if any fellow Alaskans wanted to join him in his pursuit of a degree from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood.

“He ended up putting this seed into my ear right after I had that big rejection,” Banaszak said. “I was down to do something crazy after getting a fat ‘no,’ so I flipped instruments from sax to bass, jammed with a local band in Juneau for a short time, sent in an audition tape, and got in.”

He studied bass and audio engineering. After graduation he wasn’t entirely committed to what he wanted to do next. It was Shennet, once again, that helped give him direction, when he contacted him with information on a band that needed a bass player. Although a little hesitant at first, after a few jam sessions he realized he connected well with the group. In 2014, he officially joined the band known as Dankrupt.

“It was the same Alaskan local who hooked me up once again. It all links back to having good friends,” Banaszak said. “It’s crazy how the Alaska local-ness will connect you.”

All of the members attended the Musicians Institute, with the exception of their newest member, Lotti. They each bring their own style and “own-ness” to their music, allowing whatever influences they have to permeate what they create. They call their sound “CaliRock.” It’s a blend consisting of each member’s personal contribution.

“There was a mutual understanding that we wanted to create a band of creative individuals to rise together. We did not want to become pop stars, take all of the earnings, and watch the backing band still struggle. We want to struggle together so we can rise and reap the benefits together. Individually each member has unique influences and their own styles, but together, we mold these styles into something bigger than ourselves. A vibrant blend of genre, culture and style,” Bogorad wrote in an email.

“Every song has a little different twist to it,” Banaszak said. “Song writing is hard because you’re working on a project that everyone is emotionally invested in… I (can’t) even explain how cool and crazy the process is. But that’s where all greatness comes from, a little insanity.”

Dankrupt’s goal of being sustainable within the gigantic and ever-evolving music industry makes it necessary for them to bust out a good cover song from time to time, though they generally try to stay away from them. The concert will feature some tunes locals will recognize. Ultimately, however, they hope to focus on “CaliRock,” a sound that’s their own.

The band released their third EP, “CALIROCK,” on May 17, 2017. CALIROCK is a three-song follow up to the 2016 release “Dos Toros,” and is what they call “a true evolution of the sound of Dankrupt.” CALIROCK was recorded under the direction of multi-platinum producer Sean Gould and mastered by Reuben Cohen, who has won a Grammy.

The official music video for one of their songs, “Father Time” was released on Oct. 10 of this year.

A new batch of original songs are on the way, some of which will be ready to play by the Winter Wipeout show. Next year they plan to release a new single every two months or so.

They’ve participated in festivals and fundraisers in Malibu; Hermosillo, Mexico; and throughout California.

Branding themselves as a live rock band is important to Dankrupt; they fear live rock is endangered, less sought after by young people. Their goal is to produce shows that give off high energy with real instruments, to bring people out to participate in live music.

“Juneau is the arts and culture center of Southeast, but there’s not so much of a demographic for a live rock band. Next year, hopefully, we can bring up another band to further expose Juneau to the good artists and good music that’s out there,” Banaszak said.

“…We’re excited to bring the community a unique rock show with a whole night devoted to good food and good drinks, all while raising money for a great cause.”

This will be a 21 and older event with tickets available for $25 at the JACC, Rainy Retreat Books, both Hearthside locations and online at JAHC.org. The concert is 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16 at the JACC.


• Mackenzie Fisher is a Juneau-based freelance writer.


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