An Interview With The Southern Californian Punk Rock Band, CH3!
Posted On 12 Jul 2017
Seminal Southern California punk rock band CH3 have announced the August 18th release of “Put ‘Em Up.” This will be their first complete album of news songs in over 15 years! This collection was produced by Jay Lansford (Agent Orange) and features artwork by esteemed artist Lucky Nakazawa. The album will be released via all digital retailers and on vinyl through TKO Records.
CH3 is also one of the dozens of acts scheduled to perform at It’s Not Dead 2 on August 26th in San Bernardino, CA. In between festival dates, the band has also played a series of shows in Denver, CO, El Prado, NM and Albuquerque throughout June.
Contemporaries of fellow So Cal punks Social Distortion, Bad Religion, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks, etc., CH3 has been steadily touring the world since first forming in Cerritos, CA in 1980. With “Put ‘Em Up”, CH3 has delivered a career-defining album. Written and recorded in the wary post-election days of 2017, the collection of 10 songs are connected as a tightly focused novella, a ‘concept album’ by nature of the timeframe and frame of mind that it was recorded in.
A new song titled “Not That It Matters” is now streaming exclusively on OC Weekly: http://www.ocweekly.com/music/ch-3-whets-our-appetite-for-their-first-full-album-in-decades-with-not-that-it-matters-8137235.
The track is also available now as a free download at: https://www.toneden.io/ch3/post/channel-3-not-that-it-matters-official-audio.
A timely and urgent commentary on current events, with lyrics inspired by the clean, visceral, and cinematic writings of Jim Harrison (“Legends Of The Fall”), some of the songs reference back to the band’s earlier political works such as “Manzanar”, as those concerns seem more relevant than ever.
Other songs deal with the politics of the heart and themes that have become a trademark of the bittersweet CH3 songbook. The music remains refined punk with traces of classic ’77 Brit to 80’s hardcore, power pop rock, which combined, make up the CH3 sound.
Connect with CH3 Here:
Learn more about CH3 in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today?
Hey now! We’re back home in So Cal now, just had a great road weekend out in Denver, Taos and Albuquerque. It was our first gig back in ABQ since 1984, and believe it or not, there were some people in the crowd that were at that gig! Always a treat to meet up with people that are still supporting their music scene, although don’t quite remember what the hell we did to the town to warrant a 3 decade ban, hah!
What are some words you would use to describe 2017 so far? How differently did you all approach this year?
Well, I think we can all agree that 2017 has been, in a word, nuts. I don’t think anyone could quite believe we would be here in this political and cultural climate, and it just gets more bizarre with each passing week. But it has strangely enough energized our creative flow, and in fact we didn’t sit down to write this new album until after that nightmare of election was over late last year. Maybe it’s times like these when you really have to embrace the arts. Making sense out of the senseless, ya know?
How do you think your overall sound has changed and really grown over the years? What about what drives you all to make music now? Has that shifted at all?
We are really just grateful to be able to still write songs and have a few people give it a listen. Of course there’s lots of things out there to inspire the good old punk protest song, but we’ve always been interested in the politics of the heart as well.
I think we’ve come to embrace the CH3 sound, maybe too soft for hardcore and too hard for the innocent citizens, but that’s who we are, ya know? Kimm and I grew up listening to everything, and I think it comes out in our music: we won’t limit our songs to a certain tempo or theme. We’ve come to a comfortable place in our songwriting and performing, it’s a nice time and place. Gentlemen rockers in the twilight, don’t you know!
I am always curious to know about a band’s sound and really their dynamics has been influenced by the city they all live and write their music. How do you think being from Southern California has affected this group?
Definitely being from that fertile So Cal scene shaped our sound and process. Back when we were first recording, we were just constantly amazed by the other bands of the area, Adolescents and TSOL, etc.. They were all coming out with legendary albums that really inspired you to up your game as well. The actual geography of So Ca comes into play, the long drives through the sun-blasted landscape just to get anywhere. We famously come from Cerritos, a suburb that is exactly on the OC/LA border. And I think that always contributed to our misfit nature, not really fitting in with the OC or Los Angeles scenes, but feeding off of and contributing to both.
