Bumping into people at ArcTanGent in the early evening on Friday, the word on everyone’s lips was “Did you see CHON?” Before you could even exchange pleasantries, people were wide eyed, foaming at the mouth, spouting their excitement for the Californian natives.
The festival provided the perfect audience for the four-piece to perform to, with a mass of people showing up early to gush over their concoction of ambient, jazzy twiddles and American themed patter from bassist Drew Pelisek.
Earlier that day, backstage at the festival, CHON were exactly as you’d expect a group of young dudes from California to be. The mood was as tranquil with them in the spacious barn away from the festival as it was up on stage at the Yohkai. “It’s kinda surprising,” confided guitarist Mario Camarena “because we never really knew what to expect coming over here. We have a good following in America, so we didn’t know if it’d translate over here. It does, which is super cool”
With guitar still in hand, Mario had just come back from a session across the way with his band-brothers Nathan Camarena and Erick Hansel in tow, drummer and guitarist respectively. The festival appeared to be a bit of a surprise to the band, having not heard too much of it previously. “I’ve just heard it’s based on the kind-of out there music, so that’s pretty cool,” added Mario “It’s cool that it has such a big crowd for such a niche thing, you know?”
Prior to their arrival at Fernhill Farm, the four-piece had been out on the road with fellow Yanks The Fall Of Troy and Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi. Their ambient, jazz infused nuggets of math-joy are a little more chill compared to some of the stuff put out by their peers on tour, but it sounds like they’ve been acclimatized just fine. “Everybody’s really nice and professional” smiled Erick “It’s just gone smoothly”
“It’s our first time here…ever, besides music. So it’s kind of crazy for us, but it’s really cool. We’ve been having a lot of fun here” confirmed Mario.
Whilst it’s only their first time making the trip to Blighty and beyond, CHON aren’t quite so fresh out the box as you might think. The past seven years have seen them rise up from playing small, local shows in their hometown of San Diego, to breaking into America’s Billboard 200 and rising up as support on big tours. There was a period of inactivity to re-charge the batteries and re-evaluate, but its done wonders for the band. “We started in 2008 and we were all still kids back then. We weren’t a professional band by any means; it was just something that we loved doing. Once we graduated high-school, we kinda slowed things down with the band.” Mario divulged “Eventually we decided we wanted to make it a full time thing and do it professionally – that’s when we released our first EP and then things just started going from there”
‘Newborn Sun’ was released in 2013, followed swiftly by their second EP ‘Woohoo!’ Their newest release, the aptly titled ‘Grow’ is their debut full length, set for release September 25th in the UK and Europe through Sumerian Records. It’s worked out magically that the album’s release comes mere weeks after their highly successful stint with The Fall Of Troy across the continent. Mario, fully in agreement, added “I think it’s a pretty great first European tour to do for a band, and it’s sick that it happened before the album came out.”
Grow has already had its official release in the states, marking its debut earlier in the year. To say it’s been well received would be a bit of an understatement. “Ever since the album came out, we’ve had our biggest surge of popularity. It’s done way better than any of us could’ve hoped.” confirmed Mario.
Outside of the effortless, lightning pace guitar picking and dynamic drumming, a few slow jams have worked their way into Grow, with vocals making an appearance on a couple of tracks. With the title of the album very much in mind, the band cited a number of new influences during its production. “I think the music we’re listening to at the time has a huge influence on us” mentioned Mario “…we were listening to mostly electronic hip-hop stuff. It’s not the easiest thing to spot, but if you listen for it, there’s a lot of hip-hop influence in the album. Whatever we listen to comes out in the music, in some way”
Enthusiasm is bubbling over for CHON in the UK, as evidenced by the overwhelming response they received at ArcTanGent. With their new record quite rightly seeing them evolve as a band, it’s exciting to see where they go from here. On the subject of what lies ahead, Mario concluded “We’re always writing stuff whenever we have time. After this tour, we get home for a week, then go back out on a US tour for two months, then we’re off for like four or five months. During that whole time we’re just gonna be writing the next album”
Grow is out this September across the UK and Europe through Sumerian Records. For further information, check out the CHON Facebook here.