Dubbed “the most exciting Northern Irish guitar band in years” by BBC Introducing, Belfast’s Chalk are set to release their debut EP later this year and have shared a taster with new single ‘Static’. They kindly answered our questions so we could introduce them to the world.
Give us a potted history of the band
We all met at Queen’s University Belfast a few years ago studying film. I got a message from Ben asking if I was interested in joining a band that he and Luke were looking to start. I didn’t really know the guys too well at the time but we just jumped into a rehearsal space doing Courtney Barnett & The Strokes covers. There were a few shows here and there, our first one was a house party in our flat.
Then when lockdown came, I began to create a few demos and got the ball rolling about potential releases. Soon came the demo of ‘Them’ and we wanted to work with producer Chris Ryan on it.
We released that track in March 2022 and we were really surprised with the support we got. It won Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable which was nuts, as listeners of 6Music it was a special moment. We jumped back into the studio a few months later to record a few more tracks for an upcoming EP.
We’re doing The Great Escape Festival in May alongside a UK tour + more music on the way.
Who inspired you to start making music
I would cite School of Rock as a big inspiration for picking up an electric guitar and getting into rock music. I got a mini bright-red Squire telecaster and a small amp as a gift when I was about 7. I never learnt any chords, all I done was put the amp into overdrive and play all the open guitar strings. I eventually learnt a few chords and began writing songs with friends.
And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically
Viet Cong by Preoccupations is the album that made me view guitar music in a completely new way. I’d watch live videos of their performances and become obsessed with the guitar work and drumming. Another one would be The Agent Intellect by Protomatyr. Joe Casey became one of my favourite lyrcists/performers very quickly. His delivery of lyrics and performance style was a big inspiration for me.
If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say
Berghain-rock blended with techno-punk
Tell us about your new single
We wrote Static in my bedroom last year. We’d been writing all day and nothing really was working. Luke had recorded this drum loop that we thought was cool but we weren’t sure where to go with it. I began playing around with the bridge area of the guitar and came up with this weird clanky riff that was kinda catchy. I matched it up with the drum groove and we knew exactly where to go with it.
We all write the lyrics and come together in the writing process to flesh out the words. When listening back to the music, we wanted this song to explore going down a path of uncertainty and taking a risk. From all our songs, it was the trickiest to write lyrically.
Where can we get hold of it
You can watch the visualiser/lyric video for Static here: https://youtu.be/dwhvhiqfYrw
Tell us how you write
I usually open Logic and begin creating sounds with the guitar, bass or synth without the pressure of saying to myself “This is going to be a new song” but instead make whatever I feel like on the day. I love ambient and drone music so sometimes I’d spend time working on sounds used in that field as a sketchbook to try new techniques and sounds that I employ in the music of Chalk.
There’s a big folder of 30 second ideas I have that I’ll jump into sometimes and see if today’s the day I finish it which isn’t very often – I guess it’s down to how I’m feeling that day and what response I give towards the music. I used to get so obsessed with one idea and find it hard to move on but I’ve learnt to spend time away and come back to them with a fresh perspective maybe after 1 hour or even a week being away from it.
Sometimes words come first, sometimes last. I’ll likely start mumbling nonsense over the demos until something makes sense and then maybe that line stays in the song and prompts a theme/idea.
Tell us about your live show What would be your dream gig
The live shows are really important for us. From the start of the project we’ve been working on projected visuals that we’ve made at home. We shoot all our own music videos and think that projecting them onto us makes our set more of an experience.
A club in Berlin, late night would be the dream location. There’s some cool projects out there to share a bill with, our first show we played with YINYANG who is an incredible performer so we’d go with her. Thank as well if they’re up for it.
What can we expect from you in the near future
We’re going to be releasing more music over the next few months ahead of our Tour in May.
6th May – Road to The Great Escape, Glasgow
8-9th May – Road to The Great Escape, Dublin
10th May – The Waiting Room, London
10-13th May – The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
13th May – Yes (Basement), Manchester
19th May – The Black Box, Belfast
Tickets here: https://linktr.ee/chalk_
It’ll be a part of an EP that we’ll be announcing details for very soon.
Tell us your favourite records that’s rocking your headphones/tour bus / stereo
Recently getting into Elaine Howley’s album, The Distance Between Heart And Mouth & the new Young Fathers record.
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