Interview: CHIMP SPANNER discuss their recent tour

This time last week Chimp Spanner were on tour across the UK with label mates Uneven Structure and UK prog metallers TesseracT. Now the band are safely home, Lisa Basick caught up with the band to reminisce about their first full UK tour. Catch them on tour with TesseracT across Europe (dates here) and headlining the second stage at Euroblast in Germany in October.

Check out what the press thought of the tour in these reviews:

London || Birmingham || Glasgow || Manchester

Chimp Spanner Live: Boris (Drums), Jim (Guitar), Paul (Chimp, Guitar), Swanny (Bass). Photo: Francois Filon

Tiny little chimp Pookie (Paul is holding) courtesy of Greenpixy Amigurumis

Listen to the album ‘At the Dream’s Edge’ for free on Basick Records Bandcamp

Pick up some physical Chimp Spanner merch and CD’s at the Basick Store

1. So, how was the tour? Any outstanding memories or major mishaps along the way?

Paul: The tour was fantastic! It’s only our second time out on the road but everything felt so much more comfortable. Also helped that we had a great sound guy on board (Aidan O’Brian). Ah you know, I think we were pretty lucky as far as mishaps. There was the odd dodgy monitor wedge to deal with and a few funny goofs here and there but nothing major. Smooth sailing.

Boris: It was actually a VERY GOOD tour!!! I already miss it :) The best memory for me is the fact that we could watch TesseracT live every night during 9 days!! (I’m actually listening to “One” while I’m answering your questions) There were not any major mishaps during this tour but if I have to pick one I will say it was on the very last gig at the very end of our last song of the set (The Mirror) on my very last flying stick trick I didn’t catch it hahaha, shame when you know that I do it quite a lot during the sets and I never ever missed it during the whole tour ggrrr lol

Jim: Tour was incredible! Certainly a step up from our last outing for TYBYWY - both in venue and performance calibre. We did a helluva lot of prep for this tour and recorded the set tens of times to make sure we had stuff down. I think it paid off!

Swanny: An amazing experience, awesome touring with such amazing musicians, no bad luck, no tour aids and Boris didnt even drop a stick until the last riff of the last show, EUROPE HERE WE COME.

2. Best gig of the tour for you?

Paul: They were pretty much all awesome, but London was really something else. We were nervous because there was so much press there and we were really keen to make an impression. Somewhere between the nerves and the fear, we managed to have a great time, and the crowd gave it back to us tenfold. Amazing night.

Boris: LONDON !!! Sorry to the other cities but the crowd was insane and I really loved the energy they threw at us. I like to interact with the crowd, a live gig for me is all about sharing feelings/emotions with the crowd in front of you and when it works well and the crowd give it back to you its a good show to me.

Jim: London was incredible. Best turnout by a damn sight, but for me personally I felt like I really got into the groove somewhere around Birmingham/Manchester, because the first couple of shows went so well it became more about putting on a show rather than just musical performance.

Swanny: All the shows went really well, I think my favourite was Manchester because of the awesome monitor guy, I think it was the first time I’d ever played a Chimp show that was completly fuck-up free, am I allowed to say that……

3. Worst gig? Reasons why?

Paul: Sheffield *only* because I was feeling terrible when I went on stage, and was remembering everything I had to play about 1 second before I had to play it. I can only liken it to playing a song on Guitar Hero, on expert, for the first time. Let that be a lesson kids: no making party time before a show!

Boris: I will not say worst gig but maybe Cardiff was the one I enjoyed the least, basically because it was the day after London where the crowd was amazing and I couldn’t feel the crowd in Cardiff and I also had troubles with my monitors during the gig which make it a bit more difficult.

Jim: Worst gig would have to be Cardiff unfortunately, but not particularly down to the venue itself - it actually had the comfiest and most well-catered backstage area of all the venues we played which, as most members of touring bands will tell you, is massively appreciated! But a few things that we had no control of made it a particularly tricky show for us.

Swanny: The worst show for me was Sheffield. Not that it went bad but just weird vibes maaaaan, WEIRD VIBES.

Boris spins his sticks. Photo: Proghippie

4. Did you play any tour pranks on each other or the other bands?

Paul: Ah we’re way too nice for that. Saying that, we did have quite a bit of fun at Boris’s expense when we discovered that he’s afraid of wasps…and cannot pronounce the word ‘wasp’. I think it wore a bit thin by the end. For him. Not for us. Sorry Boris :]

Boris: EEEuuuuu I personally didn’t :)

Jim: We didn’t actually, it was super tame! I guess when your tour package consists of numerous genuinely nice guys it’s hard to actually want to fuck with someone!

