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music that's worth your while


Looking for music that will weird out your parents, make you bop your head, and inspire you to write poetry?

Let me introduce you to The Chewers.

The Chewers are the experimental band I’ve been looking for since forever. They have an addictive style: smart, darkly humorous narrative layered over off-kilter yet toe-tapping loops. The duo plays upon swirling the morbid with the comical, creating the musical representation of a caricature: warped and exaggerated reality. And it’s fantastic.

The band, consisting of Travis Caffrey and Michael Sadler, is releasing their album ‘Dead Dads’ on June 13th. The title seems bitter or satirical until the truth of its namesake is revealed: both Chewers’ fathers died while they were recording the album. Either despite or because of the tragic nature of the record, it’s absolutely incredible. I mean it when I say you should check these guys out.

The Chewers were kind enough to share some thoughts about the new album, growing up, and more.


NOISE POLLUTER: I wanted to wish you condolences about your fathers. In your email you said that “their deaths deeply affected the birthing process [of ‘Dead Dads’]”- how so?

TRAVIS CAFFREY: I was extremely close with my dad, who I called Bill. Michael was close with him too, actually. I remember when we got started with The Chewers, and we were making up these songs one at a time, we would always send them to Bill first. He was a creative presence in my life as well. He appears on the album (posthumously) as his character Flem Rattler on the song “It Must Be Fresh”. We made an album with him, which we’ll probably put out at some point. We did the music, and he did character-based spoken word. The band was called “The Dubious Thinkers”.

MICHAEL SADLER: My dad was an asshole. But assholes can influence you too. My dad taught me a lot about hate and lying. He also taught me about redneck ingenuity and work ethic. The Chewers wouldn’t exist without a little of each of those.


NP: Many of your songs are narrative in style, telling the stories of outside characters. Are these characters inspired by real people, or do they exist to represent more abstract thoughts?

TC: Occasionally they’re based on real people, although the end results of the lyrics tend to be mostly fictional even then. They tend to be representative of ideas or feelings or frustrations more than actual people. Sometimes, though, they’re just stories that have some kind of thematic through-line that fits in with the tone of The Chewers (like the hapless, doomed protagonist of “Jimmy Does the Shimmy”).


NP: How did you two meet?

TC: We met in college. We were both there for acting in the theater department. We became fast friends, and were roommates for a time. Michael moved to Nashville and kept in touch with me (I’m not so good at doing that). I lived at home, hermit-like, for a time after school, and eventually travelled to Nashville. I’d been teaching myself guitar, he’d been teaching himself the drums. We started making songs, and haven’t stopped.

MS: I always had the feeling that Travis and I would work on something creatively. I had no idea that it would be music. We both love music and he turned me on to a ton of great shit that would’ve taken me years to discover otherwise.


NP: One of my favorites tracks on ‘Dead Dads’ is “Curtains”- it makes me feel like I’m watching a live band at some sort of dimly lit and smoke-filled room while also in a different dimension. I’m really interested to know what the story behind this song is.

TC:  Lyrically, it’s about being obsessed with inevitable death, but presented with sort of cartoony imagery (falling pianos, buzzards in aprons) so it walks the line between humorous and morose (which is fairly typical of our style). That one was written after the dad deaths. Music-wise it can be hard to articulate these things in words, but it was meant to be constantly breaking down and then starting over again (I should also note that the music is often created without any specific lyrics in mind).


NP: How has the area of your upbringing- West Virginia, I understand- contributed to your musical style and/or taste?

TC: I don’t think it had much impact on me musically, at least in terms of what I may have heard there. West Virginia is a kind of tucked away, isolated place. I think that aspect of the place, on top of me being a real outsider there, affected the sensibility of the music, and especially the lyrics and characters.

MS: Growing up in extremely rural WV things were predominately country based. As I got older things were divided more. You either liked pop-country or rap. It makes total sense to me that pop-country has sort of gone down the rap rabbit hole. I can’t say it really contributed to my style or taste. There is probably some sub-conscious residue. The isolation of WV creates these real peculiar characters and I think that had more of an impact on me.


NP: I understand that you’re based in Nashville now. Who are some of your favorite local musicians?

TC: We run a basement venue out of our house called The Mouthhole, where we’ll be doing a CD release show in a few weeks (6/12). We’ve recruited some of the bands we like to play the bill with us: Heinous Orca, Cuntalopes, and The Strumms.

MS: Nashville likes its genres a whole lot. That being said, there are some unique things that pop up. I love Heinous Orca. They are a lot of fun and have a lot of style.


NP: What are your favorite songs to play live? What are your live shows like?

TC:  Since it’s just the two of us, and we layer so many instrumental parts on our songs, we have to kind of cover our own stuff live. We’re currently in the process of translating some of the songs from “Dead Dads”. My favorites right now are the song “Dead Dads”, as well as “Techno-Slaves” and “Swamp Drag” from our previous albums. None of our live songs sound much like our recorded stuff, other than some of the loops we use, and kind of a conceptual basis.

Our live show tends to be a little more amped up than our recorded stuff, because we’re both more interested in playing our instruments, and putting on a show, than accurately recreating something. There’s a certain level of chaos that hopefully is entertaining, and at least is slightly different each time, even though we’re doing the same songs. Each show tends to be somewhat affected by the atmosphere of the night, so sometimes we’ll go through the songs quickly, sometimes we’ll jam them out, and sometimes one or both of us will feel like fucking around and experimenting in the moment.

MS: The loops give us ground to slide around on. They were more of a hindrance at first, but we have gotten the better of them.


NP: Finally: describe your music in three words.

TC: Funny Paranoid Deathness.

MS: Dark Jangly Funk.







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