The Chain Gang of 1974

"My brothers and I were surrounded by music growing up," explains Kamtin Mohager, the shape-shifting singer/multi-instrumentalist behind the Chain Gang of 1974. "Not Beatles albums or anything like that; more like the Persian records our parents played all the time. And when we got older, it was up to us to discover everything." Born in San Jose and raised in Hawaii, Mohager spent his first 13 years obsessing over inline hockey and the idea of being drafted by the NHL one day. A series of life-changing events were set in motion once Mohager's family moved to Colorado, however. The first of which involved the final scene from Real Genius—quite possibly Val Kilmer's finest hour—and its penultimate 'popcorn song', a.k.a. "Everybody Rules the World." "I love '80s music, but not typical new-wave stuff," says Mohager. "Like I'm way into Tears For Fears and Talk Talk, the other side of the spectrum, really." That's abundantly clear on White Guts, a record that's nearly as restless as Chain Gang's previous collection of early recordings, Fantastic Nostalgic. The way Mohager sees it, his first proper release was "all over the place, from a piano ballad to songs that sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Primal Scream or Justice." White Guts, on the other hand, funnels three years of instrument-swapping, sample-splicing experience into a lean, focused listen. So while "Stop!" and the rather epic "Hold On" hint at everything from LCD Soundsystem to Talking Heads, they make perfect sense in the context of deep cuts like the synth-flecked "Don't Walk Away" and bass-guided "Matter of Time," shimmering power ballads that could have been on the soundtrack of Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink. What sets the Chain Gang of 1974 apart from other Reagan-era revivalists is Mohager's innate sense of rhythm, a skill he acquired at an early age. And we're not just talking about his parents' punchy, groove-riding record collection. We're talking about family gatherings and traditions that taught Mohager how to make a crowd of cool kids uncross their arms and dance like there's pistols pointed at their feet. "Everyone lets loose at our shows," says Mohager. "It's a party, man. If only I had a dollar for every time someone bum-rushed the stage or grabbed one of our instruments." Things are bound to get worse, too, as his live band—a quartet that's a far cry from Mohager's original iPod/bass setup—spends the next six months spreading the Chain Gang gospel far beyond its Rocky Mountain beginnings. Or as the man behind every last beat puts it, "I'm letting the music just be, and if something's meant to happen, it's meant to happen."

Presently situated at the heart of the creative breeding ground that is East Vancouver, Robbie Slade and Peter Ricq come from Nelson BC and Montreal with distinct perspectives. Outside of music, Slade utilizes his communications degree from UBC in the Bass Coast Festival’s marketing department. When Ricq’s not making music, he is a producer, designer, writer and director for animated children’s TV shows with worldwide distribution. He’s also an illustrative visual artist. Inspired by animation, comics, and surrealist paintings, Ricq likes to create characters that are fun to draw and who can tell a whole story with just one picture, such as his Robbie character, with its big, crooked nose, who recently starred in the HUMANS video for “Possession” (oddly enough, the Robbie character actually existed several years before he met Slade). When Slade and Ricq get together as HUMANS, they assume the roles of producers and composers. They are a dynamic live indie electronic pop act in the vein of LCD Soundsystem, Jamie XX and Junior Boys that can impress audiophiles with their technical skills while curating a vibrant dance floor experience like a proper DJ would. HUMANS’ music has been created for and appeared in campaigns and TV shows including Red Bull, Entourage, CSI and MTV. In HUMANS, Slade performs guitar, microKORG synthesizers, Roland SPD-S sampler, and lead vocals. Ricq plays what he calls cheap-ass electronic gear, including a Korg Electribe ESX synthesizer/sampler, a Roland MC-505 groovebox, an Elektron Octatrack sampler, and the microKORG vocoder, while contributing backup vocals.

Mighty Mouse

This prolific Mouse has notched up an impressive spread of achievements in such a short time, firmly establishing himself on the electronic music scene with his unique disco inspired productions and his energetic DJ shows.

The first remix, City Reverb's Time Side On became an immediate hit with Aeroplane who featured it on their mix for Pete Tong and his BBC Radio 1 show. Remixes followed for Ali Love, Bent and an astonishing assault on Circles by Detachments. By this time the Mighty Mouse sound was labelled 'nu-disco', drawing influences from house, techno, disco and 80's music whilst also exploring a love of the psychedelic. Mighty Mouse quickly became an online star thanks to the monthly mixtapes and his infamous re edits.

Too Many Sebastians, and Stoney Roads were the first to pick up on the Mouse sound, however, blog love has been consistent with Mighty Mouse regularly climbing into the Hype Machine Top 10, most recently in December 2011 scoring a number 1 on the Hype Machine with a re work of Gill Scott Heron's 'I'll Take Care of You'. Gorillaz, Fenech-Soler, Shades Of Rhythm, Shy Child and Robbie Williams' Last Days Of Disco' all benefitted from some of the Mouse production magic. These remixes and the rework of Rob Da Bank & Tom Middleton's Paganini Rocks single featuring Au Revoir Simone built the Mighty Mouse reputation with DJs, resulting in high entries on the Buzz, Zzub and Coolcut charts along with radio support on the key specialist BBC Radio 1 shows: Jaymo & Andy George, Rob Da Bank, Annie Mac, Kissy Sell Out.

The press picked up on Mighty Mouse thanks to the Disco Circus compilation series. They combine disco old and new, house, techno and 80's rarities. Mixmag Magazine lauded them putting the first two volumes in their top 10 compilations the year. Features and rave reviews followed in The Times, Guardian, London Metro and all the major dance press. Disco Circus 3 is scheduled for release in March 2012.

Mighty Mouse has released a string of singles, including club hit's Junglefish, The Beast, Song For Ellen and Between The Pavement and the Stars. A concept album titled 'Song With No Word' made up of 10 movements picked up further great press and admirers in Andrew Weatherall and Lemon Jelly, the latter citing Movement 3 as one of the best tracks they'd heard that year. The UK's leading national retailer HMV asked Mighty Mouse to curate a night at The Jazz Cafe for their 'Next Big Thing' festival where they joined forces with Rob Da Bank's Sunday Best Records.

Touring has been hectic, 2011 starting with a trek around Australia as part of Future Music Festival, with stints DJing at festivals around the UK including Big Chill, Rockness, Electric Picnic and Lovebox. Added to that, Mighty Mouse made his first trip to Ibiza playing for Annie Mac Presents… at Amnesia and then onto Sankeys along with dates across Europe and the UK.

With Disco Circus 3 released in March 2012, a new label in Herve's Cheap Thrills to release a string of new singles across the summer and new album to drop later this year, the Mouse is showing no signs of slowing down in the studio. Out of the studio a European tour kicks off in March with an Australian and US tour in April following by a summer of summer of festivals.

A busy little Mouse.

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