Week in Pop: Brodie Bones, Monsterlips, .paperman, Sky Chefs

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Sky Chefs

Riding around with Sky Chefs' own Dale Nicholls; photographed by Devin O'Brien.
Riding around with Sky Chefs’ own Dale Nicholls; photographed by Devin O’Brien.

From travels that have spanned across the locations of Detroit, Dublin, Portland, Paris, New Zealand, to Dale Nicholls’ (fka Spy Island) Los Angeles studio called the Whack Ark (a play on words inspired by Lee “Scratch” Perry’s legendary Black Ark Studio in Kingston, Jamaica); Nicholls has assembled together a chef team that includes various members from Black Keys, Cherry Glazerr, Chris Cohen, Fiona Apple, Pageants, Psychic Temple, Lou Reed, and more. Announcing their forthcoming second album album Ghosts & Goblins available April 21 sporting production from Chris Schlarb; we are proud to present the world premiere of the upcoming full-length’s title track that is the perfect tune for turning your favorite saloon upside down. Dale & his world class wrecking crew rip up the joints, close down the honky tonks & make the kind of noise that is almost guaranteed to have all liquor licenses revoked from all respectable establishments for hosting this reckless & tumultuous sound of the untamed southwest.
“Ghosts & Golbins” finds Sky Chefs taking off to fly the friendly skies to find new turbulent clouds to keep themselves company. Dale Nicholls leads the group to fly by the seat of their guitar chords that propels an anthem for any & all that come from a long line of lonely people looking for something to ease the grumbling muddles of their own respective cynicism. “Ghosts & Goblins” offers up more than just a Capcom game classic, but an old-timey rock & roll barn-stomper that could have inspired the Stones, Everlies, Byrds & Flying Burrito Brothers had it been born in the 1967 rather than 2017. Regardless, Sky Chefs serve up a dish that gives the people what they want that reminds today’s jaded synth-pop heads of what real r&r can be, that will rock the old school sultans of the Sunset Strip with reminders & remnants of why rock’s twentieth century rise mattered to begin with. Nicholls walked us through the ins & outs of making the new album & single featured in an interview exclusive featured after the following debut:

Describe the Los Angeles, Detroit, Dublin, Portland, Paris, New Zealand, & more tales & events that would provide the ground work for Ghosts & Goblins.
I move around a lot. Childhood in LA. High school/college in Detroit. A decade in Portland. Overseas in spurts. Keep ending up back in LA. I like roaming, exploring. The lyrics on G&G were written in Dublin, probably because being an alien spurs reflection. Also, Guinness. I’ve never really felt at home anywhere, and much of the album reflects that. Shifting roots, estranged friends, splintered families. I guess the overall themes of the song/LP are about the things you can’t escape.
Give us tales from your garage studio known as the Whack Ark…and presuming the wordplay is riffing off the infamous Washington Gardens compound known as the Black Ark; what are some of your favorite Lee “Scratch” Perry productions?
The Whack Ark is a cheeky play on the Black Ark. Few people catch that! Perry is an endless source of inspiration. His work is fearless, playful, sinister, spiritual. He’s a reminder that no matter how primitive or busted-up your tools are, it’s imagination that wins. His recording of the Wailers’ “Small Axe” is one of my favorite tunes ever. “Disco Devil” is jaw dropping. The Super Ape albums sound like artifacts dug up from the soil. The Upsetters UK Singles collection was the soundtrack to my days in Detroit. What a killer band!
Anyway…The Whack Ark is a laboratory for us to write, record, make dumb videos, drink rye, and ignore reality. Our Fiend Folio EP series was all recorded here, and most of the first record. We’re doing a couple guitar overdubs for LP3 as we speak.
Tell us about how Chris Schlarb was able to help contribute further realized components to the album.
Producer Chris Schlarb has an impeccable bullshit filter. For the first Sky Chefs LP, he whittled a preposterous twenty-three songs down to a manageable ten. I lost perspective and was spinning. He metaphorically punched me in the face and righted the ship. I overthink everything, and he checks that. For Ghosts & Goblins, he translated my wish to sound like a rollicking mid-60s bar band after a few pints into reality. His m.o. is work fast, trust your gut. We recorded the LP in two days, and mixed it in two.
Tracking sessions with Sky Chefs' Dale Nicholls; photographed by Devin O'Brien.
Tracking sessions with Sky Chefs’ Dale Nicholls; photographed by Devin O’Brien.

How have you found that that culmination from other groups & projects has further impacted the visions that comprise Sky Chefs?
Hmmm. I think Sky Chefs is more refined than what I used to do in other groups. Honing lyrics and distilling sounds. Not as kitchen sink as my old crew Spy Island. I was in a band called The B-Movie Love Affair, and we thought we were the shit (we weren’t). We made cassette demos and tossed them onstage at a Blur show in Toronto. Graham Coxon kicked ‘em aside and glared at me. It was a highlight.
Other artists you want to give a shout out to?
Two of the Chefs, Leeann (Skoda, vocals) and Phil (Glenn, keys) are releasing records this year on Schlarb’s new Big Ego Records label. Davin (Givhan, bass + guitar) who makes music as Detangler recently released an amazing LP.
Fred Thomas continues to be criminally underrated. A couple years back I saw Rachel Sermanni play in a crowded living room in Edinburgh and my brain melted. Her work is amazing and she should be famous.
Next moves for the Sky Chefs?
Chris and I are mixing LP3 this weekend! Recording LP4 in May. The plan is to keep writing and releasing. I don’t have any other hobbies.