Vancouver’s rebellious lo-fi sextext, Chains of Love, has been able to successfully permeate the independent music scene with their brand of simple but classic psychedelic pop over the past two years. Nathalia Pizzaro, lead singer of Chains, refuses to allow her band’s sound to be placed in a single genre. Chains often wraps themselves in classic, funky, ’60s guitar riffs and an abundance of fuzzy reverb. This, Pizzaro says, resurgence rock/pop is what charmed them into experimenting with different instruments and especially with surf pop style girl band vocals. The appeal of that former ’60s style comes from what Pizzaro calls a “whole sound” which lies much in the actual recording process. “It was a full band playing and recording and they just got whatever take was there. Not necessarily off-the-cuff but it was about the recording style.”
Pizzaro furthers, “It was just about us going in there and challenging ourselves to come up with some catchy songs that wanted to make us move a little bit.” This energy and exuberance comes on immediately to a listener upon playing Chains’s most recent album, Strange Grey Days. The lead track, “He’s Leaving (With Me),” and its gritty guitar and tambourine background noise marries well with Pizzaro’s description. What has been most important to the band has been combining that smoky ’60s clamour with today’s current recording techniques. One thing that the band refrains from is worrying about their resurgence sound being repetitive. “On one hand, you could say that everything has been done, including recording styles. Or, on the other hand, you could say that it’s completely modern. We’re taking classic recording methods and breeding them with modern recording styles, as well,” says Pizzaro. This doesn’t stop the band from continuing to steep their lyrics in cascades of tambourine and Pizarro’s soaring mezzo-soprano.
The focus on the girl band scenario for Chains of Love has worked well for their sound. They’ve been compared to The Ronettes and the more recent Dum Dum Girls, and girl bands in the scene continue to go strong. Pizarro places absolutely no doubt in the work that women are able to do for the front of a rock band, musically and lyrically. “Women have always had a forefront in rock and roll and in pop music. And women have always been a little unexpected. And, even in 2012 when we have a lot more going for us than we did in the 1960s,” says Pizarro. Pizarro’s confidence in the girl band dynamic demonstrates why Chains has become so popular on the fringe as a band that exudes confidence in the strength of female musicians.
Fellow producer and band cohort Felix Fung, creator of Chains of Love, saw Pizzaro’s potential as a singer/front woman when he first heard her play a punk show with one of her old bands, The Spreads. Fung spearheaded the band with the hope of revitalizing the girl band. Pizzaro says that the band is quite comfortable in their endeavours and, while rebels in their own right, they just go with the flow. “We all trust each other as musicians. Steve (Ferreira) is an amazing drummer and Felix is a fucking amazing producer, so everybody just trusts themselves and whatever happens happens, and you just make the decision to commit and you go. And you don’t spend too much time suffering to your ego”.
When the band isn’t trying to “defy the labels,” as Pizzaro says, they’re working towards new material and keeping their reading material close at hand for long tours. Chains of Love will be bringing their surf-pop, lo-fi garage-rock to YYC with the Detroit Cobras in July.
Catch Chains of Love at the Pawn Shop (Edmonton) on July 6 and at Republik (Calgary) on July 7.
By Therese Schultz