Chase the Monkey are from my hometown of Pittsburgh Pa. They are part of the Teenage takeover scene storming Pittsburgh and that bodes well for the future of Rock. Classic sounds in abundance, great riffs, nice blues influence. I’m thinking somewhere between 69-73 , has a little of that Robin Trower sound or maybe it’s a little Alvin Lee anyway you want to look at it, if your 13 to 18 this has to be new to you. It’s fresh and it’s not pre packaged nonsense , you can actually feel the vibe , you know when something isn’t real and you can also tell when it comes from the heart and soul, this is good old fashioned rock n roll and I’m all for it…
Hi our name is…
Chase the Monkey
People say we sound like…
To be honest, people seem to just talk about our sound more than making direct comparisons. Except one time, when we got compared to early Thin Lizzy. We didn’t even know…
My name is Alberto Sewald, and I’m the guitarist/singer/songwriter. Matt Hanson plays bass and sings, and Paige Suvick works her magic on the drums.
We are from…
Pittsburgh, PA. Well, actually the northern suburbs, but we spend a lot of time in the city.
Do you think growing up in Pittsburgh has helped you in your journey so far and if so, how?
It definitely has. It’s the kind of scene that feels big enough that there are a lot of different ways to fit in, but also small enough that it’s easy to get to know the other bands and promoters, and it’s not super intimidating to kids breaking into it for the first time. Being able to make friends and find contemporaries has been so important to what we’ve done so far. We just played an amazing, totally packed show with some of our friends in the Nox Boys and Pachyderm that wouldn’t have been possible without the friendships we’ve made in the local scene.
Who are some that have an influence on you?
We all all really love Neutral Milk Hotel, but their influence is more subtle and doesn’t show too much. I’d have to say The White Stripes are a big one, as are The Front Bottoms, and this band Weatherbox from San Diego. Slothrust, who are currently based in Brooklyn, are a current favorite of ours too. For me personally, Tom Waits, Nick Drake, and Charles Mingus are also really important.
How old were all of you when you started to play, and who plays what in the band?
We’ve all been playing since our elementary school days, and Paige and I started playing music together about five years ago. Matt joined a bit over a year ago and Chase the Monkey became what it is now.
Can you tell us about the process you use, from writing the songs all the way through getting the songs out?
I usually just take songs or riffs that I’ve written and bring them to Paige and Matt with a vague idea of how I want the arrangement to feel, and together we kind of build from there. I’ll jump up and down, wave my arms all around, make some noises, and after several hours we’ve figured out what I’m trying to say, and what Paige and Matt have to say about it–musically, that is. Then we just tweak it over time.
What are some of the challenges you face as younger musicians, and how have you overcome those challenges?
As high schoolers, getting the support of our peers can be difficult, because rock ‘n’ roll just isn’t in style these days. People love to show casual interest and then never follow through and come to shows. They just don’t have any intrinsic interest in it. With the help of some of our friends in other bands though, we’ve been able to come together to make bigger waves and get more people our age to take notice. Our peers are finally starting to get excited about what is going on in the local music scene and it’s wonderful.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be…
I’d love to go back and see a whole bunch of Elelephant 6 bands in the 90s, when they were all touring together and playing in each other’s projects and switching around instruments onstage and just being this big awesome melting pot of creative personalities. Then again, getting to experience the 50s jazz scene right here in my hometown of Pittsburgh would be amazing too. It’s crazy how little most people know about the vibrant musical history of the city. So many legendary, world-class jazz musicians came out of here, and any legend who wasn’t from Pittsburgh certainly came through and played at the gazillion jazz clubs that used to be in the Hill District. So yeah, probably one of those two.
Who are all of you currently listening to, and who would you like to see in concert?
Alberto: I am currently listening to a lot of early punk/protopunk (whatever you want to call it) stuff like MC5, and complimenting it with the analog synth-iness of Black Moth Super Rainbow. And Townes van Zandt. I am dying to see Slothrust in concert, and I really want to see Porches and Frankie Cosmos again!
Matt: Listening to Weatherbox as always. And I want to see Wavves!
Paige: I’d love to see The Districts in concert. They put a lot of heart in their performances, plus being so young, they’re a big inspiration. Currently listening to Slothrust, they’re brutal and truly rock. The anticipation of their new album is killing me! Also listening to Wye Oak and Benjamin Booker.
What tunes are on heavy rotation for you…
Like specific songs? I’m not sure. A lot of stuff from the bands above. We always share what we listen to with each other and cross-pollinate like that.
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
That’s tough. Current bands? Maybe Weatherbox or Slothrust? Not huge names, but both are bands that we really admire. I’m not sure about Matt and Paige, but I think it would be really cool to open for The Dead Weather, one of Jack White’s current projects. We got to open for the Orwells in September, which was sweet too.
My youngest son is 13 and in a band, what advice would you offer him…
Just keep working at it! Even if you are really serious about music it can be hard to be taken seriously and play exciting shows at such a young age. Being a considered a novelty as a young musician can be frustrating, but don’t let it discourage you! You can also really use that time to listen to mountains of music and just work on your songwriting and/or musicianship, and just get as much experience as you can. That’s what I’ve done since I was 12 or 13, and now I’m 18 and feel like I have a solid place to start my journey as a songwriter and performer.
The one thing we want you to remember while your listening to us…
Nothing necessarily…our songs are about whatever they mean to you. Think whatever you’d like, and if you like our stuff, please say hello!
Our plans for 2015…
We’re extremely excited to be heading into the studio to record our full-length debut in February! After that it’s figuring out the album release, and playing shows, and shows, and more shows. And making friends!
Listen to some cool tunes….
and you can follow/keep up/LIKE Chase the Monkey