Thanks for helping us raise $25,000! You make all the difference! →
Thanks for helping us raise $25,000! You make all the difference! →
Arts of Life Band is a creative collaborative project between disabled and non-disabled artists in the Chicago area, based out of the Arts of Life community of artists. Guided by Artistic Director Ryan Shuquem, the band makes call-and-response, energetic rock music that combines the eccentricity of Wesley Willis and the community aspect of School of Rock.
Housed in the Arts of Life space in West Town, Chicago, the band has been keeping busy with recording, performing and over-all good vibes. They found time to record a session at Coach House Sounds, capturing the spirit of their live show and energy of the band – here the session on CHIRPradio.org and stream it over at http://www.coachhousesounds.com/">coachhousesounds.com.
What the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in a basement?
Matt – I threw a chair at my brother. I was watching TV and he changed the channel in the middle of the show. I was only 12, so I didn’t know what I was doing. Ha.
Mike – I pushed my cousin and locked him in the tool closet.
Ryan – I was playing with a broken light bulb and shocking myself in a basement.
David – We used to have a basement, but I don’t live in there any more.
Arts of Life Band seems to have a humanitarian mission, can you talk about that aspect of the project and how you’ve accomplished those goals?
Matt – I think we show people with disabilities that they have lots of options in life
Ryan- I agree, and I think we introduce people to each other who might have never met otherwise, help bridge the gaps between disabled rockers and non-disabled rockers.
Describe a scenario where Arts of Life Band could be someone’s life coach and the top 2 life lessons you’d teach them.
David – We’d say “You can have a band too. You can play music too. Don’t be afraid.”
What do you like about Chicago, and what makes it special to you?
Matt – I like the hot dogs, I like the meat, I like the White Sox
David – I like the police, they rescue lives
Ryan – I like the friendly people. Coach House Sounds, Mucca Pazza, CPE Sound where we rehearse. We get to meet lots of nice people that are interested in supporting our hard work.
Mike – I like my housing association and my staff.
Kelly – Hamburgers. I just do.
Tell me about your CHS session—what did you like about it? Was there anything that surprised you or was spontaneous that came out in the recording?
Ryan – I think they made us feel comfortable and really showcased our fabulous energy!
David – I liked the spotlights and the peoples
Andrew – Yeah, Matt was great. He sat in while we were waiting for our drummer and helped us warm up. He played well!
What’s happening? What are your current/upcoming shows or releases?
Ryan- We’re excited about our release show on March 10th at the Hide Out of course and we’re doing a couple high schools this month. Should be fun to rock a high school.
Also, we’ve got a great art studio with lots of beautiful art work to look at and the best tour guide in the business (David). Come check us out in West Town at 2010 W. Carroll Ave. or in the virtual world at artsoflife.org.
He was the alt-rock pin up boy, the slacker who proved he could write a mean hook, a man who made great music but never seemed to quite grab the brass ring. Evan Dando led The Lemonheads, who slowly but surely cleaned up a scruffy sound, and became a major presence on the airwaves with songs like “It’s A Shame About Ray” and “Into Your Arms”. Alas, Dando couldn’t sustain the momentum, but he is still out there touring, even guesting with the reformed MC5 a few years ago. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Evan by grabbing your iPod, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
CHIRP DJ Elizabeth Ramborger recently caught up with Shaun Paul of Chaperone as he was finishing a batch of ice cream at his day job at Bobtail ice cream. It was a white chocolate peanut butter cup. He admitted it wasn’t the best of his flavors, but good, noting the season St. Paddy’s Day Guinness batch.
It was a good start for a conversation with the lead singer of a band known for bringing cookies to its shows—and not just your standard chocolate chip. Salted caramel is likely to pop up as an ingredient. As it turns out, this level of hospitality is emblematic of one of the nicest local bands around.
Between recipes and putting out their self-released EP Cripple King in 2010, Chaperone has already recorded a yet-to-be-released 7-inch, played a ton of shows, and is getting ready for SXSW. You can see them on their home turf when they headline a CHIRP Practice Space series on Monday, February 28 at Schubas.
Elizabeth spoke with Shaun about desert, why Chicago is Milwaukee’s second city, and some post Valentine’s Day news.
Elizabeth: So the first time I saw you guys was your show at Quenchers. I was with two other people and we were in a post-holiday malaise and then we saw cookies and thought…this is going to be alright. Imagine our surprise when there were three different gourmet flavors to choose from. So what’s with the cookies?
Shaun: Well Miles [Chaperone’s bassist] does the baking—he’s the Betty Crocker of the group, mixed with January Jones from Mad Men.
Elizabeth: Does he wear an apron and everything?
Shaun: Of course. He’s pro! He’s gotta wear an apron. But yea, we made cookies for a show and people ate them up and he made them for the next show, and then it just became a thing. We’re thinking of moving into other deserts, like fudge. In fact, Miles is moving into the kettlecorn realm. [We have a certain] down homeness as a band and cookies are just a part of it.
Elizabeth: You’re a Chicago transplant. The Midwest certainly has a “down homeness.” Is that what drew you to the city, coming from North Carolina?
Shaun: Oh definitely. In fact, I was looking at several cities before I settled on Chicago. People have the same mentality here as the people at home [in North Carolina]. Chicago is kind and open as a people.
Elizabeth: Does that translate to the music scene?
Shaun: It’s contradictory. [The music scene is] definitely kind of cutthroat. Bands don’t support one another enough. Although we are close with some bands—we’re real close with Dastardly.
Elizabeth: Why do you think that is? Competitiveness? Laziness? The winter?
Shaun: The winter definitely factors in…
Elizabeth: How did you get your start in music and how did Chaperone come together?
