Sydney’s three piece Blues and Rock masters Chase The Sun are kicking off the new year with a tour of the East Coast with good mates Cass Eager and Claude Hay. The band’s drummer Howler aka Jon Howell gave us a call from his home in Surry Hills to tell us all about the Family Vacation tour, the philosophies behind the band and what lies ahead for 2011.
Music Feeds: How was Xmas and New Years?
Jon Howell: Yeah it was good. Drank too much, we all drank too much. Played some good gigs. New Years was good, went down to Melbourne to play which was awesome.
MF: You guys played Peats Ridge festival again this year, how was it?
JH: Yeah we played Peats Ridge on the 29th. That was our third year in a row for Peats Ridge. I think it’s (the festival) getting better and better. It’s been going for seven years now and it’s becoming really good. The acts are awesome, so had a really good time.
MF: Tell us a little bit about Chase The Sun. How did the band came about?
JH: There’s three of us, Jan, Ryan and myself. We met in 2006. Ryan, the bass player, had a mate who had a studio so he got some studio time and wanted to do some recording. He had met me somewhere and had met Jan somewhere and wanted us to come into the studio for a couple of days and do some recording.
So we met up at his house for a rehearsal and then went into the studio for a few days and came out with 3 or 4 songs and it went really well. So we were like “let’s do it again!” and then we had an album, and then we had a band name, then pretty soon we had some artwork, then we had some gigs, then a tour and then another album.
There’s never really been a master plan or anything like that. So since the first album we’ve spent a lot of time as a band touring around Australia and then we did another album called “Rednecks & Gentlemen” which came out last year and that’s been it. Other bands go about it in different ways but this was very easy and very organic and it was what it was which is kind of cool and it’s stayed that way too.
MF: Last year “Rednecks & Gentlemen” came out, it’s a much heavier sounding record compared to your first disc, was that the intention when you first started writing it?
JH: Yeah actually because the way the album came about as I just described, a lot of it was Jan. We’ve never really seen Jan play much before and he came in with his acoustic guitar and we did a whole lot of acoustic things and as soon as we went out and started doing gigs and he was like “oh you know I play rock” and I was “right, well we just made this acoustic album, maybe we should go and do that.”
You know it’s become this joke with us that people go and buy this album (the first record) and come and see us and be disappointed because it’s so different or come and see us at the gig and then buy the album and take it home and be disappointed because it’s so different. So what we ended up doing is a bit half and half. Some acoustic things and some rock things, sort of in the same way Led Zeppelin used to do things. We haven’t quite got as far as Mandolin, but it’s sort of like a bit of both!
MF: The album opens with an instrumental, which is a little unusual, do you think the art of instrumentals has become a lost art in music these days?
JH: I don’t know. Our publicist was going to strangle us for putting that song on first. The reason we put it on first is because at most gigs we play that song first. It’s kind of like our intro song so that’s why we put it first on the record. People were like “you can’t put an instrumental track on first, it’ll freak people out!” But you know, it’s not like we’re a pop band. If people are not going to listen to more than the first three minutes well fuck ’em you know!
I don’t know if it’s a lost art. I personally listen to a lot of instrumental music, I’ve always listened to Jazz, guitar players and stuff like that. I guess these days the vocal hooks are what people are after. I don’t know if this is true but they tell you people’s attention’s spans are getting shorter and if you don’t have some big vocal hook in the first 45 seconds of the song then you’ll never get on MTV.
MF: I kind of gather that being on MTV is not a high priority for you guys anyway.
JH: Our philosophy is do what we do, we are who we are, make music we make and we’re going to do that as well as we can and put it out in a way we think works. We’ve never really done anything to tailor the band for any type of success or anything.
MF: The album charted really well in the States though didn’t it?
JH: Yeah we’ve had a little bit of interest from overseas in Japan and the States as well. It charted in the States in the Billboard charts. iTunes promoted the record really well. But when I say charted, it charted in the Blues charts, but it’s been great. We’re hoping to get over there, we’re looking for a label over there but unfortunately with what we do, the labels over there wanted us to kind of move over there and we just can’t. We’re too comfy here![laughs]
MF: You’re hitting the road as apart of the Family Vacation tour, can you tell us a bit about it?
JH: Thing about Chase The Sun is that we’ve totally about do it yourself. We’ve always just managed ourselves and booked ourselves, pretty much everything is done by us. In the last six months we’ve made a concerted effort to maybe play a little bit less hard while we’re developing stuff for the next record, so we’ve started booking other people. Cass Eager and her band The Velvet Rope and a chap called Claude Hay. Ryan and I help book those guys and help out with management.
We wanted to go out on tour in January, we haven’t had anything out since May and we didn’t think anyone would care if we went out on tour. Those guys have both got current releases and we thought we’d stand on their shoulders and book all three acts on the tour. It’s a month, it’s 18 dates but it might be less because some of our QLD shows might be washed away.
MF: I think that sadly might be the case.
JH: Yeah I’m worried about our Eumundi gig next weekend.
MF: Hopefully it can go ahead for you but it’s not looking promising.
JH: Yeah it’s terrible. It doesn’t matter about our gig, people have had their whole life washed away. And I’m sure if the gig did go ahead no one would feel like coming and partying anyway.
Claude Hay was heading up the coast a week early and we’ve just had to cancel the whole thing. he was booked to play a hotel in Brisbane and apparently it’s been washed away. The pub isn’t even there!
MF: What are on the cards for Chase The Sun in 2011?
JH: We’re doing this tour January/February. We’ve been doing lots of writing and rehearsing, which is something we’ve never really done so we thought we’d give it a go and try and rehearse every week like a real band!
We’ve got some dates pencilled in for Europe in August and September. We going to try and go to Japan in October. We’ve also decided to take the Family Vacation tour to Western Australia as well, which might not be until June but we’ll keep you posted when we take the whole show over there.
MF: What can musicfeeders who come out to see you guys play, expect on this tour?
JH: We’re really proud of the bill obviously because we booked the other guys! What we like to say is it’s all Blues inspired music. None of the artists on the bill are really Blues bands. We’re not old traditional Blues bands, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but everyone is a little bit Blues inspired.
Claude Hay is a solo artist and has this incredible array of loop pedals and foot percussion so it ends up sounding like a whole band. He’s quite amazing and then there’s Cass Eager who comes from a more soul and funk kind of things. She has this really big voice and this fun band too and then Chase The Sun where we’re heading more and more towards hard rock but still all three things are bluesy. We did a triple bill the other day and it worked really well, so hopefully, at the very least expect 3 1/2 hours of loud entertainment.
MF: If one of the music feeders wanted to buy you drink, what should they get you?
JH: It’s funny you should ask that because my New Year’s resolution was to not drink for 2 weeks. So from the 1st…well I didn’t make it on the 1st, so from the 2nd of January to the start of the tour I wasn’t going to drink. So if on the tour someone wants to buy me a drink, I’m happy for anything honestly!