~+ Tiny Victories record release +~
Chappo & Tiny Victories
Canon Logic, Jail Weddings
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
This event is 21 and over
Out of tragedy, Brooklyn based Chappo deliver their third studio album “DO IT” on Votiv Music.
On the heels of their second album, after a period of touring, the band—singer Alex Chappo, guitarist David Feddock, and keyboardist Chris Olson—returned home. That record, Future Former Self, was a dense concept album, and between the labor of its creation and the stress of an extensive tour, the band had been thoroughly exhausted.
Their holiday was short-lived, however. A series of tumultuous events occurred in succession: the band parted ways with their drummer, Alex’s best friend committed suicide, a record was begun and abandoned, and Dave and his wife lost their young son, Winter. In the wake of this period, the remaining three members of the band scattered. The future of CHAPPO seemed bleak.“I think we all realized how delicate and fragile the life of the band was at that time,” Alex tells me. “We were acutely aware that at any moment the whole thing could unravel or fall apart.”
Ultimately though, the band began to play together again, taking solace in the process of writing and processing through their music. “Almost immediately after losing our son I had a moment of clarity,” says Dave. “It was like, more than ever, all the life and love that was missing needed to come out through the songs we were working on.”
The resultant album, DO IT, is a lithe, spangled tumble of a record. Rather than creating a memorial, the band decided to strike nearer to the wild heart of things by paring their sound down to its most primal and joyful components.
From the smoldering “White Noise,” to the kaleidoscopic, synth-tinged world of “Live My Life,” DO IT manages to refine CHAPPO’s psych-rock proclivities into something deeply essential. It’s a record that transmogrifies pain, and sadness, and boredom, and all the less-than-great parts of being a human being into a throbbing, galactic party. “It felt amazing to find a fresh creative process and catch a new flow with just the three of us. We felt like Winter’s spirit was ushering us into a sense of rebirth,” says Alex
The departure of their drummer, who also produced their first two albums, led the band to John Vanderslice, who invited them to record at his analogue studio Tiny Telephone in San Francisco. Recording to tape--being forced to make decisions quickly and decisively--melded nicely with their stripped-down approach.
John also encouraged them to approach the songs they’d written with a sense of spontaneity, forcing them to record quickly and embrace the process of discovery. “On the last two records, we were were obsessed with listening to each take,” Alex tells me, “We’d finish a take and would expect to be able to listen back and see if we nailed it. But John wouldn’t let us. He’d say ‘Either you got it or you think you can do better and we burn that take. You don’t get to listen back and psychoanalyze everything to death.’ He fought us on correcting mistakes and urged us to lean into whatever happened as it happened”
In the end, the creation of DO IT was an exercise in letting go. The members of CHAPPO, in the midst of personal tragedies and tumult, surrendered control in order to create their most fun, joyful work. Maybe, as the making of DO IT suggests, the way out of sorrow is surrender.
Tiny Victories is Greg Walters and Cason Kelly. Their debut EP dropped Feb. 28.
So here's where the band name comes from (or so they tell me): Greg and Cason were walking down the street in Brooklyn when they saw this guy scraping graffiti off his front porch. Somebody wrote "F— You" on his house. He had this gleam in his eye, like he was getting even with the universe in a small way. "All right, everybody, today is mine." And Greg's brother Doug, who was with them, turned around and said: "So what are the opposite of tiny defeats?"
For me, that's what this music is about: small moments of redemption, amplified. It's got the spirit of a marching band at a funeral. It's a party at the end of the world, and you can't help but join in.
It's a big sound for just two guys. In their live show, they play electronic music with an array of samplers and gadgets and live drums—no laptop. They'll sample crowd noises with a microphone during the set, process it live, and weave it into the songs. Their show has an uncommonly organic, improvisational feel for electronic music. I've seen crowds completely change when Tiny Victories takes the stage.
If you ask Greg and Cason about it, they'll tell you every song is an experiment. Each uses a method they've never tried before. It's a process that's impossibly complicated—they've tried to explain it to me, and I just nod my head and stand back.
Once (after a long night of drinking) Greg put it this way: "We make simple songs out of complex pieces." Take a melody that works on an acoustic guitar. Then orchestrate it with samples that have been reprocessed beyond recognition—like the sound of trash being thrown into a Manhattan dumpster. They sampled that one afternoon, then ran it through a gazillion effects and turned it into a backbeat you can hear in the ending of Get Lost.
I first found out about these guys last year, back when I had a job booking bands in Brooklyn. I'd scroll through hundreds of bands looking for something new, something that stood out. And then I came across these two. It was suspiciously great music.
They formed the band in 2010 after meeting in Brooklyn. Cason moved there from Athens, GA, and spent his early 20s doing social work with inner city kids. Greg, born in DC, moved to New York after six years as a foreign correspondent, covering a war (Russia-Georgia) and two revolutions (Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan). If you ask them to tell you a story, get ready for a crazy one.
