Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New EP!!!!! Hilarious Rarities. You have to have this.

Huge news for all the Chop enthusiasts.  We've just released a Rarities EP for your purchasing/listening pleasure. It includes all our best joke songs (read: the stuff that makes us laugh) as well as our special christmas tune. Just in time for yon holidays. Buy it on itunes!

Rarities - EP - The Chop

You should probably get it just for this awesome cover:

Without getting all misty eyed here....this EP really nails the essence of The Chop, which was joking around with great friends and making songs to crack each other up. To understand what our little band-experiement was about you really must hear this.

here's the tracklist including a short description of each tune and its context in Chop lore:

1. Born in Wilmington
The Chop's homage to their hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. To be sung drunk, preferably. Feel free to write your own verses and perform your own versions. The goal is to get this baby into every Wilmingtonian's consciousness and make it a traditional tune that everyone in Delaware knows. You can help with this...Do it!!!!!!!!!

2. Enter the Chop
Part of an early Chop-days songwriting challenge for every man to write a song that ended with the lyric "I killed you with the chop".   An early recording triumph, complete with weird time signatures / weird guitar harmonies / weird vocals from Jimmy.

3. The Chop, with Love (reprise)
Another song from the aforementioned challenge.  Originally written as a punk/metal tune that was somewhat unloved for it's noisy assault on the senses but beloved for it's lyrical content, we quickly decided that a jazz reprise was the way to go. This was on our Gold Stars "release" but it makes it's digital debut here!

4. Buffalo Balls Magrans

Originally conceived while drunkenly strolling down Fulton Street after a three man thanksgiving celebration, BBalls was then quickly penned and meticulously recorded amidst much laughter and merriment. A true chop classic that all five of us had a strong hand in creating, with Johnny as inspiration, James and Rob on lyrics and chords, and Phil and Tom with the spot on arrangement/production.  Dig those awesome backup vocals. I find it impossible not to smile while listening to this.

5. Karate for Christmas
The Chop's christmas song. Conceived "title first" then written and recorded all in the span of about 72 hours...instant classic for your holiday pleasure. Chock full of egg nog and mistletoe and nunchuks. Or something.


Rarities - EP - The Chop

Monday, January 25, 2010

The End of The Chop

Dear Everyone,

I'd like to tell you the story of The Chop (through my eyes, anyway).

Once upon a time, long long ago, I desperately wanted to be in a band. I had moved to San Francisco and tried to hook up with other players over the course of two years but nothing ever came of it. It was more difficult than you might think to find people who were both willing to play/practice regularly and were in any way people you might want to spend your time with. Then I had a revelation: Starting a band with your best friends means nonstop fun, right? (even during revelations, I'm not 100% sure of myself)

A little history:
I met James when I was 10. We'd been hanging out consistently ever since. He met Johnny in highschool at about the same time I met Tom and Phil (who, separately, had been friends since they were 5). We became a group within the group, real tight. (We considered robbing banks as an elite unit to finance our endless summer, but instead got caught up playing NFL Blitz and lost interest). The five of us were brothers in every meaningful sense.

Johnny and I came to California together. Two years later, James announced he was leaving New York for San Francisco, and this was all the impetus I needed.
I approached Johnny who, at this moment in his life, knew near absolute zero about the playing of any instruments. I told him not to think about the answer before he gave it. "Do you want to play bass in a band?". One great thing about John is that he responds astoundingly well to this type of adventure talk and will approach near any dare with an unmatched zeal. He said yes, whereupon I solemnly nodded and began teaching him "the bass" on my electric guitar. It was slow going, but it was fun because we were friends.

James moved to town and I immediately went to work on him, talking up our then non-existent band. He agreed to start learning keys (again, basically from scratch). This arrangement (the three of us) went on for about 7 months with practice on Wednesdays and very few actual "songs" being played. It was slow-going and sometimes extremely frustrating...but we were such great friends and we were getting to hang out and work on something together, so it was good.

We hooked up with a drummer. He answered my ad that said "own drums? that's a start" or something in that vein. He was inexperienced like the rest of us and seemed to fit in. Phil moved to the city and stayed with me while looking for a place. I don't think I allowed him through my front door before I was suggesting he play guitar with us.

