BOOT & SADDLE

1131 S. Broad Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

The Chain Gang Of 1974

The Chain Gang Of 1974

Blondfire, Bel Heir

Thu, June 5, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Boot & Saddle

Philadelphia, PA

$10.00

This event is 21 and over

The Chain Gang Of 1974
The Chain Gang Of 1974
“My brothers and I were surrounded by music growing up,” explains Kamtin Mohager, the genre-jumping singer/multi-instrumentalist behind The Chain Gang of 1974. “Not Beatles albums or anything like that; more like the Persian records our parents played all the time. And when we got older, it was up to us to discover everything.”

Born in San Jose and raised in Hawaii, Mohager spent his first 13 years playing inline hockey and dreaming of being drafted by the NHL. His thoughts shifted to music soon after a move to Colorado, however. All thanks to the sinking feeling he felt after seeing the final scene in Real Genius. That’d be the part where “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” kicks in, tugging at the audience’s collective heartstrings like only the finest Reagan era records can.

“That’s definitely been the goal with my music all along,” says Mohager. “The emotion isn’t just in the vocals or the lyrics. It’s in the songwriting itself.”

That’s abundantly clear on Wayward Fire, a record that’s nearly as restless as The Chain Gang of 1974’s last two self-released LPs, White Guts and a collection of early cuts called Fantastic Nostalgic. The way Mohager sees it, his debut was “all over the place, from a piano ballad to songs that sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Primal Scream or Justice.” And while White Guts funneled three years of instrument-swapping, sample-splicing experience into a lean, focused listen, Wayward Fire melds the standout moments from that release onto Mohager’s most fully-realized vision yet.

“From Phil Collins to Fleetwood Mac to the Stills, all of my favorite artists have put out albums,” explains Mohager. “I wanted to do the same thing, not just release a record you kinda skip through.”

No wonder why the laser-guided synth lines of “Undercover” and the rather epic “Hold On”—crowd pleasers that hint at everything from LCD Soundsystem to Talking Heads—make perfect sense alongside such shifting soundscapes as the shimmering keys of “Don’t Walk Away,” the hands-in-the-air hooks of “Taste of Heaven,” and the choruses that cut through the rain clouds in “Matter of Time.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mohager balances his minor-key melodies with bold, bloodletting lyrics.

“Lyrically, it’s a dark record—all about fear, jealously and love,” he says. “Even the parts with hints of happiness have some doubt thrown in.”

Some closure came with the final cut, though, as Mohager moved to L.A., severed the ties of the two-year relationship that fueled Wayward Fire, and raised the curtain on what’s next, proving that this particular film has just begun.
Blondfire
Blondfire
Young Heart

"We were driving around with friends and someone said 'I smell a bonfire,'" recalls Erica Driscoll, lead vocalist-keyboardist-guitarist of the brother-sister duo Blondfire. "We thought they said 'Blondfire,' and at first we kind of jokingly said it should be our name – but it stuck. We liked the fact that it was masculine and feminine at the same time. It represented who we are in a cool way."

That push-pull of elemental forces is fundamental to the siblings' sound. Winsome, melancholy vocals and '80s-influenced melodies float atop shards of guitar and propulsive beats, leavening Blondfire's infectious pop tunes with real punch. Alternately haunting and ebullient, their Warner Bros Records debut Young Heart represents the purest example yet of Blondfire's unique musical hybrid.

"We tend to write sweet, dreamy melodies," agrees guitarist-drummer-sequencer-backup singer Bruce Driscoll, "and having a rhythm section that's more aggressive – and not too straight – gives it that gutsier, edgier feel." Like Erica, Bruce grew up loving bands like The Smiths, The Cure and New Order. But when it came to drums, Led Zeppelin skinsman John Bonham always occupied a special place in his heart.

The formula has resonated strongly with listeners. Blondfire became the first unsigned act to hit the #1 spot on the iTunes Alternative chart and one of very few unsigned bands to be added to the Sirius Alt Nation playlist, on the strength of the evocative, bouncy "Where The Kids Are" and its arty video. "I submitted that song to a few blogs and it just took off online," Erica marvels. "According to Hype Machine, we became the #1 most talked-about band on the internet!"

"Where The Kids Are" is the lead single on the self-produced Young Heart, most of which they wrote and recorded, Bruce reports, in "about a week" at his home studio and Hollywood's historic Wax Studios (formerly TTG). The set was mixed by Wally Gagel (Muse, Folk Implosion, Gorillaz). "Wally mixed 'Kids,' and he has a great grasp of what we're about sonically," volunteers Bruce. "He has a real knack for pressing the 'sound big' button."

Young Heart is the duo's first full-length album since their 2008 indie release My Someday. In the interim, the band has developed a homegrown following in Los Angeles through live residencies and radio airplay from KROQ, KCSN, 98.7 and KCRW. Their music has also been heard in the films Besties and Get a Job; on TV via ESPN's Australian Open Tennis, The Client List, MTV's Awkward and The Collection and in an ad for Ecco shoes.

Bruce and Erica grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan; their U.S.-born dad plucked classic rock and pop on the guitar, while their Brazilian mom – a classically trained pianist – exposed them to bossa nova and music lessons. By her teens, Erica was mad for '80s pop and teaching herself guitar.

Bruce was initially obsessed with film soundtracks, which no doubt ultimately contributed to Blondfire's emotionally vivid musical textures. "My dream was to score a Batman movie someday," he remembers. Later he got into drums (partly as a rebellion against piano lessons); although he soon switched to guitar, he retained his preoccupation with beats.

"Once Bruce started playing guitar, that's all we wanted to do," Erica says. "In Michigan there isn't much to do, especially in winter. So we just holed up in the basement, writing songs and recording them on our 4-track machine." They began gigging soon after.

And that Brazilian thing? "You can hear it a little in the way we use melodies," Erica muses, "and in the way that Bruce likes to put all kinds of variations into his beats." Bruce adds that he leans toward certain chords that lend a melancholy feel one could trace back to Jobim and other Brazilian songwriters. "It's not obvious," he says. "But it's in there." And just part of the one-of-a-kind recipe that makes Blondfire sound like nothing else.
Bel Heir
Bel Heir
Bel Heir first gained the attention of fans and critics by releasing two singles a month, in a classic A-side/B-side format, for a full year in 2014. Their unique campaign lead to immediate support from blogs such as NEON GOLD, HILLYDILLY, ALL THINGS GO, INDIE SHUFFLE and more. This soon resulted in over one million Spotify streams on their single “Kiss The Devil.”

The buzz and success surrounding their releases quickly meant tour dates with Sir Sly, Joywave, Highly Suspect, Neon Trees, The Chaingang of 1974, Cruisr, MagicMan and many others.

In 2015, they signed a publishing deal with LA-based Pulse Music Group (home to Børns, Miike Snow, Wild Belle, Run the Jewels) and have had the opportunity to write with hitmakers including Justin Tranter (Fall Out Boy, Halsey), Tim Anderson (Banks, 21 Pilots),
Jess Shatikin (Sia, Adele), Tim Pagnotta (Coin, Neon Trees, Dreamcar, Weezer) and more.

Throughout the time writing on both coasts, Bel Heir rediscovered their indie rock roots, resulting in a rebranded sound with much more grit, ripping guitars and pounding drums. And after writing more than 100 songs, the band is finally ready to release new music. Now, the "Washed Up” EP has arrived and it's a small—yet mighty—preview of the music Bel Heir is releasing in the near future.
Venue Information:
The Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
http://www.bootandsaddlephilly.com