Those Of Us Still Alive is their debut album. But these songs don't sound like a band's first effort. They have the confidence and consistency of a mature project. It's an album about how the outside world might not be as bad as it looks, or maybe it is. And it's about ghosts that won't shut up.
–Timber Wolf Brooklyn, New York January 2012
Jail Weddings' epic second full length is quite aptly titled. Meltdown: the flailing emotional implosion often borne of a triumvirate of frayed nerves, volatile substances and excessive external pressure is clearly evidenced in the words and music herein. But, there's also a newfound sense of musical genres and histories mixing together like molten wax where the band's signature Shangri-La's, Bad Seeds, noir-hued pop merges with hazy psychedelia, bombastic rock and even essences of bizarre Eastern European folk. It's the sound of a band that's always been at the brink of self-destruction actually growing and thriving on its own chaotic impulses.
It's now six years into something that wasn't expected to last six months -- this "thing" called Jail Weddings. While the songs have always been timeless and top notch, they're also a band whose initial popularity often hinged on the fact that it could all fall apart at any given moment -- with frequent dagger eyes or fistfights both onstage and off -- where it was always clear to the audience that the high-drama of the songs often spilled into the band members' own precarious lives. They are a group that audiences could live through vicariously, a band capable of not just inspiring listeners' ugly catharsis, but often enacting its own in public. One of few that could claim they are not just a band, but a lifestyle all their own.
It was late 2012 when we had last checked in with frontman Gabriel Hart, who explained that last year's Four Future Standards EP (described by VICE Magazine as "music to have knife sex to") was also the gradual bridge to their more grandiose work-in-progress second full-length. Hart ensured that anyone who thought they were any sort of "party band" would be gravely mistaken upon hearing what they had been stirring up in their charred cauldron. Little did he know it would take well over 365 days to finish what he had started, where the stakes were raised, bank accounts drained, sanity/sobriety and sleep compromised, and their longtime rhythm section and one of their back-up singers lost…where towards the end it would cause him and his eight-headed collective to treat it with all the intensity a band would as if it was the last record they would ever record, even though their present locomotive momentum will prove at least that part otherwise.
And what better process to make a record, Meltdown – A Declaration of Unpopular Emotion which Hart describes as a somewhat conceptual "dissection of the personal Apocalypse." A record whose liner notes cite such patron saints as disparate as philosopher Carl Jung and enfant terrible Francis Farmer as touchstones? But, this is only for the uninitiated to understand – as within the first listen of Meltdown one will soon realize this record is indeed a vast, universal tantrum, where the best path of protest is often to create one's own atmosphere, to secede from pain through a self-imposed baptism of fire. And, the end inspiration proves once again one must look no further than Jail Weddings' own twisted, snake-eating-its-tail world they've created.
Meltdown begins somewhat similarly to their 2010 debut Love Is Lawless -- Hart's lone baritone accompanied by minimal instrumentation slowly building the anticipation that something is about to leave a crater in its wake. But, instead of the Broadway schmaltz approach of their previous effort's intro, the song explodes as if they are going into battle, marching drums and ominous war siren back-ups announce that they are going into this nervous breakdown unabashed. And before we get a chance to catch our breath, they blow right into the electric 12-string guitar of "May Today Be Merciful" where Hart sets the real tone of the record as if Echo and The Bunnymen were lost in some bad trip section of L.A.'s Paisley Underground scene. Elsewhere, "Why Is it so Hard To Be Good?" lumbers to a start with thunderous early-Swans sounding drums leading a dark lament of our collective penchant to do wrong. Throughout the album there's chiming power-pop ("Dead Celebrity Party"), somber balladry ("Summer Fades", "Obsession"), dramatic pageantry that would make Born To Run era Springsteen blush ("Angel of Sleep") and so many other twists and turns that the album's dramatic title will make perfect sense.
Sessions for Meltdown commenced once again at their home base of The Station House in Echo Park with engineer and co-producer Mark Rains (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Waylon Jennings, etc). The line-up on Meltdown proves to be their most enduring, sturdiest and studied yet – familiar faces from their last effort being Hart's right hand man Christopher Rager on guitar (and co-producing), last O.G. member Hannah Blumenfeld on strings (the group has since turned her into an octopus string quartet in the studio – recently earning her full-string duties on the new Ghostface Killer record), secret weapon Marty Sataman on piano/synths, vocalists Jada Wagensomer, Marianne Stewart and Kristina B holding steady as three-part harmony dream team, with Wagensomer occasionally moving front and center as Hart's female counterpart, where they duet on "Why Is It So Hard To Be Good?" and "…Keeping The Faith," also seeing her solo spotlight on "A Promise" and "…Never Going To Find Me." The new fierce rhythm section that came swinging to rescue the group from mid-recording uncertainty includes Morgan Hart Delaney on bass (and blood, as Hart's own cousin) and Hart's long co-conspirator Dave Clifford (The VSS, Pleasure Forever, Red Sparowes, Hart's own Starvations/Fortune's Flesh) on drums.
Meltdown -- A Declaration of Unpopular Emotion will be available on LP and download via Neurotic Yell Records on August 27th, 2013.
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