The Chats are an Australian punk rock band that formed…
18 Oct 2020 7:30pm
+ Special Guests TBA
18.10.2020 | £18.50 ADVANCE (+stbf) | 19:30 Doors
“I’M DRAWING ON THE URGENCY OF THE MOMENT,” REFLECTS GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS. “THE THINGS THAT EAT AWAY IN THE LATE HOURS…”
With Widdershins, Phillips invests the insight, nuance, and wit that has distinguished his songcraft over the past three decades in a riveting dissection of today’s fraught social landscape. Beneath the moment’s tumultuous veneer, Phillips uncovers resonances spanning centuries – patterns echoing from the present day to the distant past. In doing so, he unearths deep reserves of hope and even humor, transcending shock to reveal age-old cycles and archetypes – which Phillips delights in resurrecting.
Phillips explains. “I made a commitment to myself not to sink into despair: I’m tracing a longer narrative here. We’ve been through some of this before – not just our country, but the civilization as a whole…”
The urgency that first spurred Phillips informs Widdershins both lyrically and musically, as its twelve songs arrive in a headlong rush, with the sharp trio of Phillips (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jerry Roe (drums), and Lex Price (bass) serving as messengers. Recording live in the studio – with all of Phillips’s vocals sung while cutting basic tracks – emphasizes the clarity and prescience of the material. Says Phillips, “This moment is explosive, volatile, and heightened. It’s important to me that the music reflect that – not just lyrically, but how it wallops you over the head. It should convey that same spirit of revolt, upheaval, and absurdity.”
The album’s title – meaning to proceed counterclockwise – emerged from the buoyant, surging opener “Walk in Circles,” which throws down the gauntlet on the record’s frontline. “St. Augustine said the wicked walk in circles,” muses Phillips, “and I thought, I have no problem with that. Sign me up with the witches then, if that means moving in step with nature – but let’s not go backwards.”
From there commences a rogue’s gallery of charlatans, tyrants, and seers; a travelogue of manipulations, mannerisms, and misdeeds. “The Wilderness” examines our hair-trigger default to tribal divisions – that fatal tendency within us to cast out the other, making them the target of our fear and derision. Crowds also play a part in the satirical “Unruly Mobs,” in which Marie Antoinette condescendingly looks down upon the rabble proletariat, her playful disdain blinding her to the imminent tumult surrounding her. Phillips assumes the title role on “King of Catastrophe.” Choking back anxiety while thumbing the pages of history, he sings “It’s not as though we’re helpless and it has to be,” he sings. “They left a couple notes behind – they built a wall in Germany.” He describes the rollicking “Miss Betsy” as “a parlor song about the horrors of child labor. The character is essentially a wicked stepmother, a cruel headmistress – with just a hint of Mrs. Robinson tossed in for melodic pleasure.”
Phillips’s explorations reach a fever pitch on the terse, driving “Scared Stiff.” “I wrote that so quickly,” he recalls. “One sitting, in a sweat, thinking about intimidation, people feeling up against a wall.” Humor pervades, as the song nicked its title from a vintage Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin horror/comedy.
By turns sardonic, provocative, and illuminating, Widdershins delivers its poetic truths in Phillips’s peerless melodic sensibilities, relayed via vocal performances that balance intensity and vulnerability. Consistent with his many albums, Phillips presides over the production of the album. “By the time it’s done, I will have walked every inch of the album,” he says, “surveyed every alcove, crawled up in the attic. I approach being my own producer with the seriousness of a builder – just as I would if I were producing someone else.” Basic tracks were recorded over four days with engineer Mike Stankiewicz at Sound Emporium in Nashville. “He was so fast. We flew through songs and Mike never missed a beat or a button. I took it all home, added a few more brush strokes, but I knew we had something special when I left Sound Emporium.”
While this is the second album recorded with the Roe/Price rhythm section, it marks the first collaboration between producer Phillips and Widdershins mixer Tucker Martine (case/lang/veirs, My Morning Jacket, Bill Frisell, the Decemberists, Punch Brothers, etc.) “I’ve wanted to work with Tucker for a long time,” says Phillips. “It was clear that we spoke the same language and had comparable sensibilities.” For instance, when starting work on the backhanded salute “Totally You Gunslinger,” Phillips suggested they aim for a mix that combined Roy Orbison with The Smiths. “Somehow that made as much sense to him as it did to me.”
