Chapters
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Chapters

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | SELF

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative

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"w/ The Mary Onettes"

...Admittedly, the bar was set high by opening act Chapters, whose slightly sinister, deviant and depraved lyrics fit perfectly with the Joy Division-meets-Psychedelic Furs dark dance music. Chapters' songs draw on recurrent themes of sex tapes and trust, legs spread and dark rooms down the hall. Controversial yet utterly captivating stuff.
Performance-wise, it's hard to tear your eyes away from frontman Vincent Marks and his herky-jerk dancing; he pulls at his tie like it's a noose, grips the mic stand like he's strangling it. His eyes recall a hunted (hungry?) animal; there's a look of fear, like he's afraid of getting caught.
It would be remiss here to not mention the band. Each of the three musicians delivers pristine performances, lending perfectly talented sounds to the songs. Two from the end, before the new song, Vincent pulled a new tie from a bag (he'd cut off the original one with a pair of shears) and quickly knotted it around his neck, saying "Don't be an asshole and tie it the easy way; no one will give you a job." - Playback: STL, Laura Hamlett


"Paul Alamo Review"

The band Chapters sported a lead singer with a great interest and skill with ties. I swear to god he taught the crowd how to tie a double Windsor knot between some songs. Everyone was transfixed -is that guy really teaching us how to dress for job interviews during a rock show? After the instruction and display of the Windsor knot my wife whispered an audible "wow" under her breath. She was impressed with his quick/steady hands and fashion sense. Yes, Chapters was winning over the crowd. Their music lurks somewhere around Interpol and Joy Division. Its grand, enunciated mid-range. As they moved through their set they got better, louder. Lots of changes, transitions and atmosphere (not unlike boarding a cruise ship) smoothly executed. They really played the fuck out of their songs. No, not like Trixie Delight played Barracuda. But it was close people...close. - Super Fun Patrol


"Chapters, Wife"

The presence of misogyny in rock & roll isn't exactly headline news. From the crass objectification of 2 Live Crew to the dark sadism of the Afghan Whigs, women have been demonized as much as they have been celebrated in rock lyrics. Even still, the brash women-hating on Chapters' debut EP, Wife, is off-putting. In the course of these five tracks, the band manages to refer to a woman as a "bitch" as least twice, and the opening track "Side Effect" contains this charming come-on: "Take it or leave it now / Open your legs or not." The legs-spreading motif is continued on the next track "Critical End," at which point you'll be forgiven for turning off this EP and never thinking of Chapters again. Sexism and chauvinism as a creative tool has its place — no one accuses Mick Jagger of being a sensitive male — but Christ, let's be more creative with our sexual innuendo, fellas. The sexual drudgery continues on "Consensual," as the singer croons that "I wanted you consensual." Is there any other way short of, you know, rape? This clearly is not singer-songwriter/confessional territory — no one is accusing the band members of committing the emotional and physical brutality that these songs depict — but vocalist/lyricist Vincent Marks never quite inhabits these songs to make them intriguing character studies.

The band strives toward a dark and edgy sound, aiming for something like Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights but settling for the dour glam of the Killers' first album. It's hard to miss Marks' British affectations — his pronunciation sounds like the Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler crossed with a marbly-mouthed Britt Daniel. The musicianship is competent if predictable, but no amount of instrumental ingenuity can save the lyrical travesties on these songs. Maybe the whole thing is a giant piss-take on sexual roles and the unspoken but unbreakable positions of gender and power that make modern love an impossible game. Maybe the title of the Wife EP highlights the personas and masks we wear and the social constructs that define our relationships. But that gives Chapters too much credit. The misogyny would be shocking if there were something behind it — but here it comes off as boring, rote and empty. - The Riverfront Times


"Chapters, Wife EP"

When I first received this disc, I was not sure what to think from the artwork. A partially dressed man and woman are viewed from the neck to the knees sitting on the edge of a bed. I slipped the disc in and was pleasantly surprised by the music. A mix of predominantly Cure-esque sensibility with a feel of the Autumns and Radiohead off in the distance invaded my eardrums. It got my attention.

