Musik

CHUNK! NO CAPTAIN, CHUNK! – Gone Are The Good Days

Rock

„I need to restart again,“ Bert Poncet belts on „Bitter,“ the opening track from Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!’s fourth LP. „Things won’t go how you planned out.“

No kidding.

The Paris-born band started writing Gone Are the Good Days — or, really, an earlier version of it — back in 2016, building on the momentum of the prior year’s Get Lost, Find Yourself, a blast of hyper-melodic pop-punk streaked with post-hardcore screams and metallic riffs. The quintet were eager to experiment with unexpected ideas, expanding further beyond the „easycore“ label thrown at their first three albums.

„It’s always a struggle for a band in our niche genre to come up with something fresh on every album,“ Bert admits. „We’ve been with Fearless since [their 2010 debut] Something for Nothing. From 2011 to the end of ’16, we were on a roll. When we were not on tour, we were in the studio. But we decided to step up a little bit. Our expectations were very high, and we took the time to write.“

But the vibe wasn’t right.
„After two or three months, we got a lot of starting points in a lot of different directions, but we didn’t think it was good enough,“ the singer adds. „At that point, we were like, ‚Hmm. Should we actually force it or take a little more time to process it? Maybe we should go back to normal life and come back to it later on.“
So they did exactly that, with all the members working on other projects over the next few years. (Bert and his brother, Éric, focused on production at their Paris studio Alias — a development that came in handy later on.) But the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the havoc it wreaked on the music industry, presented Chunk with a rare opportunity to revisit those marinating song ideas. In early 2020, without a hard deadline, they started writing and rearranging — and suddenly the energy was on point, almost to a surprising level.

„If I’m being very honest, the initial plan last year when we started writing songs was not to make an album — we weren’t so ambitious,“ Bert says. „We started with the idea of making a few singles, possibly for festivals that were supposed to happen. A few singles became an EP, and an EP became an album.“

Because of the pandemic, the writing process happened remotely: Bert and Bastien handled most of that initial work, then swapped files with their bandmates, who were scattered in other areas. (Mathias currently lives in Portugal.) Together they reanimated old tracks like „Fin.,“ which opens with an electronic sparkle and clean post-rock riff before segueing into an anthemic pop-punk/post-hardcore sing-along. („This is my soundtrack to the end!“ Bert sings cinematically on the chorus.) They also arrived at brand new tunes like „Good Luck,“ which builds twitchy rhythms, twangy electric riffs, and acoustic strums into a towering career highlight.

Almost every song is adorned with a surprising flourish or gutsy sonic twist: the bright fingerpicking that contrasts with detuned distortion on „Drift Away,“ the hand claps and group chants on the final chorus of „Gone Are the Good Days,“ the subtle synths and keyboards that meld into the fabric of numerous riffs.

„I learned music and music theory on piano,“ Bert says. „One thing that’s always been frustrating for me — on guitar, especially with pop-punk and metal, there are a lot of power chords and octaves. A power chord is three notes, and two of them are the same thing. When I’m playing piano, I have 10 fingers and can play 10 different notes. I’m always trying to find ways to make even the most basic chords sound more interesting. And I’ve always wanted to put some more keys in our songs. There are a little on the first album because we didn’t really care making our own signature sound. But I’d say on Pardon My French and Get Lost, Find Yourself, it was more a matter of time in the studio — I didn’t take much time to improve the songs, production-wise. That’s the kind of texture that always improves a song, whether it’s keys, synths, or percussion.“

The biggest curveball, though — almost too savory to spoil — is the left-field saxophone solo that crashes like lightning during the final minute of „Complete You.“ Hilariously, both Bert and Paul independently envisioned a sax part, having not spoken to each other about it.

„[Paul and I] were like, ‚A saxophone would be sick,‘ but I was like, ‚I don’t know — that’s risky,'“ Bert says. „I sent him the pre-production, and he was like, ‚Oh, yeah, there should be a saxophone in there.‘ That was the trigger.“
„I think sax is one of the most beautiful instruments in the world,“ Paul adds. „It’s always something I’ve wanted to do in Chunk, but we’ve never had the chance to do it. When I heard that song, I felt it was the right song — it had a special vibe.“

Woodwinds aside, Gone Are the Good Days also marks another Chunk first: a love song, „Marigold.“
„Before getting into it, I thought, ‚That’s one thing Chunk has never done, for some reason,“ Bert says. „I thought, ‚This album is a good opportunity to do it.‘ I told my lyricist, ‚Help me on this. It needs to tell a story without being cheesy in any way.‘ It came out exactly the way I pictured it in the beginning: a good combination of indie/acoustic stuff with pop-punk and the low guitars. It’s weird, but somehow it creates an atmosphere.“

Chunk were able to connect in person for a short stint at Alias in January 2021 — the first time they’d all been in the same room for the last four years. Paul was slightly nervous, knowing they only had a couple weeks together, but he was mostly just thrilled to see his friends again. „It had been so long,“ he says. „Everyone’s changed and done their stuff in the past four years. Just reconnecting felt fresh, like a family reunion.“

Making Gone Are the Good Days was a redemption in numerous ways — realizing their big plans from 2016, proving to themselves they had more to say, wringing out something pure from the pandemic era. „The album was a way for us to to turn the 2020 bullshit into a better mindset,“ Bert says. „To give us a better future.“
Chunk pulled off a magic trick with their long-awaited fourth LP: staying true to their pop-punk/metal path, while finding brand new avenues to travel down.

„When you get into songwriting, you should not set yourself barriers,“ Bert says. „Creativity has no limits. For us, it’s not been a battle, but we’ve been dealing with people talking shit about us without even giving us a chance because we were mixing those two genres. It’s been a journey, but it’s been fun. In the end, we haven’t changed our style of music. We’re still very loyal to our roots, but the new album gives it an even wider palette.“Paul is more succinct in his assessment: „I think this album is the right evolution for us. I think it’s the masterpiece of our career.“

CHUNK! NO, CAPTAIN CHUNK! online:
www.chunknocaptainchunk.com
www.facebook.com/cnccband
www.instagram.com/chunknocaptainchunk
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