Music industry veteran Kevin Packard has done it all. Growing up in Sandy, he eventually pursued his rock ‘n’ roll dreams in Los Angeles, Florida, China, Indiana and Nashville. He’s worked at several industry-leading drum manufacturers. He’s met Paul McCartney and performed The Police songs for none other than Stewart Copeland, singing “Every Breath You Take” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” like they were written for him, according to a review in Nashville Three Sixty.
Alongside fellow Utah native Jesse Anderegg, Packard has helmed many bands. The Find found some local success in the late ‘90s, kicking off a long line of Star Wars-influenced material and spurring a classic Deseret News review by staff writer Lucy Campbell that described The Find as “Peter Breinholt meets Green Day with a saxophone.”
Since then, Packard and Anderegg’s have moved all over the country while still maintaining their long-running band Checkpoint Charley. Debut album Songs One Through Twelve came out way back in 2005, but its power-pop chops drew comparisons to esteemed acts like Jellyfish and The Tories.
Fast forward 13 years, and Checkpoint Charley returns with Pomp, Twaddle & Bombast: Songs 13-24, which was recently released in tandem with a four-song EP of Star Wars-themed songs called Checkpoint Charley’s Great Jedi Mind Trick. (Local Salt Lake City artist Jessica Springman hand illustrated the cover of Pomp, Twaddle & Bombast.) The bouncy, intergalactic single “The Ballad of Han and Leia” is my personal favorite, skittering synths combining with Packard’s steady drums and Anderegg’s riffs to put a new spin on the Star Wars mythology. The kid-friendly music video is equally heartwarming.
Always the professional, Packard sent a concise communiqué over to the City Weekly offices: “Checkpoint Charley’s urgent, upbeat sonic signature resonates an omni-genre pulse behind a wall of powerful hooks, thick, layered vocal harmonies and multi-dimensional instrumentation. With a flair for musical theatrics and a current pop sensibility, our latest collection of songs forges the path forward that bands like Jellyfish began, echoing elements of Queen, Muse and Duran Duran with a completely unique identity.”
Pomp, Twaddle & Bombast and Checkpoint Charley’s Great Jedi Mind Trick were produced in Nashville with an all-star cast of guest players, including award-winning co-producer Jay Tooke, Jon Schmidt (The Piano Guys), Tyson Leslie (Vixen), Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts), Ian Fowles (The Aquabats), Chris Nix (The Jonathan Davis Band), Kyshana Lowe Bradshaw (The Lowe Family), Smith Curry (Keith Urban) and Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem). Each release is currently available on CD, with a 2-LP vinyl release scheduled for December.
Checkpoint Charley was recently featured as the house band at ICC Con in Nashville, Tennessee, writing and performing original material to introduce William Shatner, Marina Sirtis of Star Trek: TNG, Sam J. Jones of Flash Gordon and Kas Anvar of Assasin's Creed. The band has upcoming showcases scheduled for Nashville, but club dates in Salt Lake City are in the works, as is a radio-backed concert at Dixie State University in St. George next year.
Here’s our final question: how do we get Checkpoint Charley on the bill for FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention in 2019?