Having a unique sound in today’s music industry can prove to be extremely challenging. Fort Wayne band Chewy Lucas have beaten the odds by combining synthwave, indie, and alt-rock all into one. 

You can check out what they’ve created with their sophomore album, Surgery for Fun, set to release on streaming services Aug. 25.

Adding members

Comprised of Max Rottenberk (lead singer, keys, and guitar), Jason Peets (bass), Rees Dobbs (lead guitar), Alex Bowling (drums), and Alex Dutton (guitar) Surgery for Fun was made with just Rottenberk, Peets, and Dobbs prior to adding Bowling and Dutton. 

Following a two-year hiatus from live shows, a couple weeks ago they performed at The Ruin and killed it. 

“I was making solo music in college and I was finishing up my album when me and Jason met,” Rottenberk said. “Me and Jason jammed a bit together when he found out I could play drums. 

“Jason and Rees were already making music together under the name Unknown Yesterday, and Jason asked me to join on drums. The direction of the band changed entirely when I joined, so we decided to make it a whole new project completely as Chewy Lucas and we’ve been doing that ever since.” 

Bowling and Dutton joined just a couple months ago, allowing Rottenberk to move out from behind the kit and creating an entirely new sound.

“I don’t really consider the first album really an album. It just feels like a collection of songs with some filler,” Rottenberk said of 2022’s Chewy Lucas & The News. “But it was some songs that were overdue for us to record and we just wanted to move on.” 

Creating album

Listening to their first album compared to the upcoming one is a very different journey. 

“We can’t really stay in one place sonically, because I’m so inspired by too many genres for me to keep writing songs in the same style,” Rottenberk said. “A lot of our EPs and album sound a lot different from each other, and that was something I wanted to keep going. One night I accidentally wrote ‘Tidal Wave’ without thinking about the style, and I was like, ‘Wow, this sounds kinda ’80s. It’s pretty cool.’ That was something I wanted to keep going. But I feel like the sound is pretty poppy but more mature than the first record.” 

Surgery for Fun is heavily influenced by synthwave, while some of their music that is in the works is much heavier. 

“I feel like this is the first album where we’re really doing it right and it feels way more complete,” Rottenberk said. “But we wrote all the songs just sitting in our makeshift studio at our house messing with a lot of virtual synths, which the album is covered head to toe in.

“To be honest, I have no idea what most of these songs mean,” he added. “They have a meaning but even I can’t figure it out yet. They seem more tied to an emotion and a stream of consciousness really finished the rest.”

Although the recently played at The Ruin, the group is still fine-tuning their live sets. 

“We’re gonna try to play some of these songs live, but it’s gonna be hard because we didn’t use any physical gear for most of the instrumentals, besides guitar which is really taking a back seat on this record,” Rottenberk said. “Almost all of the synths were recorded on software which is not easy to replicate live.”

An album worth your time

Chewy Lucas is definitely a genre-bending band. 

Surgery for Fun gives vibes similar to Wallows, Kid Bloom, and Tame Impala, but with a twist that feels like a time machine taking you back to the ’80s at the beginning of synthwave itself. 

I was highly impressed with the production and style this album portrayed. Rottenberk has a standout voice that fits beautifully over these catchy tunes. It feels like the type of album that I would find myself listening to and daydreaming about being a skateboarder that looks like I belong in a coffee shop with thrifted bags in my hands at all times. 

My personal favorite would have to be “I Will Kill You.” The song evokes such a unique emotion and takes you on a wild journey. 

Although some of the songs are on the longer side, not once did I want to skip any or turn the album off. Every song has something so intriguing to it. 

I am very excited to see how this album impacts the band and what fans can look forward to in the future. They are in the process of working with promoters to schedule shows.