Backbeat presents: A first listen to White Guts from the Chain Gang of 1974

Categories: Sound Check

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Earlier this week, we offered up an exclusive advance listen of The Pirate Signal's brand new album, No Weak Heart Shall Prosper, and pointed out the notably significant artistic progression the group had made since its debut more than half a decade ago, Norma(l) Hugh Manchild's American Revolution(s) and its subsequent follow-up, The Name of This Band is the Pirate Signal.

This afternoon, we present another well known and respected Denver act on the verge of releasing its own paradigm shifting record next week. The Chain Gang of 1974, led by Kamtin Mohager, moonlighting 3OH!3 bassst, is slated to release its new album this Tuesday on Mohager's own Golden Gold Records imprint. Listen to White Guts in its entirety after the jump.

It's fitting that Chain Gang's new album has the word "guts" in the title, as these songs represent a a brave artistic leap forward the band. For a group that built its renown as a frenetic dance-based act with an equally energetic live show, it takes some guts to expand in audacious new directions, as this album does, and conceivably risk alienating at least a portion of your core audience.

But as it turns out, this was exactly the right call -- for Mohager and by default, the listener. As you'll read below from his own account of making White Guts, the album flowed freely in a matter of weeks from a place where all the best albums come from, that place from which you play from your heart and soul rather than making the music you think everyone wants to hear.

Suffice to say, you can hear the difference in White Guts, which Mohager says is precisely the record that he -- a guy who started making music under the Chain Gang moniker after being inspired by hearing Primal Scream's XTRMNTR -- always wanted to make. And by following his own muse and making music that moves himself first and foremost, invariably, the music is bound to have a similar effect on others. Many others, we predict.

Make no mistake, Mohager hasn't completely abandoned the original formula. He's just refined it. The songs here are no less danceable, but they are remarkably more subdued and considerably more song oriented, resulting in Chain Gang's most mature, vibrant and listenable album to date. Pulling from an array of disparate influences, White Guts contains a heaping helping of DFA decadence, flecked with '80s synth pop, Madchester and early '90s Brit pop -- again, a bold step forward from Chain Gang's past work.

Funny thing: This is the first music that Mohager has produced with the Chain Gang that he's attached a set price to rather than just giving it away for free. And that's also fitting. Nothing against Chain Gang's earlier efforts, but this shit is totally worth paying for.

Kamtin Mohager on the new album:

I had spent almost two years writing and recording an album that I thought was me. Deep down, I knew it wasn't what I wanted as a musician. It took a lot for me to put those songs behind me, because in a way, it felt like I was giving up. But I knew that I had to write songs that I'd know would represent who I am as a person.

So instead of working on a record for another two years, I called my friends Isom Innis (from Boston's Southern Belle) and Christophe Eagleton (Astra Moveo) and asked if they'd be down to knock another one out. It was a very fast process, literally took about a total of two weeks for tracking. But I now know that that's the way records are supposed to be made. If you sit on it for too long it loses the feeling it gave you. You get lost with edits, changes, sounds, and all that other bullshit.

So I knew it had to be a quick process. Isom and I worked on half of the album in six days, as he helped co-write and produce "STOP!," "Devil Is A Lady," "Hold On," "Matter of Time," "Don't Walk Away," and co-produce "F'n Head."

It was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. Some of the funnest memories I've made in recent years. There was nothing holding me back as I came up with these ideas that I'm so proud of. We spent four days in Colorado Springs, and two days in Denver. Our makeshift studio was simple, but it did the job. It allowed us to pick up the sounds we wanted.

After finishing those tracks, I then hit up my close friend, Christophe Eagleton, and spoke to him about redoing some older songs I had down. After having played those songs live over and over again, I wanted to record a lot of the changes that took place over time. So we got together shortly after the Isom sessions and got to work, polishing off all these ideas I had. He's a great producer and really knows how to capture a solid sound.

The songs turned out exactly how I wanted them, and I then realized I had a new ten song album that I was very proud of. I believe the Chain Gang Of 1974 was always viewed as a musical project that couldn't be taken seriously. Especially in Denver. Most of the music listeners were too ignorant to realize that this state has different sounds instead of the cookie-cutter radio crap that gets signed out of this state. White Guts holds something that I believe in, and I can only hope that other people believe in it, as well

This stream is no longer available. Purchase White Guts here.

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