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The best kept secret in music


"My Space Foreign Band Account"

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

MySpace Foreign band of the day: Variation - By N.L. Belardes
Dare I say the phrase ‘Nor-Cal’ here in Central Cal so close to So-Cal? I did with Aroarah who I had a fun phone interview with. So why not again? Believe it or not I was born in San Jose, California, so just maybe I have an affinity for the northern lands. I even saw Wilco not long ago at the San Jose Theatre for Performing Arts. So I enjoy the northern climes… Enter Variation, Nor-Cal band out of Stockton who I heard of by way of a historic Filthies/Dalloways show at Club Fred in Fresno, a show that spirited me to even want to write about bands outside of Bakersfield, CA. These guys even have a manager. You don’t’ see that so much these days. At least I don’t.

The Jazz-funk-hardcore transition-filled grooves of Variation are first evident through the drumming in their song Déjà vu. I’m liking the percussion here, which along with the bass carry the weight of the song. The song picks up even more power in the melodic bass and then in riffs of distortion that comes in waves. Take the bass transition for example. It has a strong weight in the mix, stronger than the guitars. It powers the song through its atmospheric jazz-rock mix. The vocals add to the mix and are a strong blend to Variation's fusion-mix. I do have to say I hate such karmaic moments as this song suggests: “Now I’m scared because I know…I’m stuck inside my Déjà vu.” Haven't we all been there?

“It’s the way we all consume everything they selling us…” comes the ethereal lyrics of Poisoning the World, a song that quickly fills your ears with melodic bass, drifting melodic guitar work, and anti-corporate lines that lend to the need to cleanse our identities of the mainstream world around us. I enjoyed the jazzy distorted sounds of Dave Serrano whose guitars ranges from melodic to hardcore jazz and rock riffs. Bassist Chad Tondee had my ears glued to the speakers in both their MySpace songs, as did drummer Matt Anderson who their site says “Answers the phone like a jerk.” Those egoist drummers. I love the bass… I’ve spun both songs six times each just write to this point—you gotta love the music. Yes, their bassist tears through Poisoning the World which is worth the listen. Singer Zach Cantu reminds me a bit of Joey from Seven to the Right: he’s a crooner who probably hugs his microphone as tight as he does the hot ladies. (Just kidding Joey). Yes, Variation is worth a listen. Do a little networking to spread your songs to these guys and vice versa.
- Nick Belardes

"Music Roundup"

Local Variation?
Stockton Progressive band Variatiom is in Fresno so much that it should be considered another of our local bands. In recent months, the band has been featured in Fresno Magazine, on KFSR, FM 90.7, at Vintage Days and Fulton Plaza Thursdays, and has shared stages with acts such as The Same Shape and Flight 409. That's enough to earn honorary citizenship, don't you think? This weekend, the band is back in town spreading its name around Fresno once again. This morning, they're performing live on KMPH's "Great Day" morning show, appearing on the Sound Pollution local musicpodcast ( and closing things out with a live gig. Variation plaus at 9 p.m. today at The Shop, 3366 W. Sussex Way. Also performing are 10 Shot and Wooty. Tickets cost $3. For more information on Variation, or to check out their music, go to
-Mike Osegueda - The Fresno Bee

"In The Mix"

Variation is a progressive rock band with a purpose. They have hit the music scene with a genuine message that brings listeners an intoxicating feeling of serenity through their positive lyrics and captivating melodies that they produce.
The Bands members, Zach Cantu (vocals), Danny Marks (Guitars), Chad Tondee (bass), and Matt Anderson (drums), all from Stockton, are blazing onto the music scene with their self titled CD, "Variation."
Unsigned, yet managed by Abundant Entertainment Management out of Fresno. Variation is ready to take it to the next level. Although new to the music scene (they have been around since Dec. 2003), they have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. From playing with bands that are well known, to mesmerizing the crowds, they made it to the final round as a favorite to win the "Battle of the Bands" competition in Stockton. Finding influences from bands such as Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, these very impressive musicians produce a sound that can be described as emotional, technical, and melodic. If they keep going like they are now, there is no limit to what Variation can accomplishand no stage that would turn them away. Look for Variation's performances in Stockton and Fresno. They will also be adding hollywood to their tour soon. Their CD can be found in Tower Records in Stockton and soon to be in stock at Tower Records in Fresno. You can also check out their website at for updated shows and album availability.
-Dustin Ward - Fresno Magazine


