Nobody in Chisel will take offense if you call their band retro. “It’s gotten to a point in modern music where I barely find anything even remotely interesting,” explains singer/guitarist Ted Leo. “So at a certain point, I just started going back and listening to stuff that always remained vital to me.” What remained vital was the Beatles and the Who, as well as punk-era Who acolytes the Jam, to whom Chisel owes a conspicuous stylistic debt. The trio’s own jittery, punk-inflected power-pop makes its long-form debut on the newly released 8 A.M. All Day.
The 14-song disc was recorded between April and September last year in the home studio of Velocity Boy Archie Moore. “I think a lot of records these days sound too studio-fussy,” says drummer (and City Paper employee) John Dugan in defense of 8 A.M.’s production values. “Sometimes when people are given limitations and forced to do the best they can with what they have, they come up with something sort of cool in a different way.” But, adds Leo hurriedly, “It’s not by any stretch of the imagination lo-fi.”
Leo, Dugan, and bassist Chris Norborg performed together intermittently as students at Notre Dame before relocating to the D.C. area after graduation. “We really got serious about being a band a little over a year ago,” says Dugan. Not too serious, though. “I think bands that put that ‘We’re going to get signed. We’re going to be huge stars’ pressure on themselves end up looking like fools,” he adds. A dynamic live act, Chisel tours with New York’s Blonde Redhead in February.