Chew Lips have recently return to the pop scene with new single and video ‘Do You Chew’, which brims with poppy R&B influences. Chew Lips are back stronger and more polished than ever as they gear up for the release of their second album.
Ahead of a busy summer of festival shows for the electronic duo, we caught up with Tigs and James to discuss their varied influences, dreams of mainstream success, being the 'white middle class' version of Rihanna, their new album and why being played on the jukebox in the EastEnders cafe is their ultimate goal...
Hello there Chew Lips. Are you ready for round two on the UK music scene?
Tigs: Yeah I think we’re ready to start again. I mean if you treat any new album release like you’re at the beginning, I think that is a really healthy way of looking at it, not having to think about what will or won’t happen.
James: We feel totally confident this time.
Tigs: We know we are really better prepared. So that’s all good, we did have seven months to concentrate on that specifically. Coming back it feels like you have that opportunity to start from scratch and become the band that we should have always been.
And you're happy with the new album?
Tigs: I’m really pleased with this album.
James: I’m really pleased with the album; we worked with a producer who was the perfect man for the job really. I’m glad we waited for him; he was really busy so we had to hold our schedule, we had a really great time making the record, just hanging out, having fun, drinking wine, it didn’t really feel like work.
Tigs: It was a good vibe, nice guy. I think we have achieved what we wanted to, with the album. Our version of a pop record, much more polished.
James: Our first album now sounds a bit unfinished.
Your new single, 'Do you chew', has a strong R&B influence. Can we expect more of this in the future?
James: It’s probably the most R&B one of the album.
Tigs: Yeah, it’s not typical of the record, we just listen to just lots of stuff for influences. I mean like hip-hop, pop, R&B, which is big in the States. Kind of digging it; I kind of started digging Rihanna quite a bit.
James: You were obsessed with that song.
Tigs: ‘What’s My Name’, yeah. I got really, really obsessed by it.
James: You were really obsessed by Drake!
Tigs: No! I hate Drake. It’s funny how someone can write songs across the board about nothing. You know they don’t have a message. They’re good pop songs. So yeah I think there is a different set of influences. We still listen to Prince, a lot of 80’s stuff.
James: Also that sort of world of super pop music is really inspiring. From a sound point of view, those records are amazing and the production is amazing. So we definitely got influenced by that sort of pop music. We sort of do our own version.
Tigs: Yeah, a white middle class version!
'Do You Chew' has been given away as a free download. Is this now essential to every bands promo campaign?
James: I think you’ve got to nowadays. I think you have to give stuff away. If you don’t give it away, people just nick it!
Tigs: I just think it has to be available to hear and it can’t be hard to find. We can’t make people like a record that isn’t good but it can’t be hard to listen to it.
James: We really believe in this world of Facebook and social networking, allowing people to download it is totally music based.
Any regrets at working so hard on something and then giving it away for free?
James: No. If you come to our shows after listening to it for free, we get something out of it.
Is mainstream success something you crave?
Tigs: I suppose I would like as many people to like it and to get it.
James: I think we would like to be successful if we don’t have to change anything, I think if we could be successful without doing that, then yes.
Tigs: It’s the essence of selling out, isn’t it! Changing who you are, to please others.
If a major pop producer was to call you up to guest on their album, would you be willing to collaborate and alter your sound?
Tigs: It totally depends on the collaboration.
James: We’ve done a few things recently.
Tigs: If we bring our thing to the table, it’s not changing who we are. I think you have to have some sense of what you are, who you are and what you’re doing and the music that you’re into. The whole thing about credibility and being true to yourself, when you look at someone and there are not being themselves, nobody believes in it. I saw a band live the other day and they were just so affected. They are a credible band and really wanted to see them live. It was obviously not who he was...
Which band was that?
Tigs: Haha I can’t tell you that. It just not real life, like in between songs his was like, ‘I’m from New York, I’m from Brooklyn and I’m totally happy to be here’, it’s very unnatural.
James: Are people from Brooklyn not usually happy to be there?
Tigs: No, shut up! There was just something that felt very contrived. I just think people can see, and when they can see it, it puts them off somehow.
James: Yeah we want to be 100% ourselves all the time. Sometimes you’re in a video, which may not be 100% you, but that’s for a video, it’s a heightened version of you.
Tigs: As long as we like the music, we have quite a broad type of music that we like, its eclectic. As long as we like it, it wouldn’t feel like selling out.
You have a lot of festival followers. Are they important to you?
Tigs: yeah, they’re wicked.
James: Festivals are great!
Tigs: It’s a weird opportunity at a festival. You never quite know what the chemistry of the audience will be. It can be so magic sometimes.
James: It’s like Camden Crawl, where people have chosen to come. We played at Great Escape the other day. At the same time as us it was like Grimes and loads of amazing stuff that I would have chosen rather than us but people still turned up and we appreciate it a lot when people have chosen to come see us. Festivals are good because you don’t have to sound check as well, which saves loads of boredom.
What’s your best experience at a festival?
James: I was ejected out of Madness’ dressing room; I was telling Suggs that he let himself down my doing the fish finger advert! I got carried out by these huge men. That was my proudest festival moment!
Tigs: What else, you missed the plane and had to buy new ones to get to Jersey live and then get a £200 taxi ride across London. We still made the festival and that show was great!
James: It’s just electric picnic, I get too drunk. I don’t get that pissed anywhere else! I’ve stopped a cab to be sick. The cab driver was trying to quiz me about being in a band. He asked ‘so what’s the best way to get into the music industry?’ and I was like ‘sorry mate I’m just going to be sick!’ and he stopped the car.
Tigs: Not all of our festival stories are drunk.
James: Playing wise they have been good.
Tigs: Jersey Live was good. I was having this conversation yesterday, there’s something strange that happens to you, when you’re at the end of your tether, totally knackered and been up for days.
James: Tigs once used a hell of a lot of inappropriate language to a 4 o’clock family audience.
Tigs: I was literally the Paul Danan of that day.
James: You said f**k 13 times
Tigs: I think it was eight times but one of them was 'mother f***er'. 4pm in Hyde Park with 20 thousand people, I was absolutely hammered and hadn’t slept the night before and Michael Jackson died. I was very upset about that.
James: I still miss Michael. We’ve made our experiences sound terrible...
What are your goals for 2012?
Tigs: It depends, because at the moment our album is scheduled for September but I think it’s going to go back.
James: I think I would like to achieve an album coming out by the end of the year.
Tigs: I’d like it to chart and maybe have a load of money!
James: I want it to be played in the café on Eastenders, I don’t watch Eastenders but I do want that. Oh, can we be in the Queen Vic?
Tigs: We’d never get played in there, who would put us on? I think that is how you know. I’d like a room where I can dive in my money - like Scrooge McDuck in duck tails did into a pile of money, but that would hurt so much!
James: Paper cuts. Chocolate coins
Tigs: Yeah, messy.
Thank you very much, Tig and James of Chew Lips. 'Do You Chew' is released on 11 June, 2012.