Today’s Song of the Day post (by me, Brandon) is none other than Value Pac, a short lived and mostly “90’s” exclusive, pop-punk act. The band got their humble beginnings in 1995 here in Orange County, CA. I first heard of the band with a demo tape under their original name, One by One at a show I went to in Tustin, CA. circa 1995. The band played raw (sometimes rough) pop-punk that would please punk purists and pop fans at heart. It was the perfect blend of poppy melodies over a garage-y like sound mixed with the sun soaked beaches and concrete jungle of Southern California. Mixing that high energy pop-punk rock with a certain dose of high school youth group-leaning, with “Christian” lyrics in hand, and a sound not all that far off from say Green Day. The band was destined to make waves and capture fans beyond the confines of just Southern California. They came upon the scene at the most perfect of times, a time where punk rock began to take root and bands as far as the eye could see were getting featured in magazines, on radio, and even on MTV. The band soon found a home at Tooth & Nail Records after they appeared on the label’s legendary punk compilation, “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 1” (under the name One Bye One). The band got to work immediately on their debut with Steve Kravac in Hollywood, CA. releasing the album that spring/summer of 1996. I remember because we were all the same age, Ryan, Ben, and I, and graduated high school that same year. Their song “Graduation Day” is a classic, nostalgic reminder of this. One of the first concerts I ever booked while a senior in High School was with this band. They played twice that year at Community Christian Church (CCC RIP) in San Juan Capistrano, CA. My wife and I met at Youth Group there and we have fond memories of our time together at this place. The band blew up over night. I remember a handful of kids at the first youth group show and by the second, they had more people show up including roadies from local bands like The OC Supertones (Hi Jason Carson, I remember you being there).
Everywhere you ventured out in So Cal it seemed as though you could see a weekly show with either The O.C. Supertones, Value Pac, MxPx, Stavesacre, Plankeye, One Eighty, Pax, Incomplete, Officer Negative, Dingees, Project 86, Bloodshed, Rainy Days, Starflyer 59, Dakoda Motor Co., Focused, Unashamed, Inner Means, Overcome, NIV, Dogwood, and all the other countless indies around town (All Day Long I’m looking at you). I lost track of how many shows we all went to from like 1995-1998 but my ears certainly remember. Heck, I remember those 2 early Tooth & Nail Festivals in 1996 and 1997 (WOW). Value Pac received some fairly large billings and got on lots and lots of larger shows, mostly at Churches, but some clubs as well, for several years. (Including at The Flipside in Santa Ana, CA. where I booked for a solid year and they ditched my first big show – Holypalooza)
By the end of the debut album cycle (like not even a year), the band started changing up their sound a bit. Gone was the often more care free, blissfully unaware, and altogether sappy sounds of the debut and in place was a rougher around the edges, more straight forward punk rock sound. Jalapeño came out in 1997, one year later after their debut hit. The album was chockful of harder pop-punk sounds but still quite melodic and retaining Ryan’s signature vocals. The production this time around was much fuller and less of a simplistic, garage punk band sound. Isaiah as Bassist was out and in was Sean. They were growing and learning their skills at an impressive pace. Much of this album I still love today and the last track on this record, “Big Dream”, is one of my favorites. It’s weird because it’s like 5 minutes long and not the typical pop-punk formula. I played this song at our wedding through the DJ booth (yay for CDs!), probably creating some head scratching moments from friends and family that weren’t familiar with the group. I didn’t care, I loved this band and had a special connection that I bonded with and carried on through our marriage in 1998. “Big Dream” is a positive song and one filled with lyrics which either draw out some tears, evoke chills, or just general happiness upon listening. The song is about struggles and pain of youth mixed with a positive message of striving to make the world a better place by dreaming big and making the most of life.
I could write a novel on my short time in the 90’s involved with underground Christian music. It really started with Tooth & Nail Records in early 90’s, my high school youth group for leading me to a greater relationship with God and my family, and music in general at the time period. Heck, there never would have been an Indie Vision Music had Tooth & Nail Records not existed and I mean that with most sincere of gratitude to Brandon Ebel & Co. While Value Pac and I had a bumpy past and I did some things I’m not proud of, they did some things that I had experienced some pain by, it really doesn’t matter in the end. I’ve learned to live and let go. It’s really silly when I look back, at the things I was offended by. I took sensitivity to a whole other level which was probably due to some inner issues and not in relation to any band drama. I love my time spent during the 90’s hanging out with bands, working for Kendall Nadeau at G-Rock/Screaming Giant, booking shows around Orange County, acting crazy and goofy, going off, and enjoying the music, oh the music. It’s really about the music and for me, nothing can ever reach that pinnacle 90’s Christian Music did. You kids don’t know how good you have it. We promoted these shows from the ground up without the internet and the size of attendance is like nothing I’ve ever seen since. Some of us may have been lucky to load web pages a snail’s pace with dial up but the majority of concert promoting, getting the word of mouth out, was literally just that, getting word of mouth out.
Thank you Brett Clifford and your Youth Group for giving me a reason to live and teaching us about this peace in our hearts from a relationship with God that’s really indescribable. Had I not found CCC, I would never have met the friends I did and I may have never fallen in love, marrying my best friend. God has been good to me and our family. I will be reaching my 23rd Wedding Anniversary on Sunday and Charis & I have been together now for 25 years. I love her so much and I am so thankful to God that she is alive here today, breathing that fresh breath of air each and everyday. Time flies fast when you’re in love and experience true happiness. Struggles are real but the pay off through trial and tribulation are absolutely worth it.
“Big Dream” indeed.