Chris Pope & The Chords UK interview
For the past few years Chris Pope, former guitarist and songwriter with Mod revival heroes The Chords, has been touring with a new line up under the moniker Chords UK, playing classic tracks from the early days alongside new compositions. With a new album
Hi Chris, thanks for finding time to speak to us. Can we start by finding out a bit about the new album, and where the band sees itself heading?
The inspiration for the album was two-fold I suppose. While touring the new band line up, I got sent a bootleg copy of the last Marquee gig the original band played (in 1980), and it’s immediately obvious that even over the 14 short months that we lasted, our musical style had changed quite dramatically. The sharp, punky edge that we started with had been replaced with a more mature sound. There were a lot of songs on there which were intended for the second album (which sadly remained unrecorded) and it seemed a good idea to try to get some out. We’ve included a couple on here (Burning All Around and Home Sweet Home) and I’m happy with how they’ve turned out.
I wanted to reflect where I see the band having gone if they’d carried on, perhaps with more Sixties styles coming through.
Listening to the new album, I’d agree that there is a lot of that in there. Is that where you draw your influences from?
My dad was into music when I was young, I was listening to people like The Beatles, The Stones when I was about four, but it was The Who that got me going. When punk started in the mid-Seventies I was seeing people like The Clash and Pistols, so that shaped me too. Going to a lot of gigs when I was 14-15, you sort of soak up a lot of what you’re hearing. I think it was an amalgamation of people like that which shaped The Chords’ early sound. It’s a bit like making a cake, you put the ingredients that you know into it, and hopefully you get a successful recipe at the end of it! As you go through life, you pick up other things; the longer you’re around, the more you absorb. That’s still the music I go back to, but I also like a lot of the guitar bands that have followed. It doesn’t really matter where or when it comes from though, if it’s good music then it’s good music. You don’t need to hang a label on it to appreciate it.
It’s certainly a different sound to your last project, Pope.
That was largely down to it really just being me and Brett (Ascott – The Chords’ original drummer) working in a studio. That was largely synthetic amps and the like, whereas now we’re using real ones. We were really more influenced by what was happening at the time too, the back of the Britpop thing etc.
On this one though, I’ve got the three guys who’ve been playing the material live for three or four years in the studio with me, playing a lot more in a Sixties style than we captured with the Pope material, giving more of a ‘band’ feel. I think it makes a difference to our sound with having Kenny on drums, he has a different sound to Brett, he was more of a powerful drummer, while Kenny has more of a groove going on.
So is it finished now?
(Laughs) No… well… it depends! We’ll see if people ‘get it’. We recorded about 15 or 16 tracks, so there are still a handful that may see a release early next year as an EP or something. Just keep it rolling on, you know… why not? We’ve a few gigs lined up, including the Isle of Wight scooter rally and the album launch at the 100 Club, and five or six dates around the country, playing here and there up until Christmas. Not really a tour as such, just where people have asked us to perform, which I always feel is nice in itself. The plan is to get the album out there and heard, and then hopefully do a short tour up and down the country in February or March next year to back it up, then maybe a live album after that.
Thanks for your time Chris, and I hope the album goes well.
My dad was into music when I was young, I was listening to people like The Beatles, The Stones when I was about four, but it was The Who that got me going. When punk started in the mid-Seventies I was seeing people like The Clash and Pistols, so that shaped me too.