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

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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.

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