By Chelsea Ness
This week, I caught up with Chris Gordon from Scottish Rock band, Baby Chaos who originally formed in the 90s. We chat at about the 90s music scene, what advice they would give young musicians starting in the industry and their fourth album, ‘Ape Confronts Cosmos’ which was released at the start of the the month…
Looking back, what was the most exciting part about being in a rock band in the 90s?
There were many little moments that got the pulse racing:some early sold out supports with Elastica and Terrorvision (both, by coincidence, in Leeds); our own first sold out shows in London and Paris; an appearance on one of France’s most popular evening TV shows. Usually it was the firsts that were the biggest deal, like our first trip to America for SXSW, or our first big tour with our brothers in rock The WIldhearts.
What made you decide to return to Baby Chaos after a near 20-year break between the second and third albums?
I had been knee deep in many other projects for a long time, but we were asked by Ginger WIldheart to reform for a one-offsupport and it surprised the crap out of us how vibrant it felt. By this point in my life I had a studio where we could both rehearse and record, and so we set about seeing if we could make some interesting new music, rather than just re-hashing the older material. None of this would have happened if we hadn’t all still been good friends who hung out on a regular basis. Rehearsing and writing gifted us a nice opportunity to chew the fat every Monday night.
You first formed in 1993; how would you compare the Glasgow music scene from the 90s to today’s scene?
I am pretty sure Glasgow is still very alive in a musical sense but I have not been paying a huge amount of attention for the last ten years or so. When Union of Knives were kicking about I felt that Grant from the band kept me up to speed; he was a youngster then and always bobbing about, so he would keep me informed of what was worth listening to. I guess from our 1990’s contemporaries in Glasgow the only one that really hit the heights of success were Travis, whom we knew fairly well having played many times with their previous incarnation Glass Onion. On more of an indie level there was AC Acoustics, Thrum and Whiteout, a totally mixed bag of bands that all came out of Glasgow but I don’t think you could refer to it as a scene. Since then I have been heartened to watch the likes of Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol, who both have a pretty incredible work ethic, be rewarded for their staying power.
You recently released your fourth album, Ape Confronts Cosmos – what were the influences behind the new album?
Influences are a big thing for most bands when they make their first couple of records. I can’t say that it even once entered my head during the making of this or the last record “Ooh let’s do a song like …”. I am just along for the ride and let the music take me wherever it wants to, then we decide, once there are a bunch of songs, which ones work best as an album. I hardly ever listen to guitar rock music like the kind of music we make, I think the same is true of Davy (drummer) a fact that we find hard to tally with how much we enjoy the process of making and performing it.
The band recently had its own premier of filmed live footage from last year’s Oran Mor gig in Glasgow Everyman cinema – how was that?
That was not something I ever imagined doing and like many of the things we have done over the past five years, it feels like a bonus ball. The footage and sound are fantastic and the students and staff (from West College Scotland) who helped us achieve this great piece of work deserve a huge amount of praise.
You make your live return on the Friday 3 April at Glasgow Stereo, followed by dates in Newcastle and Wolverhampton with Eureka Machines in May. What can fans expect from those shows?
We had to cancel Glasgow and I imagine the others will follow suit so, unfortunately, the fans can expect another long wait. It is frustrating, of course, but enormously small potatoes in terms of the bigger picture here. I may try to do a live stream of a stripped back performance on the night that the Stereo gig was supposed to happen. These are strange times for all of us and I confess I totally underestimated the impact this virus would have on the world. This is hopefully the only thing I will ever have in common with the Orange Goblin in his White House.
The Music Files is based in Scotland – who are your favourite current (and all time?) Scottish bands and artists?
Young Fathers are my favourite right now and it may even be that they are my favourite of all time. I am not sure I have ever been so impressed with the noise coming out of fellow Scottish people. I love it.
You played the Kelvingrove Band Stand last year supporting GUN; what’s the favourite venue you’ve ever played and why?
I really liked the ABC in Glasgow, a perfect size for seeing a band, and I loved our evening there with The WIldhearts a few years back. It was a great pity to see it fall victim to the fire from the Art School. My favourite venues we have played are usually the busy ones; I can think of some cracking venues that were half full but the sold-out ones always had a huge edge. There was a venue that I believe was a converted cinema in Nice in France (I don’t even recall its name) that we played way back in 1995. It was packed to the rafters with an absolute rollicking crowd and we were on our very best, just the right side of steaming, form. I grin as I remember.
Is there one particular song that you’ve written that remains the most meaningful to you? And, if so, why?
The short answer is no. I am prone to occasional fits of nostalgia, though curiously these never extend to our first two albums, which I find quite tricky. I listened last week, for possibly the first time in 15 years to some tracks from the Deckard album Stereodreamscene. Yes, it was Friday night and I was a few to the good, but I enjoyed it a lot and probably a lot more than I did just after we’d finished it. So, a track called Sycamore had me punching the air and proclaiming myself a musical messiah before being promptly told to tone it down it by my 7-year-old daughter 🙂
What advice would you give to musicians and bands who are just starting out?
That might vary enormously from person to person. It helps, I think, if you have a clear idea of what you want from this, how much are you prepared to give, of your time and even of your control. Is it success in terms of numbers or success in terms of making something beautiful; it’s usually somewhere between these and that’s the alligators we all wrestle with.
And, finally, what are your aims and ambitions for Baby Chaos in 2020?
If we manage to play even one show I will be delighted, as this may mean we are mostly out of the other side of the situation we currently find ourselves in. I hope that many, many good things can emerge from this unexpected turn of events. Today I found myself playing with the notion that despite the bad rap we often give ourselves, humanity is currently engaged in a massive, massive effort to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us. No other species would even consider such a compassionate response.
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