Shaun: I played music down in North Carolina. I was in a couple of high school punk bands like everybody. I actually came up for Second City to pursue comedy. A couple of buddies came up from North Carolina and I started playing with them. It got to the point that I had to decide between the two of my interests, music and comedy, just from a time standpoint, and I love music. It’s just fun.
Elizabeth: What are the good aspects of the Chicago music scene?
Shaun: The clubs are great and the people that schedule bands, the bookers, are good people. It’s nice dealing with people that are kind and remember you. We really love Schubas.
Elizabeth: What local bands are you excited about?
Shaun: Gold Motel. Greta [Morgan] is real nice, we played with them in Milwaukee. I also love Catfish Haven but alas they’re not doing anything anymore. I see George Hunter on the street and he keeps telling me he’s got something in the works.
Elizabeth: Milwaukee is a pretty down home place itself.
Shaun: Oh yea. The thing about Milwaukee is that people are willing to go out and see who’s playing, whether they know anything about the band or not. In Chicago people have to know who the band is before they go out.
Also, in Milwaukee people will dance at a show in a way that they won’t in Chicago. Sure, sometimes one person in the [Chicago] audience will cut a rug, but we’re a bouncy, happy band. When we’re on a stage we dance around and we like the audience to enjoy it and dance around too. We love Milwaukee.
Elizabeth: You’ve been compared to Los Campesinos! A CHIRP reviewer compared Chaperone to Girls and Neutral Milk Hotel. How do you react to those comparisons?
Shaun: I never really got into the Girls albums. But there is a certain do-it-yourselfness about Girls that applies to Chaperone. We recorded our own EP without any outside help. We were real happy to say we did it ourselves.
Neutral Milk Hotel is my favorite band ever, so that makes me really happy to hear. They have a certain lo-finess that I relate to. There’s also an honesty to Neutral Milk Hotel that I strive for in Chaperone. Whatever I write, even if its fiction (people always ask whether the songs are true, did I run away with someone to the Everglades?), I try to make my songs feel honest and authentic.
Elizabeth: Who influences you?
Shaun: I love Okerville River. I’m real excited about their new album. Bright Eyes is the reason I started writing music in the first place. I thought if he can do it and put stuff out by himself, I could. Ryan Adams was an influence—he’s definitely influenced the country aspects of Chaperone! Of course, you can’t go full country…
Elizabeth: Isn’t that Gwenth Paltrow’s new movie—“A Little Bit Country?”
Elizabeth: Standard first job question—where do you see yourself as a band in five years? Are you just going along for the ride or do you have specific aspirations?
Shaun: Of course we have aspirations. We just finished a 7-inch—we got the master tracks back three days ago. Of course, vinyl is expensive so we’re saving up money to release it. We’re also shopping ourselves around, looking for a small label to release a full-length. We love recording! We get in and go—wow, an organ! That’s what this song needs—an organ! Ideally in five years we’ll ideally be touring Europe with a couple of full-lengths and 7-inches under our belt.
Elizabeth: Tell me a little bit about the rest of your band.
Shaun: Definitely! Miles [Doornbos] is our bassist. I played with him in an earlier band, Mountain Coming Down and we met through my job at Bobtail Ice Cream. We’re best friends. It’s always great to make music with your best friends.
Mark [Sheridan] is our keyboardist/boy genius. He’s 21 and he worked for me at Bobtail a couple of summers back. He’ll play anything we throw at him.
Elizabeth: Chaperone’s Conner Oberst?
Shaun: Yes! Shaylah [Kloska] is our glockenspiel and singer. We also write together…actually we got engaged last week.
Shaun: Thanks, yea! Actually, I was in a band with her ex-boyfriend. Our band broke up, we didn’t see one another for 2-3 years and then I ran into her at a show at the Bottle. We invited her to be a part of the band and things developed from here.
Elizabeth: Does a relationship change the dynamics for the band or your songwriting?
Shaun: I really hope it won’t change the dynamics. I definitely thought about that. But no, it hasn’t affected things. We used to drink wine at one another’s apartments and write songs and then go home after that. I was worried that would change, but we moved in together a year ago and things are great.
Elizabeth: Has the EP [self-released Cripple King] changed anything for the band or its approach?
Shaun: The EP’s been great for us. People I never would have imagined are listening to us. Things are really snowballing and the EP’s been effective.
The hardest thing for us over the past few months is that we lost our drummer [Tom des Enfants]. He decided to leave the band three months ago due to conflicting priorities. But we’ve got a new drummer. Schubas will be our first show with the new line-up. And we’ve got two day parties lined up for SXSW and we’re looking for some other gigs there.
This week, we pay tribute to the quiet Beatle, the first Beatle to play live on stage in America, the late George Harrison. Harrison’s sister lived in Benton, Illinois in the ’60s (way down south), and George paid her a visit and during that time, he stepped up on stage to play with a local combo. Little did they know who they were playing with. Harrison was a masterful guitarist, a philanthropist, a populizer of eastern religion, a very good songwriter, a man who bankrolled a lot of great British film, and the Beatle who had the best single scene in A Hard Day’s Night (“She’s a drag, a well-known drag. Sometimes we turn the sound down and say rude things about her.”). In honor of this musical giant’s birthday, please get out your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
It’s President’s Day, and you know what that means — time to [Whig] party! Tonight, come out to the Whistler for a night of rad local music and a chance to support your favorite independent radio station, CHIRP! A portion of the night’s bar sales benefits CHIRP, so drink up while you listen to some great tunes from our friends Wumme (formerly Altered States, ex-Bird Names) and Oriental Rugs. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE to enter! See you there.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Wumme (formerly Altered States, ex-Bird Names)
2421 N. Milwaukee
9:30pm – 2am
CHIRP DJ Dustin Drase spins before and after bands!
Raffle tickets sold throughout the night — win awesome prizes for cheap!