Brooklyn four-piece CHAPPO debut their first LP Moonwater May 15 and shared with us the recording process at the brand new Sunhouse Studios in Vermont and premiere their cover of Beck's “Cyanide Breath Mint.”
“When we started kicking around ideas on how and where to record or first full length album, Moonwater, we all immediately felt the urge to get out of New York. We had already experienced recording over the summer in our living room, drenched in sweat, in Kensington, Brooklyn with a bunch of shitty, or borrowed, equipment for our first EP Plastique Universe. We knew how recording like that works and its challenges, and we wanted to experience an exciting fresh vibe. Being that we're all country boys, we also relished at the chance to put ourselves back in that head space. We didn't want- nor did we have the means – to record in a typical “professional” studio. We wanted to create our own space and environment. One that could jostle us out of our comfort zones, and create its own moments, that would hopefully force us to focus. And we also wanted to have a fucking good and weird time doing it!
Our manager suggested a home studio that was in the process of being built by a skillful DIY carpenter and a lifetime drummer – his father. The destination was a five-hour frigid January drive north of NYC to a quaint town called Sharon, Vermont. Boomer was building a studio in a now vacant area of the house he built for his family in the 70's. He explained that the space was far from complete, but we could bring our gear up there and set up a lil' remote space where we could unhinge ourselves from NYC modernity. Boomer said, “I can't promise you it will be perfect, but I can say it feels like it's everything you guys are looking for.”
The winding road to Sunhouse Studios in Vermont was a thrilling and salivating ride. We peered out the rental van and watched as inches of snow raced to the ground around us. We crossed a tiny Sleepy Hollow-like bridge and felt our hearts accelerate as our van had trouble moving uphill in the snow. We were doing this, no matter what it took – we were eager to get started! When we arrived, we met cheerful souls with some basic studio rules. One – if you need to turn on the free standing gas heat, there's a certain order to it. Turn on the valve, wait a second and then click the switch, but don't wait too long. This is important if you don't want to blow the place up. (This would prove to be valuable advice) Two – don't keep the burner on for too long, because it sucks the oxygen out of the room and you could suffocate. (Again, solid advice.) Three – there are a couple of sleds in the garage if you need to take a break from recording. Four – Eileen has dinner for you guys.
So for the next few weeks this is where we made ourselves at home. We were definitely in a new place and were absolutely free from urban distractions. As the snow started to really dump, we assembled the gear we had used from the EP recordings with a few extra pre amps and gadgetry. The studio had Boomer's old vintage drum set, an untuned upright piano, big windows into a winter wilderness, and two friendly dogs. Perfect.
In order for this album to happen, we had to come up with some of our own rules. We had to work 16-hour days, stay focused and drink often. The first person up had to make coffee and wake everyone else up. We had to record the rhythm tracks by day five, or we'd be behind. We had to cross our fingers that the archaic computer Zac was tracking on would not croak before we finished and lose everything we recorded. And we had to get out of the house before 4pm everyday in order to catch the sun and take in the breath-taking nature that surrounded us.
We made it through the first week, but we learned some things, and had to make a few adjustments. Music wise – we had to learn how to play the vocoder. We had to live with one headphone volume for everyone. We had to drum with a fresh branch ever so slightly to get the right snare sound. Play wise – we had to double up on the sleds in order to race each other and spray ice all over the unlucky asshole sitting shotgun on the sled. We had to walk out onto the neighbor's frozen pond and jump up and down while howling as a rite of passage.
After two weeks, the album goal was complete, and Sunhouse Studio was christened. As we made our way back home, crammed four across in the front seat of a budget van, we were happy. We were ready for mixing, ready to collapse, but most importantly finally ready to return back to NYC.”
Listen to CHAPPO's cover of Beck's “Cyanide Breath Mint.” Treating the original like a demo sketch, the cover permeates with a psyched electric undercurrent that turns into a tribal-vintage-dub-dance party at the 1:50 mark.
CHAPPO's Moonwater drops May 15.