Tiffany, Lysandra, Brandie, April, & Leila

The Chloës Interview & Gallery, Part 1

The Interview

The Interview, Part 1

I spent most of NMF6 run­ning from venue to venue pho­tograph­ing bands, but man­aged to squeeze in some time with the Chloës at their RV on Saturday after­noon. Present were key­boardist Lysandra Chapman, bassist Brandie Dawson, lead gui­tarist Tiffany Byrd, and drum­mer Leila Wright. Singer & writer April Wenzel was off recharg­ing her psy­chic bat­ter­ies [Sidenote: She was sleep­ing off a hang­over in the RV.] fol­low­ing her scorch­ing per­for­mance at Bill and Dee’s Tavern the pre­vi­ous evening — a per­for­mance that ended with most of the audi­ence — men and women alike — pogo­ing while chant­ing the refrain from Put that Dick Away — more on that in .

After set­ting up my equip­ment and mix­ing up some tasty mar­ti­nis for the band, I set­tled into a camp chair and con­ducted 1 of the eas­i­est inter­views ever — the ladies needed no prompt­ing, and I asked very few “canned” ques­tions. Unfortunately, I also for­got to press the “record” but­ton. The Chloës very gra­ciously let me inter­view them a sec­ond time — all in all, I spent almost 4 hours hang­ing out, mostly just lis­ten­ing while I sipped beer and enjoyed the afternoon.

Mercury Photo BureauHow did the band start?

Brandie DawsonApril and I […] had some mutual friends and we met at a Hallowe’en party, and [we] started talk­ing about bands. And I had played bass in a cou­ple of bands before […]. I had not played for a while, and I was fine with that. Somehow, my boyfriend rat­ted me out, that I played bass, to April, ’cause she wanted to start a band. And we exchanged num­bers and even­tu­ally, we got in touch with each other and just started […] play­ing, like, Foo Fighters — we didn’t know, like, What do we do? I don’t know; we don’t have any songs, and then we thought, Well, we’ll find a drum­mer. So we [posted an ad on] Craigslist, found a drum­mer — Brittany, who’s — we have a new drum­mer, of course: Leila, now — we had another key­boardist, Roxanna. Both of [them], the drum­mer and the key­boardist, had — life [got] in the way, and […] they had to drop out. And […] we found Lysandra; April and Lysandra are really good friends —

Lysandra ChapmanYeah, April and I were friends. I think I said before that April was tak­ing [gui­tar] lessons, and I had known her for years and years and years, and — this is actu­ally a funny story that I won’t mention —

MPBOh, please do.

LysandraWe may, or may not, have dated the same per­son, as my hus­band says. [laugh­ter] No, we dated the same guy. She dated him very briefly, and I — back 15 years ago — So we’d known each other for a long time. She was an army brat and had just fin­ished col­lege at Tulane and [had] come up to Oklahoma City […].

April (III)
April (III) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

So I re-met her, and got to be friends with her again, 10 years later, maybe 12 years later. She was kind of at a point in her [mar­riage] that, We’re set­tled in, and I’m gonna start […] tak­ing lessons, and I want to do this band thing; I’m gonna do it. And I really admired that, ’cause I knew that she was a good gui­tarist, but she was tak­ing gui­tar lessons! And I had grown up in band, and I was, like, Wow! Someone actu­ally […] takes lessons when they’re an adult‽ What is that? […] I didn’t get that. But she did, and when she was in piano lessons, she met Roxanne, and Roxanne wrote some great stuff, and, yeah, life got in the way, and she couldn’t do it; she couldn’t be there, and so [April] asked me to be in the band, and I said —

MPBYou said [ear­lier] that you still use some of Roxanne’s riffs.

LysandraOh yeah absolutely. Go Out with Me; there’s a cou­ple songs that are older songs —

BrandieYeah, the older songs. And some of them, we don’t really play any more.

LysandraYeah, but still, if I play them, [the riffs] are def­i­nitely Roxanne’s. And she’s come out to a cou­ple of gigs. And, like I said before, I didn’t want to stay in the band; I thought that I would just be very “interim,” […] ’cause I’ve never really played piano; I’d taken brief lessons, but I played flute grow­ing up, and I played trum­pet; some weird […] instru­ments that were not gonna be in this band —

BrandieWe’ve brought in the flute before.

MPBThat’s in the song Put That Flute Away? [laugh­ter]

BrandiePut That Flute Away. Right. Which did not have as much influ­ence on our audi­ence as Put That Dick Away, so we scrapped it.

