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Chamberlain announce new album "Red Weather", kickstarter
Posted January 10, 2020 by Jim Rawlinson

This week, after twenty years away, local legends Chamberlain officially announced they have a new full length album coming out. Red Weather is due this Fall, and they have launched a kickstarter project to help fund its production and release. There are a bunch of cool rewards for funders, from autographed vinyl to drum lessons from Charlie! Chamberlain fans all over the world have been clamoring for a new album for two decades. The band has been teasing them over the last ten years, with a handful of reunion shows and a couple 7” releases, but finally the official follow up to 1998’s The Moon My Saddle is on its way!

I was able to get a call in with guitarist and songwriter Adam Rubenstein, getting the low down on the new release, how we got here... and I even got him to give me a list of some of his favorite local bands from the band’s early days. Check it out! - Jim Rawlinson

MFT: You’ve had a lot of cool energy. What’s next - kickstarter, album?:

Adam: I’ve been refreshing my screen a little too often… We just launched 24 hours ago and are now at 2/3rds of our goal… but I’m total floored, all of us are flabbergasted at how fast this has gone and how lucky we are to still have fans all over the world. This year we went to Europe and sold out a show in Berlin! The whole thing feels surreal. There’s a sort of intangible magic that has kept that fanbase in tact over 20 years. I don’t really know how to explain it other than it’s really humbling.

MFT: It’s been 2 decades since The Moon My Saddle and 25 years since Split Lip… how did this come about? Was it the reunion show that kickstarted things?

Adam: I made this video for the kickstarter project and talked about how in 2009 we were invited to do this Burning Fight show that turned into a 3 day tour and we realized that somehow our chemistry had remained in tact and we still liked each other and the music was better than ever before. There were a lot of logistical obstacles that forced us to stay apart, but once we started to play it all came back. Then we inexplicably got a call from the Gaslight Anthem asking us to tour with them and we did that and had a blast. Then we lived so far apart that everyone retreated into their lives.

I don’t remember whose idea it was but we started talking about how it was crazy that it was going to be 20 yrs since The Moon My Saddle in 2017 and I suggested we do a skype call and talk about the possibility of doing a show or a reissue or whatever to pay credit to the history we had and then everyone was itching to play together. So we met up in LA and played together… realized we all still loved each other, still loved playing together. All the creativity comes back, the same humor, same jokes come back, mannerisms… everything instantly returns when we were together. So we did that and then we decided to just do four shows. We all piled in David’s RV and drove around doing what ended up being five shows including LA, of The Moon My Saddle. Every one of those shows was an amazing outpouring of love. It was amazing to see like… dads bringing their kids to our shows who all knew the lyrics. I’m floored there is still a lasting legacy of the band. With all the music in the world now, compared to what was there in 1991, it’s inexplicable to me that we still have this multi generational legacy….

Chamberlain performing with Brian Fallon, Gaslight Anthem

Since the Gaslight Anthem tour, I think it was David’s idea to do a new record. Truth be told Charlie and I are in NY and we worked on songs together but logistically nothing ever made sense. We recorded Raise It High sort of by mail, and that was fine as a one off single but to do a record right we knew we all had to be in the same room. And we couldn’t live further apart from each other. (Adam is in New York, Charlie is in Nashville, David and Clay are in Indy, Curtis is in LA). Personally I had 2 goals in 2009 when we first got together. 1. Make a new record with my old friends. 2. Return to Europe one day... We’ve had several booking agents reach out to us about Europe and was one I worked with before for my solo stuff who reached out and said “hey I could put together a quick week, go to UK, Germany, Belgium” and I texted all the guys and unbelievably everybody said yes. I think everyone was in their lives now where enough time has gone by that we really cherish playing these songs. The music feels bigger than us now…

MFT: Yeah, when you did the Fate’s Got A Driver reunion at Birdy’s I remember thinking about how this was the last time these songs could be played and they meant so much to everyone in the room… that’s heavy…

Chamberlain, Fate's Got A Driver reunion, Birdy's in Indy

Adam: Yeah songs are a roadmap to peoples’ lives. I remember bands that I grew up with that are still part of my life. That is the most humbling experiences when you start to think your own music that you wrote with your friends truly for love and the fun of it… to think that is now part of someone else’s life roadmap is really awe inspiring.

