By Kevin Alan Lamb
One of the greatest takeaways of working at a music venue is being submerged in the local music scene, ripe, and blossoming with immense talent. Later to the music game than most, I was initially exposed to national talent at major festivals like Electric Forest, Wakarusa, and The Gentlemen of the Road Stop over. But over time, I came to discover that so many of my favorite musicians were born and bred right here in the magical mitten, and there will come a day when their talent and passion takes them away from here at an increasing rate – so smoke em while you got em.
When I think of the Ann Arbor based Chirp, I feel a flow of joyful noise bouncing to and fro through my veins, and in my blood. The four piece is most known for their progressive rock/funk and jazz-fusion, but continue to keep their sound fresh hopping genres, blending originals and covers built upon an Everest of energy, certain to move ya and groove ya until the cows (perhaps pigs) come home.
Since their inception in 2015 Chirp has played over 300 shows, including a 2018 tour across the Midwest to venues and festivals. They have released three live-recorded EPs: “Live from Brownstown” (in-studio, 2016), “Live at Willis Sound” (in-studio, 2017), and “Live at Ann Arbor Summer Festival” (2018), and are just days away from releasing their debut studio-recorded, self-titled, full length album.
Chirp features nine songs and will be available on CD and all digital platforms. Physical/Digital Pre-order: https://chirp.bandcamp.com/
I’ve had a chance to sit with, listen to, and take in these tracks over the last few days, and I’m really proud of these guys for what they were able to create. I’m not a musician, but I gotta imagine every musician dreams of creating their first album, and ultimately the way it makes people feel. Whether they’re family, friends, fans, or all of the above, birthing an album is no small task, and only comes as a result of great intention, and desire to connect/move others into a place of joy.
If you’re going to create something meaningful, best take your time, and do it in a comfortable place that helps you feel good. In this instance, Chirp self-recorded the debut album over the course of two years in frontman/guitarist Jay Frydenlund’s Grandma’s old house, where blissful memories of the past helped make magic in the present.
Throughout the album I was reminded of how much I enjoy Frydenlund’s soothing sound and lofty lyrics, most apparent for me in “Dickerville”, “Pieces”, and “Pig Beach” which are my favorite tracks on the album. I am really impressed with the storytelling throughout, and in these tracks especially. Pig Beach sounds “Keller-esque” at times, as it takes us on a 13 minute journey into shipwrecked waters, where a raging a storm fated 22 pigs to swim side-by-side with man in the sea, before making it to shore.
Many of the songs take a light, melodic, and funky approach while offering hope in the form of perspective. Pieces is absolutely beautiful, and likely my favorite track because it just feels so damn good.
There’s something for everyone on this album, and it really captures the full spectrum and diversity of Chirp’s sound in a way I haven’t heard before. John Gorine – Drums, Vocals, Ken Ball – Guitar, Synth, Vocals , and Brian Long – Bass each bring their creativity, instrumentation, and spirit to this musical journey with a compass set to joyful dance. Looking forward to enjoying “Planet Groove” with all of you on Saturday night.
I’m not a Scientologist, I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I am certain that this is a kickass album and Saturday is going to be euphoric evening at the Blind Pig with Chirp, Hannah Rose and the GravesTones, and Biomassive. Support good people who make great music and follow their dreams my working hard, being creative, and introducing something positive in a world grateful to receive it.
You’re set to release your debut, self-titled , full length album. Walk us through the emotions you’re feeling (from the satisfaction of completing something you’ve always wanted to do / and the anticipation of sharing it with your fans)…
John: I’m excited because we’re genuinely happy with how the album turned out! We have other recordings that we like but nothing that compares to the album. I’m also anxious because I hope people like the album as much as we do.
Brian: Feeling very happy/nervous because it’s something we’ve all put a lot of time into
Jay: Really excited and proud, especially because we’ve kept ourselves busy with shows as the recording process has gone on. I’m excited for fans to hear versions of our tunes that match our full visions for them and aren’t subject to live limitations
From start to finish how long did the album take? What are some significant life/band experiences in that time?
