Future rulers of progressive blues play hometown festival
The Chairs are one of the most interesting and exciting new bands around. There are many reasons why, but the most striking is that they effortlessly merge traditional blues rock, with progressive leanings. Think of Chuck Berry meets the Mars Volta and you are on the right track. Today at 7 they will be helping to close this year’s Ealing Blues Festival.
A while back I was lucky enough to meet up with guitarist (and head Chair) Russ Newman.
How did you all meet?
Most of us grew up in Ealing. We’re sort of all around mid-20s. We’ve been playing quite a while, probably since about 2006.
Did you start gigging straight away?
I think was our first gig wasn’t until around 2009 then I think we started trying to play more gigs we’ve been a bit dormant the last six months but I think we’re going to pick up again as spring comes around.
Is that just a hibernation period?
Yeah, I mean hopefully, I’d like to think it’s not just us. It’s like a global thing. People just go dormant. No one wants to go to a gig when its’ snowing. We’ve got some gigs coming up in the summer and we tend to play well, but we’ve never played outside of London.
How come you’ve never played outside of London?
Well you can probably take over the world from inside London, without ever leaving London. Having said that, we are actually playing a gig in Cornwall this summer. A wedding we’re going to play at but apart from that we tend to play London. Mainly West London…There are a few people that are trying to build West London up in terms of it’s sort of music credibility.
I think they should, because the heritage is there
Exactly, yeah, I mean I randomly found myself looking up the Ealing Club on the internet and it’s got a really interesting history but I don’t think anyone realises that and it kind of needs to. It should get a blue plaque because that’s where the rolling stones met. I mean, that’s a hell of a statement!
What was the reason that made you form the band?
I suppose there is always like, there’s probably only ever three answers to that question. I think people do it
a) Because they’re not very good at anything else
b) Because they want to try to get more sex or
c) Probably just the enjoyment of playing music
And I’d say it’s mainly the enjoyment of playing music but also sort of wanting to take over the world aspect and to get some more sex…so basically all of the three.
There’s also the element of when you’re around 19/20, if you discover that some of you and some of your mates play an instrument it seems like the logical thing to sort of try and create something bigger than you know messing about here and there.
Was there like a period when stuff that was coming out and seeing people on TV that made you think ‘Well if they can do it we can clearly do this?’
Definitely, there was a band called The Music. I looked at them and thought: they’re like, they’re not much older than us. I like the music they made and thought we could do something similar. That band was quite sort of inspirational at the time.
How did you come up with the name?
There was a guy at our school who used to just sort of fantasize about a band. He didn’t really play anything but he used to just go: ‘Oh! It’d be cool to be in a band.’ And he came up with this name The Sleepy Chairs and he just sort of drew this art work. I thought Sleepy Chairs that’s quite cool. So we removed the word sleepy and it just became The Chairs. I think they name of a band is quite important. Probably more important than we ever thought it was, ha!
Do you have collective influences?
That’s quite a tricky question. We’ve all seen Muse. We’re definitely all into Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stoneage and Radiohead. We’ve kind of got fingers going off in other weird things.
So what are your individual influences?
Led Zeppelin. I took more from it just because I was a guitarist and I wanted to be Jimmy Page. That’s my main thing that I wanted to bring. I like the way it’s quite built up. There’s always a lot going on, you can listen out for extra bits that you’ve not even heard of. Possibly more so than just lots of guitar solos. I’ve always sort of fantasised about making a guitar solo but often I think the perfect thing for the song is to not have one. I’m so really subjective when it comes to influences. One day I’m like: O lets me some like trance band and another day and I want to do folk music.
Do prefer playing venues or you like doing things like the Ealing blues festival?
I definitely enjoyed the Ealing blues festival because it’s probably the largest physical gig that we’ve played. I definitely enjoyed playing that festival. Playing outdoors is something I really like.
So what’s the future for The Chairs?
Hopefully we should just play our thing and eventually it will become a scene.