Photo Credit: Frenchie’s Reviews
This interview took place on Saturday 20th July. Chip had been at the Merch stall chatting to fans, hymning the praises of Khanate and genuinely being A Lovely Fella before I came and spirited him away to a quiet seated area for this..chat? (Thanks to Lauren at Rarely Unable who got us together)
How’s it going?
It’s going great man..we did two weeks with Full of Hell and then started, like four days ago, just us.
Funnily enough the first time I saw you was with Full of Hell at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester.
TB – Was that the fancy looking spot? It looked fancy. That was a fun show.
I brought a friend who’s a Joy Division fan and didn’t know your stuff and he was just staggered.
(Laughs) And they let us be loud at that show. There are venues here that the db limit is insanely low. I know bands here that would crush this limit in one second. It’s like how do they play?
How’s life on the Road. How’s that van? (4 years ago you could chip in and help them get a van)
We got that van, it ruled, felt like a king, it blew up. Got another one. We’re on a second van. We realized that Sprinters are not a good utility vehicle for America. Mercedes. Every time it breaks it’s like 2 grand, 2 grand. That’s the cost of a used van.
How are you finding the economics of touring now? is it essential to be on the road?
As an artist, playing music, being on the road is the only way we make money anymore. Record royalties aren’t what they used to be in terms of the whole industry so without that, touring and merchandise, it’s like crazy. Our band is an advertisement for a t-shirt business. We buy records from the label at cost and sell them. We get royalties that way. It’s not like 20 years ago. Bands can make royalties, but I feel that if you’re not touring then it’s not sustainable, not to say that money is the only reason to make music.
How has the nature of touring changed? is it still ground warfare? Going after hearts and minds?
There’s always an element of that, but also since that’s the way we make a living with music, it’s like there’s also that aspect where you’re trying to not let it feel like a job, cos, y’know who wants a fucking job? It’s gotten easier over the years. This is our 20th year as a band and so it’s like 5-7 years ago the touring got easier. We’ve got a nice Booking Agent that we love and he knows how we operate, so he’s great for us.
What’s the difference between touring the US and touring continental Europe? Have you toured Asia?
Where did you go?
The big cities. I love Tokyo. I love Osaka. You like food?
You’ll like Osaka.They call it the Kitchen of Japan. It has more restaurants per capita. They are all good. Didn’t have one bad meal. I love it. It takes me out, there are elements of familiarity, even passing through the UK, the cultural stuff. In Japan, it’s different. You don’t have those similarities. This tour, this is the newest place I’ve been. I’ve not been to Birmingham before. This is our first Supersonic. We get one night here then we’re off to Glasgow or Sheffield. It’s not far. I can get some sausage rolls, you know, all the English greats.
I love sausage rolls.
They are so fucking good.
(There then followed a minutes discussion of why sausage rolls haven’t taken off in the US)
With the new album, how do you go about creating this complex music?
It’s funny because the way we write has almost become more simple. We’ll start with an idea, or Lee will write a percussion spot and we’ll start working on it and we work with it as we build it, instead of coming to the table with everything hashed out. When we ask people to help out , like Chrissy (Wolpert), it’s like “What do you want to do here?” and work it out together. Only with horns and strings have we used people we didn’t know first hand, but they were people who’d worked with friends.
Do you write with your friends in mind? To have that palette to work from?
I think it is now, but we don’t necessarily plan for it in every instance. It depends where the song is going. I feel like we have such a good group of friends that are musical and we can say “Hey, do you want to do something? Do you want to record a vocal?” It’s how we get Mike from Uniform or Kristin from Lingua Ignota.
I’ve not heard “Caligula” yet.
It’s a fucking killer. I think it was released yesterday. I had heard an earlier version of it that she sent, but she went back in and added more and when we heard the newer version, because Lee played drums on it, it was next level. She’s killing it.
Do you feel she shares the same worldview as you?
She has aspects of her life that I will never understand because those things won’t ever be a problem for me, so on that level, no, but I think we’re close enough so that doesn’t have to be a division or anything. She has our full support and full love. We toured together last year for 8 weeks and you couldn’t do that with someone you didn’t have similarities or connections with. It’s more like family than friends. Us, Uniform, Full of Hell, folks in Providence, Ben from Sandworm. We’ll do anything for each other.
What do you listen to?
I like noisy shit. Harsh noise wall. Ben from Sandworm and Connor who’s in the band with him are doing some amazing stuff. They have like 3 different projects. Cassette only releases. They are tearing it up.
I love some pop music. I like old Country. Judas Priest are still my favorite.
Erm…”Sin After Sin”, “Rock-a-Rolla”. They’ve done no wrong.
What’s the future hold?
Probably more of this. Try to make our set better. Learn how to play our newer songs. We can’t play the new stuff yet, we’re technologically behind, we’ve got a machine to help us with that, kind of multi-tracking, a sampler. When we write stuff we can hopefully write and learn to play it at the same time as some of the stuff is so layered it would take six people to perform. Two tours ago it was all electronic. We had a sampler and I played a synthesizer version of my guitar which used a keyboard controller which I felt was way gnarlier and the way I wanted my guitar to sound, but we got comments in the US like (sarcastic tone) “Nice DJ set” and I’m like get a fucking life, y’know? I could play 3 guitars at the same time with this set up and they all sound better, so that’s the way we think we’ll be looking to go.