Concert review: 2001/04/22, Entrepôt, Grenoble (France) – Cléa Chakraverty

It seems that we, Europeans, are luckier than Americans. Why? Maybe 'cause Chokebore really likes touring in Europe. After some dates in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, they finished their tour in France with a very few dates.
Grenoble, one quiet Sunday in April. I feel a bit nervous. 6 p.m. The Chokebore guys arrive at the Entrepôt. They look very tired and completely frozen. We shouldn't forget they're just coming from a 10 hour trip from Italy. But the guys are happy, they enjoyed their shows, as Troy said: "there was a lot of crazy people". We are told the guys need some sleep and food so we have to wait until 8 p.m. Never mind. And then takes place a little "press conference". I'm a bit deluded because they don't speak so much. But just before starting their show, Troy asks me to come after the set so we can talk a bit more. No problem!!
So I had much more info about them but the first thing I could say is they are really cool guys, very nice and they don't even speak too fast!

Chokebore is known as a very underground band, they don't accept and don't even try to find big productions or big studios. Of course, as Jon said, their main problem is to be available everywhere. And that's true, for example in France it's very hard to find their albums (even if they sell more in Europe!). But these guys don't mind a lot about business. In fact their only interest is music music and music. To create songs, to write songs, is a fulltime job and it's their every day's life.
Their new album will be recorded in July, maybe in Spain. Jon told me it will be really different from the others. During their set they've played some songs which will be released on the new album. But I couldn't hear the lyrics well. The new songs sound more violent, faster and even happier. Jon confirmed me it will be a loud and quiet album. The last ones [A Taste for Bitters and Black Black] were recorded in France, at the Black Box Studios. But as they like change they're always moving from one country to another. That maybe explains the rings around their eyes!!!

Jon explains us Troy writes everyday, "he wrote so much there're enough songs for 3 albums!". But they're taking their time and that's good. Chokebore is first of all looking for quality. They want the perfect song and the perfect sound, hoping they will never find it at the same time...
As I asked Troy about writing so sad songs he answered: "It makes me happy to write them. I really feel better when I think I've written something beautiful and sad. But I'm looking for something else than trying to make people cry. I don't know what exactly... I have things in my head, you know when you feel crazy. These are images, that's where our music comes from. Without, life isn't good... I mean I'm sure everybody feels the same but people don't express themselves. If I had one message to deliver it would be that: "try to express yourself; that's what I think. People should watch closely for their individuality. It's the most important thing in life you know."

Troy's lyrics are full of symbols like Valentine, an ex-girl friend (from the song Valentine) or water (Anything Near Water), which represents life and their nostalgia for Hawaii. But his lyrics could be as pitiless ("a piece of blood wrapped in skin" represents his step-father in Shine) as really melancholic: "they treat their lives like sad songs. And so do I" (Ghosts, and the Swing of Things from A Taste for Bitters). For Troy beautiful words and sadness are going together. It's the only way he feels hopeful. This guy is a model of contradiction!
But I really liked this way of thinking. Chokebore try to reach and express purity and sincerity, which a lot of bands, even famous ones, had forgotten a long time ago... As Troy said, "we have no money, maybe we have no future too. But we know what we want and what we like in doing it." Chokebore keep their feelings alive and know how to transpose them in striking words and melodious noisy-rock. As I asked Troy what question would they like me to ask them he answered: "Why are you so handsome?" (laughs). The man was joking of course and doesn't see himself as a charismatic singer...
But yes Troy you are.....

Lots of thanks to Chokebore for the interview and to François from Concertinpg for the help!

Cléa Chakraverty