By Chyrisse Tabone, Tampa Correspondent
Rock At Night had the pleasure of chatting with the “Mod Father” himself, Chris Pope of mod-punk-mega-group The Chords and now Chords UK. Pope and the band are in full swing this year with a lot of plans in the works! A big concert in Manchester (first Chords concert in 35 years) will be held on September 25 as well as a concert at The Borderline, London on October 23rd. A new EP will be released in October. Pope is a man on the go and there is no stopping him!
ROCKATNIGHT: Even though I am a Yank, I have always had a soft spot for mod music. My parents were into Small Faces and The Who so I had exposure to it. As a teen, in the late-70s mod seemed to make its second round. Do you think it is going through another revival in the UK or has it never really left since the 60s? Why do you think in the States it has not been a mainstay? Is “mod” characteristically British?
POPE: Firstly, your parents had great taste in music!! I think the whole 60’s/ Mod sound has run thru music continuously up until the present day.
The Who/Kinks et al have had a profound effect on Punk ..Mod .. Brit Pop to today’s bands like The Strypes. Musically, the US has related far more to the actual music .
Quadrophenia was/is a big album all across the USA–The Who still tour it–albeit it’s not what some would consider an archetypal mod album. It still tells the story of that period. I think the audience there picked up on the sheer brilliance of the music, rather than take the whole fashion thing that went with it in the UK.
ROCKATNIGHT: The Chords is listed in various internet sources as “mod-punk.” How would you describe the genre?
POPE: The Chords came directly out of punk. We were all 14-15 when it kicked off–so it was our time, our music . But we were also steeped in 60’s Brit Pop. We wanted to marry the two sounds together…sort of The Who meets The Clash in some mad “mod-punk-rave mix-up “somewhere in South London.
ROCKATNIGHT: That’s what why we got the “Punks in Parkas” monicle …which is that sound ..I guess
POPE: It was very important for me to take on contemporary influences of the time both musically and lyrically…and set it within the backdrop that was The Chords sound.
ROCKATNIGHT: I understand Chords has recently re-formed as Chords UK. How did this come about? Is the band creating new music too? Are you still going to be doing “Chris Pope” solo projects?
POPE: The Chords UK came about whilst on tour in Japan in 2012. Billy Hassett, the original Chords singer, was doing the J chords (which was him singing the songs with an bunch of local guys). I’d wanted to start doing a Chords set on a much more regular basis (which was pretty difficult with Billy living on the others side of the world and others not really talking with each other). So I put THE CHORDS UK together with Mic Stoner (who was playing Bass in The Chords at the time), Kenny Cooper who came from my solo band, and later joined by Sandy Michie on lead guitar.
After two yers of gigging around Europe and Britain, we went into the studio and finished recording an EP featuring two brand new tunes, re-worked an old Chord song, and also produced a cover of The Kinks classic “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion”.
Were looking to record an album , hopefully to be released in 2016. After that, I’ll be doing my next solo album.
ROCKATNIGHT: What is your song-writing process today versus the early Chords days? How has your music changed, if at all?
POPE: The songwriting process for me… hasn’t really changed much . Always the tune comes first ..then trying to hang a good title on it. ..then filling in the dots with the lyrics /riffs/harmonies.
You kind of take more on board over the years, more influences as music comes and goes–which means more goes into the mix these days !!!
ROCKATNIGHT: About being a musician today in the Millennium…..How has being a musician changed from 30 years ago regarding technology (e.g., digital equipment, digital music downloads), venues, the business, etc.?
POPE: The music “business” has totally changed over the last 30 yers–some might say for the worse. But what technology has done has provided a vehicle for unsigned- bands to actually get their music out on-line…on iTunes and YouTube etc…which as anyone who ‘s played in bands thru the 80’s and 90’s is a god-send. Back then you were totally reliant on the big record companies for getting music out there (and if they didn’t fancy you) then that was it! So now there’s a bit more of an outlet for bands and artists to get the music heard.
ROCKATNIGHT: What kind of advice would you give to a young band today?
POPE: Walk before you can run and NEVER give up!
ROCKATNIGHT: What is on the horizon for Chords UK in the next year?
POPE: Hopefully we’ll be recording an album with a bunch of songs I’d originally wrote for that second Chords album (that never happened) along with a dozen or so new one’s. We are planning a Spring release. The Chords UK will be out gigging wherever we can!
The Chords UK
New song!! “I Can’t Let Go” by The Chords UK
I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse