Backseat Mafia has been following the rapidly ascending career of Gold Coast’s Chavez Cartel with great interest since we premiered their single ‘Dead Weekend’ at the beginning of the year, reviewed their EP ‘Man’s Best Friend’ released through the prestigious UK label End of the Trail Records and then featured them during their recent UK tour.
They have followed this cornucopia of activity with a new single – ‘No One’s Watching Over’ -and news of even more adventures ahead. This is a band that is going places rapidly.
‘No One’s Watching Over’ exhibits a degree of maturity and sophistication obviously garnered during their epic year. An arctic chill blows on over the bass spine and the guitars splash like drops of rain over the dark strains. The result is something atmospheric and cinematic, the sounds shimmering with a melancholic hue. The band says of the track:
‘No One’s Watching Over’ is about feeling lost and having a fair assessment of where you’ve gone wrong in life (and right) to get you to where you currently stand. It’s about being harsh but being fair. It’s about being held accountable but accurately accountable. It’s not about getting to the answers though. That stage where we have more clarity comes after this song. This song is about the feeling of going round in circles when we don’t know what to do with ourselves. It’s the first step towards repair but we can’t even see that yet. The hazy sounds of the song really do paint the picture so well of the hazy feeling of not feeling all there. The song was written in a time of self-work after a heavy break up.
The new wave post punk sound perfected by the band shows a little more restraint than their previous records but that doesn’t not mean a taming or domestication of the beast within – rather the song channels and concentrates the seething energy into a distillation of their inherent power. It has a burning intensity that glows and prowls.
The accompanying video form Direct Entertainment’s Anthony Brown sees the band performing with a louche insouciance, studied and cool in sepia-inflected palette. The band says:
(ARIA Award-winning producer) Gavinda Doyle did everything that we could not. We worked together on our last record, and we started to feel things changing for us and we want a lot more of the same. ‘Don’t fix what isn’t broken’ as they say. We also wanted a more arty video than anything we’d done previously, relying less on performances and making it more of an artistic introduction of the band. We hired the perfect location while we were away on tour earlier in the year – a really old mansion full of art, history, books and character, and the storyboard just sort of wrote itself.
Once AB, our video guy, had familiarised himself with the property, we just let him do his thing. All we did was dress accordingly and get drunk on set. He did the rest. We always try to give our collaborators as much freedom as possible so that they can get into the project as if it were their own. I mean technically it is their own, so once we’ve outlined the concept and explained our style, we really do just hand the rest over. It’s important for creatives to be authentic and have their stamp on things, otherwise what’s the point?
It captures the band’s enigmatic presence perfectly:
‘No One’s Watching Over You’ is out now and available to download and stream here.
The band’s touring adventures continue.
Chavez Cartel will head back overseas in 2024 after being officially invited and scheduled to play at The New Colossus Festival in New York next March.
This is a continuation of the exponential growth the band has experienced this year:
It was sort of like a before and after moment in our career thus far. Looking back, before that UK tour, we were half the band we are now, and we owe it all to the vital experiences that tour gave us. There’s something really boosting about getting on planes and being received well at the other side of the world for doing your thing. The top up of self-belief and surety we got from that tour was an acceleration that we’ve never felt before; or at least not at the pace we felt it. It just goes to show that there are some things you just have to do to move forward, and that first international tour was one of those for us.
Playing at a showcase event too was great for us because it wasn’t just new fans that we picked up, industry personnel also bought into us which again gave us more confidence in what we are doing. It’s like if the moguls see potential then it adds to the argument that there’s a career to be had here. We picked up some New York connections which shows as the next showcase event we were invited to play at happened to be in New York. Funny how things work out, isn’t it? A band from Gold Coast playing shows around London and picking up festivals in America. What a ride!
US tour details:
6-10 March 2024 | The New Colossus Festival | New York, USA
Tickets available from Dice.fm
Feature Photograph: Justin Ma