Whatís going on in the world of Iron Chic?
Phil: Pretty much just finishing up the UK leg of our European tour, doing two or three more dates in the mainland after today in Kingston. Weíve done about 13 or 14 shows and weíre heading home on Sunday. The tourís been great and everythingís gone really well.
Have you been surprised by the buzz surrounding Iron Chic over here?
Jason: Yeah, I guess to an extent.
Phil: Yeah, people have been nice to us, but it hasnít been insanely crazy. Itís been well attended.
Jason: Itís interesting to come half way around the world and get a reception as good as we get at home, itís been pretty cool.
You havenít really played that many shows and youíre still yet to play a lot of places in the States, why did you come to the UK before all that?
Phil: After we released the record, we did almost a month in the US and little things here and there. We decided to come to Europe because I did with my previous band Latterman and we had a good time, and Jan [Yo-Yo Records] who pressed our demo on a 12Ē asked us to come over.
Jason: Besides Phil, none of us had been to Europe before, so itís a little more exciting than staying in the US.
Do you find you have that hype in the US?
Phil: ĎHypeí is a hard thing to qualify, itís external, it doesnít really affect me one way or another. It means maybe we play shows and people are into it, but itís hard to define what Ďhypeí really is and what the effects of that are. Itís a question I canít really answer. Do we see more people are the shows? Maybe. Even then itís hard to qualify it, as you said, we donít tour all the time, so itís not like weíre constantly turning and more people are turning up. We did a three-week tour and that did really well, then we kind of laid it low for a bit and did some shows here and there, and then we did this. I mean, as far as the reception of our record, people have been into it and stuff, but Iím not really sure how to say the Ďhypeí has affected us or how we perceive the supposed Ďhypeí.
Do you think that the Ďfeaturing members of Lattermaní tagline has helped you make a name for yourselves?
Phil: Yeah, I mean, people liked Latterman and especially after we broke up, people seemed to have gotten more and more into it. It helped us get off on the right foot, but obviously if people are going to like it, then theyíre not just going to like it because I was in Latterman.
Jason: Yeah, it helped us get the name out and give it a little momentum in the beginning to get people to listen and interested in the first place to try it out.
Do you find that people like to compare Iron Chic with Latterman?
Jason: In a lot of reviews, like if you see a review, the word ĎLattermaní is going to be there at some point, for good or bad.
Phil: I think musically itís not so much compared, particularly the lyrics I think, but there is some resemblance of Latterman. Most people donít perceive it as a rehash of Latterman, I donít think any of the ex-Latterman bands are, theyíre kind of their own thing, but you kind of see it in them.
Jason: Obviously, thereís going to be some connection, those people who had a hand in writing those songs have a hand in writing these songs, so thereís going to be some familiarity in there.
Phil: Yeah, itís not really a big deal. I guess at first, it started kind of weird, Iím not going to say uncomfortable, but it kind of made me feel a little strange, then after a while I got used it, itís not a big deal.
I went to the London show of this tour and one thing I noticed is that you all drank a lot and there wasnít much interaction, is that a nerves thing?
Jason: Thatís just how we are. Weíre not a fucking hardcore band, Iím not going to fucking floor punch or run around and do cartwheels and stuff. I do drink to calm my nerves a little bit, but even when Iím not drunk I do the exact same. Sometimes, Iím a little bit personable if Iím feeling a bit funny, but I am a shy person, I donít consider myself an entertainer per se. We write songs because we like to write songs and people get really into it, and itís very flattering and itís very fun for us to go play shows. We do it because we enjoy it.
Phil: The ironic thing is, is that you donít really drink when you donít play shows.
Jason: Yeah, I do almost only drink when we play. It also really takes a lot out of me to sing, but I pretty much use all my energy. [laughs]
Phil: I donít think we go out of our way to be a drunken punk band, we just do it to have a good time, but weíre not trying to make a shtick out of it. I try to avoid that type of thing because it gets really weird.
Jason: I also drink a lot when we play because Iím very thirsty. [laughs] Iíll drink about four beers because we play and then Iíll drink four to six beers while we play.
Do you feel that Iron Chic shows are more about the crowdís involvement and the energy they bring?
Jason: It honestly makes it a lot easier for us when people are freaking out. We played a couple of shows on this tour, and one was a Sunday matinee show and it was really subdued, we were really tired and itís definitely more awkward if people arenít freaking out, but if people are freaking out, it makes you feel more comfortable. You feel like you can do whatever you want and theyíll enjoy it. I think the crowd enjoying themselves is definitely part of a successful show.
Phil: I donít think thereís any pretense around us, weíre not trying to be entertainers. I donít know if people have a certain expectation going in, but weíre not going to be jumping around. Itís all good.
Obviously, youíre older guys, this isnít a full time thing for you, is it? Is the band more of a thing on the side for you?
Jason: Yeah, itís definitely not a full-time thing. Robís got a kid and a full-time job, Mike has a label, Phil does recording and works as a security guard at night, Iíve just recently stopped delivering pizza to do graphic design and artwork, but I havenít paid a bill with it yet. Weíd like to make the band what keeps us going, but until it starts paying the bills, itíll not be a full time thing.
