Thursday, 30 September 2010

chapel club

The BBC described them as a band with an "austere appearance" who tell "ominous indie tales". The Guardian ostentatiously noted that their guitars "sound like your mum's hoover eating the electric supply" and a week later said there was "an oddness to them that's refreshing". The Independent  found their debut single, 'Surfacing', "bold, brutal and lyrically captivating" suggesting they're the next "hotly tipped London band". "Mumbled monotone vocals... [from] the look of a man who's just spotted the goblin at the back of the room" is what the London Evening Standard poignantly had to say. Most of these sources have already said, much to the band's categorical denial, that they're the next White Lies. Lewis Bowman, the band's lead singer, revealed in last weeks NME that "there's a melancholia to [their music]... It's the contrast, the dark meeting the light. That's what life's about. Anyone that pegs us as 'gloomy' is missing half of what's there". We say they're East London's very own Chapel Club; the most exciting new band in the country.

Lewis, for whom I am very grateful of, took the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions that have been on my mind. Unsurprisingly, from a man at ease and full of confidence, his answers are honest, witty and erudite.

McMess: I'm sure you've been asked this too many times recently but briefly tell us how you met. Can you remember what your first impressions of each other were? 

Lewis: We all lived in East London and went to similar clubs and parties and stuff. So we just met, as people do, through chance or mutual friends. Mike, who plays guitar, was at the centre of it all – he was like a little spider twitching the threads of this web, drawing everyone in. We all got along really well pretty much on first meeting: we were friends before we were in a band together. My first impressions were probably quite cautious, because it takes me a long time to feel comfortable with anyone new. But I thought the guys were funny, which was the most important thing. We all share a similar sense of humour and because of that we all became close quite quickly.

McMess: What's the story behind the name of the band? Does it have anything to do with a fondness for religious buildings? 

Lewis: Um, I am quite fond of religious buildings I guess, but really it came from a broader interest in religion, religious imagery and religious language. I’m into the poetry of it all. Besides that, we needed a name really badly: we were about to put a single out (or we thought we were). I suggested Chapel Club and it didn’t provoke outrage, so it stuck.

McMess: As a club, if you were to have a sixth band member, how would they be initiated?

Lewis: Wow, I don’t know that I’d like a sixth member. The membership has closed. Five different opinions are easily enough to deal with. If we were to have a sixth member though, the only prerequisite for me would be breasts and a vagina. Not for sexual reasons. I just think six dudes together would be too much. We’d need a girl to stop us regressing completely on the tourbus. I already feel like I’ve devolved about ten years in the past twelve months. The shit that comes out of my mouth in jest nowadays is fucking mental, I’m half-caveman.

McMess: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Lewis: Our musical influences are pretty wide and changing all the time, but there are certain bands that seem to get played/mentioned more than others: My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scott Walker, Arthur Russell. Outside of music, there’s always a lot of talk about films (Dogtooth being the latest that has had us all excited) and books. I’m reading Leviathan by Peter Hoare at the moment, which is incredible, and incredibly sad. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lyrics on the next record see me come over all cetacean. Maybe we’ll call it Blowhole.

McMess: Do your family genuinely enjoy the music you make? Are any of them even better and come along to your gigs?

Lewis: All our families seem pretty into it, yeah. My Mum is like our biggest fan, I have to update her on every bit of news we get and when people criticise the songs, she literally starts talking murder. And she is like the gentlest, most loving woman the rest of the time. But it’s nice to know she has my back. And she comes to all the London shows too, along with most of the rest of my family, so people should be aware of that if they ever think of heckling us.

McMess: Having the likes of Paul Epworth and an old mate of mine, Jamie Ellis, producing your records must be a pretty exciting prospect? How have these two chaps helped to shape your sound?

Lewis: Paul is a bona fide musical genius and working with him was a pleasure. I had no real experience of the process and he made me feel so at home in the studio. He speaks more articulately about what he hears in the music he loves than do most music writers, and his knowledge is too vast for me to get my head around. Mike described him to me perfectly the other day. He said Paul is like a captain during the First World War – he has that rare charm and integrity that would see you go over the top for and with him. I have boundless respect for Paul and how he opened us up to the possibilities in ourselves, as individuals and as a band. Lots of love there.

