INTERVIEW: Kingsley Chapman & The Murder | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The demise of The Chapman Family in 2013 was seen as a genuine loss for North East music – at least from the point of view of this writer. Kingsley and co.’s biting wit and dark gothic punk had been yelping and snarling across the country’s toilet venues from their home in Teesside for many a year, notching up plaudits from the likes of NME and The Guardian, and they genuinely seemed to be on the verge of great things.

Continual touring took its toll though, as Kingsley explains: “I think we’d just come to the end of our collective tether, personally I was completely burnt out.” Following the end of the band, and a tumultuous time for Kingsley health-wise, it seemed that The Industry had managed to chew him up and spit him out. “I stopped listening to music and going to gigs as the whole idea of bands, music and that lifestyle that nearly destroyed me was utterly repellent.”

Thankfully, you can’t keep a good Goth down, and it took stern words from those close to him to make Kingsley realise he had more to give. “Once the yearning came back to write and play music again I was insatiable and I’d have crazy visions of cacophonous concerts and noise that I’d want to try and create.”

Enter: Kingsley Chapman & The Murder. Songs debuted by the band so far demonstrate not merely a return to form, but a progression and maturity that builds on The Chapman Family’s angsty noise, contributing to a grander and more ambitious sonic assault than ever before. When I put it to Kingsley that he’s mellowed slightly – as evidenced on the band’s debut physical single, the wistful and sprawling Lovers – he’s mildly perturbed. “To be fair, the songs we’ve put online – apart from the one about watching someone getting their head caved in and being reassured by an angel that it’s ok to die…oh, and the other one about the government destroying the NHS – are quite romantic in nature. They’re not as lovey dovey as you might think though, there’s some sinister stuff going on, it’s all quite dark.”

It’s certainly clear from the band’s live performance that the old passion and torment is still there loud and proud, but it’s now accompanied by a grace and fervour that may have been lacking in The Chapman Family’s fierceness. “I find it really odd that some people have said I’ve mellowed despite the fact that the song we usually open the set with has me screaming about killing someone over a wall of feedback!”

kingsley by jason hynes

“our leaders are shape-shifting lizards hell-bent on persecuting every non-lizard being on the planet”

The grandiosity of the band’s initial output may have masked Kingsley’s rage sonically, but the opinionated and downright angry voice is still there; albeit cloaked under the orchestral swathes of Olympians, replete with soaring vocals and subtle twinkling melody, and the aforementioned Lovers’, with its proud blasts of trumpet and stirring piano. The track’s B-side, Guillotine, laments the potential destruction of the NHS over a flamboyant, if deliciously dark, tone that shimmers with a barely contained fury; it’s obvious that Kingsley hasn’t lost his zeal. “Everything has to be politically motivated in a way; it’s just that sometimes I’m more obvious and blatant. I sloganeered a lot in the old band, shouted in sing-along sound bites to try and get my point across.” Kingsley admits that, despite being proud of his previous work – particularly when managing to simultaneously slag off the royal family and the London Olympics by releasing the Cruel Britannia EP during the Queen’s Jubilee – they may not always have made savvy business moves. “I’m trying to do it in a slightly more cynical way this time – lulling people in with sweet sounding strings and brass and then whispering to them gently in the left side speaker that our leaders are shape-shifting lizards hell-bent on persecuting every non-lizard being on the planet.”

Kingsley admits that the North East is a subject that has always loomed large in his work; it’s there in the imagery of his lyrics and the grim but spirited epic-ness of the band’s sound. “If you see the same thing every day – the gridlocked flyover, the empty high street, the leafy suburb, the supermarket queue – it’s always going to affect what you write in some way.” He says. “I like the wildness of the place though, we’re like the outsiders of the whole of the British Isles up here. We don’t have the cocky swagger of the North West or Yorkshire and the Scots won’t take us under their wing. Our government pretends that we don’t exist and won’t give us any shiny new railways so we can’t escape.”

It’s clear that Kingsley’s determined not to be brought down by modern life’s deceptions and disappointments: “I think we’re honestly trying to make something quite uplifting and euphoric. I certainly don’t want to get tarred with the ‘misery guts’ brush again – I had five years of that with the old band.” Just don’t forget to listen closely, it may not all be doom and gloom, but you can be certain that Kingsley Chapman still has plenty to say.

Kingsley Chapman & The Murder release Lovers/Guillotine via Too Pure on 31st July. The band play The House of Blah Blah, Middlesbrough on Friday 31st July and The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Thursday 6th August.

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