Phil: I think in some respects, especially with gas prices, itís very hard for a band to just do a band full time without driving yourself crazy. I think, at best, itíll become a bigger part of what we do, but I donít think weíll be touring nine months out of a year or anything like that, I donít think thatís feasible.
Jason: Yeah, thatís the thing, you can either tour non-stop or you can get sponsored by an energy drink or whatever, and sell your ethics short.
Phil: Itís a weird thing, for sure, to try and balance everything. Weíre just trying to take it easy and then after this tour, weíre probably going to start writing the next record. We donít have any expectations or any set goals, weíre just going to see what happens, weíre open to new experiences, and wonít try to make it corny and stupid.
I recently read in another interview and you said you nearly broke up after the release of the Shitty Rambo EP, why was that?
Jason: Itís kind of hard to get into without getting personal about it, but there was kind of like some shit going on with the old bass player and the old guitar player had some health issues, it kind of worked itself out, but he left and there was more shit going on with the bass player that was hitting Phil particularly hard.
Phil: Yeah, without getting too into it, it was just basically some shit with the bass player, a friend and an old roommate. It made me feel very distant from where I lived and the band itself, I lost a year of my life in a way and I was going to move, but then we talked it out and itís ended up great so far.
Jason: Shit was going on between them with none of us really knowing, and we didnít understand why he was being weird or whatever, but when it all came out, it was all up in the air and I told Phil to relax and write some songs to make him feel better and I think it definitely worked.
Phil: Honestly, I donít really like talking about it, but itís not a big deal. It worked out for the best, everything that happened, should have happened, because if it didnít happen then we wouldnít be here today. I donít think with the original line-up we would even get to tour as little as we do. It needed to happen and Iím fine with it. I donít like talking about it much, but Iím coming to peace with it.
Thereís a lot of bands out there with the same Ďgruff punkí sound, how do you keep it fresh?
Jason: I donít know, we donít really think about it, we just try to write song that we like. Itís not pre-conceived, I donít think. Itís weird to say, but thereís not a lot of thought that really goes into it. I mean, thought goes into it, but we donít plan or anything. Maybe a lot of after thought goes into it where weíll nitpick this or that and try to shape it, but I donít think we think about it too much.
Phil: We just write what we like and what seems natural, and hopefully other people will perceive it well. The idea of trying to pick apart a genre and trying to think of new spins to keep it fresh, I donít think thereís anything preconceived like that.
Jason: Yeah, I donít think most bands do. There are only so many different things you can do with chords.
On your recent EP, Split Ní Shit, you covered Bikini Killís ďJet SkiĒ, which I thought was pretty odd, why did you cover it?
Jason: I just like the song and we just wanted to do something different. It was actually really hard to sing to, we didnít know if it was going to come out good in the end, because I canít sing that high. I also thought itíd be neat, because itís such a different sound from us, overall. I wanted to do a Nine Inch Nails song, too. [laughs] I donít know, I like to cover different songs. I mean, you can cover different punk songs and itís not going to come out that much different than the original, but sometimes, if you cover something a little weirder to begin with then itís interesting to see how itíd turn out once you put your spin on it.
That EP, along with the rest of your music, is up on your Bandcamp page for free/donation, whatís the reason behind that?
Jason: I mean, honestly, people are going to get it from the Internet one way or another, so we figured weíd rather people just get it from us and if you want to pay for it, then you can pay for it, because if you get it from Soulseek or BitTorrent then there is no option to pay for it, so at least we know theyíre getting a decent version of it. Iíd rather them have nice MP3 files than some shitty rip from a stream or something, or a virus. [laughs] And the fucked up thing is that people still put it up on Mediafire or whatever, when you can literally just get it for free from us. I think itís definitely been beneficial. It took a bit of deliberation, especially since Mike does a label, so we donít want to fuck him over, neither. Iíd say around 25% of people who download it actually give something, itís fairly significant, itís helped us - like help go on tour and I think we made enough money from the EP to get our tickets to come here and stuff, well, almost. Itís also fun to see what people will donate when they can donate whatever they want, like someone donate $6.66, just things like that, itís interesting, or $4.20. Some people will donate 25 cents and Iím like, are you serious?! I think itís definitely the right choice, though.
You said you were going to be working on a new record when you get back, do you think thereís a bit of pressure since Not Like This was so well received?
Phil: We have to like it first, we canít control how people perceive what we do and when you start trying to skew things to how other people will enjoy it, then it just starts getting to the point where itís weird. Obviously, there is an aspect of it to some extent, because we want to write something thatís really good, but as far as real pressure, thereíll be a bit of pressure, but weíre not going to tear our hair over it.
Jason: If we wrote a bunch of songs and they sounded shitty, then we wouldnít put them out and if it sounds good, then it sounds good, but weíre not going to be like, ĎIt sounds good, but how are other people going to receive it?í If they donít like it, then fuck them. [laughs]
So, what else does Iron Chic have in store after this tour?
Phil: Weíre going to go home, relax, play a couple shows and start writing new songs, and maybe start trying to get a new record together.
Jason: Iím going to sleep for two days.