Upon much further listening, I was somewhat taken aback by the lyrical content. The subject matter is of an adult manner, at times overtly crude, and dealing with sensual and sexual intimacy. It is boring and repetitive in its depiction of a woman as an object. If this is your thing, then check the Chapters out. This will probably become a Frisbee. Freedom of expression can be a good thing, if dealing with real life issues. I just hope the lyrical thought is from that vantage point, rather than an excuse for artistic freedom. The music cannot make up for the sadly empty lyrical direction. Sadly, I was somewhat disheartened and disgusted. - The Canny Shark


"Chapters - Wife EP Review"

I’m not the biggest fan of Chapters’ style of low-note rock; the style went out in 2001 when Nickelback and Three Days Grace overdid it and essentially killed rock radio. However, public rock radio still exists, and rock radio DJs need new bands that sound exactly like those nu-metal bands from 2001 (if only to prove they were right in overdosing us on it) to play right along with them. I’m sure Chapters will find a nice, warm home there and their latest EP, Wife, fits neatly into that format.

These five songs show that the loud-soft-loud template given to us by the Pixies in the 80s still holds influence over new rock bands. The formula has been modified slightly in the past 20 years to a loud-louder-loud formula, but the gist is the same. On the plus side, there’s a singular theme running through these songs (something I appreciate in an EP). Sure, the theme is “fucking,” but at least it’s there. Every song is about sex in some way. “Critical End,” is probably the most telling; “Tell me did you like it? Tell me did you like it? Say it like you mean it!” There’s lots of talk of compensation and insecurities in between the lines, but every direct phrase is about wanton sex.

That in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad if the actual rock music wasn’t so tired and if the singer’s voice wasn’t so grating. I’m definitely giving points for having a direction, but the tools of three-chord, drum-heavy, gravely-singer rock are all rusted and really need a break. Best of luck on mainstream radio. - Radio Exile


"Chapters, Wife"

Okay, look…I like Joy Division. I really do. But as a people, we need to move on. Following in the steps of Editors, Interpol and She Wants Revenge, Chapters is the latest in an increasing number of bands who believe that Joy Division is a genre of music. Throughout their five-track EP Wife , the band clings to the memory of Ian Curtis like a noose clinging to a neck of a strung-out rock star. Snare-heavy mixes, grinding guitars and intense snarky vocals are all present in spades. And if getting hung up on a singular band for your sound wasn’t enough, they also stick to the common Joy Division themes of broken relationships and broken love. But while Curtis was fond of self-loathing, Chapters seem to project their despair and the result almost comes of as misogynistic at worst or just annoying and whiny at best. Find another late 70s/early 80s British act to crib. guys. How about Ian Dury & the Blockheads? We need more of that. - Esdmusic.com


"12 Questions with Chapters"

This Friday at Cicero’s, you’ll have a chance to catch an up-and-coming local band, Chapters, who will be celebrating with a CD release show. Well, actually it’s an EP, and it’s full of deep lyrics and wonderful self-expression that will leave you wanting more and more. And you’ll probably want to dance, so come prepared to sweat and perhaps spill a few drinks while you discover your new favorite band. It’s only $7 and the fun starts at 9pm.

Vincent, Justin, Ben, and Nate recently took some time to answer 12 questions for insideSTL.com

1. How exciting is it to be having your CD release show?

Vincent: It's very exciting, because the EP turned out so well. Everything from the songs we selected to the cover art to the quality of the recording ended up perfect. I think the CD release will win us some attention and hopefully a little controversy.

Justin: I'm aroused just thinking about it.

Ben: It's exciting to be playing with two really good bands that I respect and it is exciting that we have a record. I'm not the biggest fan of calling it a "CD release show;" by doing that I feel that I have to provide cake or something. There will not be any streamers, no party horns. 3 really good bands at a great venue...and If you get drunk enough you can buy a CD or a shirt.

Nate: It is very exciting. We worked very hard for a long time making the EP sound exactly how we wanted it to. It's nice to see it all materialize, and the band sees the CD release show as the starting line of a long and gruelling and awesomely hard journey.

2. What do you love most about St. Louis?

Vincent: I moved here about 3 years ago, unexpectedly. I was supposed to go up to Chicago, maybe go to grad school, but I ended up here in St. Louis for personal reasons. Initially I was very disappointed. I was so psyched about moving from central Illinois to Chicago – I figured St. Louis was a dump with nothing going on. Fortunately, I was wrong.

