The Chloës (II)

The Chloës Interview & Gallery, Part 2

The Interview

The Interview, Part 2.

In part 2 of our inter­view with the Chloës, the ladies talk about the joys and pit­falls of audi­tion­ing drum­mers, key­boardist Lysandra Chapman’s mind-con­trol tech­niques, and the dif­fi­culty of break­ing into the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene. Plus, Lysandra reveals how she came to speak Icelandic.

Mercury Photo BureauTell me about how you audi­tioned drum­mers before you chose Leila [Wright]?

Lysandra ChapmanSo we lost our drum­mer; she was great — she had writ­ten a song, it was so great. And I will say, it was very dis­ap­point­ing. She was in a rela­tion­ship, and it went bad, and she had to leave. And it was 1 of those very imme­di­ate [sit­u­a­tions]; it wasn’t like I’m giv­ing you advance notice. And we were about to the point where we could play [in pub­lic], we thought. We were really close. But that def­i­nitely put a damper on things.

So [audi­tions were] prob­a­bly a 6 week process; we started going on Craigslist, and we got a girl 1st, and, there is a cer­tain — this sounds very petty, but we have a cer­tain look in this band, and you kinda have to fit that look in some way. I mean, obvi­ously, we all look very dif­fer­ent, but she was very typ­i­cal of girl rock/​punk bands. [speak­ing to Brandie [Dawson]] You might be bet­ter able to describe it.

Brandie DawsonShe was quite a bit older than us.

Lysandra (I)
Lysandra (I) — The Chloës, Robb Hayes Benefit Concert, OPOLIS

LysandraI think she might have done pretty well in, like, a “rage” girl-punk band. She was prob­a­bly near­ing 50? And it sucked, because that’s not what we ascribe to. We don’t want to, in any way, dis­cour­age any woman, but you have to look at what we’re try­ing to put across, and there is some sort of image we were try­ing for. And that was very hard on us; [we want to pro­mote] all women doing rock. […] It was good, but it just didn’t feel right. […] We did keep her on the shortlist.

BrandieWe had another girl come in who didn’t even have a drum set.

LysandraShe asked us to pro­vide a drum set.

BrandieIt was like, Okay … ?

Lysandra[Then] we opened up [the audi­tions] to men. Because, we thought, We don’t hate men; we’ll let a man in, and we got a guy [who] was freak­ing phenomenal.

BrandieHe was a great drummer.

LysandraOh, my God! Like, any band would love to have this guy, but the prob­lem was […] he had Asperger’s [Syndrome]; […] he had a han­dler. And [the han­dler] walked in, and he explained the sit­u­a­tion: that he does not talk; that he would talk for him […].

However, I have to say this; this is really funny: [the han­dler] was so nice. He was gonna help us load out; like he’d be par­tic­i­pa­tory in the band, like he would be a help­ing hand, even ’though he was [the drummer’s] han­dler. So I thought that was really sweet. Like, he was really will­ing to get this guy [work], and I actu­ally think that, for some bands that are in a cer­tain niche, like some crazy “math-rock” band, I think [he] would work really well. For us, it prob­a­bly wasn’t our scene. I wish we’d had the fore­thought to go, Not for us, but this crazy band over here: you would really work really well in […].

April (II)
April (II) — The Chloës, Robb Hayes Benefit Concert, OPOLIS

[…] That was prob­a­bly our low point; we didn’t know what we were gonna do. […] And this guy at our rehearsal space said, You gotta check out this girl, Leila. She had a band in high school, and she’s been play­ing with some guys. […] She’s on this tour of Europe, back­pack­ing. And I’m like, Ohmygod! Is she gonna be like this, total gra­nola girl? Is she gonna be — […] And she walks in, and she’s this blonde bomb­shell. And [she] has her own gear. And sets up. And like, That’s it! Every song we had, I’m like, This girl gets it. I mean, it was right on, man! We didn’t even rehearse; she had it! [We were so con­fi­dent that she was the right choice, that] when she was try­ing to load up [after the audi­tion], we said, Just leave your gear!

Leila Wright[…] I had been try­ing to […] get some­thing together for so long, and […] I’d been try­ing as many avenues as I could, and I just wasn’t get­ting any feed­back. I was part of this teach­ers’ group, and I sent out [an email] blast, Hey, any­body want to start a band? I got back 1 response that was like, Well, I did choir in high school … and I’m like, Arrggh!

MPB[laugh­ter] Could have been inter­est­ing; could have been the next Polyphonic Spree! [laugh­ter con­tin­ues]

LeilaBut then I went to — it’s like a ran­dom series of events; com­pletely ran­dom, and out of my, like, com­fort zone? […] That led to me meet­ing this guy, who was a friend of a friend of a friend, and when I got that Facebook mes­sage, it was like, Hey, you wanna come prac­tice with us for Catching Chloë? I remem­ber we were in Germany in this crazy, mod­ern hotel and I was bounc­ing off the walls with my mom, Look at this band Catching Chloë! That is such a cool name! It was like a gift from the universe.

LysandraShe totally men­tioned our old name!

