Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
The Chop: The Chop is now operating more like a musical collective – with a rotating cast of players and ideas for different types of music always circulating. “GhostBeef” specifically is a heavy metal concept album about the fast food franchise Arby’s (which we love). We thought there was nothing more “metal” than the fast food industry so we used it as a writing prompt and built out an entire world for this, with its own cast of characters and a story arc.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
The Chop: The Chop (collective) originated in Wilmington Delaware, where many of us went to school together then subsequently moved west to San Francisco. The “GhostBeef” project started shortly before the 2020 pandemic as jam sessions in San Francisco, and that’s where we came up with the concept and genre we wanted to produce a record in. We’ve all been playing music since our highschool days and have tried to continue expanding our group and our musical palettes since then.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
The Chop: GhostBeef is a concept album about Arby’s – so these songs all fit together as a story about a dystopian future where a founder has taken total control of the land and rules it with a meaty fist. There’s songs from the perspective of the enslaved livestock, the downtrodden employees, and the pitiful consumers.
And lastly, there’s a hero that emerges to serve beefy justice. Our major influences for this sound are modern bands like The Sword, plus the hard rock 1970s like Black Sabbath. Thin Lizzy, and Judas Priest. In terms of concept albums, we all love and respect bands like Ween, King Gizzard, and Tenacious D for being excellent musicians without a lot of self-seriousness.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
The Chop: We mostly just want to get this story (of John Arby’s tyrannical reign) out into the world. Selling out of our gold-colored vinyl run and playing shows to 1000s of adoring fans would also be great though
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
The Chop: Once at a wakeboarding convention in Lodi an entire dance floor of people slow-danced to our music. I’m still confused how they managed that but it was great.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
The Chop: The primary goal is always to focus on making good material – music that we would all listen to ourselves. After that, yes, getting folks to listen to and support it can be challenging, but I see it as a fun and interesting challenge, and in that endeavor what’s most important is feeling confident that what you made is good and truly worth people’s time.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
The Chop: The band members for GhostBeef have been living on opposite sides of the world for about the last year, and so we ended up finishing this record up remotely in 2022. However we’re now all back together in the same area (northern California) and are working on bookings in early 2023.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
The Chop: As a music appreciator, apps like Spotify and Bandcamp have been absolutely amazing lifechangers – just the greatest. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. In terms of the music business model for streaming, I think it still needs a few structural iterations to be truly “fair” to artists, but in the meantime you have to admit that it has really democratized music in a very exciting way, allowing people all over the globe to hear what you produce (potentially) in your bedroom.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
The Chop: So many, haha, but I’m going to go with Hocus Pocus by the band Focus. It’s weird, prog-y, and also rocks hard. Plus the whole rhyme scheme aspect makes me smile. Maybe our next album will be prog rock…
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
The Chop: I don’t think it’s the industry’s job to shift – but rather the consumers. I’d love to live in a world where every day people were excited to discover, mentally analyze, and then monetarily support independent artists. I feel like Spotify / Bandcamp have laid the groundwork for that being possible, but consumers have to care about interesting, layered, produced material for it to work, instead of just relistening to assembly line produced junk food music all the time. Music appreciation being more deep and widespread is what I would change. In other words.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
The Chop: We’re getting practiced up for a live show performing GhostBeef in its entirety, and just starting to write more songs for a followup project. We also host a weekly podcast called 1001 Album Complaints where musicians research and break down classic albums. It’s fun and interesting – the perfect entertainment for other music obsessives like us.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
The Chop: We have vinyl records, CDs, and some cool t-shirt options here at Bandcamp