OK, at this point the band consists of Me (first band, but I'd been playing guitar for about 7 years), John (learning "bass" from a guitar player (me) for about 7 months), James (learning keys on his own for about 6 months), an inexperienced drummer we met on CL, and now Phil (extremely talented and seasoned guitar player). The four of us were the best of friends, so it was pretty fun. We started working on original tunes, the first batch included Taste of Luxury and Carry the Wood. Phil recommended we try a Talking Heads song (Slippery People) and the first time we played it it sounded (somewhat surprisingly) like a song.

This was the first moment it felt like we were in an actual band.

Tom showed up in San Francisco a month or two later. He was a talented and experienced bass player (he had played in lots of bands with Phil, and I had seen him perform countless times). Here's what happened next, in very quick succession: Tom was bummed that we were all in a band without him (understandable). Mysterious drummer chap left town and left me his drums (quite a winfall, really). Tom said "I don't know how to play drums, like, at all." Tom taught himself drums in three weeks. The five of us played all together for the first time on my 26th birthday (May 8th, 2006).

Progress was slow sometimes. We didn't always sounds great. It's difficult when skill and experience levels throughout the band are so disparate...but it was always fun because we sincerely all loved hanging out with each other. Eventually we played a show, then some more shows. I think that at many of the shows we sounded awesome. Our technically "inexperienced" band sounded great. This was it. My revelation from way back was being completely validated. Being in a band with all your friends was the best possible option, regardless of how technically skilled any single person was at their own instrument. Sounding good and having a good time were really about being with cool people and wanting to work on it. The guys who were just starting on their respective instruments (three out of five, if you're counting) really stepped up, practiced hard, and made it work. It was awesome on every level.

So we did that for awhile. More than likely, if you're reading this, you saw The Chop during this time. We played a whole bunch of shows in a few different states over a couple of years and wore matching outfits sometimes and did covers that we thought were cool. We did a 60s prom and two great Halloween shows in costume and played lots of great rooms (including Bottom of the Hill, which was to my mind the coolest club in SF, one of the first places I went to see music in California, and an almost impossibly distant goal at the band's inception).

"Fun" was always the primary goal. (Fun for us, mainly, but always in hope that our fun translated into fun for the audience). We barreled over the rough edges with an endless supply of energy and enthuasiasm.

Everything eventually ends, however. Phil made the decision to move back to Philadelphia. Johnny's interest waned as his various responsibilities changed. We played our last show as the original five friends from Delaware more than a year ago at Cafe Du Nord, billed as a release for our record We Want It All.

Shortly after that we recruited Aaron (Levin) to play drums, Tom moved to bass (the instrument he was the most skilled at), and we were a four-piece with one guitar (me). We were a new band with about 700 copies of a CD from an old band. With this in mind, we played about twenty-five shows as The Chop in order to promote the disc and get rid of the inventory. This took about a year.

Last fall James (amicably) opted to stop playing with the band. We picked up Eric Murriguez as a second guitar player. Now we are a four-piece band again, with two guitars. I am the only person from the original lineup playing his original instrument (recall that Tom switched to bass). Hence, The Chop is most certainly no longer in existence. As the new band preps songs for a full length album to be recorded sometime this year, we were offered a great show opening for Japanese band Polysics at our favorite venue Bottom of the Hill. This seemed like a great time to both take the gig and announce the retirement of The Chop name even though, for reasons I've elaborated on above, The Chop (at least, as it was first conceived) could reasonably be argued to have ended some time ago. Thanks to everyone who helped make it fun.

The Chop ends (officially) and a new band begins slash continues. We're arguing about names now...

This band is:
Robert Kassees: vox/guitar
Tom Monaghan: bass / vox
Aaron Levin: drums / vox
Eric Murriguez: guitar / vox


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mythical Entreaties and Your Tuesday Night Homework

First, the news:

Disheartening News:
James Keyboardelstein Kafader ("Jimmy Keys") has opted to discontinue his tenure with our (admittedly corrupt) organization. It was a good run. The Chop is now half Delawarean, half Californian, because of the...

Uplifting / Life-Affirming News:
The Chop has officially returned to proper, double-guitar strength rock and roll with the addition of Eric Murriguez.

The new band has gone into full cocoon mode for a while, working diligently at becoming something even cooler and more manly in stature before emerging Wilford Brimley style in a misty pool of jelly smoke. Many secrets are buried in these mines, dudes.

We're working on a full length album now...all the songs are written (or close), and about 8 are (mostly) arranged and ready to record, so we're just trying to finish up the other 4 or 5 before heading into a proper studio to record this puppy sometime in the early spring.