Roughly two years. We’ve played some memorable gigs in that span- opening for Spafford at The Majestic playing the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, going on our first out-of-state tour back in December come to mind. We also acquired a van for touring along with a trailer, which has made life on the road much more feasible. Having management and booking through our homies at Purchase Productions has been another huge step in the right direction and a huge help!
Walk us through the process of selecting “Greener” as your first single/video release.
It pretty much unanimous decision, it’s one of our favorite songs to play. We wanted something that would be upbeat and happy sounding, and sort of go out and enthusiastically shout that this thing’s coming out. We felt Paddlebots’ horn parts brought the song over the top and made it a real ear-grabber. We were actually toying around with naming the album “Greener” for a bit..
Tell us about the self-recording process. Biggest challenges, rewards, and the impact the process ultimately had on producing a desired sound?
John: Recording on your own has strengths and weaknesses. We were able to be patient with tracking because we weren’t paying for studio time. Everyone was able to relax more and if we couldn’t get the right take during a session it wasn’t the end of the world. This is probably the same reason it took so long to complete because we spent a lot of time making sure we had exactly what we wanted [laughing].
Brian: We have a lot more control on what we wanted for our personal sound but challenges include not pissing off the neighbors and making certain rooms at Jay’s Grandma’s old house in Saline, MI (where he currently lives and we currently rehearse) sound good.
Jay: There were definitely some early road locks in terms of getting satisfying tones and sounds we were looking for. There was a lot of trial and error, ordering new gear we didn’t know we needed, redoing parts in different rooms, so on and so forth. It was enjoyable to record in a cozy and familiar setting though, and the setting basically being our musical HQ definitely helped us all feel relaxed.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to the band over the last couple years, but I don’t know much about your songwriting process. Does Jay drive or is it more collaborative?
John: Typically Jay writes the music and brings it to the band and we all come up with our own parts.
Brian: Jay is the main power house behind Chirp. He brings really good bones to a song to the table and let’s us work our own stuff into them.
Jay: I always like to write with room for the band to be creative, and fortunately I’m surrounded by some extremely crafty dudes in this group!
Have you been playing these songs on tour, or are some never before heard?
They’ve all been played on tour. We feel these album versions will feel new though, as the fat has been trimmed and they’ve been carved into their intended essence, to put it pretentiously. A few of the songs have been fairly rare live bust-outs so I think they’ll feel new to a lot of folks.
What are some dates you’re really stoked about this year?
John: Buttermilk Jamboree!
Brian: Stoked to play Tonic Room in Chicago in May.
Jay: Both what John and Brian mentioned, the album release 3/23 of course, Halfway to Harvest Festival in Ohio. A lot more that we’re not cleared to announce yet (;
Does music serve as a spiritual guide in your life?
John: I’m not sure if I’d call it a spiritual guide but one of the reasons I love playing music is because it’s an escape from the rest of the world. Everyone is focused in on the same thing and having fun, nobody is worried about the latest trump tweet or the bills we have coming up.
Brian: For me personally I don’t know yet, still trying to figure out why I’m drawn to this craft/thing.
Jay: It can definitely be meditational and serve as a channel for feeling, whether positive or negative, strong or subtle. Whether playing or listening, music has always felt medicinal.
Tell us about your process for building your album release bill with Biomassive and Hannah Rose and the Gravestones at Blind Pig?
We knew off the bat we wanted to have the release party at The Blind Pig, you could call it our home turf. As a band we’ve been going there not just for our own shows but to see other bands play since we were whippersnappers. We thought Biomassive and Hannah Rose & the Gravestones would be great fit for the bill and give them some exposure on our side of the state. We played the pig with Biomassive for New Years and they brought the house down. Hannah Rose + GravesTones brought us out to Founder’s in GR back in December and that was one for the books.. her and her band absolutely bring the house down. The stage will be burnt to a crisp by the time we go up on Saturday.
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