OurVinyl sits down with the the all important rhythm section – Sid Chittajallu (bass) and Andrew McCarthy (drums) (a.k.a. Thundarr) – of the band Loyal Divide, who will be playing on Sunday at Chicago’s inaugural North Coast Music Festival this labor day weekend (September 3,4,5).
1. What are you guys listening to right now, what is it that you are currently digging, what was in the car or ipod last time you listened to some tunes?
Sid: You know, I have a tendency to listen to the same cd over and over again in my car. And right now it is a two cd mix, it’s between Air and The Unicorns. Which is pretty random, ya know? Its really goofy on one end and then its super, like, French cliché hilarious shit on the other end.
Thundarr: Yeah I take the train to work, and heading back from work today I was listening to the new Gorillaz album, “Plastic Beach”. I’ve been digging that a whole lot.
2. How would each of you quickly describe the music of Loyal Divide?
Sid: Um… ranging between a business casual feel, and a swift kick to the balls.
3. Do you see Loyal Divide’s music as apart – or separate from – the recent growth and acceptance of band’s having an electric sound or edge, both in indie rock as well as pop/rock and the jam-band scene? Why?
Sid: Damn, I like that one…
Thundarr: Well we have always had an electronic sound, even when we started out in Columbus. We’ve always had and used “electronic-sounding” keyboards and synths, and have always incorporated that type of sound into our songs. And as we went further into making more music, we invested into other equipment like a drum sampler and an actual sampler itself. So I say we have always been electronicy…
Sid: Yeah I know but I think the question is if we are apart of it. And yeah definitely we would be. Maybe not purposefully, initially – but definitely now we do consider Loyal Divide apart of that sound. Like actually playing shows such as the North Coast Music Festival, or opening for Deadmau5, Late of the Pier, Chromeo… That’s become our scene for sure…
Thundarr: Electronic music is just getting more popular right now, it’s getting very popular, and we are just happy to be apart of that.
4. Is there any cohesive factor to your new album (which is dropping in the coming weeks), or is it simply where your creative spirit took you as of late?
Sid: Oh I think there is an absolute cohesive factor to the album. Each song was strategically placed, to give a consistent feel throughout. Kind of like the albums that we really really love; like the Brian Eno albums, David Bowie’s “Low” or the Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light.” It plays like one track, ya know, like a Pink Floyd deal…
Thundarr: Yeah Yeah there is. We definitely paid a lot closer attention to making this a very cohesive album. Other than like with the prior two EPs, which were more like thrown together songs that we had at the time. But yeah this is something we have been working on for a while now, and have been trying to make it sound the best we can as an album.
5. Is there anything you would want people to know before taking in the new album? Any necessary preface?
Sid: Um… I don’t know. It’s a little dark, the consistency and texture of it is a little dark. If you are listening to our music now its not more or less accessible than our past material, so… maybe I would say no, maybe I would say nothing except that you should keep an open mind.
Thundarr: Yeah, you should know that is not bad [said sarcastically]. Every song has a good beat to it, a beat that you can move to.
Sid: But this album definitely has more of a purpose to it, it shows how far musically we have come.
6. What is different for you recording a full length LP as opposed to just an EP? Do you prefer one of the other?
Thundarr: EPs are a lot easier. You can just put together whatever, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you have a solid 4 songs you are done.
Sid: And this day and age EPs are like mix tapes, you almost give them away for free, ya know? No one really sells EPs much.
7. Where does Loyal Divide, in your opinion, feel more comfortable – on the stage or in the studio?
Thundarr: The stage, I mean it’s not bad in the studio, but the answer is the stage. The stage is when all of us really gel together.
Sid: We are trying to move away from the precise “studio feel” to our recordings – and this is how much of the new album is made actually, as the one prior was very technical and “on-point” – but we prefer the feel of a live session. So like how the band Can used to produced stuff, they just recorded days on end of jamming and then they just cut. So you still retain that live feel to the album, which is what we really want to fully strive for in the next album. So yeah, we feel more comfortable on stage.
8. The inaugural North Coast Music Festival that is happening this labor day weekend in Chicago, looks like a unique and intriguing 3-day festival. Where does it rank to you as far as shows or festivals that Loyal Divide has been apart of? What act are you excited to see yourself?
