Ft. Collins band’s bass player dies on day album debuts
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
Plans for celebration turned achingly somber Tuesday as Tickle Me Pink fans learned that the band’s bass player, Johnny Schou, died at the group’s Fort Collins home on the day its full-length debut album was released nationwide.
The band had played a triumphant set Sunday at the Vans Warped Tour at Invesco Field and was geared up for a coast-to-coast national concert tour and publicity drive for the album Madeline.
Schou, 22, worked for years as an engineer and arranger at Fort Collins’ noted Blasting Room recording complex, putting his mark on albums including Rise Against’s hit The Sufferer and the Witness. He was found in his bed by bandmate Sean Kennedy.
Fort Collins police said they were called at 8:37 a.m. Tuesday to Schou’s home in the 800 block of Wagonwheel Drive.
“A friend of the deceased had found him unconscious and the friend attempted CPR, but the male was pronounced dead at the residence,” said Sgt. Jon Holsten.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
“At this point, there is no reason to suspect that foul play is involved,” said Holsten.
The results of an autopsy Tuesday were inconclusive.
“We don’t have a cause of death,” said Diane Fairman, chief deputy coroner with Larimer County. “Everything is pending.”
Results from microscopic and toxicology tests may not be known for up to six weeks.
“There is no trauma but we don’t know anything else,” said Fairman. “We just have a lot more testing to do. There was nothing that was obvious.”
She also said that the exact time of death has not been pinpointed, except that it was probably early Tuesday morning.
A planned in-store appearance for the band Tuesday at Independent Records on Colfax Avenue in Denver instead became a memorial for the bass player and songwriter.
“It was a big shock,” said Brigette Landon, 16, of Evergreen, who came to the record store. “They had a big concert two days ago – the Warped Tour.”
Landon said she and her friends had talked to Schou at that concert outside Invesco Field.
“He was shy but he would talk to us,” she recalled. “He always had a great attitude and very thankful for the fans.”
She and her mother had originally planned to go camping Tuesday, but canceled those plans to visit the store. “I wanted to pay my respects,” Landon said.
Jakub Retecki, one of the lead managers at Independent Records, said he estimated more than 100 fans had come to the store to pay tribute to Schou on Tuesday and to snap up the new album.
“People had been calling all week – the CD was pretty well anticipated,” he said, adding that at least 79 of the new CDs were sold Tuesday.
A memorial was set up on the small red stage in the back of the store where the band was originally scheduled to play.
Fans had piled bouquets of roses, carnations and daisies in front of a photo of Schou that was displayed on a stand, under a sign that read: “Johnny will still dance!”
Listeners to radio station KTCL-FM (93.3) called in with sorrow after the station broke the news, waiting several hours to allow Schou’s parents to be notified first.
“It’s just an amazing, bitter irony that it’s the day their CD came out nationally,” said Jeb “Nerf” Freedman, program director for the station. The band rose to prominence in the station’s Hometown for the Holidays contest in 2006, and KTCL put the single Typical in heavy rotation.
The 2006 contest ended with a concert during the holiday blizzards.
“There were, like, five people there,” Nerf said. “They still played and absolutely shredded. I was so blown away by their performance I bought all their EPs.”
At the Warped Tour, the band played to a big crowd and sold out all copies of its new CD and most of its T-shirts.
“Johnny was an incredibly nice and talented young man that was poised for stardom. He will be extremely missed by his family, band and friends,” said close friend Scoo Leary of Fort Collins’ Aggie Theatre, a venue where the band got its start and had its biggest triumphs.
“This is an absolute pity. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who hold him in their hearts.”
Formed in 2005, the band is signed to Wind Up Records, home of Grammy-winners Evanescence and other alternative bands.