Premiere: We know and love them well – the magnificent Chavez Cartel are back with thumping new track ‘Unfamiliar Boy’ ahead of more new material.

Feature Photograph: Justin Ma

We here at the frozen antipodean outpost of Backseat Mafia are catatonic with excitement at being able to bring you the premiere of the new track from the irrepressible and obscenely talented Gold Coast band, Chavez Cartel, on their return from a series of overseas tours. Signed to one of UK’s coolest labels End of The Trail Records, this is a band that has a swagger with more swing than a sailor at the top of a mast during a typhoon, and they bring all their insouciance and presence to the table in their new track.

The track was created alongside friend and frequent collaborator Jake Johnson, aka Burning Jacobs Ladder who has featured on our pages before. The band says of the collaboration:

We did this song with a good mate of mine called Jake Johnson aka Burning Jacobs Ladder. He’s a really great producer, he produces all his own music and he’s had a lot to do with our band over the last few months. He filled in on bass for our US tour and was a really cool addition to the lineup. We wanted to take that tour sound into studio with us and we’ve replicated it quite well. Johnson also engineered All I Know for us as well which is the bonus track on our Red Flag Blues EP. Those songs came out in March (check ‘em out!). Spencer Martin mastered the song for us who is an American mix/mastering engineer based in South Korea. He worked with Johnson a lot on his stuff, so we kept that working relationship going on our song.

A hint of soft strings in the distance at the beginning are a misdirection – subsumed by a driving fuzzy riff and the whiskey-soaked vocals that scrape through like a barbed wire strand being dragged through a bed of roses. Guitars scream and wail like ghastly ghouls in the ether while an acoustic interlude provides an element of reflection before the maelstrom recommences.

The band explains:

The song was inspired by a period of time where life seemed to be going really fast and having the feeling where you don’t have time to even think. Like life is slipping through your fingers and you can’t quite grasp what’s really going on. Not a good headspace to be in. There’s a line coming out of the breakdown, “I need to wheel-spin in the mud, now that the months feel more like weeks”, that paints the mental picture of that feeling. It’s sort of like a plea where I’m going “If my head is going to go round in circles this fast can’t we at least stand still while we’re burning out and overheating so we’re not wasting any more time while we’re doing it?

‘Unfamiliar Boy’ is proof positive that this is a band that is not spinning its wheels in the mud. This is one of Australia’s best and most exciting exports at the moment – and it is a crowded field.

The accompanying video is a dark ominous performance piece showcasing the band at it very enigmatic best. Utilising live shots from their New York adventure earlier this year, it features visuals filmed by
Brooklyn-based videographer Katie Oliver during the band’s recent North American visit.

The video was filmed by Katie. It was all filmed on our New York leg of the US tour. She followed us around and hung out with us while we were playing over there and covered all our shows. She’s a real cool cat and came out partying with us and showed us round the city a bit too. It’s all there in the video. The video has a bit of a gritty/grungy tour documentary sort of vibe which is exactly what we wanted for this song. It’s more of an intimate live diary sort of feel as opposed to our previous production heavy music videos. Chavez Cartel in New York City. I still can’t get over it. Proud accomplishment.

It captures the wild beast that is at the heart of this exciting band:

‘Unfamiliar Boy’ is unleashed into the wilds tomorrow (Wednesday, 10 July) and you can pre save it here.

The past year or so has seen the band strut their stuff on the international scene, and this kind of gem illustrates they are a vital cog in the music industry, with more new material on the way:

It feels like we’re back to business. Whenever we get back off touring it always feels like we’re doing nothing because the pace is so slow compared to life on the road. Of course, we never stand still, but the change of intensity is always disheartening. It feels like we’re working again now. We’re still in the studio finishing off a second song which will be the follow up single to Unfamiliar Boy. It’s a real change of pace for us but it’s a really beautiful track. We played it live once in Byron Bay a couple of years ago and it was received really well. We don’t often get chance to perform any stripped-back songs, but Byron is a hippy town and we dropped it at a small venue down there. It was quite magic, so we’re really happy to be digging this one out and getting it laid down. It shows our versatility as writers. Stay tuned for more to come.

All that glitters is not gold and the Gold Coast is not just a glitzy tourist destination: the dark gothic sounds of Chavez Cartel is proof positive of a deliciously grungy presence in the shadows.

Feature Photograph: Justin Ma

Previous News: Troye Sivan Heading Back to Australia
Next Premiere: Eora/Sydney Based, Thomas James Mahony, Returns With Mesmerising New Single 'Hearts Afire'

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