In the meantime, go check out the separate band we now fully encompass (the Lesotho to our South Africa, if you please) Aaron and Eric's band Pegataur, playing Tuesday night (12/8/09) at Bottom of the Hill. We'll all be there.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Covers for Hire: Round 3!

Dear Cryptozoologists!

The hits keep coming in our continuing effort to defame ourselves by recording your specific requests! Proceeds from these go to our recording costs on album #2, which is in the works now. Request one of your own here. Do this now...no really, we insist.

This Saturday night we're playing at Hemlock Tavern on Polk Street in San Francisco.
It's a party for the 20th Anniversary of the 1989 Earthquake! There will be earthquake-appropriate rock songs and even an appropriately named opening band.

My First Earthquake and Goodbye Nautilus are both playing with us. We're even having a gnarly guest guitarist (Eric, of Pegataur) come up to rock some numbers with us. If you're in jail, break out. (!)

Afterward The Chop will be descending all 39 steps into the underground laboratory of your heart to record a proper follow up to We Want It All, so this will be our last live show for some lengthy amount of time.

This week's "Covers for Hire" entry is a Ned Ryerson-style doozy from 1988.

"Straight Up" (Paula Abdul cover):

Keep them coming, you glamorous bastards!

Disguised as a prole,

(post script: I know this is from a different video, but I always thought the relationship dynamic between her and MC Scat Cat was a lot steamier than with Arsenio)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Covers For Hire: Round 2

Listen up! As far as my (very limited) research tells me, we are the only rock band ever to attempt something like this!  We are taking requests via our merch page on www.TheChopRocks.com to learn and record ANY SONG EVER, at your noble behest.

Go there now and tell us what to do next, or pass the link to this blog post on!!!!

We've been a little tied up with gigs and the like, but here's a cover (by request!!) of the classic 1992 Sir Mix-a-Lot jam "Baby Got Back"

Also-if you are in Oakland SATURDAY (9/26/09)...come to The Stork Club!  We're well oiled and chomping at the bit.  Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Sue will be there, will you?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Covers for Hire!

Dear Surface Dwellers,

Here's what's up.  As part of our current effort to save up a little money to record a second album we are currently offering to cover any song, (to record it and send it to you) right HERE on our website.

We debuted this about 2 weeks ago and here's what we recorded so far (songs by request via the website).

"Womanizer" (Britany Spears cover)

"Somebody To Love" (Queen cover)

We're ready for more.  Lay them on us.  Do this now.

Barring that, pass on or repost this link below wherever you can, let other people know what we're trying to do, and help your old buddies in the chop out.


We're back to the stage next Friday (September 4th) at Bottom of the Hill.  We've got like 4 new songs and a sweet new cover we're gonna play (not one of the ones above).

Attend this show.  Get tickets HERE

Also, if you'd like a personal copy of either of these covers, just write and let us know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Everything and a couple of Friday shows!

All summer, we've been writing songs and trying to figure ways to raise a little money to record a new album (hopefully) in January.  To that end, we've totally revamped our merch options and James designed a sweet new T-shirt (see halloween-y design above)!  Check out this plus all the new merch and website stuff HERE.

For 20 bucks, you get this new T-shirt, a physical copy of our (we want it all), a digital copy of the album, a (brand) new Mix CD from one of us,  a unique and very personal letter written in Spanish, an autographed portrait from one of our unforgettable photoshoots (suitable for framing), buttons, stickers, and a special surprise from us!  What value!  If that option doesn't appeal to you...we have lots of other options, big and small, including one where we'll learn and record any song...just for you.

Please take a look and consider helping us out by buying some of our really awesome stuff, particularly this T-shirt, which will make you awesome.

AND...as a special treat for even looking at that merch page...here's a song demo from said forthcoming album for you to listen to.

"Any Other Lover"


THIS FRIDAY: (8/14) James and I are doing (separate) solo sets at Brainwash Cafe.  This is James' solo on stage debut! Powerhouse of the upstroke Igor (of Coup de Ska and The Titan-Ups) will also be performing...and it's FREE.  Starts at 8PM.  Brainwash Cafe is at 1199 Folsom Street (@7th) in San Francisco.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH! The Chop returns from summer break with a slew of new songs and an awesome venue/night/show.
Afterward we will be in full force crumble cake celebration mode proper!  come do it with us.

robot from the ancient past who's come to help us with our problems so we can be free. (please note: he is not a hero, nor a saviour...simply a man/robot whose circumstances went beyond his control.  specifically, he's kilroy.)