Fifteen years ago, a group of well-meaning types formed a band and called it The Chap, which may or may not have been an homage to the gentleman’s publication of the same name. A convoy of top quality albums, tours for their passionate fanbase and some inspired group photoshoots later, the band are about to release their sixth studio album ‘The Show Must Go’.
They’re not giving a huge amount away about it, other than the political-rock nature of its output; but given their innate playful irony, it’s hard to know whether or not this is actually the case. We caught up with Keith Duncan, he of the drums, and asked him some things.
Hi Keith. How are you and how are The Chap?
I’m good thanks! I just had lunch. Meat potatoes and cabbage. Cabbage is criminally underrated. I’m not sure what the others ate, but we’re very excited to be “back”.
The first teaser from ‘The Show Must Go’ is ‘Jammer’; a song with vocals but no actual words. A strange choice, even for you?
Yeah, for a few years now we’ve been talking about our upcoming political-rock album, so we wanted to start with how we feel about political rock. Jammer is a German word for “whining” or “wailing”, which is what most political rock sounds like to us.
Was there any link between the music and the video (featuring a spot of mechanophilia) or was it just something you thought was fitting?
Ah, that was Panos’ idea, so I’m not sure exactly what he was thinking. But I like to think it’s a metaphor for political rock in general, as in, it’s fun and looks good, but doesn’t achieve anything.
There have been several references in your updates about the fact that you’re too old for constant touring. Is it something you miss? Do you find that playing less regularly makes the fans more eager to catch you?
Touring is awesome. After a week or so of touring, you forget all your real-life problems. You go to sleep every night, having achieved all your objectives, and you know that tomorrow, you’ll do the same again. So there’s none of this lying-in-bed-worrying shit. On the other hand, there’s hardly any sleeping.
For the last five years or so, we were pretty much playing the same super-tight, ultra-polished set. Now we’re playing almost the entire new album and a sprinkling of old hits. So I’m hoping we’ll bring back some of the chaos and horror (“how does this song start?” “what the fuck is the next line??”) from the old innocent days. As a fan myself, I’m eager to see and experience this!
The members of The Chap are spread across Europe for the most part. Did that cause any strains in writing and recording ‘The Show Must Go’?
Logistically it wasn’t really a big deal. Sometimes we would fly over to each other (between London and Berlin, which is like getting the bus down the road nowadays) to get work done, and sometimes we would work separately.
Politically it’s been weird, having a Greek and 2 Germans in the band, especially this year, and all of us having grown up within the “European Project”, it’s been profoundly depressing. Obviously we predicted all of this mess years ago (Well Done Europe from 2010) but that doesn’t make it taste any better.
We were hoping we could at least exploit the situation with getting better press, but it seems this week Greeks are out of favour and you need at least one Syrian in the band to get written up…
There’s a lot ‘side projects too’ outside of the band. Who is currently doing what?
Panos has been running Migro Records since 2011, releasing top-notch avant garde stuff, including his collaboration with Jennifer Walshe. Johannes moved back to Germany a few years ago and started a solo project called Erfolg (German for “success”) which quickly turned into Erfolg und Der Beste Damenchor Aller Zeiten (“Success and the greatest Ladies Choir of all time”).
And somehow I ended up joining the ladies choir even though I’m not really a lady and after living in Berlin for over 6 years, my German is still atrocious. But my accent is pretty good, as is my falsetto, and I haven’t seen many ladies choirs that couldn’t be improved by a bearded man.
To my knowledge, it’s been 6 years since your last Cardiff date. Are you excited about returning, with your chum Pete Um in tow?
Six years? Ooops, sorry about that. Yeah, we’re excited to be back in Cardiff, especially playing Clwb Ifor Bach. I remember seeing that name in tour listings when I was a kid. I hope it lives up to my expectations! It’s always a massive honour to play with Pete. I’m hoping he’s going to spend his fee from the show on upgrading his Soundcloud account so he can finish uploading his back catalogue.
The Chap will be visiting (and indeed playing at) Clwb Ifor Bach on Mon 19th October with support from prince of the avant-garde, Pete Um and local newcomers Hollow Mask. Tickets are available from Spillers Records or via the Clwb website. Given their track record thus far, they won’t be playing here again until 2021, so this is a pretty fine opportunity.