The latest release from UK rock megalabel Venn Records is an essential listen for any fan of heavy music
Midlands hardcore bunch Chamber aren’t ones to waste time. In just two years, they’ve gone from small-town upstarts with their eyes on creating something heavy, to a big-time contender in the UK’s bustling hardcore scene. It’s a foot-to-the-floor attitude that’s encapsulated in their brand new EP ‘Disaffect’, too. A raging, heavy-as-a-brick cut of hardcore infused with death metal sonics, ‘Disaffect’ is an essential listen for anyone with an ear for the darker, heavier side of music. What’s more, it’s been released today via Venn Records with little to no fanfare – long, drawn out release plans be damned; Chamber get straight to the point.
It’s perhaps surprising, then, to hear that the group’s influences come from a decidedly breezier genre palette – that of Britpop and old-school shoegaze. While ‘Disaffect’ clatters along with the ambient, industrial nous of fellow hardcore heavyweights (and unofficial father/mother figures) Code Orange, who’ve scooped up Chamber for support slots at every opportunity, it’s actually Oasis who spend the most time in frontman Ross Rickers’ headphones.
Below the first stream of ‘Disaffect’, and ahead of an appearance at this weekend’s incredible Outbreak Festival – itself a British hardcore rite of passage – we dig into the dark, disorienting world of Chamber.
Disaffect, an album by Chamber on Spotify
So take us through the history of Chamber.
Chamber began roughly two years ago, Cal [Baker, guitar] had approached me asking if I wanted to sing in a hardcore band that he and some of our other friends had started, after we had been briefly talking beforehand about trying to start one up.
The first few practices were cool, the guys already had like an EP’s worth of material, so I just turned up and tried out, pretty much – they liked my vocals and I liked the music the guys had written. It was sick.
How have things progressed since then?
A lot! At first I think we were just into replicating other bands, or at least trying to do our own version of something we were into at the time. When we started out we had a lot of comparisons to other bands and we soon became a bit put off by that. We didn’t just wanna be a carbon copy of something else – don’t get me wrong, being compared to our favourite bands was sick, but it didn’t feel like us.
The old material which is on the first EP – the stuff I mentioned above that the guys had previously written – came from a completely different place compared to the new stuff. Lyrically speaking it was rushed, and I didn’t really have a set theme or structure to any of the songs. Whereas with the new EP all the lyrics are deeply personal to myself and, although it might not be obvious to someone who doesn’t know me, they tell a story about a time in my life which has had a long lasting effect on the person I am today.
Musically speaking, the guys will write alone for hours on end, we don’t practice much as we all live so far apart, so a lot of our writing gets done via audio or video clips sent into our band group chat. We’ll then work hard on them at practice or at shows, getting the songs nailed down as to how we want them to sound. It was a lot more thought-out this time – we wanted to create something that people would hear and think ‘this is Chamber’ instead of ‘FFO: insert hype band here’. That shit gets old really quick in our opinion.
I think despite the distance between us all, the progression as a band we have made in such a short space of time is great. We’re all very proud of what we have achieved and grateful for the opportunities we’ve had.
How do you find the hardcore scene? It can inspire quite polarising opinions.
I love it and I think I can speak on behalf of all of the band when I say that too. I’ve met nearly all of my best friends via hardcore and, for me, you get what you give when hardcore is involved. Be supportive of your friends bands, come to shows, buy merch, and don’t be a scumbag.
I just think that people who have shitty opinions of the scene haven’t given it a fair chance or have just gotten ostracised for doing something dumb. Surround yourself with good people, get that chip off your shoulder and have a good time. I’ve said this before but we are all cut from the same cloth at the end of the day, so just appreciate it for what it is. If you don’t like it, stop coming to shows instead of crying online about it or whatever. It’s literally that simple.
You’ve had a lot of support from hardcore heavyweights like Code Orange too, right?
Yeah man, we’ve got to play with them a couple times now! They’re all great people.
How’s it feel to have the CO lot supporting you while doing all the mad things they’ve been doing recently?
It’s sick, honestly – getting to watch their live performance in an intimate setting and getting to play and hang out with them twice has been awesome. I can’t say this enough but their drive and attitude toward music and doing whatever the fuck they wanna do is inspiring. I’ve had some really good chats with [Code Orange frontman] Jami both times we’ve played with them and I’ve always taken something away from each encounter, which has definitely influenced the way we apply ourselves when it comes to being a band. They’re all really down to earth and humble with what they do. Which is the way it should be. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them at Outbreak.
Let’s talk ‘Disaffect’ – how long have these tracks been in the works?
