Chief White Lightning Storms Denver With Lo-Fi Garage Rock

Joshua Logan is Chief White Lightning.
Joshua Logan is Chief White Lightning. Courtesy of the artist
Rock-and-roll fans may not know the name Joshua Logan or be familiar with his Long Beach, California-based band Chief White Lightning, but that doesn’t mean they won’t soon. After more than a decade of struggle, Logan is finally enjoying some professional success.

With the release of his self-titled debut album on July 13 and an upcoming free show at the hi-dive on July 18 as part of his Pinche Summer tour, Logan should have little trouble finding fans among Denver music junkies. His songs vacillate between electric barn burners and soothing lo-fi garage rock.

The album offers a nice blend of howling vocals, indie crooning and gritty rock-and-roll riffs, with just a tinge of blues shining across all nine tracks. “Bleach Blonde Heritage,” “Free Swim” and “City’s Alive” all feel like summer singles ready for immediate consumption.

On top of being one of the largest personalities in most rooms, Logan is a chatty guy, weaving together stories about saving money and buying a touring van, doing drugs and cultivating his friendship with Seth Stone of Denver’s own Dirty Few, with whom he’s toured in the past.

Soon into Logan’s first tour with Dirty Few, Seth and his twin brother, Spencer, affectionately kissed him a handful of times, much to his surprise and delight. Today Logan refers to himself as a “twinless twin” and talks with the Stone brothers often.

Another time in his life, when he was selling weed and endlessly bugging a record-company rep, Logan met another Josh and traded a large nugget of weed for a psychedelic mushroom. A year later, the other Josh was quickly rising to prominence as Father John Misty.

Like so many musicians, Logan has spent the majority of his career balancing multiple jobs and doing whatever he could to stay afloat as he struggled to break through — including going from store to store for eight years selling hummus.

Back in 2016, he was preparing to travel to Portland to record his debut when he was laid off from that job. For a moment, he considered quitting music.

“I had already purchased the tickets to go to Portland to record the album,” says Logan. “It cost a thousand bucks to do it, I had $1,300 to my name in total, and we were flying to another city. I was very close to canceling everything.”

With the help of collaborator and Midnight Stroll instrumentalist Jonas Wilson, Logan stayed the course and recorded the album in three days. After producer Matt Drenik gave it to L.A.-based label El Camino, Logan landed a record deal; the song “City’s Alive” was picked up by Canon for a commercial.

“Just when I think things are about to fall apart, it’s like the Wright brothers or something,” he says. “Just when they thought that plane was going to fall apart, it started to fly.”

These days, Logan tours regularly — and he no longer needs to hold down a day job.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s all gone smoothly; I would just say it worked out, somehow,” he says. “Being a musician — trying to be a successful musician, or just trying to create your art — if you work a job, you have to take time out of your day to work that job, which means you won’t be able to play your instrument, or it’s time out of your day that you’re not able to write.”

With as much time and effort as it’s taken him to get here, Logan is maintaining a level head through the success.

“Realistically, if stuff starts happening for me, I’m going to be modest about it and just be happy to be able to pick up my guitar,” he says. “I’m lucky to even be able to just play my guitar and to get in my van and play sixteen shows in a short period of time. It sounds fucking awesome. I can’t wait.”

Chief White Lightning
With Keef Duster, Wednesday, July 18, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, free, 303-733-0230.
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Ben Wiese is a writer in Denver. He covers music for Westword.
Contact: Ben Wiese