A FEW DAYS AFTER SEPTEMBER, 11, CHOKEBORE PLAYED THEIR NEW SONGS AT RUBBER GLOVES, IN DENTON, TX. THEIR SHOW WAS SURPRINSGLY DULL THAT NIGHT, COMPARED TO UNWOUND‘S, WHOM THEY OPENED FOR. LUCKILY ENOUGH, THE CATCHY MELODIES OF “IT’S A MIRACLE“, CHOKEBORE’S 5TH LP, WOULD TURN OUT TO MAKE IT UP TO OUR EXPECTATIONS A FEW MONTHS LATER.
WITH HIS NATURAL CALMNESS AND KINDNESS, TROY B. BALTHAZAR, SINGER AND GUITARIST OF THE QUATUOR FROM HAWAII, TALKED TO US ABOUT HIS MUSIC AND MORE.
Troy: We make melancholy music. That’s heavy, with lots of bass and drums, but it’s very very sad and very intense for me.
And what about the lyrics you write? Are they as sad and emotional as the music itself?
Troy: Yes, I try to make it… I don’t really wanna talk about normal things, you know. I want to talk about very intense things. That’s what I like. I don’t know if I succeed, but I try.
What are they about?
Troy: I’m trying to figure out what all the people are thinking about in their heads. You know what everyone is thinking about in their heads? Everybody wants to be a beautiful person, everybody wants somebody else to tell them, to hold them in their arms and say: “It’s OK, everything’s OK”. Everybody wants that. I want that.
What about the new album that’s coming up in a couple of months (”It’s A Miracle“) ?
Troy: Well, we’re in the studio right now. We stopped recording for 2 weeks for this tour, but when we go home to Los Angeles, we have about another 2 or 3 weeks to record, and I think it’s gonna be good! We’re trying new things, with more piano and more acoustic, but still… a mixture of different sounds. You know, every album, it all comes out to the songs, if it’s a good song or not a good song. We’re just trying to make better songs. I don’t know why (laughs), for no reason.
You make me think of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde… You seem to be so quiet, when we hear you on the records, or when we saw you at the Donald’s Pub in Tours, France, a couple of years ago, sitting through the gig with just an acoustic guitar. But when you’re on stage, you’re a different person, jumping everywhere…
Troy: No, no… in my mind it’s always quiet. I want us to be quiet. I want to be really pure and quiet, I want to be simple, and kind of beautiful. That’s what I strive for. That’s what I want, and what I hear. But people say that to me, that I’m a different person when I’m on stage, but that’s the same for me. It’s really intense to be on stage, you have adrenalin in the body. And I wanna play more and more and do more music. I do acoustic music also, a side project that’s really intense too, B. Balthazar. I’ve been writing lots and lots of songs, and I’m releasing an album in France and in the USA soon.
Why did you make this side project?
Troy: Because I have a lot of songs, and some songs sound better with an acoustic guitar. So the songs to me that sound better on acoustic guitar will be for B. Balthazar, and the songs that sound better with a band will be for Chokebore.
And will you tour just by yourself?
Will there only be an acoustic guitar, or will you add some tapes or anything?
Troy: There’ll probably be some weird sounds on a tape recorder, Hawaian acoustic guitar -yukulele-, different weird sounds, and just songs. For me, it’s all that matters. If it’s a beautiful song, it’s OK.
You seem to like France. You often tour there, and you even recorded 2 of your LPs (”A Taste for Bitters” and “Black Black“) at Angers’ Black Box Studio, where Steve Albini recorded Shellac’s “At Action Park“.
Troy: Well actually, we enjoy being in France a lot. We were just in Saint Malo last month, it was cool. We love to be out there. I hope we’ll spend a lot of time there next year. We have a lot of friends there who are very special to us.
Did you meet any good band there?
Troy: Many… There is a lot of good bands in France: Deche dans Face from Bordeaux… Prohibition’s cool… I like Purr, of Paris… Everytime we go there we find new bands that are nice, so it’s hard to remember…
What do you think about the events from last week (i.e. September 11)
Troy: Oh shit man… It’s a mess!
What do you think about Bush and his politics?
Troy: Bush is an idiot, he’s an imbecile. I wanna say to the French people that I’m sorry about Bush, and I’m sorry about what America will probably do.
Are you involved in politics?
Troy: I try not to be, because it makes me bery angry. It’s not me, it’s the other people. I’m not the country. I don’t believe what they believe. We’re more liberal, you know.
I felt many people in Texas were already really conservative, and now even more. They tend to go back to religion and more conservatism.
Troy: Yeah, what can you do? You cannot change the people, because they’re individuals. That’s what I believe in. I believe in individuals, and i hope the people have brains, and think before they act… But it’s a tragic thing that happened. I’m sorry about that. You know, I think in the next couple of years, things will be very very crazy in the world, and I wanna say that sometimes it’s good to relax and listen to music, because it takes you away. That’s what I wanna do. Be away from that shit stuff. There are wars all the time, if you read history. I’m just trying to do music.
And what can we expect from the future of Chokebore then?
Troy: Well, another album, hopefully it is the best album. We have lots and lots of songs, and we’ll play music that is beautiful and intense, hopefully.
By the way, how come can’t you find a label?
Troy: Because music is different from music business. Music is pure, music business is corrupt. It’s about money, and we’re not very good at that. But I’m learning it because I have to. Music is pure; this stuff around is hard to understand. I wanna do music all day, I don’t wanna think about labels and money and all that shit.
Do you have a day job besides?
Troy: No, I don’t. I just don’t have any money. I’m fucking starving, man! But it’s OK, I’d rather starve and be free! To me, just to me, not everybody. I understand people like to buy things, that’s cool. But for me, it’s OK to starve. I didn’t eat anything today or yesterday. I just had a muffin. I’m fucking hungry! Wow! Chokebore is hungry! But we like to make good music.
Don’t they provide you with any food at the venue?
Troy: No, not in America! Just in Europe, that’s why we like Europe: every show, there’s food!
- It’s a Miracle (Pale Blue 2002)
- Black Black (Boomba Rec 1998 / Punk in my Vitamins 1999)
- A Taste For Bitters (Amphetamine Reptile 1996 ; Pale Blue 2002)
- Anything Near Water (Amphetamine Reptile 1995 ; Pale Blue 2002)
- Motionless (Amphetamine Reptile 1993 ; Pale Blue 2002)
- Sweet Receiver EP