By Jim Schutze
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In an attempt to answer the question of what's wrong with Denton, perhaps we should ask what's right with it. Chris Pickering, member of Denton punk mainstays Teenage Cool Kids and Final Club, also heads up the relatively new outfit Adult Books. Recently, Pickering formed the Dull Tools imprint with former Dentonite and current New York resident Andrew Savage — also a member of Teenage Cool Kids — in order to put out the band's latest album, Denton After Sunset, which Pickering says should be available locally within the next two weeks.
Maybe the most important aspect of his work, however, is playing, booking and organizing shows within the city's punk community. "I care a lot about the DIY punk scene as a whole," says Pickering. "It's still the biggest part of my life, so I'd like to be an advocate to have a good scene."
Lately, he's been booking shows at one of the only regularly active house venues in Denton, the Lion's Den, making him the main proponent of the city's DIY circuit. Other than the cyclical ups and downs of a town like Denton, he credits a lack of seriousness about underground music as a reason why people aren't scrambling to put on house shows.
"A lot of people in Denton just go to house shows like it's a party and they don't care about the bands," he says. "But I don't give a damn about the party crowd who just want to stand around and have a good time."
With 35 Denton coming up in March, Pickering says it can be a boon to the DIY community, as long as the festival organizers encourage the simultaneous house shows that always take place the week before South by Southwest.
"35 Denton is a good thing, and it's bringing decent bands here," he says. "Denton is known all over for having good bands but there's probably lots of people here that don't realize how prolific a scene we have."
On December 30, Final Club is kicking off a tour of the Southeast in support of their latest LP, Blank Entertainment, with a show at the Lion's Den. In fact, 2012 will see Pickering on the road quite often, which he says could end with his departure from Denton.
"I've kind of wanted to leave for a while," he says, "but I think there's definitely merit in sticking around the scene you're in and making it better."