Interview with Chris Chinchilla

Interview time! This one is with ex Art Brut guitarist/songwriter Chris Chinchilla. As ever, being in Australia (where?!) time difference is a shitter, so Chris was good enough to stay up till the unsociable hours to speak with me. But what was said? Read on…

Gav: Good evening, Chris, and thanks for staying up late to speak with me. Shall we start the usual way, you explaining to the readers exactly who you are and what you do?

Chris Chinchilla: Right… I am Chris Chinchilla, most will probably know me as ex Art Brut guitarist/songwriter, but some may also know me as an old fanzine writer. Right now I’m a DJ, Radio show host and now, slowly a new solo artist. But I’m taking some time off from the other stuff to concentrate on music.

G: So where did it all begin for you in the wonderful world of music?

CC: Hmm, well, my dad is a musician of sorts, he tried to teach me guitar when I was younger, but I wasn’t interested, then I realised I could impress girls, so started to teach myself, that was at about 15/16. I got into music through my dad too; he brought home a copy of TOTP from the 80′s with Madness on it, got into music through 2-Tone and New Wave stuff, then Blur and onwards.

G: Influences galore! What about Art Brut, how did they come to be?

CC: Well… I met Eddie at a party, he joked about forming bands, but I took him seriously. Freddie I lived with at the time, and he knew Ian from School days, then we met Mike randomly through someone else who’d met him on a bus. It was all because I’d been dumped by a girl really, that I got into a band, which is strange because it’s happened to me again recently (being dumped) so expect great things again soon.

G: Ha ha, the tragic magic; being dumped. So, you’re embarking on a solo career now, what will you take with you from the Art Brut days, explain your sound?

CC: I will take lessons learned, about all sorts of things; performance, the industry, what to do, what not to do – but also the thrill and buzz of performance.

The new sound? Well, I wrote quite a few Art Brut songs, if you take the darker more discordant ones (usually one of mine, Formed a Band is a perfect example) strip down to a three piece, put me on vocals (kind of Paul Weller meets Billy Brag, or so I like to think) and add a little bit of acquired knowledge about song-writing and what works… That’s a rough idea. My musical influences are not always the best indication of my sound, they more influence me to do things.

G: Yes, many artists these days seem to be that way with their influences. How are things progressing with the solo stuff?

CC: Yes, I think that things are quite often like that. Press seem to assume that artists are directly influenced by people they sound like.

Anyway, yes solo stuff it’s going well, coming together now; new tracks, just had a photo shoot, getting good reactions to music. I’m excited by it, which is most important.

G: Definitely, I think people sometimes underestimate how important your own interest in your ventures is. If you’re not enjoying it, get out. All sounds good though, Chris. Do you think we’ll see an EP or LP any time soon?

CC: Hmm, that’s not up to me. I have no money to do it myself. Currently talking to labels, the materials there – but I hope so.

G: So for now you’re just soldiering on waiting for the right opportunities to present themselves? Are you playing live at all at the moment?

CC: Yes, yes to all of those. Got a couple more gigs to play then taking a break to concentrate on getting signed and press and stuff. Gigs have been going very well.

G: Excellent, glad to hear it. Now for the fantasy question… If you could be in a band with any musicians of your choice, who would they be and why?

CC: Ooh, never really thought about that before. Thing is, most musicians I respect I would probably hate being in a band with, because we’re too similar! But anyway, ok; Horace Gentleman (The Specials) on bass, whoever the drummer in RATM was, Johnny Greenwood on lead guitar, maybe, I dunno, that was off the cuff and unplanned, and would probably sound like a real bloody mess!

G: Still, would be something to be on stage with that lot! You’ve already explained that you don’t necessarily sound anything like your influences, but who would you say (if anyone) you do sound like?

CC: Some have said my guitar style is similar to Graham Coxon, but I wish in a 1000 years I was as good as him. The new band is a little bit Jam, a little bit Dead Kennedy’s and a little bit PiL… sort of. It’s so hard to say. My guitar style is messy, I don’t fret properly. When we were recording the Art Brut album the producer had loads of problems because I left loads of weird harmonics over everything, but some say that’s my style!

G: Nothing wrong with being unique! So how are things split between your new solo venture and the new band? Are you stuck in a bit of a tug of war, or is it all crystal clear?

CC: I only ever do solo stuff when the band can’t do it really, or when it’s far away and we’re not paid enough to take the band, that’s about all there is to it. I’d rather do it with the band, though sometimes it’s quite cool flying around Europe on your own with a guitar! The other guys understand, it’s all ok.

G: You jet-setter you! As things stand then; you’ve got your solo career just starting, you also play with a new band, and you’re looking for a label, and dependant on that we may or may not see an EP or LP released some time soon. Sounds like it is all happening for you, what tips can you give to any artists looking to start out in the industry?

CC: Hmm, there are no magic tips I can offer, the single biggest bit of advice I can offer is just to get out there and keep at it, that’s all you can ever do really.

G: Well apart from getting dumped! I’ll put that in big bold letters; Chris Chinchilla says get dumped for success! Well, you’ve been great to interview, Chris, but before we wrap this up, are there any shout-outs you’d like to make or messages to give?

CC: Not sure if that’s a piece of advice, but it does get you focused! I’d just like to say hello to the rest of the band, and mention some bands I recommend at the moment; Blah Blah Blah, Humazi, Scully. Enjoy, I’m going to bed!

My thanks go out once more to Chris for giving up valuable sleeping time to speak with me, I appreciate it. Chris also shot me over an mp3 by his band, Macaca Mulatta, so definitely make sure you check it out here…

Macaca Mulatta – Dancing on a week night
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 25th July.

If you like what you hear, make sure you check out Chris Chinchilla and Macaca Mulatta even further – Chris has a website, and a MySpace page, and Macaca Mulatta also have a website and MySpace page, show some love! The band are playing some live dates soon as well, these are through July and August at the following locations; Portsmouth, Southampton, London, Liverpool, Munich, Hagen, and then London again. Full details of dates and venues are on the website.

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