If you stay in the city itself, there's plenty to do. There's music going on any night of the week. There's good record shops including Apop and Vintage Vinyl. Good cafes like Meshuggah's, etc.

Justin: It’s home.

Ben: The architecture. I'm from Florida so everything was built in the 60s and 70s so it is not very stimulating to look at. St Louis City on the other hand is quite the opposite, each house has a story to tell.

Nate: I have been saying it for years. St. Louis is small enough to get known, yet big enough to be known. I mean that a band can very easily climb the ranks of the St. Louis music scene and get known here because we have a relatively small city. At the same time though, bands that get a lot of attention here have a good chance of gaining ground in other cities, and possibly nationwide.

3. What was the best moment during the recording of your newest EP, Wife?

Vincent: We produced the record ourselves, so we had to work a lot on setting up sounds and figuring out how to layer certain elements. The best part was that our instincts worked out really well. I think we successfully put together a CD with a unique sound that doesn't sacrifice 'listenability'. Also having Chris Fonte with Jupiter Studios at the engineering helm made the record better than we could have hoped.

Justin: I guess when we knew we were done and moving on to the next step of getting this EP out there.

Ben: When I heard a play back of climax and exoneration with vocals. It made the hair on my arms stand at attention. Vincent recorded the vocals while I was at work, so when I got to the studio that night I didn't know what to expect. Obviously, I was impressed.

Nate: Calamari Fritti.

4. What was the most frustrating moment during the recording of your newest EP, Wife?

Vincent: The fact that we had to record it twice was pretty frustrating. We initially went to another studio, spent a small heap of money and ended up with a hollow, weak sounding set of songs. The engineer didn't know what he was doing and to be honest, our production efforts, if you could call them that at the time, weren't up to snuff. When we were about to send it off for mastering we listened to it as a group. Though it was frustrating to admit it wasn't up to snuff, I'm really proud to be in a band that stands by rigid standards of quality. To be fair, we learned our way around the studio through the failed session…and it contributed to a much more confident process the second time around.

Ben: Not getting Nathan’s Calamari we ordered with dinner.

5. Who are some of your favorite bands/songwriters?

Vincent: I think we're all going to have different answers here. My interests are pretty varied. I'm into Chet Baker, Afghan Whigs, Morrissey, Gary Numan (I own all 16 studio albums and have met him twice), Sun Ra, Girl Talk, David Bowie, Japan and Kraftwerk.

Justin: Fugazi, Charles Mingus, David Bowie, T-Rex, No Means No, The Beatles, etc...

Ben: I've always loved Paul Westerberg's lyrics. Answering Machine and the Regular are really good examples of how to say a lot with out sounding sappy.

Nate: Right now, I am on a steady diet of Ariel Pink, Don Caballero, Zappa, and Foals.

6. What's your favorite place to play in St. Louis?

Vincent: Any and all venues. I really don't want to play favorites. We did really love playing at the Koken Art Factory though for STL Vicars and Tarts.

Justin: Cruisin' Route 66 knows how to treat the bands.

Nate: I really like the Duck Room. It is legendary in its own right, and it has a really good space. The place is usually packed, which other venues cannot claim. The bands there are generally really good. Although, Cruisin' Route 66 takes care of bands really well.

7. What's your favorite part about performing?

Vincent: The experience of playing to an audience is the ultimate ego trip. Anyone who says otherwise isn't doing it right. I also enjoy strangling myself with my various ties, ripping off pieces of clothing and swaying around awkwardly.

Justin: I get quite a rush playing to a crowd.

Nate: It is where I feel safest. No self-consciousness crosses my mind when I am on stage. I am at my best in front of an audience sweating my ass off.

8. What's the best concert you've ever been to?

Vincent: There was a group called Mirror that played through the art institute in Chicago. Their music is based on drones and different sound textures. With about 60 of us in a green lit room, the sounds were unrelenting and had drug-like influences. I'm told the set lasted two hours, but it felt like 30 minutes. They played two nights in a row and I drove 3 hours to see them both nights.

Justin: Probably Spoon at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room.

Nate: Best most recent: Dan Deacon. That guy is fucking crazy.

9. If you could tour with anyone right now, who would it be?

Vincent: I'd love to tour with all kinds of acts. Nine Inch Nails on one end of the spectrum and Morrissey on the other.

Justin: Almost anyone who would ask us.

