Apr 2013 03

CHANT’s Bradley Bills speaks with ReGen on the development of the band’s sound, life on the road with KMFDM, and answering the question if there can ever be too many drums.

An InterView with Bradley Bills of CHANT

By: Zak Vaudo (Chaostar)

Tribal/industrial drum project CHANT has exploded onto the scene with its unique performance and style. Having performed with acts Pigface, Combichrist, Psychic TV, and more, CHANT is currently supporting KMFDM on the 2013 U.S. KUNST tour. Originally set to perform on select dates, CHANT has gained notoriety and attention at every stop, prompting KMFDM to extend the band’s stay on the tour to the end. Bradley Bills, founder of CHANT, took time in Atlanta for a one-on-one interview with ReGen to shed some light onto the act.

 

How have you enjoyed the tour so far?

Bills: It’s been fantastic so far. The KMFDM and Legion Within crew really embraced us right away and made us feel like part of the team. Each night, all three of us are bringing our A-Game and the shows, crowds, fans have just been amazing! I absolutely love to perform and tour, so I’m right at home.

Do you have any favorite or memorable moments yet?

Bills: Walking on stage at The Fonda Theatre in LA, as the lights dimmed and our music kicked in and looking out into the crowd, the beautiful venue, and the sea of people… it made it really ‘real.’ I’d been too busy preparing to be excited; that was an incredible feeling. On a personal level, probably in Phoenix, when Sascha (Konietzko) pulled me aside after our show and said he is a fan of what I’m doing and wanted to invite us onto the rest of the tour. That is really special to me, as I’m an obvious fan – not just of KMFDM’s music, but of how Sascha treats his fans and handles his career. It’s a real honor.

How did you conceive CHANT?

Bills: CHANT was supposed to be a project so I could be self indulgent on the drums – overplay and get away with it – and perhaps use it as a vehicle to land drumming gigs for other bands. It was meant to be an experimental, multi-drummer thing but I quickly made it a one-man project so no one would slow me down. Then I got addicted to writing songs, trying out singing, and the live shows and it became more of an opportunity to pull in my love of industrial music, sound design, and art… not just drumming.

Describe CHANT live.

Bills: We go all out non-stop! CHANT live is high energy, raw, and intense – a drum pounding apocalyptic rock show with plenty of four-on-the-floor beats to move to… and we do one song after another – no time to slow down! The light show is visually intense as well, meticulously programmed to sync with the music. I’ve added a live member, Kristopher Robin, who handles live keys and teams up to double drum on many of the songs. You’ll have fun and I can honestly say no one else is doing a show quite like this!

If you could change your band in any way, how would you?

Bills: CHANT is really flexible and has already morphed so much over the eight years I’ve been doing it. If anything changes, it will be a natural evolution. But I guess I’d say that as time goes on, and perhaps if we reached a headlining status, fans would see even more interesting contraptions built to hold uncommon objects to drum on, additional live members, and an even bigger production. I’m a huge Peter Gabriel fan and I think a show should be a full production, especially if people are paying to see it.

How do you translate the live feel to your albums?

Bills: That, I have to admit, has been difficult. I think people really get CHANT once they see me live. Still, we came really close with Strong Words for Strong People, and I think it has to do with the fact that Chris Telkes, my good friend and producer, had seen me live many, many times, so he knew what I was going for. There are so many percussive sounds, you have to know how to share the bottom end and keep the parts I play punchy and defined.

Where would you say you fit into the genre?

Bills: Well, I’m a fan of all subgenres of industrial to some degree, but I’d say the late ’80s/early ’90s industrial is what I like and is probably where the sound centers. When industrial was pretty much a punk rock attitude – noisy and dangerous – and about experimenting and making music with things you are not supposed to be making music with! Most people tell me I remind them of a tribal Nitzer Ebb or early NIN, and that’s probably where CHANT is right around now. I don’t listen to much aggrotech, but I do like playing drums to it – it’s fun to slam across those harsh four-on-the-floor beats! I think what Combichrist and iVardensphere does live really works.

You’ve chosen to remain off-label. Why?

Bills: Only because I didn’t want to slow down. Every record, I would say, ‘I’m not doing another indie release. I really want to team with someone (a label) and get to another level of audience.’ But maybe I concentrated on making the records and touring and doing everything to push forward myself instead of courting labels the right way. I just hadn’t heard back from anyone I’ve ever sent something to and I didn’t want to wait years before getting my fans new music. Still, I think this tour has brought me to the national eye within our scene finally, and I think people realize what I’m capable of. The next few years are going to be fucking amazing!

What’s next for CHANT?

Bills: Once the KMFDM tour is done. I’m returning to Austin to record drums for another artist… and I’d love to be able to tell you who (it’s big!), but it’s not my news to tell. During those sessions, I plan to record three to four new songs for CHANT as well, and the plan is to release them, along with remixes, for free to anyone who is signed up to CHANT’s mailing list, Facebook page, etc. throughout the year. At the same time, I’ll be writing CHANT’s third album this year and hope to record it and release it in early 2014 with another U.S. national tour. I already have some sick ideas percolating.

Is there really such thing as ‘too many drums?’

Bills: Fuck no!

 

2 Comments

  1. Brandore says:

    SawChant in Chicago with KMFDM at HOB and was pleasantly surprised with the performance and energy. I picked up both of the albums and have been enjoying them at high volume ever since. high volume is the only way to play the albums to recreate the energy from the show. I’d like to play my bass to it to explore some new sounds out of my gear and from within. Looking forward to more material!

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