Back in February, Cincinnati punks Choncy released their debut album Community Chest that shows the four-piece passionately stamping their Midwestern identity, dashing through tightly coiled art-punk with a mutant hardcore charge. Following their shows last month with Indianapolis punks Pat and the Pissers, we caught up with the band to discuss their origins, their quirky visual content, and confronting the modern day workforce culture with a cynical lens on their new album.
Community Chest, the first-full length from Cincinnati punk band Choncy, is an itch-scratching and abrasive strain of jagged art-punk with tight arrangements and humorous bluster that's delivered with a feverish pitch. Widening the complexity of the twisting textures from the debut single, "I Kissed My Landlord" b/w "Six Months," the four piece made up of lead vocalist-guitarist Liam Shaw, guitarist-vocalist Simon Schadler, bassist-vocalist, Nathan McVeigh, and drummer Joe Carpenter, are unrelenting across their debut effort, packing a heavy punch of tension with angular jabs of guitars and heavily distorted rhythms. Keeping listeners on their toes with every second, the opening cut "Dedication" darts around razor-sharp guitar lines that stabs between brutal stop-start rhythms, while "Table for Two" creates more of a bite with its guttural vocals and amphetamine-driven tension. The sheer post-punk glory is at its best on the early single "Company Man," a tongue-in-cheek description of a worker whose whole identity is devoted to being a good employee that lends itself a hectic yet oddly danceable sway with its dizzying hooks. Following their shows last month with Indianapolis punks Pat and the Pissers, we caught up with the band to discuss their origins, their quirky visual content, and confronting the modern day workforce culture with a cynical lens on their debut album.
Paperface Zine: Hey so congrats on the debut album out on Feel It Records! How has it been having it out these last couple months?
Choncy: It has been going pretty well, we got to tour the album a little. The album's reception has been overwhelmingly positive and we are already doing a second special run on the tapes!
PZ: What have you all been up to lately? I know you played three shows last month with one of our favorite punks bands Pat and the Pissers. How did those go?
Joe Carpenter: Those shows went really well, we made some good friends (shoutout Cel Ray) and we hope to do something like that again! Pat and the Pissers were a treat to be on the road with, they have insane energy at shows. We got to eat some killer food in Chicago, the best oatmeal we ever had at Uncle Mike's. We rode down the brown line. Bloomington was fun too, we played an all-ages show put on by the man Chance Allen (those Bloomington kids show out).
PZ: The people of Bloomington definitely know their rock 'n' roll. Also hell yeah, I love that new Cel Ray tape (shoutout Cel Ray x2). Take me through the origins of Choncy. When and how did you guys form?
Simon Schadler: Liam [Shaw] and I have been good friends since early high school days and Liam even used to do photography and video for my bands at the time. Freshman year of college, Nathan [Mcveigh] lived across the hall from me in our dorm, and we quickly became friends and bonded over similar music tastes. We both played together for the first time in an indie rock group with our friend Jake who goes by Tricky Ethan now. When Covid hit, Liam, Nathan, and myself decided to start making tracks in my basement studio at the time. Most of the tracks were experimental and took under an hour to make; the songs were a comedic take on teenage angst but some of our friends were into it and really wanted us to make more. Around August '21, the three of us cleaned out Nathan's basement for a practice space and Choncy was formed. I was originally on drums, but I had to move to New York City for a work opportunity in early 2022. Liam and Nathan had met cool guy Joe [Carpenter] at a GAG show in November '21 and he was more than happy to hop on drums. Once I came back to Cincinnati last August, I quickly hopped back on as the lead guitarist for the first time, making Choncy the four-piece that it is today.
PZ: What were those bands you were in prior to Choncy?
SS: Pink Splash, Tricky Ethan, Vandalia.
JC: Bark, Curette, Waning (current)
NM: Tricky Ethan, the Akumas, and a one-off bluegrass group.
PZ: What does a usual band practice look like at the Choncy headquarters?
