Chow Chow play pop. Quite brilliant pop. Pop that makes DiS think back to summers of the late 1990s, when we’d collapse with a can of something cold after a kick around and talk shit about the bands in Melody Maker that week. Glory days.
The London-based three-piece – Iain, Nathan and Stubot – have two Fantastic Plastic discs under their collective belt to date. We don’t mean said releases are made from fantastic plastic, but that they were released through Fantastic Plastic. It is a label. Yes. The ‘Dear Francis’ seven-inch of February this year followed the chow chow chow chow chow chow chow chow chow EP of December 2006; it is good and can be heard at the band’s MySpace. It fizzes and pops and bubbles and bursts. It’s tickly and titillating. We like.
Ahead of their appearance at the next DiScover Club show – on May 5, with Favours For Sailors and Meet Me In St Louis – we fired some questions the way of the band. They answered them. We’re calling it DiScover Chow Chow.
Hello the people of Chow Chow: please explain for us how the three of you came to be Chow Chow, what bands, if any, you played in before, why you selected the name Chow Chow and – last but not least – what your favourite variety of curry is: Thai or Indian?
Nathan: I hadn’t played drums for a while, but at the time I had a evil girlfriend so it became a necessity to beat the crap outta a drum kit every once and a while. Iain heard me and we started playing together. I met Stu, a really good friend of Iain’s, at a BBQ where he was playing some old soul music. I suggested he join the band and play bass, even though he had never even played a note on a guitar, let alone a bass guitar. He said “Sure”, and Chow Chow was born …
Stubot: The reason behind the name is this: it’s not a widely known fact, but the word ‘chow’ is one of the most enjoyable words that a person can say in any language. And it’s even more fun to yell. Try it. So we thought we’d double it up… double the fun… when you’re buying an ice cream you’re clearly gonna prefer two scoops instead one. It’s a good amount of cream, enough to give you that kick but not too much so it still leaves you feeling fresh. It’s the same with two Chows.
Iain: I don't eat curry.
How would you describe the music you play to the complete outsider, someone who – for some reason – has no way of hearing you on MySpace? What bands have you attracted comparisons to, for better or worse!?
Stubot: We’ve been compared to everyone from Pixies, Pavement and Broken Social Scene to XTRMNTR-era Primal Scream, Beastie Boys and Hot Chip. NME once described us as Sonic Youth meets Klaxons.
Iain: Someone once told me i play guitar like Tom Verlaine.
Nathan: Comparisons kinda annoy me a little, but when you’re a new band starting out, you’re gonna get compared to other bands. (Sonic Youth? Pffft, we wish…) The three of us listen to a very diverse amount of music and I guess that comes out in the songs. I guess we’re just trying to keep ourselves entertained.
You’ve released a single through Fantastic Plastic, ‘Dear Francis’ – what came before this, and what can we expect in the future… is there an album cooking?
Iain: We did an EP with Fantastic Plastic called chow chow chow chow chow chow chow chow chow. It had our first single on it, ‘Skeleton With Hair’. We named it after one of our friends. We also know a guy called Rob With Hair. Yeah... We will be releasing a mini-album in the mid summer, maybe in July. So have a look out.
You recently supported !!! at a few shows – were these your biggest shows to date, and how was it playing before an audience that, most probably, wasn’t aware of you?
Stubot: Yeah, opening for !!! at Shepherd’s Bush Empire has been our biggest and one of the most fun gigs yet. It’s always good to play to a new audience. It’s not uncommon for a new crowd to look a bit puzzled for the first half of a Chow Chow gig… but then really get into it towards the end. It always seems that the set is over too quickly… and playing at Shepherds Bush was one of those shows.
You’re an up-beat, very danceable band – are you particularly good movers yourselves? Is there anything worse than playing live before a static crowd? Have you had any particularly bad receptions? What’s the best reception you’ve experienced to date?
Nathan: Stu is a bad dancer – often he’ll do a little dance between on stage and/or in the crowd. You can’t expect others to jump around and enjoy themselves if you don’t, right? As for playing in front of static crowds, we play London a lot so we’re used to people standing there with that “go on, impress me” vibe going. It’s always great when we play a gig and the crowd starts static and ends up jumping around like loons.
Stubot: The last time we headlined the Buffalo Bar would probably be our favourite show to date…maybe not our best. The venue is real tight and when it’s rammed the crowd is forced to circle and spill over onto the stage. Everybody was jumping with so much power that the ground was shaking and bodies and gear were falling everywhere… it was like playing through an earthquake.
You’ve got some radio sessions forthcoming – I guess there are exciting times ahead?!
Iain: Live sessions are good... looking forward to them. I like the fact you could completely fuck up and everyone would get to hear it... I love that kinda shit. Fucking up is good... sometimes.
Nathan: Yeah, I’m kinda nervous about the radio sessions… What should I wear? As for the future, who knows? If you like us, that’s really, really cool. It’s really nice people can hear our music. We’d love to be able to do music full time.
You’re playing two shows on May 5 – are you prepared for exhaustion come closing time? Are you generally prepared to travel a fair bit for shows? What’s the furthest you’ve had to drive home after a gig somewhere?
Nathan: We’ve been pretty lucky with the driving long hours thing, ‘cause we mainly have played London. A few times I’ve played a gig then had to leave at 1am to drive for an age, to sleep for two hours then work for 12 hours. It was worth it.
Iain: Yeah... two shows. We've done it before. I enjoyed it. Was pretty knackered after but it has to be done. I'd play three in a night if I could.
Do you have any favourite bands right now that readers should also be DiScovering?
Iain: Everyone should listen to anything Lou Barlow is involved with... and Deerhoof. But everyone knows this already.
Stubot: Clean George IV, also anything on ED BANGER Records.
Nathan: You guys at DiS are pretty up to play with bands, but some of my old favourites would have to be The Clean, Bailter Space and The Gordon’s. Old bands from New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records, and all pretty special and well worth getting into.
Chow Chow play the next DiScover Club show – a free-entry gig at London’s Notting Hill Arts Club, from 4pm ‘til 8pm – on May 5 with Favours For Sailors and Meet Me In St Louis. Click HERE for further details.
Check the band out on Myspace, HERE.