Brook Thompson is a busy man. The Cal Poly alumnus is the lead singer and guitar player for local punk group The Mighty Fine, who will perform tonight at SLO Brewing Co. (SLO Brew).
The band is touring now, but between road trips, Thompson finds the time to hold down a full-time winery job, write and record a new album and promote the band.
“Always challenging yourself is something I’ve always done, in bands and in school,” Thompson said. “You grow from those experiences.”
Thompson and his band know a thing or two about challenges.
Originally from Templeton, Calif., he entered Cal Poly as an electrical engineering (EE) major to try and master the art of designing guitar amps.
“Thirty seconds into my first EE lab, I realized I wouldn’t get through it,” Thompson said.
He switched into agricultural business and minored in viticulture. Thompson now works at Claiborne and Churchill Winery in Edna Valley as a wine club and shipping manager, though music has played a constant role in his life.
His musical career started in a ninth grade garage band.
Currently, he is the last member of the original The Mighty Fine line-up, which includes Mike Castillo on bass and vocals and Chris Scott on drums.
Thompson never even thought he could sing.
“At first I was tone deaf, and sang about these generalized, non-interesting themes,” Thompson said. “My family on both sides has no talent for singing, and it’s an ongoing progression to find my voice.”
Thompson has been compared vocally to everyone from Joe Strummer to Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.
“Every boy’s dream is to be a rock star, but that’s when you don’t know what it takes,” Thompson said. “Not until you’ve worked your ass off.”
Through the years, the band’s sound changed from a bluegrass influenced brand of punk to the more cohesive sound heard on their second album, “In Revival,” which will soon be pressed on vinyl.
“When I was starting to write, I never wanted to limit myself to specific genres,” Thompson said. “A lot of songs on our first record (‘Bad Timing for Everything’) we never played live. We just recorded that album, and it ended up kind of schizophrenic. Our first tour was in June 2010, and we found that people resonated with the punk, fast styling a little more.”
The band was signed to Solidarity Recordings at the end of 2010, and Beartrap PR in December 2011. Chuck Daley, who works for Beatrap, has been an indie rock publicist for more than 10 years.
“They’re good guys,” Daley said. “My goal is to work with bands I like that are made up of solid people.”
The Mighty Fine have a new California tour underway, but the band’s motivation comes strictly from music.
“The money’s not important,” Thompson said. “It’s important that people come out to see us. We try and make sure that kids have something to take home. Even if there are five people there, I’m cherishing that moment that people are there to listen. You can’t quantify that.”
SLO Brew is where the band got its start. Its first show with New Tomorrow was at the bar, and the band performed again at the venue with Against Me! in 2010.
“The Against Me! show was one of the hugest things,” Thompson said. “If our band ended tonight, I’d have gotten to play with one of my favorite bands, even if it was only for one night.”
Punk fans in San Luis Obispo are excited about the upcoming performance.
“Yeah, I’d absolutely go see them,” San Luis Obispo resident Matt Cupp said. “I love punk music — I’ve been a fan since Green Day.”
The Mighty Fine perform at SLO Brew tonight at 7 p.m. with bands New Tomorrow, French Exit and Civil War Rust. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.