Riding in Vans with Boys

Action sports channel Fuel TV has supplanted MTV as the best way for signed and unsigned bands to get international TV exposure. The Daily Habit airs four times a day on Fuel and features interviews with pro skaters and surfers and live sets by signed and unsigned bands. Locals the Night Marchers, the Locust, and Grand Ole Party have appeared on the channel, which is delivered to 25 million U.S. homes and airs in Portugal and Australia.

The show’s crew includes Cardiff’s Chris Cote, the editor of North County-based Transworld Surf magazine. He’s one of Fuel’s fill-in hosts.

“It’s like the Conan O’Brien for the action sports world.” Cote has done work for Fuel for the past two years. He says his connection with the channel has allowed him to get music by local bands Drowning Men, Hot Snakes, and his own band Years Around the Sun used for surf, skate, and ski videos that air on Fuel throughout the day.

Bassist/singer Cote admits his first band, Kut U Up, broke up just as it became world famous, blowing what he says was an opportunity of a lifetime. “We all saw the brass ring, but we were too fucked up to reach out and grab it.”

Because of Cote’s friendship with blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge, Kut U Up was invited to be the opening band for the 2002 Green Day/blink tour that played stadiums and large outdoor venues in 52 U.S. cities. “It was one of the biggest tours of the year,” says Cote. The pay was negligible. “Each member got a per diem for expenses, which we pretty much spent on party supplies,” says Cote. “Nearly every show was sold out.” Locally the tour played to a packed house at Coors Amphitheatre. Resting Bird, a video production company co-owned by DeLonge and blink bassist Mark Hoppus, paid for a video crew to follow Kut U Up. That footage led to the release of a full-length feature, Riding in Vans with Boys. When the DVD was released in 2002, MTV2 featured it in heavy rotation.

“We were playing stadium shows with blink and Green Day. There were chicks backstage. It was rock and roll fantasy camp.… We think about it every day,” says Cote about the band’s failure to capitalize on their big break. “Sometimes it’s painful to go see a good show. There will always be the underlying feeling of regret that that could have been us.”

Part of the problem, admits Cote, was that Kut U Up was supposed to appear in the video as four young guys who liked to party and weren’t supposed to take things too seriously. According to Cote, they followed the script too well.

The video documented their rock star excess, “Like the time we caused $5000 damage to a hotel room. We threw up a lot. And then there was the time I got third-degree burns on my ass when Billy Joe from Green Day branded my ass.

“We were fucked up before the tour, but I would say the tour definitely enabled us.… We developed a fucked-up reputation so that after the tour people didn’t want to work with us. No one was taking us seriously. I think our music was good enough, but we just didn’t take the business side seriously. Right after that tour, we should have set up our own tour.”

Kut U Up played a reunion show at the Belly Up in July. “I think it was the first time we all played together sober.” He says that other reunion shows are in the works.

Cote tapes his next Daily Habit shows December 16. They’ll air on December 30 and 31.

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