How would you say that your forthcoming album, “Put ‘Em Up” is different or similar to anything else that you have put out? Where did the inspiration for these songs come from? How do you guys go about putting a track together these days? How exactly is this collection a ‘concept album’?
This new album is really the first top to bottom project that we intentionally sat down to write and record a record in a long time, decades. Just the process of people consuming music these days, (downloading a track or two, streaming just the most popular songs), that had us just recording a track or 2 per year for the past few years. We’d contribute a song to a compilation, record a song for a video, maybe collect the songs for a record every few years.
So to sit down with a blank sheet and commit to a full album was just great. you can’t help but connect the songs, thematically and sonically when you just focus in on a project like this. It becomes the concept, yeh?
We brought our old band-mate and original producer Jay Lansford over from his home in Germany to do the production work, and had our mate Jim Monroe doing the engineering duties, so it just all felt exactly right place, right time. We even pulled Steve Soto (The Adolescents, etc!) in to do some back vocals, and Hector Martinez (Spider) to manage the project, so it really became a family album.
It’s been over 15 years since you released new music so I am curious to know how you have all been keeping busy during this time away? What do you think ultimately got you all back into the studio to make new music together?
Well, as I said we did put out new stuff sporadically over the years, but this is the first total album since what? 1985?? Sheesh!
We spent a lot of the 90’s doing that thing you do, growing up I guess.
Kim and I concentrated on our growing families and building our businesses, though always found time to get together in the garage and go over the old songs, play out here and there. When the big Old School revival hit in 2000 or so we stepped up the playing and touring, though we can’t quite get back into the van for 3 months like the old days…..
Can you talk about the making of your already released single “Not That It Matters”? How did this song go from being an idea to a full-fledged song?
We started pre-production of the songs in January, daily roughs being sent back and forth to Jay in Europe as we wrote and hashed out ideas. It was very interesting, embracing new technology in the process. We’d jam a song and then record on an ipad, upload to a cloud file, and we were all listening to it on the drive home from the studio as Jay listened in with his morning coffee in Hanover. Notes would fly back and forth on messenger and email and then the song would change again.
The first single, Not That it Matters, was probably one of the last songs we wrote, put together from a few sound sketches Jay had lying about and some lyrics I was thinking of. It’s about ending a relationship that was a lot of fun but not really healthy.
I partly based that on my quitting the booze actually, not about a boy girl thing necessarily.
How have your summer shows been going so far? Are you looking forward to all the festivals you’ll be playing at? What do you think makes for an ideal show for CH3?
Festivals are always great for us, as we get to do the thing in front of some people that might not necessarily go to one of our poorly attended club gigs! We have the big It’s Not Dead Fest at the end of August, so that keeps us off the local club circuit for the Summer. It’s been a lot of fun and different creative energy to prep this new record though, so that has kept us plenty busy so far this Summer! We have the Remember the Punks fest in San Antonio TX Oct 21 as well as some target touring on East Coast and Midwest planned before year end, and then Europe in 2018, so we’ll be working it shamelessly!
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
We are always just floored to be playing with our musical heroes, many who we proudly call friends these days as well. It’s just an embarrassment of riches in So Ca, all the bands that are still out there playing, and playing very well! We’ve been fortunate to play with most of the legends of the old school, 7 Seconds to Scream, DOA to Kraut, ya know? We must proudly point to the night we opened for Cheap Trick a few years back though, that pretty much ends the conversation every time-hah.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I would hope that some of our songs can just connect with just a glancing blow, the way your favorite songs always do. We are always humbled by the heartfelt response we get in regards to a certain phrase or lyric, someone coming up to you after a gig and telling you one of your songs helped them through a certain time in their lives. It’s pretty easy to be cynical with your message, especially when you want to just embody the rage of the music, but I think our songs always have that glimmer of hope or humor as well.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started on this music path? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
My one piece of advice is always: stay together and keep doing it! It’s far more important to find people of a like mind, friends first and musicians secondary, yeh? The chemistry of a band can never be faked, and if you stick around long enough someone will take notice. You will also be taking a lot of long van drives through endless nights, so it helps to have someone next to you that can hold a conversation!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I hope you enjoy the new stuff, and hope we get a chance to play in your town soon! If you don’t see us on the horizon, demand a CH3 gig from your friendly local club and we’ll be there with bells on! Cheers, Mike M/CH3