NM: Practices start bright and early on Monday mornings at The Bird House. We start with some talking over some rip its (please sponsor us), bagels from Brueggers, and playing with Junebug (dog). We practice for about an hour, usually jamming or practicing a set for an upcoming show and then take a break to play with the dog (Junebug) and then get back to the grindstone for another hour, either writing new music or touching up on a track in progress.
PZ: So back in April '22, you released your debut single "I Kissed my Landlord" b/w "Six Months." How did these two tracks come together and did you see them as a natural transition to the debut LP?
LS: Those were the first two songs we wrote as a band. We still love them, but it was definitely not a natural transition into our debut LP. While releasing them, Simon switched over to lead guitar whilst coming back from a co-op in NYC and we were happy to welcome Joe in as our drummer. We still try to play revised versions of them at shows that closer match our current sound when we can.
PZ: I really dig that much of your guys' songwriting is direct, but also very tongue-in-cheek. What's your songwriting process like and what topics are you writing about currently?
LS: Thank you! I always start with a concept and then try to make some on-topic lyrics to whatever melody I started to hum while we were making the song. I think the songs are very direct because I'm not good enough at songwriting to make anything else [laughs]. But I think in a punk setting I like to keep the lyrics simple since it's already hard enough to make them out when you're yelling. I draw a lot of inspiration from Parquet Courts' flavor of punk themes (Light Up Gold in particular). Right now, our songs are still talking about money and everyday living, but are being personified into characters I see a lot online and on the streets.
PZ: Back in February, you released your debut LP Community Chest that thematically confronts the trials and tribulations of the modern day workforce culture day-by-day in the Rust Belt. How did this album come together?
NM: We pretty much just took everything we had written by July '22, and cut a few songs from our set when Joe joined the band at the beginning of that year. Going into Nashville we only had six completed songs, the track "That Guy" was just an idea but we had never played the thing in its entirety until we vamped it before recording. "Beehive" was one that I put the bass line down the second day we were there, we wrote that whole song there. The whole idea of Community Chest was the collective of all the changes in our sound we experienced with the addition of Joe and the loss of Simon. When Simon rejoined the band, he was adding his lead parts to the already recorded songs for live shows and Joe suggested that we add the lead parts to the recordings. We got together and recorded the lead parts in my bedroom on a slightly blown out Fender frontman [laughs]. While it was not ideal, it was pretty tight. Offered a pretty rewarding challenge as an audio engineer.
PZ: How did the music video for "Company Man" come together?
LS: I have been making videos for my whole life. It's my main trade and I hope to one day support myself solely on video editing. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to join a band was to make music videos. Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a creative rut when it came time to make a video for "Company Man" and really couldn't settle on an idea that I knew I could execute well. I decided on just a simple green screen dancing video because I didn't want to start an idea that I couldn't pull off and I know a lo-fi, crappy looking edit would work well with the type of songs we make.
PZ: How did you get connected with label head Sam Richardson for the album's release and how has it been having him part of the Cincinnati punk scene after he moved from Virginia
NM: We all heard of Feel It because of some of the bangin' bands he has on there. Joe was actually the one that made us aware that he moved shop to Cincinnati! I shot him an email with some of the rough mixes of the album with some artwork, he then put us on a gig with Beef, and then was all in for the release! His move to Cincinnati has really boosted the scene here, he has really helped to put this town of ours on the map. He is tying the scene together very well, providing opportunities for all the punk and underground groups here to thrive and starting to build a solid foundation for the longevity of the music scene here.
PZ: How does the rest of the year look for Choncy?
Choncy: We are hoping to run a couple more weekend tours this summer as well as some festival appearances through the end of the year. We are currently finishing up writing another LP with a broad range of new sounds, and we are planning on getting that flushed out and recorded early this summer. We are going down to Gonerfest to play the afterparty at the Lamplighter Lounge and other than that we are probably going to keep writing new music, playing fun gigs, and getting to meet more really cool people along the way!
PZ: Lastly, what's your prediction for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2023-24?
LS: My guess is 13-4. They're gonna do well like they've been doing. Probably another deep playoff run, but I think they're winning the Super Bowl in 2024-25.
Community Chest is out now on Feel It Records.