Grant-Lee Phillips’s gifts for reconciling classic touchstones with an adventurous sensibility has distinguished his work since he first emerged as the frontman of the acclaimed trio Grant Lee Buffalo in the early ‘90s. At once cinematic in scope and disarmingly intimate, the band’s music set the table for a varied, captivating solo career that embraced electronic soundscapes (Mobilize, 2001), reimagined country-rock (Virginia Creeper, 2004), faced fatherhood (Little Moon, 2009), delved into his own native American heritage (Walking in the Green Corn, 2012), and reflected upon his own life-changing move from Los Angeles to Nashville (The Narrows, 2016). Whether fronting a band or performing solo, he is a riveting live performer – which many discovered through his role as the town troubadour on the cult television hit The Gilmore Girls (both in its original run and the 2016 continuation).
Phillips sees in Widdershins a connection to his earliest work with Grant Lee Buffalo. “That was also a time of intense social anxiety. The Gulf War, the LA riots – everything became cranked up. Then a few years later there was the earthquake we lived through, which also made for a time of uneasiness. I was in a heightened state when I wrote that stuff – as I am now.”
As the past and present converge and the journey of Grant-Lee Phillips continues, his craftsmanship continues to blossom. In times of tumult, he awakens comfort and hope by shining light into darker corners. “I hope to express my faith in people, my faith in the good ideas we’re capable of, and that regardless of what opposition we face, the fact that we can surmount these things,” he concludes. “We can stare them down, laugh at them, belittle them, and drive the darkness back into a hole. Music is a way of kicking some of these giants out at the knees – along with a bit of gallows humor: All the noose that’s fit to print…”
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- Wheelchair access
The Brudenell Social Club welcome deaf and disabled customers to the venue. Venue AccessBrudenell social Club has step free access from the entrance to the viewing platforms of both gig rooms. There is also a newly installed accessible toilet, which is accessed via a RADAR key. Bookable Access Facilities + How to ApplyPersonal Assistant ticketsWe offer a Personal Assistant ticket to any customer who may not be able to attend a show without the support of a PA. if you require a PA ticket, please give us an email or call to discuss your requirements. We will then confirm this ticket via email. You will be asked to provide evidence for the PA ticket to be issued Accessible viewing areaIf you require use of the viewing platforms and/or a seat, please let us know in advance where possible, to ensure we are aware of your access needs Accessible parkingThere is parking available at Brudenell Social Club. We do not have specific accessible parking bays Travel Guide and Arrival GuideTaxis can drop customers off within our car park, right outside our front door. Our nearest train station is Burley Park, which is 850 metres away. Leeds Station is also nearby, at 3080 metres away. Our nearest bus stop is 120 metres away from our front door, and is served by the 56 route to and from Leeds City Centre/train station The Brudenell is open from 12pm, and the gig rooms tend to open from 7:30pm as standard, door time is usually printed on the ticket. If you require early entrance into the venue as part of your access requirements, make yourself known to our door staff before doors (7:20pm), who will be able to help. ToiletsAt the Brudenell we have one accessible toilet, which is situated 30 metres from the main room viewing area and 16 metres from the Community room viewing area. Customers with Medical RequirementsThe Brudenell welcome customers who may need to bring medication, food, drink or medical equipment to manage a medical condition. We may be able to keep medication refrigerated for you, so just let us know in advance and we will do our best to accommodate. You'll need to contact us in advance should you need to refrigerate and medicine. Assistance DogsWe welcome assistance dogs into the venue and will happily provide a bowl of water if needed. However, not all events are suitable so please contact us before hand. We may be able to offer a location where the dog could stay during the gig, but please get in touch to discuss this further. Strobe LightingWe do not have strobe lighting at the venue, but from time to time bands may bring it with them, in the event this happens, signs will be on display on the evening, please get in touch if you have any concerns. Other Info (e.g. assisted performances)At present we do not offer any assisted performance options, but this is something we are exploring. We do not have any lowered bars at the moment, but our staff are willing to help in any way they can Large Text / Easy To Read GuidesA printable copy of this information can be downloaded in PDF format here. An easy to read menu with our standard drink prices can be viewed here. Attitude is Everything We are working with Attitude is Everything and have been awarded silver on their Grassroots Charter of Best Practice. Attitude is Everything recruit Mystery Shoppers and Volunteers, so do contact them if you are interested. Contacting UsIf you need to contact us with a venue access query please contact: Jilly Chattenjill@brudenellsocialclub.co.uk0113 275 2411 (during office hours only, 10am-6pm) Response time will be a maximum of 5 days, email is best line of contact. Please be aware that if your request is for a PA ticket, please use the email address above, we need at least two weeks in order to process these sorts requests.
- Wheelchair access
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