Ben: With anyone? Miley Cyrus. Realistically? Hillary Duff.

Nate: Foals. Man, they are so good. Wonder if they're nice, too.

10. What are some of your favorite albums?

Vincent: My favorite album of all time, hands down, no arguments or second thoughts is Station to Station by David Bowie. It came out in 1975, and has album art featuring David from his role in the Nicolas Roeg film, The Man Who Fell to Earth.

The song 'Station to Station' is about 10 minutes long and it's eerie, cryptic and captivating. When you get into the choruses and he goes 'It's not the side effects of the cocaine, I'm thinking that it must be love…' I get chills. And I'm so bored with most music that getting chills is a commodity. It happens every time, without fail. Just writing about it has the same effect cause I hear it in my head. So he follows up one of the best songs in the universe with just 4 more songs….and they are all perfect. He was just transitioning from that white boy soul from Young Americans to the cold production of Low, Heroes and Lodger which came later….so you get this mix of both. It's just so weird…and perfect. No one will match it – ever.

Justin: Fugazi-The Argument, No Means No-Wrong, The Beatles-Abbey Road, I could go on...

Ben: R.E.M-Murmur, U2-The Unforgettable Fire, MEW- And the Glass Handed Kites, Big Country-The Crossing.

Nate: I think American Don is where it’s at.

11. What's going through your mind five minutes before you go on stage?

Vincent: I usually try to map out the concert in my head. I take a look at the set list and work out what happens where. There are certain songs that really need emphasis through the performance itself.

Justin: A lot of things: Do I need to pee? Did I drink too much/not enough? How old are these strings? Where is everybody?

Ben: "This cigarette is satisfying, this beer is not going to be very refreshing after I finish playing. If Vincent encroaches on my part of the stage... I will kick him in the back. He must learn."

Nate: Hope I don't break all my sticks before the end of the set.

12. The best way to support our music is to...

Vincent: Come to shows. You'll be converted.

Justin: COME TO OUR SHOWS

Ben: Tell a friend.

Nate: Come to our shows, dance your ass off and buy our album.

- InsideSTL.com


Discography

EP, "Wife" - August/2008.
1. Side Effect
2. Critical End
3. Consensual
4. Climax and Exoneration
5. Black and White Bar

iChannel's ICoustix Session CD/Youtube Video Series - October/2008
1. Ruslana
2. The Naked Ticket
3. Isabella Blow
4. Boxcover

Photos

Bio

Sometimes it’s about the destination, sometimes the journey. With dark-wave quartet Chapters, it’s both. You may not like where you end up, but getting there is one hell of a ride. Their songs are fueled by lyrics both insinuating and overt, about gray areas and the guilt that can come from exploiting them.

“Just the thought of a completely unsolvable moral situation is very charged for me,” explains lyricist/frontman Vincent Marks. The man knows of what he speaks. Lyrically, Chapters’ songs are deep and brooding, sensual and sexual, inviting and disturbing. Musically, they force you to move, nod your head, dance along. “I think there’s something on the surface for people who like to dance,” says Vincent, “and something deeper for people who like going there.”

Before Chapters began, Vincent was a fiction writer and experimental noisemaker. He began writing songs by pulling lines from his stories, imposing fragments of his writings over other people’s music. An ad on Craigslist led to his finding what eventually became Chapters—guitarist Ben Lanning, bassist Justin Coleman and drummer Nate Larson. At first, says Vincent, “I was experimenting and the other guys were already accomplished musicians. I had to really fake it, but eventually I found writing good lyrics and melodies to be far easier than writing good fiction.”

Chapters’ music is guiltily addictive; you almost don’t want to find yourself singing along, but you do. The songs draw you in with their dark and dirty narratives; watching Vincent jerk and twitch is utterly captivating, enthralling. Drawing influences from classic punk/new wave and contemporary dark indie, Chapters are in a class by themselves, thrusting into new realms of professionalism and insinuation.

“The best artists keep going because they are never satisfied,” says Vincent. “There’s a feeling I write about in ‘The Black and White Bar’ about creative compulsion. If there’s anything that drives me, it’s just a compulsion to write.”

Ben sums it up best: “You play, you write, you hustle, you perform better than the band before you, you market yourself differently than the band after you, you respect the art and the craft. You repeat and repeat and repeat.”