Interview: Champs

Champs“Consistently rueful and rather wonderful”; that’s what we said about Down Like Gold in our recent review of the debut album from Isle of Wight duo Champs. Brothers Michael and David Champ have invoked quite the spectacle recently, rattling their pop laced chain in the direction of the press to superb effect. Littering their work with the sound of REM and Simon and Garfunkel, they’re fast gaining fans across the UK – just in time for a national tour with Australian band The Jezabels.

Spying our cue, we catch up with the band to talk autumn, recording in a big metal tank, and the cost of ferries from the Isle of Wight.

Hello! Your debut album Down Like Gold is due out on 10th March 2014. What are you doing in the run up to its release?

We're currently touring in Germany with Balthazar and then we're going straight into a comprehensive UK tour with The Jezabels. We're really excited because we haven't actually played in the UK much outside of London, so it's going to be fun. We'd also like to do a party/gig on the Isle of Wight at some point.

What inspired the album title and does that also reflect on the songs?

Our favourite season is probably autumn, and it tends to be the season during which we're most creative. This song is loosely about the autumn and the colours and feeling of the season. It's also about the demise, or autumn of a relationship.

How long ago did you write the songs?

The songs were written over quite a long period but we're always writing new stuff so it's quite easy to lose track of when individual tracks were written. We've got loads more ready for the next album.

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Who did you work within the studio and what do you think they brought to the table?

We worked with two brothers from the Isle of Wight called Jim and Rob Homes. They have loads of amazing old equipment and some really great recording techniques with stuff like mic placement. They used a big metal tank in the ceiling to create some of the reverb on the vocals for example. They also gave us total freedom to experiment and work out the best direction for the songs.

Why did you choose “Savannah” as the lead single for the album?

We wanted to present a bit of balance. Most of the stuff we've put out online and in single form has been quite slow and down tempo, so we wanted to show the poppier, more immediate side to the album.

You’re releasing Down Like Gold through Play it Again Sam. How did you get involved with the label?

I think they somehow got hold of a couple of demos really early on and they basically enquired as to our situation. It was a pretty straightforward affair really.

Coming out of the Isle of Wight, what difficulties have you faced? I can imagine touring must always cost a bomb!

YES. The ferries are outrageously overpriced so it's pretty annoying. It's the price you pay to live in a really rad place though.

What’s the local scene like on Isle of Wight and has it played into your music?

There are quite a lot of bands but there's no real venue so there's not so much of 'scene'. There are some amazing people dotted around though who provided help and inspiration.

You’re touring the UK with The Jezabels in February and March. Which dates are you looking forward to the most?

We're genuinely looking forward to all of them equally but for different reasons. We've never really played up north and we've never played in Scotland so we're really excited about that. I'm also really excited to play in Bristol because I love the city.

Can we expect a headline tour in support of Down Like Gold?

Hopefully! It depends on whether people like the album enough!

What else do you have planned for 2014? Will there be another single release soon?

Yeah, we're releasing a track called “St. Peter's”. We just filmed a video for it in the French Alps and we're very, very excited about it!

Champs will release Down Like Gold through Play it Again Sam on 10th March 2014. See their forthcoming tour dates here

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