Headline Act: Chapter Nineteen

Dave Musson (guitars, bass and vocals) of two-piece Chapter Nineteen provides us with a wealth of information about the band, and even has the cheek to bend the rules on one of the questions. I mean, seriously?! Some people! I’m almost tempted to not tell you about their new single coming out this week…

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Hello Moshville Times – thanks for having me! Officially, we’re from Birmingham – although I’ve actually upped sticks to the green surroundings of Warwickshire. But Birmingham is the home of heavy metal and Aston Villa, which obviously makes it a cooler option, so let’s go with that!

How did you meet?

I first met Chris – the drummer and other half of Chapter Nineteen – back in the summer of 2014. At that point, I was in the hard rock band Crimson Star and we were working on our second EP. Chris recorded those songs for us and, over the course of the studio session, he and I really clicked.

Fast forward 18 months and I was now in the duo WAVE and we were looking to record our first EP. Chris was my immediate choice as producer and we recorded five songs with him in the Spring of 2016, and then another five that autumn. Skip on another 18 months or so, WAVE was looking to record an album, and again we planned to work with Chris as producer. I started tracking a bunch of songs in September 2018, but before we could finish WAVE disbanded.

Luckily for me, aside from being an excellent producer Chris is also a fantastic drummer. By that point, we had put so much effort into the songs that he knew them as well as I did, so he got behind the kit and laid down the drum parts. From that moment, everything locked into place and Chapter Nineteen was born!

How long have you been playing as a band?

Chris and I officially teamed up as a new band in the Spring of 2019, and we put out our debut single – “Stephen”- that September, and also continued to finish off the songs that ultimately have ended up on our upcoming debut EP. We’ve done everything on it ourselves in our spare time and it’s been quite a journey – Chris and I have both had kids during that time and, of course, 2020 happened and ruined pretty much everything. However, we’ve got there in the end!

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

It’s a nod to Stephen King – my favourite author. The number 19 is a big deal in King’s stories, and tied in nicely with our debut single – “Stephen” – which was about the man himself.

I should point out, though, that we’re not a Stephen King-themed band. It aligned nicely with our first release, and now we just like it as a name. Although I will gladly talk about Sai King to anyone who wants to!

What are your influences?

The bands we’re both big fans of are Black Peaks, Biffy Clyro, Palm Reader, Manchester Orchestra, Jamie Lenman, and Nirvana. I am also very much into The Chariot, ‘68, Every Time I Die, and Code Orange – and their influences definitely sneak through into the songs on this EP as these songs were predominantly written by me, with Chris adding final flourishes and helping shape them into the best versions of themselves.

Chris is a massive fan of Rush, as well as lots of pop-punk, mid-noughts emo, and 80s synth-pop stuff too.

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Describe your music. What makes you unique?

Other than being a two piece, which is certainly unusual, we’re different because we try to blend a desire to be chaotic and ramshackle with meaningful songwriting and high production values – we want to make music that sticks, rather than just being heavy for the sake of it. I think there’s a fair amount of intelligence and thought behind these songs – they have to be put together smartly simply to exist, which means every note counts. That’s also tied to an outlook that’s fascinated by the craft of songwriting and takes it seriously. We don’t always follow traditional song structures, my vocal delivery is a bit different, and we’re experimental without being pretentious. Our influences are pretty clear, but without dominating our sound – I think we’ve still managed to make it our own.

All our songs are driving and powerful, but they each have a different feel and will make you react in different ways; some parts make you bang your head, some make you tap your feet, some will fill you with a delicious groove, some will make you feel like you’re soaring high in the sky, and a couple of couple of bits might well just throw you out too. If you could make a chocolate box out of punky/metal-infused post-hardcore, then it might well sound like our EP.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

I’m still very much finding my feet as a lyricist, but the songs on this EP do actually have a pretty strong theme running throughout them.

The EP is, effectively, a concept release. It tells the story of a band who tried their very best to make it but who, despite having great potential and doing everything that was asked of them, failed to break out. It’s a story very much based on my own experiences with my previous project, where people wrote off how seriously we took our music because we liked to have fun on stage, or didn’t appreciate what we did live because we didn’t have a bassist. Ultimately, it’s a story about how being different – which is something every band likes to think it is and what you’re always advised to aim for – doesn’t always go well.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

I would love to be able to tell you what our live show is like, but thanks to the pandemic we’ve not had a chance to find out for ourselves yet! We were set to play our first show – opening for Haggard Cat – back in March of 2020. But, you know, March 2020 was not a good time to have a gig booked! Fingers crossed we won’t have to wait too much longer to get on stage.

That being said, Chris toured the UK and Europe extensively with The Morning Of and Mae when he was part of Kyoto Drive, while I have played all over the Midlands with his WAVE and Crimson Star before that. I also hosted the podcast Dave’s World from 2016-2018, a show that championed the West Midlands’ heavy music scene every week.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

Good question! In terms of what I’ve done at a gig, I used to enjoy splitting the crowd down the middle like they were going to a wall of death, but then giving them a beach ball and having them play volleyball with each other for the duration of a song – that was always fun.

As for wild things I’ve seen at a show… I mean, I’ve got to see Dillinger Escape Plan and Heck a few times each and they were generally wild from start to finish. Oh, and watching the singer from Zoax head out into the crowd at 2000 Trees, leave the tent his band were playing in, and nab a slice of pizza off a bemused passer-by – all while still singing the song – was pretty impressive.

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

I play a mint green G&L guitar that I love and run it through a bunch of cheap pedals that will make gear snobs everywhere flinch. I also split the signal into two amps, and have an extra pickup that I run into a bass setup to give the low end too.

Chris plays a really nice, loud, white drum kit and some smashy, clashy cymbals – the bass skin even has his initials on it! I know very little about drums, as you can probably tell.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

Our debut EP! It’s called a Story Well Told, it’s got seven songs, riffs galore and is out on 23 April – you’ll love it! Before that, we’re releasing the first single from the EP – “How Is There Hope” – on 12 February, which is a really good insight into the rest of the release and, as an added bonus, features a guest bass solo from the fantastic Josh Redrup of the amazing Palm Reader.

There will also be a second single out ahead of the full EP.

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What are your plans for the next 6 months or so?

The next three months are dominated by the EP, and once that’s out we’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops and hoping people will give it a listen. In an ideal world, we’d be able to play some shows to help promote it but, let’s be realistic, that ain’t going to be happening any time soon.

After that, who knows? We’ll probably still be in lockdown, and we have started sketching out new songs, so maybe we’ll do some more recording.

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

That is a tough question! The headliner would have to be one of Black Peaks or Palm Reader. If it were Palm Reader, Josh could come and do his guest slot with us earlier on in the gig, but it feels like Black Peaks have been on a never-ending run of bad luck and haven’t been able to play shows for a long time, so maybe we should let them do it? Also, Joe from Black Peaks is my guitar teacher, but we’ve only ever met via Skype – so that would be cool to meet in person and play a show together.

I’m going to go against your rules slightly and insist that we open this one, because we’re still a new band and haven’t earned the right to play any higher yet. So, we’ll go first, and then between us and Black Peaks I’d like to put Wax Futures – quite probably the best unsigned band in the West Midlands and terrific bunch of people too. They call themselves slacker post-hardcore, which is pretty spot on actually, and if you’ve not listened to them before you should. They are excellent.

Check out this month’s Headline Act Playlist on Spotify and YouTube

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