Interview: The Body
We listen to a lot of hip-hop and reggae in the van.
Tim Porter met Chip King at Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn before a show. The Body had just finished a US tour with Alcest and was doing a smaller show with some friends from Providence, Rhode Island, where the band lived before moving to Portland, Oregon.
(((o))): So, you just finished a tour with Alcest. How’d you like it?
Chip: It was great. They were super super nice. You know at the beginning of the tour I wasn’t sure how things were going to go since we are really different and a bit of an odd pairing. But it was great. It was funny, you could tell that in some of the shows the people who were there specifically to see Alcest didn’t enjoy our set. In Philadelphia, there was a whole front row that seemed super excited about Alcest, and were really bummed after our set, haha. They were putting their fingers in their ears and scowling. But there were a lot of people that really liked what we were doing too, so it was awesome. And Alcest was great. They are so powerful live and I think their energy just wins people over. We were sad when the tour ended.
(((o))): You have a European tour coming up, but I’m curious as to what other things are going on with the band.
Chip: We recorded a second collaboration with Full of Hell. But it still has to be mixed and mastered, so I have no idea when it’s going to come out. And then we’ve started on our next album, but it will be a while on that one since we are trying to get friends to help out and collaborate on it. Kind of like with All The Waters (All the Waters Turn to Blood, 2010), we’re going to have people come in and fill in blank spots.
(((o))): And this upcoming European tour, is this your second tour?
Chip: No, it’s actually our third time there. We did one three years ago, and then did one with Full of Hell last year. This one is a bit short, but it’s around a festival we were invited to play, so we were like ‘OK’.
(((o))): I noticed that during the Alcest tour you went all electronic…
Chip: Yea, we’ve been working on this setup for a while. There are a lot of songs we’ve written that we haven’t been able to play because they were based more in electronics, and so it’s nice to be able to play them.
(((o))): And you’re happy with the sound?
Chip: Oh yea, I don’t feel like we are losing anything by doing it, but it also depends a lot on the sound system at the venue. I’ve been playing guitar for this band for so long that it’s kind of exciting to do something different. It meant we had to rework how we did our set, learn new skills and equipment. For me the thing was to get a sound that was at least similar to a guitar that I can layer on or fill the space that a guitar would fill. So now I have a guitar sample that goes into a distortion and then a keyboard. I was always trying to get a more mechanical roar instead of a guitar tone out of the guitar, which was always very difficult. This is the first time I’ve been able to do a tour like this.
(((o))): It looked like you had several guitar pedals on your board as well…
Chip: Well I have two channels. The second one was noise layers that I’d recorded like waterfalls or sound from under a train bridge that’s been re-amped four or five times, to get the sound I want through other resonators. And Lee has the samples that are more like backing tracks and drums and a bunch of layering stuff that will affect that, so it’s kind of like we are playing on top of very loose backing tracks. I’m happy because it’s a way for us to expand what we do.
(((o))): Does that sense of expanding what you do apply to the collaborations you’ve done?
Chip: Oh yea. With collaborations, it’s fun to work with your friends, you know. So, that’s the main impetus, to see what happens when we put our heads together and how we influence each other. So, for instance, Full of Hell – we love their music so it was great to get together and see what came out. Same with Thou. And we had a good time so we wanted to do it again.
(((o))): So do you chose your collaborators because they are your buddies or because you love their music?
Chip: Ha! Well mostly it’s because they are our friends. I wouldn’t want to do a collaboration with someone who’s music I liked but didn’t get along with personally. Honestly, being with friends, it’s so much fun and you’ll try shit with them that you wouldn’t try otherwise. The casualness of our relationship means you don’t hold back.
(((o))): Is the music from collaborations written in the studio when you meet, then?
Chip: Well with Thou, we wrote the songs beforehand. And with Full of Hell we were on tour with them for a month and so we talked a lot about ideas so when we got to the studio we already had a bunch of things to try out. It was a little more chaotic, but that was what made it awesome.
(((o))): What do you guys listen to these days?
Chip: Hmmm…mostly nothing. I find myself looking backwards a lot, so like old ELO or Judas Priest. Those early Priest records were so good. They were playing this type of music before there was a precedent for it. I think that’s so impressive. Same with Black Sabbath. They were creepy before anyone knew you could be creepy. I feel like a lot of current musicians are still gravitating on that sort of thing, trying to replicate those guys – which is cool, but it’s been done. We listen to a lot of hip-hop and reggae in the van…we listened to The Band on the way here, haha.
(((o))): The video for ‘The Myth Arc’ is one of my all-time favorites. What can you tell me about it?
Chip: Oh, this is the Mitch one (Mitch Wells). He’s the bassist for Thou. He moved out to California and does a lot of video work now. He’s amazingly talented. We’ve been really fortunate to have good friends that have made videos for us. Yea, that video stars Keir Gilchrist, who was in the movie It Follows. As for what it’s about, I think Mitch was going for a past relationship sort of thing where people are separated psychologically from each other because previous relationships.
(((o))): How do you like living in Portland?
Chip: Well, all our friends still live in Providence, and we miss it because the music scene is so much better there. Rhode Island School of Design is there so you get a lot of really talented people and it has a small town feel too. But we wanted a change of pace. I don’t think the move has necessarily changed our music much. We were already changing a lot before we moved.
At this point the conversation turned to what it was like growing up in the US South (Chip was born not too far from where I lived as a kid) and the dumb shit males will do to get women to sleep with them, so there is no point in relaying more or I’ll get these guys and myself into trouble. However, I should finish giving props to all the people that made the show that night truly awesome. The Body played an amazing set. Moreover, Lingua Ignota was kind of jaw dropping. And, as always, the venue was fantastic. If you happen to be in Brooklyn, be sure to stop by and see a show at Saint Vitus.