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.
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 […].
[…] 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,
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.
LeilaIt was confusing. [Promoters and MCs] would say
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?
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 —
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.
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 part 1 of the interview 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 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.
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. […]
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.