The last 24 hours have been unimaginably heartbreaking for friends and fans of Jon Bunch, former frontman for classic ’90s emo band Sense Field, and Further Seems Forever who was found dead at age 45. No immediate details about his cause of death are known at this time, the OC Coroner confirms his body was found at a residence in Irvine on Monday. At the time of his death, Bunch lived in Long Beach and was a well loved and respected staple of both the OC and South Bay music scenes. Most recently, he’d formed a new band called Lucky Scars that had just released a debut EP, Rock and Roll Party Foul, on Spartan Records last December.
His death also devastated his current bandmates who had just been prepared to rehearse on Monday with Bunch (who was going by his stage name Johnny Scars) in preparation for a show at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach on Feb. 20, Punk Rock Karaoke with Des and the Cendents.
“He was all excited about band practice, he couldn’t wait,” says Lucky Scars bassist Eric Bootow (who also plays in OC band Sederra). Bootow says he found out practice was cancelled minutes before the band was scheduled to meet up, the rest of the band was unable to locate Bunch. Knowing how professional Bunch always was when it came to his career, it seemed very out of character for him. “He was like a kid on Christmas about jamming together, this show was so important to him,” Bootow says. “Jon was the nicest and most positive dude I’ve met in years, I don’t know what the fuck happened. We’re all trying to find out.”
Video of Bunch practicing with Lucky Scars prior to his death has also surfaced on Facebook.
Club owner Alex Hernandez of Alex’s Bar says he saw Bunch last Friday night during the bar’s 16th Anniversary show with OFF! He was handing out fliers for the Lucky Scars show. “I was joking with him about how he was pushing his band old school by handing out fliers. No one does it like that anymore,” Hernandez says. “He was just really pumped to be playing here. He was his normal, happy, jovial self.”
Bunch co-founded Sense Field in 1991 after singing in the L.A. hardcore punk band Reason to Believe from 1986 to 1990. Sense Field released five albums over 13 years, three of which were on Huntington Beach label Revelation Records. Following a nightmare relationship with Warner Bros. records (their first major label deal), the band saw its greatest mainstream success with the single “Save Yourself” from the 2001 album Tonight and Forever.
In 2004 Sense Field disbanded and that same year Bunch joined the Florida-based Further Seems Forever as the group’s third lead singer, recording the album Hide Nothing with them. He stayed in Further Seems Forever until 2006 when the band broke up. Bunch also fronted noted rock band War Generation which was signed to Rise Records. Bunch is also remembered for fronting the band Ignite in the Summer of 2012 in the absence of singer Zoli Teglas.
News of his death spread quickly over social media as countless bands from Death By Stereo to Jimmy Eat World took to Twitter and Facebook posting waves of heart broken messages about their late friend. As anyone who knew Bunch can attest, the bands he fronted, especially Sense Field, had a huge impact on a wide range of artists who held the their impassioned and eclectic rock close to their heart.
“Sense Field was such a weird and unique band they always did their own thing but all these different bands just loved them,” Bootow says. “All these different genres and people just respected what they did.”
“We’re shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Sense Field’s Jon Bunch,” Revelation Records tweeted yesterday. “He will be greatly missed.”
Though he’d certainly gone through the music industry wringer over the years, Bunch’s optimistic character allowed him to keep creating inspired art for art’s sake. In an interview with former Weekly scribe Rich Kane in 2000, Bunch relives some of the turmoil Sense Field faced as their troubles with their major label deal at Warner Bros. went south and held the band and their recordings hostage for about four years. Though he had every reason to become jaded and bitter, he chose to subscribe to a more zen-like outlook that ultimately made him the kind of grounded, hardworking rock star that people respected.
“We don’t want this to become our story,” Bunch makes clear [about Sense Field’s past ordeals]. “We don’t really want to dwell on it, either. I mean, every one of my friends’ bands have been dropped at some point—Samiam, Shudder to Think, Sick of It All, Rocket From the Crypt and Jawbox. We want to move forward and just hope that people will be patient and ride out the storm with us.”
We’ll keep you updated with more information on this tragic story as it develops…
[Update: Feb. 3, 1:15 p.m.]
Bunch’s girlfriend Angelique Flores tells the Weekly the last time she saw him was Sunday morning before leaving for work. They’d texted back and forth throughout the day, but that evening Bunch did not return home. Authorities believe he died sometime Sunday night.
He was also preparing to record new music and plan tours with Lucky Scars. His dream was to tour Europe again like he’d done in the past with Sense Field and to tour South America with his new music. Bunch was also planning to get back in the studio to have the band record with producer Jim Monroe.
“He was one of a kind, so sweet and gentle and sensitive and kind and thoughtful and it’s amazing to read so many messages from people contacting me who never even met him in person but corresponded with him and were so touched by him,” Flores says. “He always helped people, anyone in need…It’s heart breaking, they had new songs that they were going to play at the show [at Alex’s Bar]. It’s heartbreaking that we’ll never get to see that and see more of what he did because we knew it was going to be great.”
As of now a funeral and public memorial and/or tribute show for Bunch are in the planning stages but more details on it will be available soon.
[Update: Feb. 5, 8:30 a.m.]
On Thursday a gofundme.com campaign to raise money for Bunch’s son Jack was set up to help with the boy’s college fund. In less than 24 hours, it’s received over $11,000 in donations. According Casey Jones, a long time friend of Bunch who set up the gofundme page, benefit shows are in the works to be held in SoCal and possibly one in tandem somewhere on the east coast. “The response from bands wanting to reunite and play it has been jaw-dropping,” Jones says. “We are also working on a Bunch covers project, which would hopefully provide continued support as time moves on.”
[Update: Feb. 8, 7:30 a.m.]
The information on the public viewing, funeral and memorial for Bunch is as follows:
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Viewing at the Church of the Recessional from 6:00 – 9:00pm
1712 S. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, CA 91205
Follow the white (not yellow) reflectors in the road to the church
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Service at the Church of the Recessional at 10:45am
Doors open at 10:15am
1712 S. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, CA 91205
Indoor seating capacity: 150
Outdoor seating/standing capacity: 200
Burial to follow immediately after service
Memorial following the burial
1154 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
EchoPlex capacity: 600
Valet parking available at $10 per car