Interview: The Chevin

The Chevin - Photo courtesy of The Chevin

The Chevin – Photo courtesy of The Chevin

The last year has been one hell of a ride for The Chevin. The Leeds-based band, which consists of Coyle Girelli (lead vocals and guitars), Mat Steel (guitars and keyboards), Jon Langford (bass guitar) and Mal Taylor (drums), formed from four childhood friends who grew up together in the borough of Otley. Despite the long-standing friendship, the group has only been together since 2010, but has already been traveling the world, opening for legendary famous bands, appearing on television, playing sold out shows, and now, releasing its first full-length.

The album, “Borderland,” came out in the United States in September, almost a year after the release of 2011’s “Champion EP.” Its UK and Germany release dates were this month, however, so to celebrate and promote the release, the band played a show in Berlin last night–its second-ever live appearance in the city–at Rosi’s.

Of all the countries in continental Europe, Girelli admitted that Germany is his favourite, largely in part to its positive response to the music, particularly at live shows. However, the band members also love their home country of England, even if its capital, London, doesn’t embrace artists as well as other cities do.

“London’s very much a big city, so it has, like, a big city vibe, you know. People see music every night of the week,” Girelli said, comparing it to the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds, which he claims are much more supportive the scene. “People [there] just love music and all three of those cities have a really vibrant music scene…that’s why, probably, most of the best music comes out of that area of the UK, because…it doesn’t have that pressure of London.”

Yet now it appears as though approval or support are the least of The Chevin’s concerns, as “Borderland” is an album that speaks for itself, full of catchy, layered pop hooks which even iTunes caught onto, naming the track “Champion” its Single of the Week back in August.

The members report that although things are going well, album two is already in the works, which might strike some as strange. But Girelli explained that “Borderland” was already recorded before the band even had a record deal, so its high time for some new music to be made.

“We’ve been writing bits and pieces here and there. There’s a couple of songs that are a little more finished than others,” he said, sharing that a couple songs that didn’t make it onto the first album might appear on the new one. “This whole record was written in the space of about six or seven months, and I think when it comes to writing the next one, it will be a similar process.”

The way The Chevin writes usually begins with Girelli coming up with an idea and transforming it into a demo, which the band then takes and shapes into something new.

“It’s quite a process, usually, from the first version I do to the version that ends up on the record,” Girelli said.

Langford agreed, sharing that it can also be difficult when there is a disagreement over the path a song should take, but that ultimately it can surprise the members.

“It’s hard sometimes if you really like a certain [part] and someone else doesn’t, and then you change and then the song sets a whole new direction,” he said, referencing the song “Dirty Little Secret” as an example of this. “The original version of that song is nothing like the version on the album.”

Of course, there isn’t much time to rehearse, much less to write, while on the road, but the guys said they fit it in where and whenever possible.

“You really need to write as much as you can, when you can,” Girelli said.

But of course, with the constant travel, those moments that are unscheduled can be especially precious. And right now, the members of The Chevin fill their days with travel and with shows, both big and small.

“From the tiny gigs we play to 100 people, to the big shows where we play [to] 8, 9,000…it’s all equally enjoyable,” Girelli said.

Of course, it’s hard to find something to complain about when globetrotting; the band has spent the past few months playing major cities in America–a country that has been open to the group and supportive from early on–and appearing on Letterman and Conan. Now, the band is also playing a series of dates opening for the Psychedelic Furs and the Lemonheads–no small feat.

“It’s amazing to get to travel and see different cities all over the world,” Langford said. “I suppose the only [negative] thing really is being away from home…[that, and] we all have cats. We miss our cats.”

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