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A Chat With Chelsea | Punk In The 2020s & The future of Punk.

I’ll be thoroughly surprised if you are into punk & never heard of Chelsea, these veteran musicians have been around recording & blasting crowds with upbeat punk rock since 1976 & recently celebrated their 45th anniversary with their 12th studio album ‘Meanwhile Gardens’ released on Westworld Records.

Metal Digest had a chat with Chelsea about Meanwhile Gardens, Punk In The 2020s & The future of Punk.

Hello Chelsea & welcome to Metal Digest!

The last few years have been tough on everyone, how is everything going with you all?

Things are good in the Chelsea camp, we’ve kept busy in these strange times of Covid with recording.  We recorded our 12th studio album Meanwhile Gardens during the lockdown which we did in stints in between the lockdowns.  We managed to squeeze a gig in at the Hope & Anchor in September which was strange after not playing for two years but it was great to blow the cobwebs out.  We also recorded an album in December which is the live set for the upcoming tour, we recorded the ‘Evacuate’ album as we play them now and some of the Chelsea classics that we’ll be playing this year.  We recorded 17 songs and mixed them all in 5 days at Panther Studios with Dick Crippen who produced the last 3 Chelsea albums. 

With everything looking like things are starting to return to ”normal”, are you excited & hopeful for the future & return of live music?

We’re looking forward to playing again, we’ve got a string of UK dates this year, mainly festivals so it will be great to get out and see everybody again.  It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of ‘Evacuate’ so we’ll be playing the album in full which will be fun, some of the songs haven’t been played live for 40 years so it’s great to be playing a new set.  We tried to book a European tour but there is such a backlog of rescheduled gigs that the surviving venues through the pandemic are all booked up for at least a year but we hope to get to Europe next year. 

In your own words, how would you describe the current punk scene in 2022 as you see it?

It feels like we’re all coming out of hibernation after being in our lockdown cages so we’re all rearing to go.  There’s definitely an undercurrent of new punk bands playing the scene which is healthy and good.  We’ve lost a lot of the original punk bands and we need the new breed to keep the thing going.  A lot of the originals won’t be around forever so this really is the time to see them all before they call it a day.  

We’ve talked about how the punk scene currently is in 2020’s, with all the madness & current anger towards governments & authorities in the world, I see a real potential for punk to return & fill its historic niche, do you feel the time is ripe for a massive punk scene revival movement?

Punk has never gone away, Chelsea has never stopped gigging and recording although many bands did.  Some of the bands that broke up and didn’t play for years have recently reformed so I guess for them it’s some kind of revival but for us it’s business as usual.  

The punk movement has always been there but people are reconnecting with some of the songs we were playing 40 odd years ago, we’re like a working museum.  The songs have the same message now that they did when we first wrote them, the energy is still there.

Chelsea – CA$H (Official Video)

Chelsea – Meanwhile Gardens (Official Video)

Chelsea recently celebrated your 45th anniversary by releasing a 12th studio album ‘Meanwhile Gardens’,
the terrific album is high-quality recordings of fantastic tracks featuring guest ex-members on the record.
We would love some insights into the recording process of the album?
What was it like when you were reunited with ex-members? 

Meanwhile Gardens was recorded in 3 weeks, we’d written the songs in 2019 and some of the ideas came on the road whilst we were touring.  We always demo the songs on the portastudio first to see if they’re going to work or not and then usually spend a few weeks rehearsing them before we record them in the studio.  We managed to get one 4 hour rehearsal in before we went into lockdown so the studio had to be rescheduled and when we came out of the first lockdown we got into the studio quick before the 2nd lockdown.  Although the songs for the album weren’t as rehearsed as they usually are, we all had the demos that we’d been listening to, so we pretty much kept the arrangements as they were written.  We weren’t all in the studio at the same time because of the restrictions on numbers so we took it in turns to do our bits.  The drums took a day, the bass took 4 hours, the rhythm guitars took 3 days and then we spent a day doing backing vocals.  We spent a day with the pledgers doing backing vocals which we did two people at a time, again because of the number restrictions.  Martin Stacey the original guitarist came down to play bass on ‘Ladbrooke Grove’ and came along with original bassist Bob Jessie who played organ on ‘Little Venice’ and they both did some backing vocals too.  Martin organizes the ‘Punk Rock Art Show’ and asked us to draw a piece for the show and perform so we drew a picture in the back of the tour bus on our 2019 European tour which became the album cover.  Mike Spencer, singer for the Count Bishops played harmonica on ‘Ladbrooke Grove’, the connection there was the Count Bishops bassist Steve Lewins had played bass for Chelsea for the US tour in 1980.  James Stevenson from the debut album line-up played guitar solos and some overdubs.  James had only recently left Chelsea but played on the album so it was like he’d never been away.  Rob Miller who played on ‘The Alternative’ tour and on the ‘Traitors Gate’ album guested on 3 tracks, we hadn’t seen Rob for 30 years so it was a great reunion and he enjoyed it so much that he rejoined the band.  

Rocking stages across the world for 45 years you must have some crazy stories! Thinking back on your career is there any memory that sticks out, something that you’ll never forget?

It’s always crazy on the road with Chelsea and as you can imagine there are lots of mad times.  We’re lucky to have quite a lot of the tours on film, we usually take a video camera on the road with us and film bits and bobs which we turn into tour diaries.  The ‘Mission Impossible Tour’ is one of the infamous ones when we went through 10 busses… yes 10 !  The busses kept blowing up and we had to be relayed and given replacement busses which all seemed to go wrong… we were asking for it calling it the ‘Mission Impossible Tour’ although we made it to every show by hook or by crook.                                                                                                                               Chelsea – Mission Impossible Tour tour diary (part 2)                                                                                

Thank you for your time & for answering all of our questions, we wish you the best!
Is there anything else we missed that you would like to share with our audience?

Thank you Metal-Digest, look out for our new album ‘Evacuate – Revisited’ which comes out on the 10th April in time for the Evacuate Tour 2022 and we hope to see you all this year. 

Current line-up 

Gene October – Vocals

Nic Austin – Guitar

Mat Sargent – Bass

Rob Miller – Guitar

Steve Grainger – Drums

Thank you for the wonderful interview.
Until we meet again,
Milton on behalf of Metal-Digest.

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