Full of havoc and hilarity, local rock and roll act Chain and the Gang want people to know from the name of their new album that Music is Not for Everyone.
“It’s unfair,” frontman Ian Svenonious said with sincere sympathy. “People are bullied into thinking, um, hold on a second…” (As a writer himself, Ian includes “ums” in interviews, so in his honor, and in true stenographer form, I will as well)
Ian looks past his distraction, chuckles at my notes on his ums, and continues. “People are bullied into thinking that they have to be engaged, or be fans of music. They’re bullied by the culture of the music industry, and feel like they should be swept away by music. But we immerse ourselves in noise for comfort, and that noise could be anything, like a vacuum, or a water fountain. Music is supposed to be mysterious though.”
Ask a DJ about the general population of their audience, and the nature of requests. “People ask for the same song,” Ian carries on. “They’re programmed by intense repetition, a sense of familiarity, and this accounts for the great mass of humanity!”
Look at recent twitter feeds, or satirical blogs like “Who is Arcade Fire” just to get a taste of Ian’s ideas. A huge portion of pop culture’s fandom felt upset this week that Arcade Fire (also mistakenly called The Suburbs by clueless tweet-makers) won Album of the Year instead of Lady Gaga or their Bieber leader. Sorry, Miley, the Grammy’s aren’t playing your song.
“Music is a niche culture, it’s not food, it’s not water, it’s a special concern for a particular sect,” Ian further explained. “There’s different music fashioned for different people,” he sighed. “And now everything seems to be leveled by the internet experience.”
“So, if music is not for everyone, Ian, what do you want people to make of your music?” I asked. “Don’t you want to see people dancing at your shows?”
“A lot of music isn’t for dancing!” Ian exclaimed. “Look at pictures of the Beatles, or Raw Power with Iggy, people are sitting! The for consumption of mass profits, places took away chairs. I want to start BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair – a movement. I want everyone to be focused, and not expected to feel like they must interact.”
BYOC. Hmm. Fold-out chair, arm-chair, La-Z-Boy? Anything I suppose.
“People aren’t expected to stand during a Hamlet play, or a concerto,” said Ian. “There should be no shame in sitting down at a show.
“Think about it. What movie would make it if you had to stand through it?” Ian added. “A show is a show, a performance, and it should be attracting attention. Now, I would love to see someone stand up, from the BYOC movement, and kick the chair away, that would be a great symbol there.
“Music is overused, and should be for special occasions, like cake and soda.”
Being hyped up on sugar is close to over-indulging in sound? Perhaps. There’s no caffeine or additives necessary though to get your kicks during a Chain and the Gang show. Ian channels a spectacular energy as a rambunctious frontman, sporting an agent orange suit that only could only hope he picked up at a thrift store, as serendipitously as Napoleon Dynamite did before prom. The rest of the gang is dressed up in drab, jail-bird black and white stripes, except for the gang’s female singer. With a conversational, switching dialog, Ian and his fellow female partner-in-crime bring forth daring dynamics and engaging stage antics, with songs about “Detroit Sounds”, “Cemetery Maps”, and how the “Youth Gets Wasted on the Young”.
They’ll be playing Friday night with Kid Congo Powers at Comet Ping Pong, and Saturday in New York at Secret Project Robot. Maybe this special occasion will allow Chain and the Gang some cake and soda. At the very little and very least, ping pong and pizza.