MPBI didn’t know there was an old band name.

Lysandra[…] We had Catching Chloë — [April Wenzel] hears me, I’m sure — I did not like our band name. 

Leila (III)
Leila (III) — The Chloës, Robb Hayes Benefit Concert, OPOLIS

LeilaIt was con­fus­ing. [Promoters and MCs] would say Chasing Chloë, Counting Chloë,

LysandraIt was so hard; at every gig we had, they said it wrong!

LeilaAnd [the name change] came about com­pletely spon­ta­neously; we were at the prac­tice space when —.

LysandraShe says it came about spon­ta­neously, but it’s a funny thing — it’s totally not; it’s totally engineered.


LysandraTotally engi­neered by me. She had —

LeilaReally‽ This is totally news to me!

LysandraOh, my God, I totally engi­neered that.

LeilaWe were […] on this load up thing out­side, and some guy walked by and like, Huh, who’re you with?

Huh, who’re you with?

LysandraNo no no no; you’re miss­ing it. You’re think­ing all wrong; what hap­pe­nend is, you guys had gone out for sushi. […] For the 1st freakin’ time ever, I was in the space before you guys were. You guys had walked in, and I said, Oh, look, it’s the Chloës. It was the same night. […] And you said, Oh; I like that. And, I was thinkin’ the whole time —

LeilaYou minx!

LysandraI know. And I was sneaky. I didn’t think it would hap­pen that quickly; I thought it would plant the seed. You instantly were like, I really like that name, and so, like, later on, we went out, and April’s like, I think that’d be really good if we shorten that up, and then that guy walked by —

LeilaHad you com­mu­ni­cated with April before this?

LysandraNot at all. No, no, not at all. ’cause I’d been in [the rehearsal] space for, like, 30 min­utes, playin’ around, and I was look­ing at our posters, and I was like […], How will I plant the seed? I’m not tak­ing credit, because if nobody would’ve agreed to it, it never would have hap­pened. […] But it worked, and then that guy said [what he said], and April said, We’re the Chloës. It was just fast — 1 night, yeah.

LeilaIt’s much eas­ier to remem­ber. And […] there’s a secret back story to the name […]. This is my per­sonal inter­pre­ta­tion, after sev­eral mar­ti­nis, but I stay true to this. It’s like that bad-ass part of your­self that comes out, ’cause peo­ple can’t always be bad-ass-raahwr! all the time, like on. It’s that moment when you’re on and you’re, like, in it; that’s when you’re like a Chloë.

Brandie (I)
Brandie (I) — The Chloës, Robb Hayes Benefit Concert, OPOLIS

LysandraI love that, and I think, lately, I don’t know if I’ve told you guys, but I’ve had 2 peo­ple say this to me recently, that Chloës is so much like that movie, Heathers. Like that’s such a token, like, ’90s name? Of like the, uh, white, bitchy, girl; you know, but there’s a power in that? And look, let’s be hon­est, I mean, we can’t pre­tend to not be white girls. I mean, we are who we are; we’re these cau­casian women who are in a band together. And 2 peo­ple have said the same thing to me, that it denotes this kind of cool name that had some power. [Sidenote: At this point, local slam poet Tapestry joins us; dur­ing the ensu­ing con­ver­sa­tion Lysandra men­tions that she and the other women met him through Chris Sanders.] Someone who’s kind of a bit bitchy, but [also] a lit­tle bit pow­er­ful and cool, and was like, I kinda like that. […]

MPBSo, tell me how you met Chris Sanders.

LysandraEasy. Like, the 1st NMF we were at, the 1st Norman Music Festival, he played after us. And he called us, and he said, We like you. I think he might have Facebook mes­saged us […], and he reached out to April and said, I want to have you guys play here more often. And that was prob­a­bly the 1st act of kind­ness that any other band gave us.

MPBYou told me ear­lier how hard it is for women’s bands to make it in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

LeilaThat’s any bands. It’s not women; Dallas is a com­pete­tive scene. It’s a good scene, but it’s like, you do for your own, and it’s a very dif­fer­ent vibe. We love play­ing in Oklahoma.

MPBI’ve only been inter­view­ing bands since last October, and I fig­ured out really quickly that the bands in Norman and Oklahoma City all help each other.

LysandraTotally. They don’t do that in Dallas […]. If you get to a point that you can ben­e­fit each other, then it works. Someone will allow — I will help you, because it will ben­e­fit me. That’s never been a moti­va­tion for Chris, or from Brother Gruesome — we’ve played with Brother Gruesome, and I’m pretty close to them; Brian Cagle, The Planets Align, the Venditos, and Kerry Myers — she doesn’t even play music, but came in and said, I really like you guys, and I want to help; and you’re not from here, but I don’t care! — and Skating Polly, who are going gang­busters, I mean, how­ever, still really like us, and we really like them. And, sadly, let’s be hon­est; I’m the same age as David Mayo. [laugh­ter]

MPBThat’s Kelli’s [Sidenote: Kelli Mayo of Skating Polly.] dad.