We’ve been writing these tracks for probably just over a year or so now – the first song on the EP I think we played for the first time at last year’s Outbreak. We’ve just spent a lot of time polishing them and getting them just right. We even postponed recording twice because we weren’t happy with how they sounded at the time, which I’m glad we did, because we feel like this EP is perfect now compared to how it would’ve sounded if we recorded it months ago, which was the initial plan. We’d rather have four solid tracks out for a year to 18 months than keep releasing music just for the sake of having new material out.
It’s a heavy as fuck record – what inspires you to dig so deep?
Thanks man, that was the aim! We wanted to make something ridiculously heavy but not like the average, run of the mill hardcore band that will just whack beatdowns in anywhere or a shit half-time section, in the hopes that the crowd will mosh. We’d rather have people just watch us live and think we sound tight and insane, than just have kids beat each other up to it. Also, the lyrics to the songs are emotionally heavy for me, so I think the heaviness of the music also helps create that feel to it – we want to create atmosphere.
We hear you’re big into Britpop and shoegaze, too?
Yeah man for sure, that music was my first love. The earliest memories I have are as a three-or-four-year-old singing along to Oasis on Top of the Pops in my parent’s front room, copying Liam Gallagher. I think my mom still has the photos of me from that day somewhere, wearing her circle shades.
I’ve been mocked before for my undying love of Oasis and Britpop, but that music has literally been on a constant repeat throughout my life. It sounds cheesy as fuck but it’s more than just music to me, it’s my relationship with my brother, it was our upbringing. Bands like Cast, The Lightning Seeds, The Verve and Dodgy were just being played non-stop in our house when my parents were still together, and whenever I hear that music now it takes me back to a simpler, happy time in my life.
What is it that appeals to you about those genres? They’re quite different worlds to hardcore.
I’ve got a deep connection with a lot of that music, every good memory I have from my childhood or early teenage years, Oasis was playing in the background. I don’t really pay much attention to modern day indie because the good shit already exists and has done for 20-plus years. I think that’s why I love the hardcore scene or whatever – there’s no pretentious rock stars who think they’re the next Liam Gallagher, or any of those indie bands who think they’re the second coming because they play in front of six of their dad’s pissed up mates in their local boozer every weekend. We get a lot of those dudes in the town where I’m from and honestly they make me never wanna listen to Oasis again sometimes.
Favourite bands in that world, and why?
Oasis are my favourite band ever and, like I just touched on, people used to take the piss out of me so much for that but – and it’s hard to say this without cringing – their music is my life. It’s always been there playing in the background and I can always count on it to make me feel better or comforted when I’m struggling or whatever.
Me and my older brother would just lie in our bedroom listening to their records reading along to the lyrics when we were kids, we felt like they were our band and no one else’s – we even have the same age gap between us as Noel and Liam. They’re just a real, stereotypical inspiration story about a couple of lads from a broken home on a council estate who went out and lived their dream. I sometimes wish my brother could play an instrument and was in Chamber too so then we could properly copy them – minus the part where we fall out eventually of course.
The same goes for the rest of my favourite bands in that genre though, I’ve got a deep emotional and nostalgic connection to a lot of them, The Verve, The Stone Roses, Suede, MBV, Hum and Drop Nineteens to name but a few.
How do you think those slightly more left-field influences affect Chamber?
Well it’s not just me in Chamber who’s into that stuff – we all love Oasis, then Cal is into a lot of stuff like Nine Inch Nails, etc. Ross, our other guitar player, his favourite bands are Coldplay and Stereophonics. Dan, our bass player, loves Tool and Jack, the drummer, his favourite bands are Korn and Sunn O))). We just think listening to music that isn’t specifically hardcore is great if you’re in a hardcore band – it can get boring if all you hear all the time is hardcore bands and all you do is play hardcore music. I think one of our biggest influences on the new record (although not obvious at all) was Deftones. We’ve all been listening to them a lot lately and having our minds blown at how dynamic that band can be; emotionally heavy as well as sonically heavy. It led us to experiment more with the dynamics in our own sound.
You’re playing Outbreak festival this weekend – it’s set to be a big one, too. How’s it been to watch that fest grow over the years?
Amazing, I’ve been working with those guys for the past three years now, helping out with the fest and doing all the branding for it, and it’s so sick. I don’t think people realise the amount of effort it takes for the guys to book the bands that they do and make sure the whole fest runs smoothly, their efforts definitely get taken for granted in my opinion. The best thing about it all though is that, no matter how stressful it gets, they’ll still come back a year later with a line-up twice as big. Fuck the naysayers and anyone who even moans about Outbreak or the ticket price or whatever, cause at the end of the day it literally is the biggest UKHC show of the year, every year, and everyone still turns up and has a sick time despite them crying on Twitter about the same band being booked two years in a row or the tickets being too expensive – which they are not may I add. I can’t wait to play again this year.
Chamber’s ‘Disaffect’ EP is out now via Venn Records – pre-order the LP here.