Sometimes I complain like “this song doesn’t vibe with my current musical tastes, or seem as relevant to me now” and then once I play it and see the looks on peoples’ faces and hear them yelling back the words with us, I realize the songs have taken on a life of their own. They are really more than just songs. I don’t mean that with any ego, they are part of my road map too, you know? You listen and they take you back to a place in time or a state of mind…

MFT: I think that’s true of all music but I do think having the legacy of coming from the punk/DIY scene, that the connection and passion of the audience is even tighter. I know there are bands out there who broke up decades ago who I saw in a basement once and I still remember the words to all of their songs… and they don’t even know who I am. How did coming from that community influence what later became a band that wasn’t hardcore or punk rock sounding at all…

Adam: A lot of people who listened to The Moon My Saddle or even the new stuff we are working on, I get a lot of backhanded snide remarks by people who say “well this sounds like Counting Crows, or Toad the Wet Sprocket or John Mellencamp” and you get those comments and think “well… I actually like those bands first of all...” but then I have other people say “At the root of this these are rock songs but it sounds like someone playing rock and roll that doesn’t really know how to play rock and roll” and that’s how I described Chamberlain to people. Charlie is playing these precision almost metal drums on The Moon My Saddle because that’s just how we grew up and learned to play. I was trying to improvise as if I was Mike Campbell from the Heartbreakers but I actually had no knowledge how to play rock and roll guitar. Our interests became like The Band and Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, we got really in to roots rock living in Bloomington… Neil Young… we were just discovering music outside the world of punk rock. We were trying to play the music we were listening to but we didn’t know how to do it. If you grew up with us and you listen to The Moon My Saddle it makes more sense. Curtis is playing bass riffs that are like Joe Lally / Fugazi inspired. And David is singing his guts out like a punk rock singer…

MFT: Yeah, there were a lot of acts that started in punk rock and then broke up and took a musical left turn but you guys did it as a unit which was kind of unique…

Adam: Yeah, it just kind of evolved that way. There was some push and pull but I think there was a perfect point of our career where there was a perfect synergy where all of our influences were working together around 97 and then we drifted apart as friends. Didn’t hang out as much, listened to different things. Ultimately that was kind of why the band broke up, just because we didn’t love the same things anymore. Now it’s very interesting... to segue into the new record.

Chamberlain, 2020

MFT: Yeah how different is the new stuff?

Adam: Logistics were always the biggest issue. Before The Moon My Saddle reunion we got together and jammed some ideas that David and I had and it all sort of worked but it seemed like a far fetched dream to actually find the money and time and energy to get together in a studio. It was Carl (Broemel, from Old Pike, My Morning Jacket), he was like “why don’t you guys come down to Nashville and try to record and see how it works” so we did Some Other Sky and it was like no time had passed... But it just felt like the tip of the iceberg, like we had so much more. David and I had been emailing ideas back and forth and suddenly I looked at my inbox and realized there were about 20 different song fragments and I thought “well let’s finish these songs.” David came out to New York for like two days… scribbled out skeletons of songs and Carl was like “just come down, I want to produce this record because I love you guys and we have this energy” so we went down and were only in Nashville for four days and ended up tracking basics for 10 songs. I stayed for a couple extra days, Charlie sent some overdubs, David has sang everything but he’s going to go back in February and finish up vocal stuff…

Carl Broemel, Planet Earth / Old Pike / My Morning Jacket

MFT: Wow so you’re already well in to it…

Adam: Oh we’re way in to it. There’s one or two other songs we’re trying to add back into the mix… Overall we kind of rocked these songs live together. We did some of it at Carl’s place, but did a lot of it at this studio called Creative Workshop in Nashville. We kind of wrote it in the studio and mapped out the basic structure of the song and once we felt like that was done we hit record and I think this is without question the vibey-est record we’ve ever done. There’s rock songs, ballads, everything in between but it was absolutely an experiment because… there were no stakes. That’s what’s been a relief about this whole process. Yes we spent a lot of money on travel and paying Carl but aside from the expenses the unique DNA of these songs is there were no stakes. We all have different lives, like, if this didn’t work out it’s not like the weight of the world was on our shoulders like it was in the late 90s when we felt like this was the only thing we were ever meant to do. It gave the songs more of a free flow to them. I don’t want to scare people away… It’s not all candlelit dinner music but it’s vibey.

MFT: There was a band out of Muncie called Brazil who did a reunion show and when I was talking with their singer he mentioned, I think it’s relevant here, that “When we did this record we were kids. We were planning tours and dealing with industry crap and caught up in the day to day and it’s fun to get back together later in life when we have it more figured out and take a breath and think we can actually collaborate without being worried about getting dropped off our label or something.”

Adam: Yeah, and there was this myth when we were making music that like one you are past your mid 20s you aren’t relevant anymore and as you get older you think “Well fuck that I want to listen to music that has worldly experience.” Not to say someone in their early 20s doesn’t have a lot to say but… I want to hear people who have been through the ringer sharing that experience. I don’t mean this as an old guy trying to justify getting back in the game. The records I like to hear, sometimes I look up at my shelf and realize that most of the stuff I listen to now are people my age. Which is a refreshing, relieving thing when you’re making a new record.