Jamie is a friend of mine from school days and we met him while working with Paul. He’s kind of just starting out in his career and when we needed to do some B-sides on the quick, we asked if he’d be interested in helping out. So far, everything we’ve done with him – most of which isn’t out there yet – has sounded amazing, and he’s helped us to move on with our sound. So yeah, another great, very talented and lovely guy.

McMess: You're currently out on the prestigious NME Radar Tour, which city or cities are you most excited about playing and which band(s) are you looking forward to meeting on your travels?

Lewis: Well, we’re touring with The Joy Formidable, Flats and Wilder, so I’m looking forward to meeting all of them. We’ve not really toured with anyone before, so it’s about time we made friends with some other bands. As for which cities I’m most looking forward to visiting… wow, that’s tough. It depends on the audiences. I promise to love and adore any of the cities on this tour if the audiences get into the songs and show a little love.
McMess: Are there any bands or artists you're particularly excited about this year?

Lewis: I’m always excited about Deerhunter and anything else Bradford Cox gets involved in; we all are. And I think Flux Pavilion, who just remixed our next single All the Eastern Girls, is doing some pretty amazing stuff. I’m looking forward to hearing Paul Epworth’s solo stuff. And I’m digging Laura Marling and Joanna Newsom – I’d love to see either of them play live if I get the chance. I secretly want to make folk music.

McMess: Exciting new bands, such as yourselves, develop a devoted fanbase pretty quickly. One or two might go a little bit over the top though. Who would be your ideal crazy-fan-who-goes-to-every-gig-and-won't-leave-you-alone?

Lewis: We have some pretty ‘dedicated’ fans already. And we reward them! There’s one guy in Poland who followed us from our earliest days. We sent him free copies of all the singles and stuff like that. I guess my ideal crazy fan would be someone like Werner Herzog. Imagine if he was following you around the world and always hanging out: you’d have some mad interesting conversations but you’d also always be slightly spooked. He’s intense, but with a darkly amusing edge. I’d love to see him sitting backstage talking to other fans, freaking them out with his soft, precise voice. Eventually I hope we’d rope him into doing visuals or directing a video, as if that kind of thing would ever interest him. But generally it’d just be cool to say that the fifty-odd year old German film genius is with us.
McMess: And here comes the typical silly final question (it's a tough one though)... Say you pop into one of those newsagents that sells the full spectrum of chocolate and confectionery. It even sells Walnut Whips. What do you go for?

Lewis: A Picnic. A Picnic has raisins in, so it’s healthier than the other stuff (obviously). I’m more of a savoury man though, if I’m honest.

Wow, I already know that Flux Pavilion remix is going to be big. Lewis and Chapel Club are currently out on the NME Radar Tour so make a note of the following dates and buy the tickets over here:

Tonight - Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Tomorrow - Glasgow King Tuts
2nd Oct - Aberdeen Tunnels
4th Oct - Manchester Academy 3
5th Oct - Newcastle Academy 2
6th Oct - Leeds Cockpit
7th Oct - Stoke Sugarmill
8th Oct - Cardiff Millenium Music Hall
10th Oct - Oxford Academy 2
11th Oct - Brighton Concorde 2 (see you there!)
13th Oct - Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
14th Oct - London Koko

If you're over the pond and really want to see these chaps too then don't worry they'll be over in the east and west coasts on the following dates:

20th Oct - Brooklyn, NY - CMJ Littlefield (night show)
22nd Oct - New York, NY - CMJ Fadar (afternoon show)
22nd Oct - Brooklyn, NY - CMJ Music Hall of Williamsburg (night show)
23rd Oct - New York, NY - CMJ Urban Outfitters (afternoon show)
25th Oct - LA - Spaceland

You can purchase Chapel Club's previous releases: O Maybe I, Five Trees and if you 'like' the band on Facebook then you can get beautiful 'The Shore' for free. Pre-ordering of new single 'All The Eastern Girls' can be done so right here (the first 200 copies will be signed. Mind you, I'm buying all 200 so good luck).

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for future EPs and debut LP.
Here's an electronic remix from Breton to get those arms and legs loose.

Chapel Club - All The Eastern Girls (Breton Remix)


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