From The Vault: A Conversation With Kappa Chow

VAULTNote from the Editor:

About a year ago Secret East was in it’s earliest stages of development. We, the editors, were hard at work training our hands to be capable of juggling our big ideas, while we simultaneously reached out to interested parties and potential contributors.

Amongst the first was our good friend Evan Mumford.

Evan was on the ball as always and was the first to submit a completed piece in the form of an interview with the great Kappa Chow. At that time our side of things lingered at a stage of pre-launch development that met every setback, holdup and postponement imaginable. It would be months before Secret East was “ready“, and Evan’s piece tragically sat to the side.

Now almost a year later, Secret East is finally a thing, and we’ve re-found our favourite piece that sat unpublished.

This interview took place in early 2014, and since then Kappa Chow have played many spanning gigs, festivals, and most recently released a video for their song Jump, to accompany their brand spankin’ 7″ Jump/Something Better To Do available on Kiss The Void Records. They’re currently on the road, so do yourself a favor and check them out if they make a stop near you.

Evan Mumford now resides in Victoria, BC where he performs standup comedy. If you ever get a chance to catch him at an open mic, you absolutely should.

KC rules, Evan rules, and this interview rules.

For those three reasons alone, we’re sorry it took this long.


Kappa Chow!
by Evan Mumford

Kappa Chow are an all-too-rad garage (or whatever,) band from Sackville, New Brunswick. The band consists of Ilse, Hal, Joe, Scott, and Chris. Scott and Joe play with me in Jerk Damaged, and Joe also plays in Astral Gunk. There’s a good chance he wrote twelve songs in the time it took me to make my supper tonight.

Kappa Chow, Photo By Liz Robinson

Come interview time I could only round up three of the five members of the band. Is 3/5 bad? Kind of. That’s 60%. Imagine interviewing John Goodman and only getting 60% of him?- {ask anybody who has interviewed John Goodman after he lost all that weight and you’ll get your answer}.

Kappa Chow toured this winter with Construction & Destruction and released a single 7” on Kiss the Void Records. They are due to be on the new Bloodstains Across the Maritimes compilation put out by Mammoth Cave.

Where to find the band online:
1. Two songs here.
2. Four songs here. (These recordings only include Joe from the current line-up.)
3. I mean, come on.

For all inquires about Kappa Chow : jchamandy at hotmail dot com *

 Here’s a tip- win him over by talking about the Nuggets compilation.

This is the band Kappa Chow.

Ilse: Part of the band.

Scott: It should be noted two of our members are not here.

Okay, let’s do the formalities. Where are you from?

I: Sackville- we started the band here.

S: Some of the members live in Halifax right now.

Who’s not with you right now?

I: Our tambourine/vocalist Halcyon and saxophone/trash can man Chris.

Joe: And, auxiliary members in Montreal who have contributed to the recorded discography.

What is Kappa Chow a reference to?

J: It’s a Pootie Tang reference but it’s just as much a cool meaningless phrase.

I: Kappa Chow!

J: It’s a karate/fraternity life amalgamation.

I: Food!

You recently had a big thing happen with a Canadian icon. Want to go into that a bit?

S: Joe sent our tape into Nardwuar and he presumably enjoyed it. He played a song on his radio show- the episode that featured part two of his interview with Grant Lawrence.

J: He gave it a good shout out which was exciting.

Where can people find this?

J: On the Internet.

S: Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

J: He’s got the most organized website.

The three of you guys, excluding Hal and Chris, went on tour. Where’d you go, how was it; any notable shows?

I: We went on tour to Ontario and back for Christmas via Montreal with Construction & Destruction who are an awesome band from Port Greville, Nova Scotia. It was amazing, except the roads weren’t that great.

J: And, Ottawa sucked.

Why was that?

I: Attendance was really down.

S: Kind of a weird space.

Do you guys live off the crowd?

J: Let me say this, if you go out of your way to organize a tour because you think people are excited and you get there and you’re the only one who gives a shit about your band…

S: It’s a bad way to start a show.

How deep into the tour were you?

S: Night three.

J: It was sandwiched between the two best shows- Montreal and Toronto.

What made those shows so great?

S: The atmosphere in general. People seemed excited.

I: Played with other cool bands.

S: We played in cool venues too. We played in the Brasserie Beaubien in Montreal and Handlebar in Toronto and both of those were really great places to play.

J: Good promoters.

S: Friends came out too.

What else is notable about this tour was that it happened during Christmas. How’d that go over with your family?

S: First of all it took me a really long time to tell my parents that I’m skipping Christmas to go on tour; I thought they’d be pretty mad. But, all of my family thought it was kind of cool. They dug that I was doing it while I had the opportunity. They understood that it’s probably a lot more fun to go on tour with your friends than just hang out in Sackville while nothing’s going on.

Now Joe, you were in your hometown during Christmas?

I: And his parents came to the show. And, we stayed with his parents.

J: We hung out with them on Christmas day but my Mom’s still kind of… every time I talk to her on the phone she has a disappointed tone because we didn’t hang out for a couple of days. Especially on the way back we had planned to potentially stay a night in Montreal because we had this huge drive from Peterborough to back home because the last show got cancelled.

What show got cancelled?

S: Fredericton.

Did you guys play Moncton?

I: On the way out.

J: The band was hilarious.

I: They had a whole horn section and a metal drummer and crazy bass guitars…

S: Oh yeah, it was like a double bass but one of those double basses where it’s basically just the neck.

When you guys lose the elements of Hal and Chris do you find the songs still translate or do you have to pick and choose what songs to play when you’re a three piece?

I: Well, we can’t play songs that Hal sings.

