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Chumped Searches For A Fountain Of Youth
Thursday, September 11, 2014

Being a teenager can have Charles Dickens-esque qualities, as many consider those years the best of times, and the worst of times. They’re an epic amalgamation of joy and stress, and for Brooklyn bummer punk band Chumped they’re times worth holding on to.

Lead singer Anika Pyle explains the band’s ethos, saying they’re, “Trying to retain the feeling of youth that is so fleeting, and always trying to escape you.”

She adds, “A lot of the new material is trying to understand how you stay happy as you age, and how you maintain your desire to ride around on your skateboard, and eat ice cream, and drink 40s on the roof, while dealing with all of the bullshit that you encounter as you age.”

While with age comes new responsibilities, Pyle sees this as essentially a replacing of one set of concerns with another. “It’s like sort of retiring some of the tragedy that is being a teenager, while holding on to those dreams that you have as a young person,” she explains, “so a lot of the content is dealing with getting older, and watching people get older, and feeling yourself grapple with life decisions that you didn’t have when you were a kid.”

One major quality from their youth that Pyle, along with bandmates Drew Johnson (guitar), Doug McKeever (bass), and Dan Frelly (drums), retained is the sound of the music they listened to as kids. Pyle notes, “We grew up in the 90s, so I think just inherently we sort of adopted a lot of the melodic styles, and a lot of that sort of laid back, fuzzy stuff that we grew up listening to.”

Chumped refers to their style as “bummer punk,” as Pyle explains, “We write punk music, I would say, pop punk specifically, but the content of our songs is pretty emo. There’s a lot of heavy content.”

“You can dance around, you can have fun while listening to it, and then if you wanna dig a little deeper you can get pretty heady if you read some of the words. We don’t like bumming people out, but we do like people to think critically about their lives.”

The latest example of the band’s “bummer punk” is their just-released three song EP, That’s The Thing Is Like..., which will be followed in November by a full length release titled Teenage Retirement. Both albums share the single “Hot 97 Summer Jam,” though the song has nothing to do with the annual hip-hop event of the same name.

“We all listen to Hot 97.1 frequently here in New York,” Pyle explains, “and we wrote this song that was about summer, like summer love, and it was just super fun. It was just supposed to be a super fun song, so we were like yeah, this is our summer jam, this is our ‘Hot 97 Summer Jam.’”

Barring a radical change in Hot 97’s format, Chumped will probably never be on the Summer Jam stage, but the band has enjoyed a few short tours of their own. One particularly memorable one was with their friends, Adult Dude.

“I think the whole weekend was like being a teenager,” Pyle remembers, “It was just like, get us a 30 pack of High Life, and drive around in a van with your best friends, and play weird, crazy basement shows where everything is like totally covered in mold, but it’s awesome because there are 18 year old kids dancing around to music that they’ve never heard before. That’s what I think being young and have a fucking great time is all about.”

Pyle, Johnson, and Frelly spent their younger years in Monument, Colorado, a place Pyle describes as, “A shitty little small evangelical Christian town.” That said, she adds, “That town sort of bred this subculture of people who were totally different, and there was a lot of great music growing up, and we all got heavily involved in the punk scene there.”

Fast-forward to adulthood; Pyle and Johnson both made the move to Brooklyn, Pyle met McKeever while they were working together at a farmer’s market, and the trio formed a band. The band, however, was constantly cycling through drummers. Frelly eventually made his way to the borough, and thought he might be able to solve their rotating drummer problem.

“The three of us were heading to practice,” Pyle remembers of the November day back in 2012, “and he was like, ‘Hey, I’ve been wanting to try out the drums. Can I come to your practice and see if I can figure it out?’ We were all like, ‘Uh, yeah, sure, whatever. That sounds fun. Let’s just fuck around.’ We sat down in the practice space and it was like instant chemistry. I had never been in a band before, Dan had never really played drums before, Doug had never played bass before, and Drew had never played lead guitar, but for some reason, when we all got in the room together it was sort of this magic, cohesive moment.”

Now the foursome are on their second EP (their previous being a self-titled effort released in 2013), and they’re ready for their full length album, Teenage Retirement, to be released exactly two years after that initial practice session.

When it comes to her own teenage retirement, Pyle says, “It’s funny, the concept is a little bit of vowing to retire as a teenager, and keeping that youthful lust for life until you die, (but) then it’s a double sided situation, because it’s also retiring some of the things about being a teenager that aren’t so great, like irresponsibility, and extreme anxiety, and a balance between naivete and reality, or eating Doritos for dinner, which I still occasionally do, but I’d like to do less often.”

“I would say teenage retirement is a lifelong commitment.”

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 1:42 PM  
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