photo: courtesy of Riot Act Media
Of all the reasons to move to Canada, Chin Up Chin Up lead singer and guitarist Jeremy Bolen may have found the most enticing, at least for the aspiring musician. "As far as I understand," he says, "the government will give you money to play music. Bands get like $30,000 for a year just to be a band."
Though the U.S. government seems to have other priorities, Chin Up Chin Up seems pretty comfortable stateside. Since the 2004 release of its debut, We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, the band has enjoyed much critical acclaim, thanks to a unique sound that marries catchy, swirling pop melodies with often unintelligible lyrics. The songs are both understated and dramatic, tunes that get stuck in your head and don't find their way out for days. Bolen's singular songwriting style is probably best understood through his unorthodox song titles, including "Fuck You, Elton John" and "Why Is My Sleeping Bag a Ghetto Muppet?"
"They all actually kinda have a lot of meaning," says Bolen of the titles. "They're not jokes, necessarily. They're often things I thought of while I was writing, or relating to a conversation I had. With the last album, I came up with the song titles first, and with this new one I came up with the titles last."
The new album, Writing Writing Writing (on Seattle label Suicide Squeeze) will be released in the fall. "It's a little more simplified than the last record," says Bolen. "I always think that, though, and it never really proves true. But I think it's more of a rock record…the songs are just more straightforward."
This shift in sound is representative of the emotional process that Chin Up Chin Up has been through over the past couple of years. Writing Writing Writing will be the band's first proper album without its original bass player, Chris Saathoff, who was killed by a drunk driver outside the Empty Bottle in 2004. "It's something we all still think about," says Bolen. "But this record is kind of about moving on to a new place and a new kind of songs." To that end, Jesse Logan has joined the band as the full-time bass player, joining original members Nathan Skydacker (guitar), Chris Dye (percussion) and Greg Sharp (keyboards).
Chin Up Chin Up will perform at the Pitchfork Music Festival later this month. "I think it's amazing," says Bolen of the festival. "It's great because it's done so independently. I think it's got Clear Channel kinda scratching their heads. It also helps people realize what a great place for music Chicago is. I've always said that Chicago is to music kind of what L.A. is to film."
Take that, Canada.
The coolest thing in your neck of the woods:
I think they call it the Prairie Trail Line or something like that. There's this abandoned railroad track they're talking about turning into a bike path, it's really overgrown with weeds and stuff. It goes all the way to Union Station. If it happens, you could bike all the way to the Loop without having to be on the streets.
On a Sunday afternoon I:
Depends on the time of the year. If it's fall, I would be watching football. In the summertime, I'd usually ride my bike around or play tennis; actually that's my favorite thing in the afternoon.
Most surreal CTA moment:
I don't ride the CTA very often. Now I ride my bike everywhere. But seeing the Hummer Ad on the side of the CTA…that's always completely unexpected.