Interview with John Pinho of Chambers: At Home Abroad

Sometimes bands become more popular overseas before making their mark in their home country. Indie acts like The Pixies and Pavement were embraced by Britain first and Jimi Hendrix famously formed the Experience far from his hometown of Seattle (that is now happy to host the museum).

Unusually, New Jersey’s gritty punk band Chambers (charmingly named after the ‘70s porn star Marilyn Chambers) has garnered interest across the pond barely six months after forming. After performing with the brutal Gallows at a basement show in New Brunswick, the quintet of Dan Pelic, John Pinho, Jesse Mariani, Gregg Kautz and Vinnie Fiore got on the minds and lips of some influential UK DJs and press (specifically the long-running Metal Hammer). Now with their six-song demo, recorded at Earthquake Studios in Watchung, on deck for release in the UK and a full-length currently, the band is finding a lot of love abroad that should soon translate into attention in their home state.

Guitarist Pinho filled us in just before Thanksgiving on the unique position the band is in, their upcoming full-length and the trouble fitting in.

What’s up?

We’re actually right now about to practice. We’re doing pre-production stuff because we’re hitting the studio in Jersey City on Friday to start drum tracks on a full-length. So we’re just getting everything ready, trying to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.

Are you planning to record it all Black Friday weekend?

It’s going to be probably over the course of three weeks or so. We’re doing drum tracking on Friday, Saturday, Sunday—hopefully those three days we’ll have all the drum tracking done, then some drum edits if any are needed. Then I’ll go in to do my tracks sometime next week. They should be done over the period of like three weeks or so hopefully. Everything completely wrapped up, and however long it takes to mix and master it.

Is this stuff in addition to or including stuff that’s coming out on the Earthquake EP that’s out in January?

The Earthquake demo—that was just done over here at Earthquake Studios. It was just something to put out. We’re taking three songs from the Earthquake demo, and everything else is pretty much all new. We have eight new tracks, and we’re taking four from the demo, and I don’t know whether we’re going to cut it down and just use 10 songs. Whatever makes the cut after it’s recorded. Some of the demo songs might sound so-so on the demo and with the high quality recording they might have a totally new feeling.

Does high quality mean all that much for what you’re doing?

Our style of music is more raw and more swingy, we don’t record to a click or anything, it’s just the groove and the feel of it. But when you do go into a studio and you get better sound it sounds larger it sounds bigger and we also have a producer helping us.

What’s with the crazy UK love?

We played a show with Gallows in July. They were doing one-off dates from Warped Tour and they agreed to play in our singer’s basement, which was Death City, now closed. It used to be a lot of underground shows there, Dillinger played there. Used to be a good basement spot for shows in New Brunswick, which is now closed because the cops shut it down. We played one show with them there and I guess in the UK the whole idea of basement shows is all news to them and the guys from the Gallows, they were really stoked on hearing us play and were kind of stoked on the whole idea of a bunch of kids throwing a massive show in a basement and were telling their friends back home about the basement show and us.

I guess out of curiosity they went on MySpace and listened to our music, and we got some attention from a website called Thash Hits. This kid Raz, it’s his blog, and his friends that do a radio show on Enemy Radio for Metal Hammer. They took a liking to the stuff we were doing. Raz also runs Vulgar Oath Records and they said they’d love to release our demo, and we were kind of shocked because it’s only a demo. They had it remastered and it’s going to be released in January on their label in the UK. It seems that people are taking a liking to us in the UK and we’re kind of struggling over here, nothing’s going on for us in the States. Go figure.

Why is there not a scene here for what you’re doing?

It’s hard for us to really find our place in any one scene because we don’t mesh well with catchy poppy punk type stuff. It’s weird to put us on a bill like that. We’re not a straight-up hardcore band. It’s the hardest thing that we’ve encountered. We’ve played a bunch of shows with bands we’re friends with, but as far as being on a bill that really fit us, I would say out of all the shows we played, I would say the Gallows show would be the best fit, something that sounded like us. We’ve gotten good feedback from all the bands that we’ve played with, but we really haven’t fell into a scene of any type. Which is fine, but it’s hard to get people out.

Chambers play the Saint in Asbury Park on Dec. 18.