Raw Power; An interview with Mark Shue of Chomper

Medicine Mountain marks the loud and loose debut album by Brooklyn, New York, noiseniks Chomper. Released November 10 via Iron Pier, the group is comprised of musicians who are no-stranger to powerful, decibels-cranked rock music; Mark Shue is in Guided by Voices and Beech Creeps, Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro in The Men, and Russell Hymowitz in Dream Police and Junk Boys, to name a few. Their collected efforts here results in a pile-driving, psychedelic collaboration that will lay you flat. Simply, Chomper kicks up a racket that displays an uncommon joy and brotherhood between the members and a mutual enthusiasm for rock ‘n roll.
Medicine Mountain was recorded to two-inch tape in one day, with Travis Harrison (Guided by Voices, ESP Ohio, Beech Creeps) behind the boards. The sheer velocity of this process seems to have brought out Chomper’s wildest and most pop savvy chops.
Ghettoblaster recently spoke with Shue about the band, their stress-free “hive mind” and their debut.
When did Chomper become an endeavor that you decided was worth pursuing?
The Men and Beech Creeps were in Paris together playing a festival in 2015. Although we were both in these bands back in New York, Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi were strangers to me before that Paris festival. We hit it off over there and kept hanging out when we got back to New York. We all had a mutual friend in Russell Hymowitz, who had played with Mark and Nick already in band called Dream Police. Chomper was a band name I had been kicking around for a few years here and there, initially as an outlet for some simple song ideas I had floating around, and just a chance to play more. It seemed like a good time to get together and do something with this group of people.
Was there a deliberate direction you were hoping to go or sound that you were hoping to capture? Or was this more of an opportunity for friends to get together and see what their collective mind had in store?
I don’t think there was any intentional direction we had going into it, other than, “Let’s keep it simple and not overthink anything.” We wanted to leave the song structures minimal and raw. All of the songs came together very quickly, in kind of a blur. Turn up loud and play. “Oh, that’s what it sounds like? Great.”
Has anyone in particular emerged as the captain of the ship?
I kickstarted the Chomp effort, but we all throw in, and it’s a group effort when we get together and play.
What were the earliest Chomper shows like?
Raw and loud and messy. Same as now.
When did it become apparent that Medicine Mountain should happen?
We thought it would be fun to just get these songs down. Not overthinking it.
What was the process of putting the record together like?
It was very fast and natural. We just kind of wanted to capture the live set we had been playing. Things came together so fast that we came up with some of the song titles in the studio on the day we tracked.
Did you always know that the record should be captured analog?
I think Travis Harrison initially suggested that we go to tape.
What did Harrison lend to the process?
Travis is a great engineer to work with. He works very efficiently and instinctually. He’s engineered records for Guided By Voices, ESP Ohio, The Men, Beech Creeps, among lots of other stuff. His modus operandi was in line with ours. He understood immediately what we wanted to capture. We tracked everything in a day. Most of it live.
What are your favorite moments on the record and why?
The whole record has a very raw feel. You can hear amps buzzing, you can hear mistakes and fuckups. Those can become the kind of moments I tend to fall in love with on records.
(Order the record here: http://ironpier.limitedrun.com/products/597790-chomper-medicine-mountain.)