J: The main difference is that we play our more aggressive and direct songs and less of our songs that have interplay; and, there’s only a few that are at all “jammy” so we don’t play those ones.

You want to talk about the record at all? Where can people find that?

I: Mostly we just have it at our shows.

S: There are a few record stores around that have it. In Toronto, Montreal, Moncton.

Is there a distro online?

J: Yeah, there’s Sorry State. An American distro, I sent them some. There’s, like, one tape in Brookyln at a record shop. I’m going to send some to Newfoundland.

It’s a two-song record?

I: “Punk as Fuck” A-side and “Love on Me” on the B-side.

Why those songs?

S: They go well together.

J: James, our producer, said we should put out “Punk as Fuck”. That was his two cents, and that’s gotta be an A-side. That’s the obvious choice.

Thematically, it seems to work pretty well. Nardwuar picked up on it.

S: It seems to be one people tend to latch onto.

J: It’s a good introduction to the band. Hopefully we don’t get too pigeonholed because of that one gimmicky song.

I: There’s a cool video online

That is a very cool video of you guys playing that song.

I: Our friend Phil did a great job on that.

S: (Phil Mercier’s Tumblr)

Ilse, you’ve lived in Sackville for how long?

I: I started coming to school here in 2001- off and on since then.

Scott, you were born here?

S: No, I was born in Moncton. Then, my folks and I lived in Riverview until I was six. Then, we moved to Sackville. After high school I lived here on and off. I live in Halifax at the moment.


J: I’m from the suburbs of Montreal and I’ve only lived here for… this is my third year here.

You guys have new songs, I hear?

I: Just recorded a couple new ones. And, one for Bloodstains Across the Maritimes.

Could you elaborate on what that is?

I: Mammoth Cave Recordings is this thing started by Paul Lawton and Evan Van Reekum who used to play together in a band called The Moby Dicks out in Lethbridge, Alberta. Then they both moved to Toronto in the last five years and took Mammoth Cave with them. Mammoth Cave have been releasing stuff by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.

J: Strange Attractor, Famines…

S: Ketamines.

J: A lot of good stuff from out west.

I: They put out B.A. Johnston’s latest. They’re picking up on this series that started in Texas and they’ve been doing it across Canada.

J: It’s like Killed by Death.

So, bands from different provinces?

I: Yeah, they did Bloodstains Across B.C., Bloodstains Across Alberta, Bloodstains Across the Prairies, and Ontario. They’re going to do Quebec and the Maritimes.

S: The territories, too.

I: It’s all just one-minute songs by bands from those regions. Sometimes about the region, sometimes not. It’s on a 45’’ and plays at 33 and of questionable quality but the songs sound awesome.

Did you record the song specifically for that?

S: Yup.

J: There is going to be a bunch of Sackville people on it. Also, eventually there are plans for an LP that has all the songs for Canada.

Any tour ideas/shows coming up?

I: We applied for a bunch of festivals this summer so hopefully if we get into some of those we’ll do a cross-country tour.

I want to highlight this: you guys don’t have your own bandcamp. Is there a political/sensibility motivation?

J: I wouldn’t say it’s political. We’ve had this conversation before. The problem with that line of questioning is: if bandcamp is the default, why? Why is it not an aesthetic choice, just like putting out a record? It’s a decision.

I will say this: I have more motivation to buy your record because I know it’s harder to get online.

J: There you go.

I: A lot of people don’t even listen to more than ten seconds of a song on bandcamp. That’s kind of the trend.

J: It’s like immediately putting your song in this context. The Internet offers a context of basically fleeting…

Use once and throw out.

J: It’s not like our songs need to be valued and cherished, or, owned to be appreciated. But, I’m more interested in two people doing that than a hundred people listening to it once and not giving a shit

Do you feel like you’re more of a live band than a studio band?

J: Well, we’re live in the studio {laughs}.

S: With this last recording session we did some overdubs but for the most part we play live off the floor.

J: The only overdubs we do are just to appease the person recording so that they can mix it properly and there’s not too much bleed. We’re one of those bands that can actually play our songs.

S: It’s a lot easier to record saxophone separately than with everything else in the band, from the perspective of the mixer.

Makes a lot of sense. Do you write songs with saxophone in mind?

J: Sometimes I’ll give Chris a hint of what I want him to play; usually if it’s just a flourish on the bass groove. Often he just comes up with amazing stuff on his own.

Ilse, it should be noted that you play a pretty minimal kit. Is that something you consciously do for the sound?

I: More of a… I just have two hands and I feel like it’s easier to just play two drums.

You play the floor tom and snare, right?

I: Yup. Simple but you can play it standing up which I like because you can get more into it.

J: We’re not… Pink Floyd or something.

Where can we find Kappa Chow? Online, in stores?

J: To all the people out there who hear this, put out our records for us. We need someone to put out our records.

What’s your email Joe?

J: jchamandy at hotmail dot com

Shout out any other bands?

S: Wooden Wives, Adam Mowery and everything he’s a part of. Construction and Destruction. Fakes from Montreal.

I: Walrus, Moany Jitchells.

J: Mean Tikes.

What was your favorite band on tour?

S: Thesis Sahib.

J: Kappa Chow.

S: Actually, Dave and Colleen from Construction and Destruction. We saw seven of their shows in a row and I didn’t even come nearly close to getting sick of it. We saw them again last night and I was just as stoked.

I: It was amazing.

You guys feel good about this?

I: We should also shout out Astral Gunk, Jerk Damaged, ya’ know.

J: {burps}

I: What more can you say?


Photo By Claire Paquet

Check out Kappa Chow’s brand new video for their track Jump 

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