Leila WrightI wanted to say how, [under April’s lead­er­ship], the focus has been very sup­port­ive of hav­ing room to grow —

BrandieYou don’t have to be an expert musi­cian; I mean, we were not —

Leila— and she sees the potential —

LysandraOh, absolutely; she said to me, she said, Oh, Girl! — ’cause I can almost [imi­tate] April per­fectly — Now, Girl! Dude! Just come and do it! And I said, Okay; but I’ll just come and do it tem­porar­ily, and that was 3 years ago. And, so, I guess I’m in — and actu­ally, […] we talk a lot about the band and it’s become a big focus of my life. And I love it! I lover her — I’m not only glad that the band’s gone where it’s gone, but I’m glad that my friend­ship with her has taken on a new level, and I’m really freakin’ happy that I have friends in this band […]. These are my best friends.

Brandie (I)
Brandie (I) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

We really don’t fight; I mean, we fight, but it’s kinda ridic- — I mean, we fought last week — [unknown per­son imi­tates cat screech — pos­si­bly Lysandra’s hus­band, Kevin?] — to be per­fectly hon­est; and then, immediately —

Kevin WrightYour cat fights are ridicu­lously minor. We’ve been in bands together [indi­cates him­self and Lysandra], and our fights were astronomical.

LysandraExactly. We were in a band together, and we had to quit the band, because we almost got a divorce! ’cause I would say, Well, you’re rehears­ing on the side; well what is going on? It was horrible!

KevinWell, because I kept say­ing Darker!

LysandraYeah, darker, what does that mean? And it’s not that I was opposed to that; it’s that there’s some­thing about bands like, I don’t know how bands like, well, Sonic Youth is not a great exam­ple any more, because they’re divorced, but you know, how [do] some bands do it?

KevinYo La Tengo!

LysandraBrandie and I got in a fight last week, and within 10 min­utes I wrote her and I said, I’m not mad at you and I’m sorry I was a jerk. And she wrote back [and said], It’s all good and I love you.

MPBYou told me ear­lier that every­body in the band has a rôle; let’s go ’round the cir­cle and talk about that. 

Leila (VI)
Leila (VI) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

BrandieI’m respon­si­ble. I’m the 1 who says, No! We should not do this!

MPBYou han­dle a lot of the busi­ness end of the band.

BrandieYeah, I keep track of the merch money and pay­ing the room rent for our rehearsal space.

MPBBeyond that, you’re also the nurturer?

BrandieYes; absolutely.

Lysandra[…] She’s very nur­tur­ing; she’s very solid; she’s very depend­able. If I got too drunk to drive the RV — No. 1 per­son, right here, even ’though she’s not listed [on the insur­ance pol­icy]. She’s going to be the solid per­son, no mat­ter what […], and you’ve got to have that in a band. I think a lot of bands fail because they don’t have that.

MPBSo it came up ear­lier, Lysandra, that you are also the “mother” in the group, but in a dif­fer­ent way from Brandie; you’re the disciplinarian?

LysandraI am disi­pli­nary. I come from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, and, actu­ally, April and I bonded over the [facts of] when we went to col­lege, and what music influ­enced us, and because we talk on the phone every day for like, 2 hours about the band: where we want the band to go, what we’re think­ing. We come from […] a dif­fer­ent place, musi­cally, so I try to keep us within the con­fines of that iden­ti­fied track [that] we want to be on.

The funny thing is, April knows that track. April knows where she wants us to go, and I’m the enforcer. She is the more bend­able, Oh, yeah; we’ll try that, but [then] she’ll say [to me], Here’s what we need to do; we need to get back over here. […] The great thing is, nobody really resists everybody’s influ­ence; we all kinda take it as an attribute [of] the band. Like, Leila being the — I mean, she really is the hip­pie-peace-and-love and relax, and let’s-enjoy-the-time —

Lysandra (IV)
Lysandra (IV) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City)

LeilaI love all this crazy sh*t; I love foam swords and piñata heads and I love the toys and the flash and mak­ing a joy­ful experience —

Lysandra[speak­ing to Leila] — you love cur­rent things; and you’re really into cur­rent stuff and what peo­ple love [now]; there is a […] gen­er­a­tion gap.

MPBLeila and Tiffany, you’re both a bit younger than the other band mem­bers, right? 5 or 10 years, some­thing like that?

LysandraYeah, some­thing like that. [laugh­ter] But they are, and that’s a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion. She […] — with her gen­er­a­tional knowl­edge, [Leila] keeps us young.

So there is some resis­tance, because we know where we want to go, we know the sound we want to have, so we’re some­times like, Are we gonna do this? Are we gonna go this youth­ful-inspi­ra­tion [direc­tion]? But, thank God we have that, because some­times she’s so freakin’ right on.

