Jeff Castelaz career in the music industry started back in the 90’s around the time the grunge movement started stretching itself across the United States – musically and in design. He was a manager, a booking agent, and even had a gig writing for graphic designer David Carson’s Ray Gun Magazine. In 2004, he co-founded Dangerbird Records helping to push acts coming through Los Angeles’s thriving Silver Lake scene. Today Dangerbird’s roster includes Silversun Pickups and the Eagles of Death Metal to name a couple.
But Castelaz’s most important and personal work began while his son, Pablo, fought a difficult battle with pediatric cancer, specifically bilateral Wilm’s Tumor. During the struggle, Castelaz updated the PaBLog, which kept friends, family, and supporters of Pablo’s fight up to date with photos, and news of his treatment. Unfortunately, on June 27th, Pablo’s individual battle with cancer ended, just days after his sixth birthday.
Read the full interview after the click.
The Pablove Foundation was established by Castelaz in memory of Pablo, as a way to improve the lives of children fighting pediatric cancer – on both a national and local level – by supporting activities that bring recreation and fun into the lives of the children.
As a fundraiser for the Pablove Foundation, Castelaz and his close friend, Rick Babington, embarked on “Pablove Across America” – a 30 day, 3000 mile bicycle ride from Florida to California which helped bring dollars and attention to the battle against pediatric cancer. Along the ride, Castelaz was joined by friends, supporters, and former cancer survivors.
“Pablove Across America” ride, which concluded this past Saturday, was topped off with a benefit concert in Los Angeles featuring the likes of Band of Horses, Shirley Manson, and BRMC.
While the “Pablove Across America” ride may have ended, the fight to bring awareness to the cause continues. For Castelaz, the cause is clearly personal and the 3000 mile on the bike may have helped in coping with the loss of his son in some way, but the fight continues for more than 97,000 children today. Pablove will continue to help fight the battle.
We spoke to Jeff Castelaz right before the start of the final leg of the “Pablove Across America” into Los Angeles.
SL: Tell us about how the Pablove Across America ride was conceived…
I originally conceived of this trip during Pablo’s treatment for cancer. At that time, there was no option in my heart but for Pablo to kick the crap out of cancer. My idea for the ride was as a show of strength after he kicked it’s butt.
When Pablo passed away my thought about doing this ride stayed intact though the ethos shifted. [Pablove Across America ride] became a show of strength in a different way for a different reason. Now it’s more to honor his life, carry on his story, his passion and his joy as well as to fly the flag of our foundation, the Pablove Foundation, and give a real voice to the pediatric cancer experience.
SL: How has it been on the road with all the other riders? What did you get from all the different stops on the Pablove ride?
My friend Rick Babington and I are doing this ride every day together and other people have been flying out to join us. But when he and I are riding alone in our Pablove kits … people don’t really see guys on racing bikes… in say rural Louisiana. They usually ask what are you riding for?
And in variably, they stop in their tracks, write down the website, pablove.org or we hand them a postcard. Just the other day outside of Phoenix and there were ten of us – my wife Jo Ann and my son Grady as well – and we gave this gentleman a postcard. It turns out that he did a race across America on a team related to the breast cancer cause.
Later that night, we get to the hotel and this guy sent us a Facebook message which you can see on the website. He said he sent out messages to 700 people urging them to contribute to the Pablove Foundation. That is very typical to how people have been responding in the general public. We have also been visiting pediatric cancer wards with our bikes and talking to the kids. It’s our way of bringing noise to the hospital.
People’s response has been very warm and very positive. When I say to people that kids get cancer too – it’s not somebody else’s problem, they really respond and embrace that statement. People are always being hit up for different charities – and they’re all worthy – but I’m talking about kids and saving a child’s life and a lifetime.
SL: The Pablove ride was an easy sell to the rider’s joining you over 30 days?
Yes, that’s right. We have ten people and picking up more people every day to ride back to LA with us. They’re all personally a part of our story. Cycling is a part of my life. A lot of the guys out here riding with me rode with me before Pablo’s diagnosis.
It’s very personal to them. They’re as pissed off as I am. They are as empty as I am. All these guys have kids. People want to do something to help. I have this thing I said when my brother was fighting cancer – and he lost his battle – that ‘people are good.’ That statement works so many ways for me.
What I am also finding out is that in our Twitter’d out, Facebook world, is that people simply want to be given an opportunity that is turnkey to help out. People are very happy to help out. We see it at our staff at Dangerbird/Pablove as well.
SL: Did you use the Pablove Across America Ride for clarity?
I didn’t want to come home laid up mentally. I had some business to do out here with me, myself, and my soul. And I’m having to come to a place of acceptance. I have wept on my bike more times than I can count. That’s part of what I came out here to do. That thing we all get from riding – that obsessive quest for clarity…
SL: Tell us about starting the Dangerbird label…
My partner Pete Walker and I had been involved in the music industry for years. Pete Walker, is an artist. He had his own record coming out. The thought was if we started Dangerbird, he gets to put out his album, I get to run a label and its pretty awesome. It turns out we’ve done pretty well. We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re not bigger than every other label. We’re just good at what we do and the most important thing is that we’ve created a space for ourselves. We care about what we do. We have a staff of 20 people in 3 different cities and we’re really psyched to go to work every day and loving it.
I gather that this is the same feeling that the people at Aether get from their brand. They’re on the same vibe. They put a lot of care into their clothes. It’s about utility and function. There’s not a lot of fat on it. It’s the same thing about the bike. We’ve been doing back to back centuries for 30 days…. you get up, you get on the bike, you keep shit simple.
When I got turned onto Aether, I instantly recognized that this is some stuff that I want to wear. I’ve been looking for years for the type of jacket I’ve put on. I like products that fit well and come from smart design. And I love the fabric – I’m a geek for the Aether fabric. I didn’t realize this but [Aether] also sold in Mellow Johnny’s in Austin – Lance Amrstrong’s shop. Another connection is that they’re going to start carrying the Pablove kits – my foundation’s clothing is sold next to Aether’s clothing.
Thanks to Jeff for taking the time during his Pablove Across America Ride to speak with us.
Get involved at Pablove.org
Photography by Bryan Sheffield who lives in Los Angeles and shoots everywhere. He is honored to lend his lens in support of the Pablove Foundation.