Lucky Boys Confusion mines personal, professional hardship on comeback record

Not that long ago, it seemed unlikely that suburban band Lucky Boys Confusion would ever make another record.

The group, which emerged from high-school rock scenes in Downers Grove and Naperville, was a key part of the pop-punk wave of the early 2000s, delivering some of the era's signature anthems, like "Atari" and "Hey, Driver."

But after achieving national success, the group went on indefinite hiatus midway through that decade, as band members focused on their personal lives and other professional projects.

The ensuing years brought heartbreak to individual members and the band as a whole. In 2012, founding guitarist Joe Sell died suddenly - a devastating blow for his bandmates. Meanwhile, Stubhy Pandav, the band's lead singer and one of its two primary songwriters, went through personal struggles that he says left him in "a hard place." It seemed LBC's days as a recording band were over.

But as the saying goes: "Never say never." On April 14, the band releases "Stormchasers," its first full-length studio record in a decade. To celebrate, LBC will play a record-release show at House of Blues Chicago the next day.

"I see it as a statement about how beautiful beginnings can come out of tragic ends," Lucky Boys drummer Ryan Fergus said of the new album. "It's the most creative and cohesive record we've done. I'm really excited about it."

Pandav said the album will cover some darker terrain than previous Lucky Boys records, but in the end, fans will recognize what they're hearing.

"This definitely sounds like a Lucky Boys record," he said. "It slams."

Pandav says the album sprang directly from the difficulties he was going through roughly five years back.

"I was in a hard place, with Joe passing away and then some personal struggles," he said. "And so I started writing songs. One of them really struck a nerve - I just knew it was a Lucky Boys song."

He shared the song, and numerous others, with Adam Krier, the band's guitarist and other principal songwriter. Krier liked the idea of bringing the material to the other Lucky Boys members - Fergus and bassist Jason Schultejann - to see if they'd be interested in finishing the songs as a group.

"To my surprise, everyone was really on board," Pandav said. "We're all busy with other things in our lives, so I didn't know if the timing would work or if the interest would be there. It felt great."

"It was just the four of us in a room, which kind of felt like we'd come full circle from when we were all kids," Fergus said. "But we have 20 years of know-how behind us now. So it couldn't have gone better."

The first single from the album, "It's After Midnight," delivers the same propulsive, high-energy rock that has been the band's stock-in-trade since the beginning. Fergus said he can't wait for longtime fans and Lucky Boys newcomers to hear the rest of the album.

"It's the sound of things falling apart and then coming back together," he said. "It touches on life and death, love and loss and, above all, perseverance. I'm proud of our songwriters, and Stubhy especially. He puts himself out there on this one."

"It's about the roller coaster that was my life," Pandav said. "My journey from a personal rock-bottom to being in a really good place now."

The band doesn't have any live dates planned beyond the House of Blues show, but Fergus and Pandav said Lucky Boys would love to set aside time for a tour, if possible. They stress that it's trickier to do that now, because band members have to balance live performances with their careers, significant others and, in Fergus' case, children.

"It's a challenge, yes, because nothing is more important than our families," Pandav said. "But I think we all realize that this band is an incredibly cool thing in our lives, and so we'll do what we can to cut some time in our schedules for live shows."

Pandav added that all the band members hope Lucky Boys Confusion continues to stay active and productive going forward.

"We realize how special it is to be able to make art with three of your closest friends, so yeah, we hope this continues."

Lucky Boys Confusion

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 15

Where: House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, (312) 923-2000,

Tickets: $20

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