Someone said something interesting when we played in Germany. A longtime fan came up and said “You know I see a lot of bands that do reunions and no one looks like they are having fun but when I see you guys together you seem like you’re having fun and that’s the best part about watching you.” That’s such a great compliment and it’s absolutely true. We’re too busy and have too much self-awareness to just do this for a buck. Raising $10k between five people and making a record doesn’t really go a long way, we’re definitely not in this for any sort of vanity or money. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t absolutely love playing together. It meant the world to me that that energy was reflected to someone watching the shows. I hope, I’m relieved it comes across that way.

MFT: So you know, there was a whole generation of people like me from the hardcore scene who discovered Chamberlain later and you guys were already playing bars… so I never got to see Chamberlain. I only got to see the reunion Chamberlain. I know I had a bunch of friends who were so hyped on the reunion show because we finally got a chance to see the band live and be a part of that legacy, instead of just listening to a CD. Are you doing new shows?

Adam: On kickstarter we listed an album release show as a prize so we kind have to now right? We even had an option for doing a house show…

MFT: Is that specific to Chamberlain or could you do Split Lip songs too?

Adam: Oh yeah (laughs) yeah we can do Split Lip songs. Anything in the catalog! I should have specified. You get ten requests! We’ll learn whatever ten songs…

MFT: You had two great solo records, I know Charlie does lots of other stuff, is all your energy in Chamberlain now or are you still looking to do Adam Rubenstein stuff?

Adam: I’m still doing my stuff. I put out a “write a record in 28 days” challenge thing which I just put on my soundcloud page and I think some of those songs might turn into a record. I’m doing so much stuff right now, I also do music for film and TV. I’ve been busy with those projects and podcasts but I’m going to do a record this year, yes. I’m not quite ready to jump off that cliff though until Red Weather is out.

Hopefully people will really dig it. I think people that have stuck with us will totally understand it.

I can’t oversell how big of an asset Carl has been to us in this whole process because he’s really bringing modernity and… I mean… we played high school shows with Planet Earth in a basement, that’s how long we’ve known Carl. He gets every incarnation of the band. He gets how all the cogs in the machine should function, our personalities and egos and all that. It’s so serendipitous that he is who he is now and has the knowledge that he has now and can guide us through this. I can’t oversell it enough, this record would absolutely not be happening if not for Carl.

MFT: Ok so... kind of putting you on the spot here. Can you give me some old Indy bands you loved? I’ll try to make a playlist to go along with this...

Adam: When I came to Indy the first punk rock basement show I went to was to see JotOutspoken… two bands in the early days that influenced Split Lip for sure. Steve Kowalski’s Army, being a child of metal I’d never heard the Jam or Elvis Costello, they just floored me, melted my brain. Jake was such an amazing bassist, Pat such a great drummer. So fun to watch. I’d never seen a punk band with that kind of musicianship.

Obviously our friends in Planet Earth. My entire high school was playing Split Lip shows with Planet Earth (later Old Pike). We were kind of brothers chasing the same dream.

All the John Strohm stuff. Antenna, Velo Deluxe. I think our Fate’s Got A Driver release show with with Velo Deluxe. I’ve always been a big fan of John’s work. Charlie had even tried out for Antenna way back in the day, John had seen Split Lip and had Charlie come down but he played too many fills.

I loved Birdmen of Alcatraz, as a metal nerdy guy who liked things like Mr Bungle they were always fun. Modern Vending, I was in a punk band called Decrepit and that was how I met the Slit Lip guys, one of the very first shows we did was at the Lions Club in Carmel and Modern Vending played. They blew my mind. I still listen to them all the time.

Then like later Bloomington stuff… Uvula I really liked, I was a big fan of them, and in the late era of Chamberlain we stole Wade (Parrish) to play with us. Japonize Elephants was a band I saw in many college basements. United States Three was a great Bloomington band I loved. Mellencamp goes without saying. Those guys were huge and helped out with The Moon My Saddle, but that’s not super relevant to MFT. So much other stuff.

I’m racking my brain, I don’t want to leave out anybody crucial. I should go to Musical Family Tree and figure out who I’m forgetting.

Check out this playlist of all of these bands on Musicaly Family Tree!

 

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Recent Blog Posts

1/10/20
by Jim Rawlinson
Chamberlain announce new album "Red Weather", kickstarter
This week, after twenty years away, local legends Chamberlain officially announced they have a new f...
1/6/20
by Jim Rawlinson
Jim's MFT Radio playlist
In 2020, Musicaly Family Tree is looking to have guest curators hop in to help us program out the lo...
1/2/20
by Bryan Robison
Local Music Show - Week of Jan 2 2020
The playlist for the Musical Family Tree Local Music Show for January 2, 2020 isby MFT board member ...