LeilaIt’s a bal­ance. […] You take the new and the old and there’s an awe­some mid­dle ground: you go too new, and it’s like you’re a “flash in the pan”; you go too old, and then you’re irrelevant […].

Lysandra[…] And then Tiffany came in, and it was nice to have another young per­son in the band (even ’though she’s not that much younger, for the record). [laugh­ter]

LeilaShe is the baby.

LysandraShe is the baby. And Leila really loves elec­tronic music; she’s very much into fun and cool stuff going on in Dallas with Ishi and Zhora and stuff like that.

LeilaI’m obsessed with — I just love all that sh*t. If you want the list of cool Dallas things, I can send that to you!

LysandraObviously, April and I are influ­enced by — I mean, we love Pavement; we love Sonic Youth; we love Liz Phair. And we love new stuff; we love [the] xx and, things that are electronic —

MPBI’m just gonna inter­ject and say that I’m [redacted] years old, and even Pavement qual­i­fies as new for me. I own 2 or 3 Sonic Youth albums, but a Pavement song could come on the radio right now and I wouldn’t know who the heck it was. [img]

LysandraIf you had any idea — you just made me feel so youthful!

MPBTiffany, we know you’re the quiet 1 and the shy 1. Beside that, what’s your part in the band besides thrashin’ gui­tar player?

Tiffany Byrd[I’m] laid back; down for what­ever, kind of like a child: I don’t have any respon­si­bil­ity — [laugh­ter]

MPBYeah, you only have to get out there and am-a-a-a-aze the audience!

TiffanyI mean, I show up, and I can do stuff, and I’m pretty quiet until I get drunk, and then I’m the obnox­ious 1, like, Wake up, man! Let’s party!

LeilaShe’s not shy; she does observe a lot. But, get a cou­ple of vodka cran­ber­ries in there …

LysandraI think that peo­ple should watch out, ’though, because I don’t think we’ve had nearly enough of Tiffany. I think, as Tiffany gets more com­fort­able with the band, I think that it’s going to …

Tiffany (III)
Tiffany (III) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

TiffanyIt comes out a lit­tle more with each show. We played my 1st show after, like, a week of practice.

LysandraWe had a year; she had a week.

MPBThat’s right; you told me ear­lier about rehears­ing for a year before your inau­gural show, which goes back to what you told me about how April always wants to do things right.

LysandraYes, actu­ally, we’re very much on the same line with that: the way we’ve han­dled our careers, the way she wants to — 1st of all, she always wants to be the best, so any­body [who] wants to argue with us about try­ing to become suc­cess­ful, it’s not so much that we’re — it’s not a phony desire; it is our nature. We will do this; we will get to this point, because we will always be search­ing for more, and we can’t stop it; it’s who we are.

MPBIt seems to me that the bands who become suc­cess­ful, but then lose that suc­cess, are bands that didn’t have that atti­tude. The only ones who seem to stick around are the ones who really, really want it.

LysandraRight; I think it’s a per­son­al­ity type; I mean, we’re just not com­pla­cent. We have a good audi­ence; our craft is […] out there on vinyl; it will never be enough. Who con­verses 2 hours a day about [their] band?

MPBYou and April.

LysandraMe and April! Every day: Hey, girl; what’s up? Because we want every­body to hear it; that’s it.

Hey, Girl!

LeilaI think that, most pow­er­fully, we believe in it; I believe in April so fully, and I love these women so much. I believe it is some­thing that will make the world bet­ter — [laugh­ter]

The Gallery: Kamp's Lounge

The Martini Recipe

Recipe: The Chloës Martini

A riff on the Hoffman House, a mar­tini with orange bit­ters. The addi­tion of absinthe adds a sub­tle bit­ter­ness as well as a touch of anise.

2 oz. (60 mL)
Plymouth Gin
½ oz. (15 mL)
Dolin dry vermouth
1 dash (½ mL)
Regan’s No. 3 Orange Bitters
2 – 3 or 4 drops
Kübler Absinthe Blanc
long, thin lemon twist for garnish
  1. Combine first 3 ingre­di­ents in mix­ing glass with cracked ice.
  2. Stir for a min­i­mum of 30 sec­onds, until quite cold.
  3. Strain into absinthe-rinsed chilled cock­tail glass or coupé.
  4. Gently twist the lemon peel over the mar­tini and drape it in the glass, put that flute away, and sip slowly enough to savor, but not so slowly that the drink loses its chill!
  5. Repeat as necessary.

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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