Swanny: No, not really, this tour went pretty much prank free, apart from the constant bad french accents, UNEVEN STRUCTURE, WE LOVE YOU.

5. How was the accomodation along the way? Anyone you want to give shout outs to?

Paul: At the very least we managed to have some secure parking to sleep in the van. Mostly we just let Uneven Structure take the floor space because our van was kitted out for sleeping, and theirs was not. But thanks very much to everyone who had us a long the way, and especially to Sean McEmerson's neighbour for letting me into her house smelling like Whiskey so I could use her shower. Personally, I wouldn't have let me in.

Boris: We mainly slept in Kaan’s van, our driver (singer for No Consequence) who had beds inside so it was not too bad.  Thanks to Fabio and Ben for their hospitality.

Jim: The biggest shout out has to be to Kaan from No Consequence who was our driver on the tour. His van doubled as our accommodation for the vast majority of the tour and it is absolutely shit-hot in my opinion! Other guys that were good to us was our good buddy Fabio in Leeds/Bradford kinda area, with his unrivalled next level breakfast manoeuvres! One of my oldest friends Ben in Nottingham put some of us up 2 nights running and gave up some of his precious breakfast bacon for us all!

Swanny: As usual there was many die-hard djent fans willing to put us up for the night, which I am eternally grateful for. Too many to name here but I’m just gonna say I love you all for supporting the cause. Oh and I’d like to give a shout out to Bens cats for being awesome, if their reading this next time we meet the catnips on me.

6. A lot of reviews have cited you as THE band who stole the show each night, which is amazing given it was TesseracT’s headline tour and you are an instrumental band. Were you happy with the crowd reaction?

Paul: Well needless to say we’re very flattered! We knew from the beginning that there were going to be a lot of comparisons made between us and TesseracT even though, in reality, we’re very different bands. But by all accounts we held our own, and more importantly, complimented the evening as a whole. That’s what I wanted to achieve, and I think that’s what we did. There were a few puzzled faced at the start of our set but otherwise the crowds reacted just great.

Boris: Of course its always a pleasure to read in reviews that you stole the show, especially when the almighty TesseracT were headlining. We take this as a big compliment and it give us strength for the future !!!

Jim: The crowd reactions, if I’m honest, took some getting used to! Lots of people stood back waiting to figure what we were all about, and some of the big crescendo’s in some songs happened without the crowd stirring, which is odd when nailing something like the middle section of Under One Sky is like a massive victory for us all!

Swanny: Well that’s very flattering. The crowd reactions were very mixed, probably because it was a lot of peoples first time hearing Chimp Spanner in a live scenario and they were busy trying to stop their faces from melting.

7. This review states that “The simple fact is that live music needs vocals.” and that “Prog NEVER works live, no matter how good you are.” - bold statements. Do you feel you are at a disadvantage being an instrumental band? And how do you feel Prog works in a live setting?

Paul: Well, I know you can’t please all the people all the time! I’m totally fine with people just not digging us. But in this case it sounds like the reviewer either caught us at the wrong show, or simply went to a gig he was never going to enjoy. The crowd at the Garage (London) would heartily disagree with him. Of course that’s the whole point/beauty of music; it’s subjective! But it’s certainly no “fact” that Prog doesn’t work live. Hasn’t he heard of Rush?!

My own personal feelings are that what we’re all doing is just…making music. Sometimes it’s music you can go batshit to, and sometimes it’s music you can simply watch/listen and enjoy. Some of the quietest and most reserved people in the audience have also been the most appreciative and complimentary after we’ve played. So whether people are going nuts, or simply being attentive, as long as they’re enjoying what we’re doing then that’s all that matters.

As to being disadvantaged without vocals? It certainly makes the music more exposed. And there’s that feeling that eyes are constantly on you. But it’s just another challenge, and makes it that little bit cooler when someone who normally avoids instrumental music tells you they enjoyed the show and walks away with your album in hand!

