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Stage Buzz: Signal The Launch at House of Blues

| January 6, 2020


Signal The Launch (photo by Zach Spangler)

The members of the Chicago power trio Signal the Launch share a strong musical bond. The Lane Tech College Prep and Rolling Meadows High School graduates — brothers Mariusz (guitars/vocals) and Dan Owczarczak (bass), and Kevin Karpa (drums) — formed the band in 2016 after a life-altering incident that happened to Mariusz while driving down Lake Shore Drive.

A minivan cut off his Ford Bronco, causing him to slam on his brakes, which dislodged the tie rod on the truck, sending him flip-flopping all over the road. The vehicle then rolled three times, seriously injuring Mariusz.

Before the accident, the three were on a musical hiatus, but Mariusz always had it in the back of his mind that maybe one day they would resume playing together again. Well, that one day finally came to fruition soon after his accident as the three musicians reacquainted themselves, and Signal the Launch was born.

The band has crafted an intriguing blues-based melodic rock sound, which snuggly fits in with Chicago’s vast musical culture. On the ecently released two-track EP Dance Like A Vampire — recorded by famed Nirvana producer Steve Albini — the group gets the chance to show off its unique and diverse brand of rock and roll.

“We wanted to show with this initial EP the wide range of musical influences that bound us,” Dan said. “If it wasn’t for the Chicago blues, I don’t think we’d be musicians, because it offered us an opportunity to know that people could pick up an instrument and play whatever they love. We were inspired to take that step.”

Recorded at Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios near the band’s Music Factory rehearsal space in the Avondale neighborhood, the band felt right at home during the recording process.  “Going into the studio with Albini was something of a comfort zone, having him in our own backyard,” Dan said. “[We were] a little nervous at first, just because you have a phenomenal name and studio. But he’s just extremely easy to work with, and he created a relaxed environment. We wanted a nice, happy sound, and we knew that from our research and that experience listening to the albums that he created, that he would provide that.”

While attending Columbia College, Mariusz and Kevin formed their previous outfit, Balloonatic, which had minor success on the local circuit, with Dan joining the band at the tail end of its run.  When deciding on the band’s name, the members thought it best represented a new arrival, a new identity, resulting in a new “launch.”

Being family as well as band members, it’s inevitable that arguments can brew at any time. “Yeah, we’ll fight like brothers, but we’ll also forgive each other,” Mariusz said. “We know that what’s binding us or gluing us together is the music and the attraction to creating something out of nothing.”

“The yelling and potential fist fights are always for a common goal, to succeed and take it to that next level,” Dan agreed. “If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t get to that level. I don’t know if there’s ever been a band who’s always polite to each other.”

One thing is clear though, the love for the music and the band’s chemistry always wins in the end.  “There is a chemistry that we have, it’s very cerebral,” Mariusz reiterated. “It’s very organic when we create songs and come up with ideas. I went to high school with Kev, and I know him just as much as he knows me. My brother has, unfortunately, had to grow up with me being the younger brother. It’s a family; it’s like you had no choice. We’re very close.”

After receiving positive feedback on their Dance Like A Vampire EP, the band plans to re-enter the studio with Albini in January to record two new tracks.  “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to use Steve as often as we have on the last few songs and these two (new) songs,” Dan admitted. “We have four solid songs that we chose to be the four singles that represent us. I think that our next step is going to be to create a cool vinyl EP and have a tangible product that we could fully release and start shopping around to agents, labels, and managers.”

As a relatively new band, Signal the Launch hasn’t had very many opportunities to play live. However, more gigs and Chicago area festival dates are in the band’s sights. One concert already on the books will be at House of Blues on January 9th.

“The goal is to continue growing our fan base on social media,” Dan said. “We want to get more people to follow us and come out to the shows. It’s basically trying to grow the audience and get outside of the city area.”  Signal the Launch are ready for takeoff in 2020. For more information on the band, visit
Appearing January 9 at House of Blues Chicago

-Kelley Simms

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