Coming in hot from Southern California, identical twin brothers and experimental punk-rock duo The Garden …
No clean singing? How about no singing period. Californian jazz-fusion prog rockers Chon have set conventional rockdom on its ear with mind-bending instrumental jams.
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Brothers Mario (guitars) and Esiah Camarena (bass) formed the band in 2008, releasing first album Grow in 2015. Since, they’ve toured the world on the back of their insane virtuosity, playful creativity, and an enthralling “what the hell are they gonna do next” approach to music. Three albums in, and still no singing. Why muddy the waters when the songs speak for themselves? Talking to Mario on a day off in Osaka, Japan, Chon are back in Aussie shores real soon for their first ever headlining tour, supporting their latest self-titled record (2019).
Hysteria: This is your first ever headline tour in Australia and New Zealand. What’s the feeling in the band?
Mario: Everyone’s stoked. We really liked it there last time. So, we’ve been just waiting for the right time to come back.
The self-titled record has been out for a while now, how have fans reacted to you guys playing them live?
Really well. I think these newer songs translate even better live for some reasons. We a lot of fun playing them, and I think the crowd feels them a lot. So, yeah. I mean we just played our first show in another country yesterday. It’s was our first time playing the self-title anywhere besides America, and that went really well. We played in Osaka, Japan, and I don’t know. I think the latest album is one that sounds better live. So, it’s been really fun to play.
How do I play the VR game in your Pitch Dark video, out of interest?
[Laughs] I don’t know, but maybe we should make it for real. I love VR. Me and Erick have VR headsets. We’re always playing together.
VR gigs could be the way of the future. Or do you think people will still want to rock out the old fashioned way?
We’re influenced by all the music we listen to, you know? We don’t have any rules. That’s the fun part about writing for Chon.
I think both. I mean like, I don’t know if you follow like the electronic music world at all, but VR shows are actually a big thing there like now. DJs will play in Minecraft VR or something like that.
It’s crazy. Yeah. I mean it’s only a matter of time before bands do it. I mean it’s a little easier for DJs cause they just kind of have to play tracks. For an actual live band to do VR, I’m sure it’d be like a little harder, but I mean it’s going to get there. I’ll be there when they have them!
Chon is a rock instrumental band, but rooted in jazz fusion fundamentals. Is that how you’d describe yourselves?
We listened to a lot of electronic music when we first started playing music. Jazz fusion was a huge influence on us and so was metal. Erick’s guitar playing got a lot of influence from metal guitar players and we basically just make music. We’re influenced by all the music we listen to, you know? We don’t have any rules. That’s the fun part about writing for Chon.
How does a song usually come together for Chon? There’s a lot of moving parts to consider.
The beginning of a song starts out differently every time. It could start out from all of us jamming. It could start off from one of us just making a riff by ourselves and showing it to the rest of the band. It could start out from a drum beat. It could start out from anything really, just could start off from a rhythmic idea that’s in our heads. There’s no rules basically like it just comes out. However, we’ve made so many songs, we’ve been doing it for so many years. We just like make songs all the time any way, you know what I mean? That’s how they all start. It is random, different every time. But once we have an idea, then Erick [Hansel] and I will completely write all the guitars and then once all the guitars are like 90% done, we’ll add drums and bass and then we’ll finish the guitars over that.
Instrumental prog rock seems to be gaining popularity. sleepmakeswaves, Plini, Animals as Leaders…. they’re all killing it at the moment.
Back when we first started, everyone used to ask me, “when are you guys getting a singer?” Or they say like “Oh you guys just need a singer and you’ll and you’ll make it,” or whatever. But no one ever says that anymore. And it’s cause it’s just different, different times now. An instrumental is just more common. Progressive music is just more common.
After you’ve had your fun down under, what’s next for Chon?
We have pretty much our whole year booked already. We’re going to have a two leg North American tour with Coheed and Cambria. We’re basically just touring a lot of the year, and then when we’re not touring, we’re working on new music. Then we’ll be releasing stuff in between. We’ll see what happens.
Catch Chon at the following dates
BRISBANE // Thursday 20 February // Crowbar
MELBOURNE // Friday 21 February // Stay Gold
SYDNEY // Saturday 22 February // Crowbar
ADELAIDE // Sunday 23 February // Jive
PERTH // Tuesday 25 February // Amplifier Capitol