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Gloom With A View
They’re from the grimmest reaches of Britain’s industrial north, yet are as influenced by David Lynch as by Joy Division. Meet The Chapman Family, the angsty rockers with something interesting to say beyond the usual provincial mooching.
Peter Murphy, 26 Apr 2011
The Chapman Family are no ordinary noiseniks. Clap an ear to their debut album Burn Your Town, and you might pick up on everything from Fugazi-style hardcore to Mogwai dynamics, but scratch the surface and you'll also hear strains of film score maestros like Morricone and Badalamenti.
"I like big sounds and big noises and big guitars and soundscapes," says singer and guitarist Kingsley Chapman. "But the other day somebody was trying to get me to write about a musical hero for an indie pop magazine and I wanted to do it about Angelo Badalamenti, who did Twin Peaks and all the David Lynch stuff. The soundtrack to Fire: Walk With Me is one of my favourite things in the world. It scares the shit out of me."
Indeed, there's a slow waltz with twangy guitar and cello called 'The Pink Room', which is one of the most malevolent pieces of music you'll ever hear.
"And that's over quite a perverse scene too, where they're all drinking and taking drugs and talking backwards. I remember watching that for the first time and thinking, 'The noise is just awesome.' But I like those big synth ones too, the Julee Cruise-type moments. On a couple of B-sides we did a while ago I tried to rip off that big heavy synth sound. I've seen a couple of not particularly nice reviews of us where they were saying that there's not that much going on with the guitar lines, we don't do anything particularly twiddly, and I think back to soundtracks or other bands I like: you don't have to use a million notes to get your points across."
More than anything, Burn Your Town, true to its Old Testament meets Clash manifesto title, sounds like a high volume SOS signal from a recession-devastated north-east of England.
"Sometimes I get criticism and compliments for the same point: 'You're just portraying a miserable country',” says Kingsley, “but it's the life that I see when I open up my front door. I'm in an area called Teeside. If you classify the north-east of England as the shitty, ignored, irrelevant part of the UK – financially, socially and economically it's bearing the brunt of the cuts – Teeside is the embarrassing, pathetic, pissed-uncle-at-a-disco part of the north-east. I open my door in Redcar and it's amazing, cos I get the North Sea a hundred metres away, and a mile up the coast is a nuclear power station. I don't hear electro pop or folky minstrels like Mumford & Sons wandering down the road as I open my door. I hear clanging guitars.