Furlough Fridays Balances Jobs, Families, Friendships and Music
By Sue Ralston
Family AffairDecember 2014
By Sue Ralston
Earlier this fall, the Chico alt-grunge band Furlough Fridays released its second CD, Divided, to a packed audience at La Salles Bar in Chico. “We had one of our best shows yet at our album release party," says bassist Meagan Yates. "The sound was great, the other bands were great. People were moshing and the crowd was enthusiastic.” Never heard of Furlough Fridays? The band hopes to change that in the coming year.
“We seem to be better known in Chico. We have quite a following here, but would like to broaden that,” says Linda Bergmann, lead singer since the band’s inception in 2008. The four-piece group, self described as “gritty alt rock with crunch and female vocals,” consists of two husband-and-wife couples, with Bergmann’s husband, JP, on drums, and Meagan and Adams Yates on bass and guitar, respectively. The band mates, all between the ages of 30 and 33, met while students at Chico State University. JP and Meagan met on the cycling team there. Adam and JP both worked at Sears during college. Back in those days, Linda enjoyed singing karaoke and talked Meagan into doing it with her. Ten years and hundreds of performances later, the two couples have three children between them, and have both just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversaries. “It’s a big balancing act with all of us. We’ve gotten through college degrees, pregnancies, having kids. What we really value is having fun and enjoying life, and the band is part of that,” says Meagan.
JP is a biologist with Lundberg Farms and Linda runs a business doing photography, videography, media and design – skills that have proved valuable to the band in their promotions. Furlough Fridays has been together for more than eight years, with JP joining the lineup about a year ago after their previous drummer moved to Sweden. “We auditioned drummers, and finally realized that JP was the one who could really deliver the sound we wanted,” says Linda. JP had sung and played acoustic guitar in high school. In college, he got interested in composing and programming, and got more into electronics but never had time to be in a band.
Further complicating time together as a group is the fact that Adam and Meagan recently moved from Chico to Redding, ending a commute that Adam, a behavioral specialist, had been making to his job in Redding for nearly three years. Meagan, who holds a degree in kinesiology, has worked in Chico as a personal trainer and is an athlete who participates in downhill bicycling races and mountain bikes cross country. She even found the energy to run a half-marathon
in Chico the same weekend as their CD release party. “It’s an added challenge, being a musician and an athlete; there’s a real conflict in lifestyles there,” she acknowledges with a laugh.
Furlough Fridays is now moving into a new era, branching out geographically in its performances, expanding its fan base and raising awareness that the new album is available on CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify. “Recording the second album was a much easier and more rewarding process,” said Linda. “We were just talking about how much better our second album is. It’s just the natural progression of things, learning from your mistakes.”
Divided was recorded and mixed at a Chico nonprofit studio called Energy Plant, started in 2012 by a couple of new graduates from the recording arts program at Chico State. Blag Ivanov, an audio engineer and producer there, felt the band was an easy fit for him. “I personally have a deep love for grunge and alternative music, so working with them was a natural extension of my own tastes,” he says.
Communication was easy between the band and Ivanov. “This has come together in a way that has allowed all of us to produce some of our best work and to develop a strong sense of what we want to do going into the next album. It was a great collaborative effort because of how everyone valued each others’ opinions and helped to make the best decisions,” he says. Says Linda: “We didn’t expect all of this to go very far, but it’s really taken off. We love it. There’s a lot of quirky things about us. What we’d like to stress is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously; we keep things light and fun. And because we’re married couples, we deal with conflict and relationships differently than other band mates might.”
And, she says, “Expect to see more of us.”