Well Done Europe, the new album from London-orbiting avant-pop institution The Chap, is out now on Lo Recordings.
It’s the follow-up to the band’s mighty sophomore effort Mega Breakfast, which was released by Lo in the UK and Ghostly International in the US – testament to the band’s electronic invention as well as its surrealist songcraft. To celebrate the release of Well Done Europe, The Chap have lovingly assembled a mixtape for FACT embodying both their excellent taste and their unrelenting penchant for all things odd, eccentric and out of the ordinary. Worth checking for the Wevie Stonder track alone. Tracklist, complete with notes from the band, below; a brief Q&A follows over the page.
Download: The Chap – Mix for FACT
1. Peer Raben – Young And Joyful Bandit
“We did a cover of this for the Builder’s Brew mini album, and we used to play it live. Here’s the original, from the Fassbinder film, Querelle.
2. Die Antwoord – Rich Bitch
“Hot South African Zef Rap crew. Soon to be megastars.”
3. The Chap – We Work In Bars (Simon Bookish Remix)
“Our new single, really nicely remixed by Mr Bookish.”
4. ZZ Top – Manic Mechanic
“ZZ Top are just the best band ever.”
5. Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business
“Right-on Leeds post-punk band from 1979. Good attitude.”
6. Lori Watt – Chill In My Vein
“New Zealand’s answer to Wing. Oh way, Wing is from New Zealand too… Must be something they put in the water. I got really into Lori
a few months ago and had all her songs on repeat. They’re really ‘out there’. She can be found in the interwebs.”
7. Wevie Stonder – Ton Wah
“Best song about bollards ever.”
8. Adam Bohman – Sun Dried
“From the 1999 album Music And Words. When The Chap started we always went along to the Bohman Brother’s improv shows in a little room in Vauxhall. Super inspirational stuff.”
9. Pleated Lemon – Safety Song
“Very useful song to remember if you’re caught in a fire. From the Spymania All Stars compiliation from 1999 – Welcome To Celebrity Fog Donkey.”
10. Circus Clown Calliope! – Cabaret
11. Francoise Hardy – Comment Te Dire Adieu
“Everybody loves Francoise Hardy.”
12. Grauzone – Eisbar
“It’s a hit from Switzerland.”
13. Nickel Pressing – Beck Is Back
“Friends from Lyon. It’s not often we all enjoy the bands we play with, but these guys were exceptional.”
14. Van Canto – My Voice
“Who thought acapella metal would be a good idea? Van Canto!! Check out their Metallica covers. Powerful.
15. Omo – Advantage (Splash Wave Remix)
“Omo remixed by some friends from Brest.”
16. Pastacas – Ava Ylased
“Sweet music from Estonia.”
17. Tones On Tail – Performance
“The good half of Bauhaus after they split.”
18. T3 Perm Leech – Orienteering Is Fucking Rubbish
19. Rock Et Animaux – Le Wistiti Qui Pisse
“Our friends, Le Club Des Chats, do these nice sessions with children where the kids write and record songs about animals, and then make merch. All in 2 hours. This is a song about a monkey that likes to urinate.”
20. Ata Kak – Mama Yendodo
21. Wagon Christ – Night Owls
“Old old Luke Vibert from 1995’s Throbbing Pouch.”
Describe The Chap for the benefit of the uninitiated.
“Slightly experimental pop band from Europe. We’re well clever and really old. Alternatively: The modern stone age family.”
How does being in The Chap circa 2010 differ from being in The Chap circa 2005?
“In 2005, we were used to playing small clubs to small groups of stunned individuals. In 2010, we’re more used to playing to small groups of stunned individuals in small clubs. Ah, those were the days!”
If The Chap had existed circa 1910, how do you imagine you would have occupied your time and made your living?
“We would have written the music for Florence Nightingale’s funeral as well as the opening ceremony of the Brussels world expo that year, whilst keeping up regular correspondence with the emerging Italian futurists. Or maybe we would have just been bar staff in an ale house. ”
“Whenever we come up with any form of musical idea that’s in any way commercially viable, we struggle not to immediately get all subversive on its ass; a fact which I think we all find a little depressing, but mostly very amusing.”
What can we expect from Well Done Europe? How does it compare to its predecessor, Mega Breakfast?
“Well Done Europe continues our strategy of documenting our ever failing attempts at writing pop songs with mass appeal. I guess this semi-deliberate failure is what’s interesting about The Chap. Although this time, I think we have got quite a bit closer to not failing. Some of the songs reveal more emotion than those on Mega Breakfast. That was a rather distanced album. Anyhow, whenever we come up with any form of musical idea that’s in any way commercially viable, we struggle not to immediately get all subversive on its ass; a fact which I think we all find a little depressing, but mostly very amusing.
Is there a common theme to its songs?
“None that we’re aware of. We don’t always know what individual songs are about. Although there are more discernible subjects which individual songs are about. ‘Chalet Chalet’ is a pretty straight forward love song, for example. We Work in Bars is about people who work in bars. Bingo!
Did you approach the composition, recording or mixing of Well Done Europe‘s songs in any particularly new way, or was it more a case of consolidating established working practice?
“Definitely consolidation. Individuals in the band recorded ideas for songs and we then made those into finished songs together. In our little bedroom studio! Aaww. However, this was a much quicker album to complete than the previous ones. All the songs were written in the space of about one year, whereas previous albums were collections of old and new ideas. Why? We were just full of ideas, all of a sudden…We did a lot of recording on tour in the van and in hotel rooms.”
Can you explain the origins of the album’s title?
“We wrote a song called ‘Well Done You’, and thought about translating it into different languages and releasing each version in its native territory. We were then going to release all these versions and call that collection Well Done Europe. Pretty soon, we realized we were unlikely to follow through with that idea but we kept the album title because it’s very catchy and it made us laugh. Also, continental Europe has always taken more kindly to The Chap than the UK. Over there, people are slightly more willing to overlook the fact that we don’t wear skinny jeans and we’re not, like, 13, which in the UK pretty much seems to be the chief requirement for a band that doesn’t want to be dismissed as too ‘arch’ or too ‘weird’ or ‘typically European’. So we thought, let’s extend our congratulations to those open-minded Euro folks!
‘Never A Frown With Gordon Brown’, you recently sang. Any ideas for the new government? ‘Cameron Feel The Noise’ perhaps?
“’Clegg’ instead of ‘Peg’ by Steely Dan? Sorry, that is terrible.”
What are The Chap’s hope and plans for the remainder of 2010?
“You mean apart from playing stunned clubs to small groups of small individuals? We’re putting all our money on Honduras to win the World Cup. Hopefully they’ll win.
What would you like to have been asked that we haven’t asked? And what’s the answer?
“What is your favourite bastardisation of a song title and artist’s name? A: Never Gonna Sick You Up by Sick Astley.”