1) Variation EP - 5 songs (April, 2005)

2) Radio Play - 2005
- "Poisoning the World" KFSR (90.7), KLAS (89.7)
- "Deja Vu" KFSR (90.7), KLAS (89.7)

3) "All We Have" - Single (December, 2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy



Matthew David Anderson (Drums) was born June 24, 1984. Coming from a musical family where both his mother and father were musicians, he was exposed to many different musical styles: classical, jazz, funk and rock. Hearing his father, who later became his first teacher, practice was his biggest inspiration for drumming. His first ensemble performance was with his fifth grade school band where he played the snare drum. By summer of seventh grade, he was hooked on playing his father's full Ludwig kit. In high school, Matt studied guitar, as well as the drums, from his teacher Brian Kendrick, an excellent drummer, musical director, and college instructor. He studied with Brian for about two and a half years and continued to build his skills playing with his church youth group, as well as his first rock band, Cotton. While playing shows with Cotton, he met Chad Tondee and later formed Variation. Playing with Variation has by far been his best project, and he finds it to be a privilege to work with other great musicians who share the same musical ideas and life influences. He hopes to explore new areas of music with Variation and to express their ideas throughout the world.

Zacharie Shane Cantu (Vocals) was born April 15, 1985. Zach expressed an early love for music, yet he did not begin exploring the world of singing until the age of 17. Roughly one year later, he released his first solo acoustic demo and shortly thereafter learned that Variation was looking for a lead vocalist. Uninterested in singing for a band, he put off trying out until friends gave his number to Chad Tondee, the bassist of the band. Chad contacted Zach, who planned on leaving for the Air Force in December 2003, and asked him to try out for the vocalist position. Amazed by the style and skill level of the band, Zach decided to pursue a singing career with Variation and decided not to go into the Air Force. Zach has matured musically and recognizes Jack Johnson of Hawaii as a major singing influence. He enjoys using words and melodies as a form of innermost expression and release while conveying a positive, inspirational message. He also looks forward to a bright future with his musical career.

Danny Marks (Guitar) was born August 28, 1986. Danny was exposed to music at a young age. Neither of his parents played instruments, but both had an extreme love and appreciation for music, which sparked Danny’s curiosity. While in the sixth grade Danny realized that he wanted to play an instrument, and his first choice was the guitar. By the middle of eighth grade, Danny began lessons with Ritchie Riojas, a profound guitarist. After a few years of practice under his belt, Danny felt it was time to join a band. After four years of searching for musicians that were sincerely dedicated to their music, he received an unexpected call from Chad Tondee asking if he would like to try out for Variation. After a few jam sessions with them Danny realized that Variation was precisely what he had been looking for: three guys that reflected his qualities of being dedicated, open-minded, passionate, and talented in their art form.

Chad Tondee (Bass) was born December 1, 1984. With the taste of music already on his lips, a young Chad at the age of nine decided that music should be the positive addiction that consumed his life. Starting with violin because he was far too small to play upright bass, Chad quickly moved on to the brass family. A year later, he picked up the electric bass after being inspired by bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Prodigy, and Chemical Brothers. Chad then found a new style of bass playing that he could call his own. After years of study with the great Jerry Jordan and half a decade worth of jazz bands under his belt, Chad felt it was time to search for the best musicians he could possibly find to create a band whose sound would be fresh, new, and innovative. Amazingly, he found them all in his hometown in Northern California and now they are known as Variation.


With a desire to change what the majority of other musicians were trying to sound like, bassist Chad Tondee and drummer Matthew Anderson started creating music in Northern California in July of 2002. After trying out various vocalists and guitarists, they added Zach Cantu as lead singer and Danny Marks as guitarist to the cutting-edge, progressive rock band known as Variation. Variation has been performing at Battle of the Bands, Clubs, Colleges, and High Schools throughout California since the fall of 2002.

They have been recognized for their outstanding musicianship by newspapers, magazines, TV stations, and radio stations throughout California and even as far as Ghana, West Africa. They have already played shows with other independent groups like The Apex Theory, Echocast, Mynis, A Burning Water, Five Minute Ride, and Revolution Smile. Having influences such as Tool, Deftones, Esthero, The Roots, Pink Floyd, and Rush, Variat