Champs brothers are happy to follow pop’s rising star
PUBLISHED: 08:31 09 April 2015
Ahead of their April 24 show and new single release, Alex Bellotti talks to the band’s lead guitarist David Champion.
As they continue their journey through pop’s melancholy corridors, Isle of Wight duo Champs really are flying. Their second album was released in February – less than a year after their debut, Down in Gold, drew acclaim for its delicate, Bee Gees-esque harmonies and brooding, love-struck synth ballads.
Any fears that the two brothers, Michael and David Champion, may have rushed their sophomore effort however are quickly dispelled with one listen to title track and lead single, Vamala. Released on May 4, it will surely be a live highlight when they come to Oslo on April 24.
“We understand that people these days have short attention spans,” says lead guitarist David of their relentless pacing. “Music’s so accessible and if you don’t keep producing good stuff then people will just forget who you are, even if you’ve got a fan base going. So we just wanted to keep people engaged and keep making music, and we hope to do the same again if possible.”
The pair nonetheless believes strides have been made musically with Vamala, partly by working on it with producer Dimitri Tikovoi (Goldfrapp, Placebo) at his Kilburn studio. “He gave us a certain level of bravery where we tried something and instead of him saying, ‘That’s not really your sound’, he said, ‘Yeah that sounds really cool,’” David adds.
The younger of the brothers explains that while both of them had played in bands during their teens, they began to work together as they grew closer in their 20s.
Opting against trying to build a following in the Isle of Wight (“it’s basically pointless because you can’t take your fans with you on tour”), they began playing in London straight away and were quickly picked up by their label, Play It Again Sam.
Paying tribute to the brothers’ natural shorthand, David says Champs are unlikely to find themselves disagreeing on musical direction. “That’s just isn’t a problem for us because every time we discover a new band, we show the other one it, so we essentially have identical tastes and want to achieve the same thing with it musically.”
Citing REM and Sea Change-era Beck as artists who particularly formed Champs’ approach to song writing, they are also proud to be on the alternative edges of an increasingly healthy pop scene.
“If you think of the early 2000s, pop music was just terrible and bad songs were getting in the charts, but these days everyone seems to have upped their game.
“The music industry’s become so hard that you actually have to be pretty good to be a pop star, and it wasn’t always like that, it used to be that if you threw enough money at something people would just buy it. I think pop’s good these days, so to be called pop music is a good thing; pop with a bit of credibility still is what I’d like to be described as.”
Champs play Hackney Central’s Oslo on April 24. Visit oslohackney.com
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