LysandraRight. And so we’re the same age. They were as sup­port­ive of us as we were of them, and it’s like, we don’t get that, by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, in Dallas. So this is our home, really; I mean, we joked, the other night, that we were gonna be a lit­tle bit “ghetto” and play in Dallas. […] But we get audi­ences here; we have fans who really like us, and at least take a chance on us and come out, you know? It’s very dif­fi­cult, and the funny thing is, it’s hard to pay peo­ple back. Chris and Todd [Fagin] and Levi [Watson] [Sidenote: Todd and Levi com­prise Brother Gruesome.] want to come out, and it’s like, We will give you a gig, but we can’t promise what you give us here. And that’s just dis­ap­point­ing; that kinda weighs on my heart […].

MPBI wouldn’t have met you guys, if it hadn’t been for Chris. I wouldn’t have met Skating Polly if it hadn’t been for Chris. And there’re prob­a­bly sev­eral other musi­cians I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t for him. I think a lot of peo­ple owe that guy.

LysandraThat guy is top notch, man —

LeilaYeah, top notch —

MPBSo, before the great record­ing fiasco [Sidenote: See to learn about this.] [laugh­ter], I had each of you talk about some of your favorite band songs. Maybe we could try it again?

LeilaOkay, I already did my cou­ple of songs, but I’ll step up for the — the name of the album, Vanish, is the “umbrella” of how awe­some and empow­er­ing that was. And I think, the premise was — so, you look at the album art, and it’s like this girl run­ning towards the city, and on the back, there’s this guy on the bed and it’s got the open win­dow? And I think all of these songs are like empow­ered of a female who owns her rela­tion­ship [turns to Lysandra] — what are you whis­per­ing? — you cut me off —

LysandraNo, I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to be rude, but it sounds so much like Madonna; like, is this ’80s Madonna?

MPBOh, in the background?

LysandraIn the back­groud; sorry; it was so weird — we were, like, watch­ing you [indi­cates Leila] in […] your lit­tle heart-shaped Lolita sun­glasses, and Madonna is [play­ing] in the back­ground, and it’s just like — any­way, it’s a dude, and it’s like van­ish­ing, and —

LeilaThe theme is like, do what you — make your rela­tion­ships what you want them to be, and all of the songs are very rela­tion­ship-based in how men and women inter­act with each other.

Tiffany (III)
Tiffany (III) — The Chloës, Robb Hayes Benefit Concert, OPOLIS

Tiffany ByrdYou know, dude, Nothing Lasts is 1 of my favorite songs. I think it’s because I like the way it builds; like, it starts out slow, and then it just gets heav­ier and heav­ier, and by the end, April’s like, scream­ing hard­core — I dunno, it just sounds good; it’s fun to play. As far as over­all songs just to lis­ten to, I would say Run Run Run, because of the words, the mean­ing behind it all — [a train goes past sound­ing its horn — Ed.] — the 1 time I talk, the train comes? [laugh­ter]

MPBThat song was inspired by Brandie, right? There’s the metaphor for what run­ning rep­re­sents, plus a lit­eral part that’s about the act of run­ning marathons.

LysandraWhich, if you knew us […], is a far-fetched notion! But, no, I mean you guys are actu­ally phys­i­cally fit. I’ll take that back to me.

When [April] sent me that track […], I could hear what she wants out of it, and it was the most beau­ti­ful song I’ve ever heard, and it really got more and more beau­ti­ful as it was built and grown. And I just said, What is that about? And I lit­er­ally don’t lis­ten to lines, so when you ask me about lyrics, I’m ter­ri­ble. Blewehewehweh!

BrandieLysandra makes the sounds instead of singing the words.

LysandraI make sounds; I speak that Sigur Rós lan­guage. You know, it’s all about the feel­ing. And [April] said it started from Brandie doing these marathons, and she said it was such a beau­ti­ful notion that she was run­ning, and what is she run­ning for? And she said that then it trans­lated over to life, and not just rela­tion­ships, but life, and, I can see the dirt, and I know that I’m on ground. I still get goose­bumps; it’s so spir­i­tu­ally mov­ing, that if you’re in such a sh*t place in your life, there’s no dis­tance you can’t recover from. [the actual lyric is There will be no dis­tance that I can’t run from — Ed.] I can step out­side; I can put my foot on the ground; and at least I know I’m real. I mean, I don’t know if you guys have ever been there, but I’ve been there: where you […] feel so — like you’re noth­ing in this uni­verse. But that notion of, You are some­thing, because you can put your put your foot out, and you’re on the same ground as every­body else, so you have just as much opportunity. […]

Gallery: OPOLIS

Gallery: OPOLIS

In mid-April, the Chloës donated their time and tal­ent to a fundraiser for Robb Hayes, gui­tarist for Oklahoma punk rock­ers Debris’. Local musi­cians John Wayne’s Bitches opened, while Tulsa favorites Broncho drew the show to its con­clu­sion. Please enjoy these pic­tures of sequins, sun­glasses and scorch­ing rock ’n’ roll.

About Chris J. Zähller

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

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