With this column, we seek to give a behind-the-scenes look of a band we like. We banter with them for awhile, hand them a digital camera, and let them fly free. Each installment includes a free mp3 download, a love of conversational tangents, and, hopefully, a view of the musicians that you wouldn’t get just from their discography.
Conversation and terrible live photo by Caitlin Caven
Who they are: A Chicago-based melodic rock outfit consisting of Josh Chicoine (vocals/guitar), Robert Hicks (vocals/guitar), Joey King (vocals/bass), Steve Versaw (drums), and Glenn Rischke (keyboards).
Album: "Real Close Ones", available now. Their last album, “Future Women”, came out two years ago. Because of the time off in between, they’re essentially starting over. They just got back from an extensive tour with Centro-matic.
Interviewee: Josh Chicoine, aka this guy:
Anatomy of a song: the story behind "Big Sound":
"I had a chord progression that I was trying to work off of for a really, really long time. Like over a year. And everything I did [with this one chord progression] sounded like the New Pornographers. …
It was a weird transition period The M’s were in, where we were taking time off, not really getting together. I was hanging out in my house, trying to figure out what to do with this chord progression, and I had a piano and this crappy organ. So one day I just recorded “Big Sound.” …I ended up recording it on this shitty old digital recorder in my house. Really badly. …Because it was just me, and I’m a bad, bad engineer. So basically, I had one mic and I just started aiming it around the room at all these different instruments I had. And it’s actually on the record because it’s so bad—like if you listen to the song, and actually listen to the parts, there are so many fuck-ups in them.
Like the piano part that I played—it is fucked up. There are so many mistakes! It’s just a lot of one-take shit. …A lot of those mistakes are hidden [in the mix]…Like if you really listen to the song, especially the bass part, it’s so bad—it’s so badly played that it makes sense within the whole. So we were trying to re-do the bass part, re-do the piano part, re-do the organ, re-do all this stuff, and each time we tried to fix it, it sucked because it was too good. So the only way the song worked because of the collective shittiness of it."
What’s next: “[We're] Going to be doing an EP split with this band, TV Pow. TV Pow is an experimental noise group; they’re good friends of ours. And we’ve always sort of batted around the idea of doing something together. Whereas we are melodic pop, they’re like 5.1 surround sound shit. So we’re very interested to see what’s gonna come around because of that." In September, October, and November they will be touring and promoting "Real Close Ones".
Fun fact (possibly divulged as a result of many beers consumed): Josh used to be a breakdancer as a kid in the early ‘80s.
Josh: “Yeah, I was the shit. We got all the girls. [Laughs.] It was awesome…I was a very huge deal in 6th grade.”
Soundcheck Magazine: Did the bubble burst?
Josh: “Yeah, with a vengeance.”
Accidentally inspirational tale: "I have a cousin who’s my god-son. He’s always been a really unique guy. Like even when he was really small, he had an advanced vocabulary…and he would have opinions, and they were very strong opinions...Anyway, they came over for Thanksgiving, and my folks had a piano, and he had taken some piano lessons and wanted to put on a concert. At that time, he was about three. He wasn’t good by any means—but he was still learning. But he wanted to put on a concert. I thought that was most impressive. He didn’t feign in front of an audience…It was a big meal, and he wanted to have a concert… So, I was the musician of the family, so of course I had to practice with him and make a concert.
We had a little rehearsal before dinner—the concert was going to be after dinner--… We’re going through this, and, you know, he sucked. He sucked. He wasn’t good. You’ve heard of the three-year-old prodigy? No. No, this guy—his name is Trevor—not good. Very bad.
And he’s going along, and I asked him, like, 'You know, Trev? You sure you want to have a concert? Is this a good idea?' And I didn’t mean to shoot him down completely, but just to let him know—I mean, he’s three, for god’s sake. Come on … 'Wouldn’t you rather do something else?' I just wanted to make sure. I wanted to test him.
And he shot back—this three-year-old-- 'You know, Josh. They don’t hear mistakes. They just hear music.' (Pause. Smiles wryly.) And I bring it with me all the time."