Boris: I don’t think its a massive disadvantage being only an instrumental band, I actually really like instrumental music like “Explosions In The Sky" , "This Will Destroy You" , "Animals As Leaders" and more…the thing is it’s true that people like to sing words along the songs in general at a live show but during a Chimp Spanner show you can still see people singing!! Not words this time but Paul’s lead guitar and that’s a win as well :)

Jim: Absolutely not. Progressive music in all of it’s numerous forms definitely has a place in the realm of live music, as does instrumental music. Especially in Chimp Spanner where there is so much layering and background stuff happening that it would definitely fog Paul’s vision. Think of his lead guitar as vocal lines and you’re starting to get the right idea!

Swanny: I dont think we’re at a disadvantage by not having vocals, I mean Animals as Leaders are doing alright. Concerning the review, I think it was Tom Yorke that said ‘Opinions are like arseholes everyone has them and they all stink’ or something like that.

The band in action. Photo: Proghippie

8. You are back home now, what are the 3 main things you miss about home when you are on the road?

Paul: Ah that’s dead easy! Parents, cats, and a cup of tea in my own warm bed. I know that last one is kind of two. But it’s still allowed right?

Boris: I dunno, I don’t really miss anything but I can tell you 3 things I don’t miss when I’m at home: paying your bills, doing your washing and cleaning your house haha :) (thats basically what I had to do when I came back home)

Jim: A clean toilet with an almost limitless supply of TP, a powerful hot shower and not having to rely on eating out all the time! Forget trying to find food in a town centre when you finish a show at 9.30 on a Sunday night!

Swanny: My girlfriend, clean boxers, cooking food for myself.

9. The next Basick tour is ‘Safer Than Home' with Visions and Aliases. You guys were on tour with Aliases earlier in the year and it's well known the band are completely nuts, any advice for Visions? 

Paul: While I haven’t toured with Visions, somehow I imagine they’re capable of equal amounts of craziness. But yeah just be prepared to drink. A lot. And if anyone suggests play fighting with Leah or Pin, just don’t do it. It will end badly. Can’t believe I got my ass kicked by a girl.

Boris: YEAH!! Take care of Leah or you will have some sambucca going down your throat without you even notice it. And don’t ever ever play rugby with PIN, he was actually playing in the national rugby team, basically if you do you’re gonna be destroy haha.

Jim: The guys in Aliases are dead safe, no pun intended! We actually played a date in Peterborough with Visions on the TYBYWY tour with Aliases, and I think everyone got on well! There was that one night on Brighton Beach where everyone let their hair down, though..!

Swanny: If you think Aliases are nuts then you havent met Visions. Jokes…ummm take a taser!

10. You have a new release coming soon on Basick Records - can you share any top secret stuff with us?

Paul: Darker. Heavier. Denser. I think that’s about it…

Boris: EEuu wait if its top secret how can I share it, I’m confuse now lol :) noooo we are actually learning some new songs from the upcoming EP and I’m sure you guys are gonna love it as much as I do !!! STAY TUNED !!!

Jim: That’s not for me to say! But the good thing about the role I play within Chimp Spanner is I’m playing live guitar for one of my favourite songwriters, so I get to remain a fan AND get all the inside scoops on everything Paul’s doing! The new stuff that we’re all learning in preparation for a weekend of rehearsals in a few weeks time is a fair bit heavier than the songs on ATDE in their current form - I’m secretly hoping Paul ‘Chimps’ it up a bit more ;)

Swanny: It’s even cheesier, even heavier, even more hard to play and doesn’t have any vocals, fuck you prog haters!!!!!

The man, the legend, Paul Ortiz aka Chimp Spanner. Photo: Proghippie

11. Any last words for the people who came out to see you on tour?

Paul: Thanks so much to everyone who managed to make it to a show. Every hand shake and kind word really means a lot to us, so just keep an eye on the band page…we’ll be back!

Boris: A MASSIVE thank for those who came down to one of the shows or more and bought some merch from us as well. It actually really does help us doing tours and stuff !!!! Hope to see you all very soon !!!

Jim: Thanks to everyone who took the time to come and see us for a second time after TYBYWY - most of you said the show had been stepped up to the next level, so that was really awesome! Also thanks to everyone who bought T-Shirts, Posters and CDs and everyone else who had let us know they had a good time! Hope you come out and see us again next time!

Swanny: Thank you all so much for supporting this music, without you there wouldn’t be a scene and as long as people still keep coming out, we’ll still keep playing face melting metullz. 1OVE

More info: Chimp Spanner Shows