Churches frontman Caleb Nichols sings of love and politics

Courtesy PhotoRecord launch party: Churches plays Saturday at Bottom of the Hill to celebrate the band’s new 7-inch featuring “Lovelife” and “Save Me.”

Courtesy PhotoRecord launch party: Churches plays Saturday at Bottom of the Hill to celebrate the band’s new 7-inch featuring “Lovelife” and “Save Me.”

Churches frontman Caleb Nichols’ early childhood in Los Osos was tolerable, but when he entered middle school, his life became a living hell. Maybe it was the geeky “Lion King” T-shirt he wore, his ear piercing or the Breeders patch on his backpack. But his classmates bullied him, Nichols says, “and had all these superfluous reasons that I was gay, which turned out to be true later. I could have hid in the library with the D&D kids and played ‘Magic: The Gathering,’ but instead I just dealt with the abuse.” He left high school early, joined Bay Area bands including Port O’Brien and Grand Lake, and, with his majestic trio Churches, is exacting sweet revenge with the ebullient new single “Lovelife” backed by “Save Me” (both on a new EP). The group’s purpose is making music that Nichols’ younger self would want to hear.

#link_box { width: 150px; height: auto; margin: 0; padding: 0; margin: 10px 20px 10px 0px; padding: 10px; background-color: #fbfade; /* ecru – light yellow */ border: 1px solid #343a25; /* green – for summer arts */ float: left; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; } #link_box img, #link_box a { border 0px; border-style: none; outline: none; } #link_box h1 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #8A0808; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 14px; text-align: center; } #link_box h2 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #000; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 10px; text-align: center; } #link_box ul { list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; border: none; } #link_box li { margin: 0px padding: 0px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; } #link_box li a { display: block; padding: 5px 5px 5px 15px; /* Padding for bullet */ /* border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; */ color: #000; width: 100%; width: auto; /* height: auto; */ /* border: 1px solid blue; */ margin: 0px; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; text-decoration: none; } #link_box li a: before { /* background-position: top left; */ } #link_box li a:hover { background-color: #ddd; color: #000; }

Does “Lovelife” deal with larger issues of prejudice, like Proposition 8, or the microcosm of you and your boyfriend just wanting to get married?

When Prop. 8 passed, I was living in Oakland — we live in Santa Cruz now — and it was such a surprise. Everyone was like, ‘WTF?!?’ So John and I are engaged, but we can’t get married here, we’d have to go somewhere else like Washington, which is very frustrating. The song also touches on the existential frustration that when you spend your whole life having this integral part of yourself constantly being debated by other people, as to whether it’s OK or not, I think it’s really damaging.

You just turned 30 this Thanksgiving.

Yes. And being 29 sucked because I was just thinking about being 30 a lot, then having an existential crisis about death. Which I had when I turned 20, too. But as soon as I turned 30, the next day I was like, “Oh. This is fine.”

A death crisis? So young?

Well, if you listen to any of my music from the past few years, you’ll hear it — I’ve had a pretty severe struggle with death anxiety, and it’s informed the way I live my life and certainly informed the kind of music I make. But I’m getting over it now, now that I’ve recognized it.

Is “Save Me” about music saving you?

It’s a little more nebulous — it’s more about a feeling, and it’s the first song I ever wrote for this band. So it evokes a lot of nostalgia — my alternative-rock heyday, when I really started getting into music, was ’95, ’96, ’97, so that whole MTV ‘Buzz band’ era really brings out some strong emotions in me.

artschurchesentertainmentmusicPop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Cities including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are calling for large grocery and drug store chains to pay employees hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shutterstock)
SF proposes $5 hazard pay law for grocery, drug store workers

San Francisco may soon join the growing number of cities requiring large… Continue reading

Hikers walk along a closed stretch of Twin Peaks Boulevard on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board to vote on future of Twin Peaks Boulevard

The proposal would keep Burnett Avenue gate closed to vehicles, open Portola Drive

Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Klein collects crayons from students in the classroom at Lupine Hill Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Calabasas, California. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom, legislators strike deal to reopen California schools

Taryn Luna and John Myers Los Angeles Times Gov. Gavin Newsom and… Continue reading

A sign about proposed development of the bluff at Thornton State Beach in Daly City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Retreat center proposed at popular state beach

Daly City residents oppose construction on ocean bluffs

City supervisors are calling for an expansion of free summer programs for elementary age kids. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supervisors urge city to provide free summer programs for all SFUSD students

San Francisco supervisors on Monday announced a proposal to expand summer programs… Continue reading

Most Read