Interview: The Chevin

They’re the lads from Yorkshire who have become a huge hit in the States. Fast-rising rockers The Chevin spoke to Mark Butler about going from pubs to stadiums, battling scorpions and BBQ fanatics in Texas, and why it’s time for good old-fashioned rock to make a mainstream comeback.

They’ve been compared to U2 and The Killers, hailed as the band of the year in the US, and had two of their tracks listed in The Huffington Post’s Top 52 songs of 2012.

One things for certain: live-wire UK rockers The Chevin are determined to put their wholly anonymous hometown of Otley firmly on the map.

“Damn right,” grins lead singer Coyle Girelli. “It’s a great town and a beautiful part of the world. Otley is the town that brought you Thomas Chippendale and…well, that’s about it. So if one day there is a bronze statue of us in the middle of town, next to the one of Chippendale, I’ll be a very happy man.”

Named after a local landmark but now fully international in their reach and outlook, the band – completed by guitarist Mat Steel, bassist Jon Langford and drummer Mal Taylor – have been causing a stir on both sides of the Atlantic.

They’ve played arenas with White Lies, been tipped by the DC Examiner as the ‘No.1 band to watch’, and even performed live on the David Letterman show. Girelli can’t quite believe it’s happened to them.

“It’s been surreal to see all the press we’ve been getting in the States, and being asked to play on Letterman was crazy,” he says. “We’ve played in LA, New York and at SXSW in Austin, and they all seemed to be digging it.

“I think my abiding memory of America so far is the LA sunshine, which seems a million miles away from back home. That and the Austin BBQ – which is some serious stuff. Don’t get between a Texan and his Pork Ribs, or he will kill you. Literally. It nearly happened to Jon…”

The Chevin are armed with swaggering rock anthems and the full-throttle attitude to match. In a music landscape where R&B, folk and glitzy-pop have eclipsed indie in recent years, it’s no wonder some have suggested they are at the forefront of a full-on rock revival.

“We’ve had dance and electronic music dominate for a few years,” muses Girelli. “It’s time for guitars again now.”

The success of their debut album Borderland, which has been widely acclaimed and become a considerable download hit on iTunes, would appear to suggest that both Girelli, and those who champion his band, are spot on.

The Chevin recorded Borderland out in the middle of the Texan desert, right on the border where the Mexican drug wars are currently raging.

“It’s a proper ‘Cowboys and Indians’ world down there,” says Girelli. “Across the border is drug war chaos. It’s pretty out of control, so we didn’t venture into Mexico.

“To be honest though, we were more worried about the Black Widow spiders that sat above the studio door, and the crazy bugs everywhere. Mal picked up his towel one morning and a scorpion fell out of it. You don’t get that in Otley.”

When it comes to gigs, too, the boys have had an eventful time of it so far. Girelli describes a gig at Wembley Arena with White Lies as “amazing”, while their performance at last year’s T in the Park amid the worst of the summer downpours seems set to pass into festival legend.

“It was madness,” recalls the frontman. “The whole place was swamp land. The camp site had been washed away by rain so everyone had just given into the elements and was head-to-toe in mud. Oh, and a lot of people were dressed as tigers for some reason. Never did figure that one out.

“Anyway, we performed live in wellies for the first time – which personally made me feel like a bad-ass. We brought ‘Farmer Rock’ to T in the Park.”

Never ones to shy away from the unconventional, The Chevin even played a special showcase gig at John Lennon’s old house last year.

“That was pretty special,” says Girelli. “John Lennon is a massive influence on us, and the energy of the place was incredible. It wasn’t only his place though. It was owned by Ringo, and the room we played in was once Jimi Hendrix’s bedroom, where he wrote a load of songs.

“Then there was John and Yoko’s office underneath their bedroom, and Paul McCartney’s studio where he demoed Eleanor Rigby and loads of other stuff. Between John, Jimi and Paul, there must have been so many classic songs written in that space.”

The band are clearly hoping to establish some classic songs of their own – with the anthemic ‘Champion’ already well on the way to being something of a modern sensation – and you wouldn’t bet against them having that bronze statue in the centre of Otley one day.

In any case, Girelli is certainly getting used to the rock and roll lifestyle that comes with playing stadiums.

“The catering and dressing rooms are pretty pimp,” he laughs. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a massage and a mani pedi…”

 

Borderland is out now. The Chevin play Webster Hall in New York tonight and tomorrow, supporting The Airborne Toxic Event.

 



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