Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Interview: Chris Chu of The Morning Benders

Again, it's summer time. At least it feels like summer, although here in DC it feels like a sweltering swamp in hell. (I feel I was not adequately warned about this; I'm moving back to Chicago.) But more importantly, now is the time to find that great summer record/band. This month I'm going to recommend the Morning Benders of Berkeley. Their album, Talking Through Tin Cans, came out last month and I briefly caught up with lead singer/guitarist Chris Chu over email to discuss the album and their influences. (Please note, as you will see, I did not receive an answer to my Bash Brothers question which I was very proud of. They may have been a bit before Chris' time. In retrospect, I should have brought up the "tuck rule" instead.)

: How did you all get hooked up with the Kooks for this current tour?

Chris Chu: Jonny (Kaps of Plus One Music) introduced them to us and we got to do a couple of "intimate" shows with them in LA. "intimate" for the kooks, but some of the biggest shows we ever played. they are super cool and humble dudes, and we got along really well. then they asked us to come on the full us tour with them. we were pretty excited, to say the least.

NQL: I saw you guys opened up for the Cure* in Washington (state) not that long ago. Tell me about it!

CC: (It was) amazing. That was our first time going to Washington, and getting to play the Gorge, of all places!! Amazing!!! That is one of the venues I've only seen pictures of, but have wanted to go to for a long time. It was pretty awesome getting to go there for the first time to play a show.

NQL: You guys have a pretty nice breezy sound, which I would assume is kind of facilitated by your California roots. Who did you all grow up listening to that influenced your sound?

CC: This first album is very much influenced by a lot of 60's and 70's pop and rock bands and artists. Beatles, Beach Boys, Neil Young, Dylan, Phil Spector, etc... This was some of the first music we felt really passionate about, we were pretty much listening to old stuff exclusively. No new music. It definitely influenced the sound of the songs on Talking Through Tin Cans.

NQL: Speaking of which, you all come from Oakland. Care to share your favorite Bash Brothers memory? And wait, are you guys from Oakland? I've also read San Francisco, Berkeley, and Sac-town. Help out this Midwesterner, which is it? And why is San Jose not getting any love?

CC: Haha. We live in the East Bay. Oakland/Berkeley. We say San Francisco to a lot of people from other states, just because it's more recognizable. Sorry for the confusion.

NQL: Your cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying" sounds great. Whose idea was that?

CC: Thanks! I just recorded that one on a whim at home. There wasn't really an idea behind it - just liked the song.

NQL: Your debut album Talking Through Tin Cans came out on Tuesday the 6th of May (the track "Waiting for a War" is catchy as hell, btw). Were you at all nervous that people would have been too hungover from Cinco De Mayo to make it to the record store the next day? And I'm sure someone out there has already been listening to Talking Through Tin Cans for awhile. I'm always interested to get up-and-coming bands' thoughts on (illegal) downloading because it is people like you that this phenomenon probably impacts the most. Does the rush that people are listening to your music trump the fact that they're not paying for it?

CC: think it's great. I think the internet is a WONDERFUL and SCARY place. I encourage people to download music, especially new music, because it only leads to new fans / but I also encourage people to support music. If you downloaded the album, go to a show, buy a t shirt, buy the CD directly from the band. Do something to support the people who are making this stuff!

NQL: You guys just played the Vic in Chicago on the 2nd. How was it?

CC: This was our first time to Chicago, and it was killer. It's the first big city we hit after going through all the states in the middle. And it was really nice to get a good, healthy meal.

NQL: Your sound has been compared to the likes of the Beatles, the Shins, Tom Petty, and the Kinks (the Kinks is my call, btw). How much are these comparisons a blessing and how much are they a curse? Seems like that could be a lot of unneeded pressure to have those names casually thrown around.

CC: Those bands are all pretty commemorated bands, so I don't think we can take it any way but as a compliment. I don't feel much pressure from those comparisons. I don't think we sound like any of those bands really, but I also think I am probably the worst person to judge/describe our music. I just hope people use the comparisons as a jump-off point, not an end-point. I hope people listen to the music and it hits them in a unique, personal way.

*Granted, it was at Sasquatch, but I think that counts.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a really good interview,very original! the morning benders rock, i saw them perform at noisepop this year adn am a huge fan of their music now.
check out this interview they did in san francisco with the CW last month... http://cwbayarea.com/entertainment/music

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