Thundarr: I would say that North Coast, which is coming up fast, of all the festivals that we have played at is definitely the top one. We have played in other festivals around the mid-west, but North Coast should be the biggest and best one. And I would really like to see Nas and Damian Marley. And actually I would like to meet Nas maybe…
Sid: Haha! Everyone in our band I am going to personally arm with a blunt, and if they run into anyone close to Nas, we are going to smoke it with him. And then we are going to get into his inner circle, and then he is going to make a rap about us, yeah…
No but for real, I want to see De La Soul and Flying Lotus a lot, in addition to Nas. Flying Lotus’ beats are weird, but really good at some points, can’t wait to check it out.
9. The music video for your song Vision Vision, directed by well-respected producer BBGun; where did the idea for using live-action, black and white stick figures come from? And is filming something like that, seemingly so creative – but probably difficult – a tedious or fun process?
Sid: We accidently stumbled upon that technique. We thought it would look good, but we didn’t realize it would look THAT GOOD. Because the backdrop was just garbage liners.
Thundarr: Yeah it was just garbage liners torn up so that they were just big squares. And then we just put on those costumes.
Sid: It was BBGun’s creativity, it was their way of seeing it, and of course their camera – which was very badass – that made the video what it is. But the way they saw it through their lens is why it looked so awesome.
Thundarr: Yeah they messed with the contrast and realized that they could really make it seem like an animated sort-of video, even though it’s actual live footage of people.
Sid: You couldn’t see much of the background or the contrast, the only thing that one could see was our hands once in a while, so we had to wear black gloves. And it was a TOTAL bitch to do, it took 18 hours straight, straight through a whole night night. It was after playing a show, and then we got up – we didn’t get up, we really just got up and left – to go back to Chicago. It was very tedious and a lot of work, but it was amazing. There was Popeye’s chicken…
Thundarr: 4 dumplings for a dollar…
Sid: For sure, it was amazing.
10. If the Loyal Divide were an animal, whether real or fictitious, what would it be? (Side note, my answer was a glow in the dark killer-whale; its looks slick, can be mellow or super aggressive, and is here to party.)
Sid: Hmm, maybe a liger?
Thundarr: A liger would be a sick animal to be.
Sid: No, wait, a golden retriever. Actually maybe the golden receiver…
Thundarr: Haha, what? A golden retriever?
Sid: No, the golden receiver Thundarr! Air Bud 2 – the Golden Receiver. That’s us.
11. What is the most negative and positive aspects, that comes to mind, about being a band that came to fruition in Chicago?
Sid: I would say the positive things are, for indie-rock bands, which we still consider ourselves as, is that there are not so many that have broken out in our specific genre. It’s such a huge city with a great music scene that is always waiting for new bands to get behind and support. But then there is a lot of competition as well…
Thundarr: I say the positive things is that it is a huge city with so many places to play, so you can get your name out easily. Especially if you are indie. The negative part is that if you want to go anywhere with your career outside of Chicago, you yourself have to go out of Chicago. Where as in New York City and LA, the local media becomes national media very quick. If you get famous in those cities you can become known nationally almost without ever doing a national tour, that isn’t as true in Chicago. You have to leave the city to get that attention, usually. But we love it.
12. If Loyal Divide could be on any bill, real or imaginary, past, present, or future – what would it be?
Sid: Wow… F’ing Led Zeppellin man. Zeppelin would be sick.
Thundarr: Yeah, in Madison Square garden. Haha, see how quickly I came up with that answer?
Thundarr: Sometime after II, the album “Zeppelin II”.
Sid: I don’t know what year, but when they were making Zeppelin I, II, III, IV – that was just some amazing shit… But they kinda dropped off after “Presence”, so anytime before “Presence”. But then I would go back to… did “Physical Graffiti” come after “Presence?”
Thundarr: Yeah, I think so.
Sid: So here is what it is; anywhere before “Presence” but also during the time of “Physical Graffiti”. And it has to be in Madison Square Garden. But who is opening Thundarr?
Thundarr: Oh man, let me think…
Sid: It’s gotta fit the bill…. The Clash! And they would play Clamp Down over and over again because it’s one of the greatest song ever made. Okay maybe just once in the beginning, middle, and end – because you don’t want to get too board with it. That would be a really kick ass concert; it would go Clash opening up for Loyal Divide, Loyal Divide opening up for Zeppelin – sometime before “Presence” or right after “Physical Graffiti.”
Thundarr: Obviously we would play in the middle, with the best spot, obviously. I mean Loyal Divide is really what makes that bill…
I would pay to see that show!
Interview done and written by Sean Brna, Sean.Brna@Ourvinyl.com.
Note: Get a free download of Loyal Divide’s great track DDF right here.