Light Traffic

Please, No Questions: An Intimate Conversation with The Chaw

The Chaw’s new LP, which seems very much to be titled “LP” or maybe “The Chaw: LP”, is definitely good. It’s dark and energetic and maybe even a little spooky. There are effective, agile guitar leads and gnarled, edgy vocals blah blah blah…just click on the link and listen. It’s good. I’d say it’s got a little Nick Cave and a little Jim Morrison, who I’m not at all wild about, but whose likeness is unlikely and charming in the context of this record.

Jeff and Stephen, lead vocalist/bassist (singing bassist - 10 points to Ravenclaw!) and guitarist of The Chaw sat down to Skype with me a couple days ago for one of the most poorly executed interviews I’ve ever done. In retrospect, I should have come up with some back up questions to save my ass in the event that my interviewees and I turned out to share virtually no common ground. But we live and learn.

As a warm-up question, I asked the guys if they might start out by telling me a band story. Silence. I thought Skype had frozen until Jeff excused himself to refill his coffee, leaving Stephen to explain to me that they really aren’t that kind of band.

When Jeff returned, Stephen suggested to him that they tell me the story about that one time they were late and Jeff agreed. So the story goes one time, Jeff and Stephen showed up late to pick up the keyboard player and drummer who subsequently got bummed. How late had they been? Fifteen minutes. Again, silence. Then Jeff suggested that they really aren’t a very interesting band. On the one hand, I strongly agree, but on the other hand, never have I ever encountered another band whose biggest disaster story involves light traffic.

I don’t think Jeff and Stephen were that amused when I asked if their band name, The Chaw, was a phonetic interpretation of a Wayne’s Worldesque “p'shaw!” They were so much as visibly annoyed when I asked them what the deal was with their band name. “There is no deal,” they said. “It’s just what the band is called!”

This, of course, made me want to talk about the band name more. It was probably a good five minutes before I got Jeff to reluctantly explain to me that “Chaw” just what people used to call chewing tobacco, which has no significance one way or the other to any of the band members. Then Jeff said the best six words I’ve ever heard in an interview: “I really don’t like answering questions.”

Yep.

For some reason, this is the point at which I tried to steer the conversation toward religion. I had read in The Chaw’s bio that Jeff and Stephen had met at church.

So you guys met at church.” (How clever! A non-question!)

Yes.”

They weren’t volunteering very much information so I went back to asking the kinds of questions someone who doesn't know anything about Christianity might ask two mysterious mid-20's band member/Christians. “What kind of church?” “Nazarene.” I asked if they could spell Nazarene and they said yes. Neither Stephen nor Jeff attend church anymore, but still consider themselves religious. Nothing major. Jeff mentioned that he used to play in a Christian metal band called In Reverent Fear, which is the best band name I've ever heard of. Even better than The Chaw.

Anyway, this band is so good that I wanted to tell you guys about them—even after that train-wreck interview—so definitely check them out. They also have a record release show on December 15th at Bottom of the Hill.