Jeff Castelaz heads home for Pablove Foundation benefit concert
After losing his son to cancer, the Milwaukee native turns to activism
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Before moving to Los Angeles and co-founding Dangerbird Records, Jeff Castelaz was an integral part of Milwaukee’s thriving mid-’90s music scene, managing not just Citizen King, but also The Gufs, The Promise Ring, and Willy Porter. But while Dangerbird—home of Silversun Pickups and Sea Wolf—has proven to be a successful venture for Castelaz, the recent loss of his 6-year-old son, Pablo, to cancer inspired a different calling for the Milwaukee native. Castelaz originally started the Pablove Foundation to help fund the near-bankrupt playgrounds at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, but after Pablo’s death Castelaz organized the “Pablove Across America” bike ride to raise money for families dealing with cancer, peddling 3,000 miles from St. Augustine, Florida to Los Angeles—sometimes sharing the road with fellow cancer activist Lance Armstrong. Castelaz makes his return to Milwaukee for a Pablove Benefit concert at Tuner Hall Saturday Jan. 23 to help raise funds for pediatric cancer.
The A.V. Club: Now that the cross-country ride is over, what’s next for the Pablove Foundation?
Jeff Castelaz: This has all happened very quickly for us. We had intended for our story to turn out differently—for Pablo to have kicked the crap out of cancer. He didn't make it, so we spent part of our time of grieving, building our foundation. I think we need to bulk up our board of directors to help us carry out our mission. The next actual bit of business is to figure out what programs, research, and treatment in the child life area that we want to support.
AVC: Has there been any talk about making it an annual event?
JC: Yeah, we're actually going to do that. I don't know if I want to ride across America [the same] way. I might ride from Vancouver to L.A. next year. It might be three weeks as opposed to six weeks, but yes, we are going to do a cycling event every year where we can visit communities and hospitals. It's a hell of a lot of fun to go to different cities and meet cancer kids and cancer families and have them feeling, “Wow, you've just biked 3,000 miles and you’re here hanging out with me.”
AVC: How did the Pablove benefit show in Milwaukee come about?
JC: Well, I'm from Milwaukee. I guess because of whatever notoriety I have, as a guy who manages rock bands and owns a label, we were able to drum up a lot of support for what we were doing in a very organic way. My friends back in Milwaukee, many of them who knew Pablo, basically at some point said, “Listen, we want to do something to get involved.” My friend e-mailed and said, “Hey, a bunch of us came up with this idea to throw Pablo a concert in Milwaukee, would you guys be cool with that?” Of course we would, so all the bands on the bill are old friends. There are a couple of newer bands, younger people that I don't know, but I haven't been there in 10 years.
AVC: The Milwaukee band Jaill was recently signed to Sub Pop Records. Does Dangerbird have any interest in signing Milwaukee bands?
JC: Yeah, of course, I would love to, almost to a fault. [Laughs.] I just haven't heard any bands that have excited me as much as Jaill has excited Sub Pop. In fact, I had never heard of that band. I'm looking them up online as we speak. Yep, here they are. That really bums me out—I wish I had known.