Line-up: Lewis Bowman (vocals), Michael Hibbert (guitar & keys), Alexander Parry (guitar), Liam Arklie (bass), Richard Mitchell (drums).
Origin: Dalston, London.
Vibe: Melancholy, heartache and religious imagery.
Influences: Sonic Youth, Simon & Garfunkel, Jay-Z, Chet Baker, Mikhail Bulgakov.
Sounds like: They don’t think they are likened to anyone; we think Interpol…?
Background: We wouldn’t say that Chapel Club are the typical band coming out of East London – far from the lo-fi drudgery emanating from their neck of the woods – Chapel Club create some really beautiful sounds, full of anguish and thought.
Before you draw any comparisons, they are by no means a White Lies-esque band. They are a completely different beast. Debut release, ‘O Maybe I’ may well be one of the best singles we hear this year, it’s that good.
How are plans for an album coming along?
The album is almost finished and it’s sounding pretty exciting. We’re having a hard time trying to choose which songs to keep and which to lose, but I guess that’s a good problem to have.
What inspires you in writing your songs?
Anything and everything. I’m sure it’s the same for anyone, right? It’s the upside of life being so big and chaotic and confusing; as long as you keep your eyes and ears open there are always stories to tell.
How would you describe your sound for our readers?
I wouldn’t, really, if I had the choice. Do I have the choice? I’d rather let people wade into it at their own pace, take their own soundings, see where the songs carry them. If you come to a live show, it’ll be loud and pretty intense – I suppose that’s fairly certain.
Do you despair for the future or are you excited about what’s round the corner?
I’m excited and I despair in equal measure, it changes by the day/moment/season. I try to keep my thoughts mostly positive but I’m pretty melancholic by nature; one careless word can easily turn the tide with me.
What’s the best festival you’ve been to?
Benicassim a few years ago. probably around 2005 or 2006. It was my first fair-weather festival – all the previous (UK) ones had been grim and wet. There were a few fearful moments, the result of massive overindulgence and searing heat, but mostly it was good fun. The Bad Seeds, LCD Soundsystem, Erlend Oye DJing on the beach on the final night… and I came back with a tan rather than trench foot.
What’s your favourite festival memory?
I loved the nomadic gypsy punk types who wandered around Benicassim selling, erm, wares to the festival-goers. I liked their little whistle calls and their millions of dogs. I liked how detached they seemed from everything, and yet how unified they seemed as a group. I remember seeing the police pick one up, this young woman, and her dog wouldn’t leave her side. The police were pushing it away really aggressively and it would slink off only to run back to her the moment their backs were turned. I liked that dog. The next year I went and the police seemed to have cracked down even more, the gypsy punks were fewer and farther between. But the memory of their striped pirate trousers and daring haircuts stays with me.
What would be your dream festival lineup?
Tom Waits would headline the main stage on the first night, definitely. And Scott Walker would headline the second. Who else would play? Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Holy Fuck, Portishead, PJ Harvey and John Parish, Joanna Newsom, The Horrors…basically it would be ATP.
What was the first record you ever bought?
The first I ever asked for was Simon & Garfunkel’s Definitive Collection, which I think is quite respectable for a 7 year old. But the first I bought with my own money was probably Charles & Eddie’s ‘Would I Lie to You’. Not so cool.
What’s your favourite format for listening to music on?
Vinyl is the best. The sound has more life to it and there’s something special about the ritual of putting a proper record on. It’s like drinking before midday, impractical but ever so slightly thrilling. But you have to have the time for vinyl, which usually I don’t. MP3 is obviously the most practical format, the one I use the most.
What tip would you give to aspiring artists?
I’m still an aspiring artist myself, really, and the only tips I give myself are to relax more and trust my instincts. I can’t say I’ve managed either yet, but I think they’re good tips.
What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I’m a little way into Angela Carter’s ‘The Magic Toyshop’. I recently read her collection of fairytales, it was one of those moments where you’re just like, ‘YES’; where you know in a moment that you’ve stumbled across something that’s going to be perfect for you. So now I’m starting ‘The Magic Toyshop’ and it’s having the same effect.
Where and when was your first gig?
Wow, I can’t remember. It would’ve been some crappy band at some little venue in Camden during my teens. Probably something at the Bull & Gate in the mid-nineties, a bad band with a bad name no doubt.
What’s your favourite film?
That’s tough, there’s a lot of competition. Dogville hung about in my head a long time… I really like Disney’s Robin Hood too; the love theme is one of my favourite songs ever. But I think my favourite movie as of right now is The Crucible. The original play is so great anyway, every line has the power the floor you. And in the movie every word is delivered so perfectly. I think I know most of it by heart.
What’s the best part of Chapel Club?
For me, it’s the writing, the assembling of something from nothing. There’s nothing more satisfying than creating something that evokes a real feeling or expresses something in a fresh way. It’s a predatory art, I think: you’re constantly stalking the next song, the next lyric, the next moment of fulfillment.
Why Chapel Club?
The name? It came from when we used to drink in a churchyard down the road from our old rehearsal rooms; plus every other name we thought of was already taken. It seems to fit anyway, if only because there’s a lot of religious imagery in the lyrics.
Does appearance matter or does music do all the talking?
I don’t think appearance matters, in real life or in music. But I can understand how a musician’s appearance can add to the audience’s appreciation of what they’re trying to do. I guess it’s up to the listener to decide how important it is to them. Personally, I’d much rather see a drab man or girl sing a beautiful song than the other way round.
Words by Guy Purssell, Same Teens
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