INTERVIEW: CHEW LIPS

I’m sat on a cracked, brown, leather sofa in The Sugarmill dressing room with Tigs and James from Chew Lips; it is here that we discuss, SXSW, house parties, politics, Patti Smith and the importance of stage image. It’s not the first time that they’ve been in Stoke as this art electronic pop trio came here on the Delphic tour in March.

In March you toured with Delphic, how was that? Did you enjoy it?
Tigs: It was good, but we missed the last couple of gigs because we off to SXSW

Oh yeah, how was that?
Tigs: Yeah, that was really good, you just walk down the main street and there’s a really great atmosphere and everyone’s really excited
James: Yeah, everyone was really friendly and you get given free beer wherever you go. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done

Did you make friends with lots of other new bands when you were there?
Tigs: Yeah, we need, all the bands were really nice

What bought you back to Stoke after the Delphic tour?
Tigs: Were you here that night?

Yeah, it was good
James: Yeah, we really enjoyed it last time, it was really full and the crowd were good
Tigs: But it’s not gonna be like Delphic, I’m pretty sure.

Yeah, that show was sold out!
Tigs: Yeah, that was mad
James: People were crowd surfing
Tigs: Were they?
James: Well, not crowd surfing, just jumping up on to people’s shoulders and landing on their heads

Yeah, there was a lot of unsuccessful crowd surfing
Tigs: But, yeah, you have to just keep going back to the same places until more and more people hear your music before you can decide where you tour.

How did you meet?
James: We met in South East London and just started playing together
Tigs: Same old, same old really. We just through people we both knew
James: And then we started writing songs and playing gigs in small venues in London

Wasn’t your first gig in a kitchen on a washing machine?
Tigs: Yeah, it’s quite well heard of.
James: Someone was having a house party and we thought we’d go because we love house parties at other people’s houses because it means that you don’t have to clear up
Tigs: People decided that they wanted some live music there and we agreed to play, so now that person can say that we played our first ever gig there, I think that particular person loves that fact. We hadn’t written any song at that point but then we went into the studio and wrote some songs.

Name 5 things/people that you are most inspired by when making music
Tigs: ACID JAZZ * laughs* No, I think I personally would have to say Patti Smith

Ah, have you read her autobiography? It’s amazing; it took me two days to read because I was so addicted to it!
Tigs: No, I’ll have to read it then because I do quite like her but I wouldn’t say that musically I’m influenced by her at all but she made me want to become a musician because before that I was just writing poetry before that before I started turning it into music.

Yeah, well that’s how she started too
Tigs: Exactly, it was really the idea of poetry and music together that was a bit of a revelation to me and what made me want to write music. Ok, who do we share? We share David Bowie don’t we?
James: Yeah, we share David Bowie.
Tigs: Ok, who else? I’d have said Prince. We haven’t really said anything other than musicians; we haven’t said anything like ‘the sky’ or ‘the faces of children’ or ‘the rain on the window.’
James: What about New York?
Tigs: Oh yeah, we went to New York a few weeks ago, we wrote some songs there, it was amazing.

If you could play with any band in the world, who would it be?
Tigs: Well, I don’t want to say anyone too amazing because they’ll just make us look shit, compared to them, like I love Prince but everyone would think that we’re rubbish compared to him. We’re enjoying playing with the support band, Party Horse, there in sound check now, can you hear them? They’re fucking incredible!
James: Yeah, what about the Beach Boys as well?
Tigs: Yeah, that’d be good

Describe a Chew Lips live show to someone that’s never seen you play before
Tigs: It’s involves a lot of lighting and playing, we’re a proper band. I think our live show is a lot more ‘rocky’ than the record. It’s entertaining and we’ve got the Chew Lips sign behind us.

What’s your favourite track of your album?
James: Mine is ‘Eight’, the first song off the album
Tigs: Really?
James: Yeah, I really like it
Tigs: It’s probably my least favourite track
James: Well there, you go
Tigs: No, it’s because you like things that are clever and I like the big songs like ‘Two years’ and ‘Too much talking.’

It’s the general election next week, who’re you backing?
Tigs: I’m backing Clegg because he’s quite good looking I think, is that weird?

Ermm, a bit
Tigs: Yeah, I just think that there’s something quite kind about his face, I feel like I can trust him where as I can’t trust the other two as far I can throw them. That’s the reason that I’m backing Clegg, I just hate the other two. I think that that little creep for the conservatives, David Cameron is just Satan’s little helper really.
James: The Lib Dems definitely have good ideas but they’re not really that strong
Tigs: But they’ve never had a better chance than they have now.
James: What about the Green Party?
Tigs: The Green Party? I don’t know, do they even do general elections and stuff or just local elections?
James: Yeah
Tigs: But I wouldn’t know who the head of the green party is, do you?
James: No
Tigs: Exactly, so I don’t know either Green Party or Lib Dems

Why did you name the album ‘Unicorn’?
Tigs: Because it’s a rare mythical creature
James: And it’s a strong, one word title
Tigs: Yeah, we wanted to call the album ‘Unicron’ because we wrote an electro pop album but then we googled it and we found out that it’s a really obscure character from ‘Transformers’ and we thought it would attract the wrong kind of geeks.

Are you looking forward to tonight’s show?
Tigs: Yeah, of course, we look forward to every show

What are you all wearing?
Tigs: Well that’s a surprise! What did I wear last time in Stoke?

You wore lots of glitter; I think you may have worn some glittery trousers.
Tigs: Ah, glitter’s good, glitter’s important, it’s my onstage vibe.

Do you think image on stage is important?
Tigs: Yeah, I do. I think it’s important that as a performer I feel the difference between sitting around here in the dressing room to the way I feel onstage and I think that having an onstage look is important for people to recognize that and to look like a band.
James: Yeah, the other day you just looked at that picture of a band and said “I’m sorry but the way they look would not make to me want to buy their music.”
Tigs: Yeah but that’s because they were like 40 as well.

If you had to sum up Chew Lips in three words, what would they be?James: Electronic future pop
Tigs: I prefer ‘future’, ‘classic’ ‘pop’

Katie Wilkinson