The Chap

Mega Breakfast indeed, old chaps.  I first stumbled across London pop quartet The Chap and their startlingly uplifting song, “Proper Rock”, while rifling through mp3s of seas of international acts playing SXSW 2009.  Not only did they stand out for their witty, Flight of the Conchords-like lyrics, but their keen, almost dadaist, sense of play.  They are definitely one of the UK acts that we’ll be lining up for in Austin this week.  Chap member Johannes Vonweizsacker was lovely enough to answer a few questions for us via email before venturing off with his fine band to Texas.

I haven’t seen The Chap yet, but I’ve watched some of your performances on YouTube.  I must say, you seem to enjoy playing for the sake of playing.  Your words and harmonies in songs like “Proper Rock” point out your excellent sense of humour.  Do you get a kick out of not taking everything so seriously and getting away with having fun on stage?

We find too much sincerity in a pop music performance to be misguided. It becomes so much more pretentious than the kind of music which normally gets called pretentious. It’s pop music, not Wagner, right? Anyway, i think to a considerable extent, we are about presenting our love/hate relationship with pop culture, our confusion as to how deal with it, and I guess you have to employ your sense of humour to do that. Otherwise, it would just be dreadful. We’d be just another whiny, indie pop group whining about how hard it is to be in a whiny, indie pop group.

I can’t believe another UK band didn’t already come up with the fabulous name of “The Chap”.  How did you get so lucky, and who in the band came up with it?

No band came up with that name, but somebody did call their magazine The Chap. It’s a fantastic magazine – all about how to be a modern gentleman and dandy, which cuff links to wear for which occasions and which pose to assume whilst reading Baudelaire on the divan, enjoying an opium pipe. Reading it, you know it’s not entirely serious, but quite how much of it is irony and how much of it is genuine love for its subject remains unclear. We could relate to that so we named ourselves after it (with the editor’s permission).

How long have you been together?  Did you form in art school, perchance?

We’ve been together about seven years. No art school back ground, though. Music college and computing.

For better or for worse, it’s been stated that you look “like teachers.”  Are you fans of, or have you met, the Oxford band The Young Knives, who also look a bit scholarly, (since they dress in tweed and wear glasses on stage)?

Yes, we are aware of that band. no tweed onstage for us, though. that’s way too hot!! Maybe those guys don’t move around a great deal. We like to rock out, even though we look like teachers rocking out. I think the main reason for that is that we’re all in our thirties and don’t adhere to the skinny jeans uniform of today’s youngsters. We spent our own teenage days getting through that in the eighties.

How long did it take you to go from being such a lo-fi enterprise, as band with microphone, and become such a full-fledged act?

It took us several years and I think the process is still ongoing.  I always think that by the sixth album, we’ll sound like an Alan Parsons production. Right now, we own about six microphones and might even go to a STUDIO for some of the next album… anyway, if someone gave us some MONEY for a change, we’d soon be considered the cutting edge of high-end production.

What are you most looking forward to during your time in the wilds of Austin at SXSW?  Do you know you’ll be playing a trendy clothing store (Urban Outfitters) as one of your stops?

Yes, we know about the trendy clothing store. We’re in deep distress about it. What if we don’t look good? That would be just awful. Anyway, I’m looking forward to eating some steaks and meeting tons of really nice, open-minded, intelligent people from the music business. Oh, hang on a minute…–MVW

The Chap @ SXSW:
Wed. 03.18 Austin, TX SXSW @ Club 1808 (8:30pm)
Wed. 03.18 Austin, TX SXSW @ Mohawk (12am)
Sat. 03.21 Austin, TX SXSW @ Urban Outfitters (2pm)

Fri. 03.27 Le Poisson Rouge

Sat. 03.28 The Cake Shop

  1. Funny interview. I love the link to the chap magazine for all pipe related news: “Lithuanian Premier Fined for Smoking” Pipe