Stay in your Layne with CHOUT's heavy rock sound
In South Chicago four guys got together and created a kick ass band - with a sound reminiscent of the Grunge movement of the 90's.
I caught up to these four guys, who call themselves "Chout," on a somewhat warm Chicago day, when the temperature climbed to an unseasonably high "45" degrees. Yet, don't let the cool temperature fool you. These guys are creating some hot music.
Chout is Brendan Maier on vocals, Matt Morgan on guitar, Joel Martinez on drums and Rocco Gilsdorf on bass. Four childhood friends with one shared goal, to create some good, old fashioned hard and heavy rock n roll!
TRR: Hey guys. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine. How’s the weather in South Chicago today?
Chout: It’s actually not too bad. It’s about 45 right now. A couple weeks ago it was about 50 below, so we’ll take 45 right now, it’s like a heat wave. (laughing)
TRR: I’d have the heat on in the house, and in the car, if it was 45 down here.
Chout: (laughing) Where are you?
TRR: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Chout: We'll trade you!
TRR: Maybe another day. I'll stick to the warmer temperatures. Alright guys, let’s get this thing moving.
Chout: Right on!
TRR: So, the 4 of you have been friends since elementary school. When did you guys get interested in music?
Chout: Yep. We’ve known each other since we were very young. 3 of the 4 of us started a band together when we were 13. We’ve all come and gone through different bands since that time, but when we were 20 or 21, we put Chout together, and have been going hard core with that ever since.
TRR: That was about a year or so ago?
Chout: Yeah, that was around last March of 2018.
TRR: Where did the name Chout come from?
Chout: You know, we were looking for something easy to say, something that would look cool on a t-shirt. It really doesn’t mean anything. We kind of named the band with the Dogwater album in mind. We thought Chout sounded like a beefy name, and the record was pretty heavy and meaty. So, I pitched it and we all liked it and just went with it.
TRR: Well, it’s simple, one syllable, easy to remember.
Brendan: There you go!
TRR: I’m going to get right to the point with this next question, which I know you’ve already heard many times, but it’s important to address it again. Your singing voice is a teeny bit reminiscent of Layne Staley. Just a little bit. Has anyone told you that before?
Brendan: Um, more so when articles are written.
TRR: Some interviews or song reviews?
TRR: When did you first start singing?
Brendan: I learned to sing by being in an Alice in Chains tribute band when I was 17. That’s when I learned to sing and write, and when I got interested in music and being in a rock band.
TRR: But you guys played together when you were 13. Were you feeling it back then?
Brendan: Not as much, not until we did that tribute band. Once we did that it was like, yeah, this is it.
TRR: So you think this is your calling?
Brendan: Yeah, it’s in my roots.
TRR: What about your voice sounding like Layne Staley, who was an incredible singer? When is the first time you can recall someone telling you that your voice sounded a lot like Layne’s?
Brendan: Probably the first show I played in with my tribute band, we were told we sounded a lot like Alice in Chains from the 90’s. So, probably around 2015.
TRR: Does that bother you guys that some people may say you guys are trying to be the next Alice in Chains?
Brendan: No, not really. We’re our own band, we’re 4 unique individuals with a common goal.
TRR: Do you think the similarities have helped you guys get gigs?
Brendan: I’d say yes. Right now, sounding like Layne Staley so far has been our anchor and is getting us noticed.
TRR: Do you think that sounding like a rock icon is a blessing or a curse?
Brendan: As of now, I wouldn’t call it either. It’s definitely done well for us. But, our goal has always been to do our own thing. We’re always working on our own sound, and hope to make a future in rock with our sound, and not a shadow of something from the past.
TRR: I can’t disagree with you. That’s a great goal to have. Follow that goal.
Brendan: That’s been our plan from day 1.
TRR: What you guys have done so far, I think it’s great. I really like what you’ve put together. Dogwater is a cool record.
Brendan: Thanks man, I really appreciate that.
TRR: Let me ask you this, how do the 4 of you go about writing your songs? Is it very collaborative, or do you each have designated jobs, or maybe, unwritten jobs?
Chout: You know, it really depends. Each song is different. Sometimes we’ll just be sitting there on the couch - like when we wrote Seasons, Matt was just playing some random notes on the guitar and I said, “Hey, that’s a really cool riff,” and we made it into a song. Songs like Pick Me Up were just spontaneous practice songs, where we all kinda started doing things together and it came together. Sometimes it’s all thought out before we get together. Sometimes we just jump right in and if it comes, it’s really cool.
Joel: Me and Rocco have been playing together for a long time now. We kind of know how we jam together and how things kinda fall into place for us. We have these non-verbal signs, and know where we’re gonna pick it up here, slow it down there, get quieter here, louder there. I think that helps a lot with our writing process, knowing what the other is thinking.
TRR: That’s a cool relationship. The drummer and bass player have to be on the same page all the time. You guys are the glue for the band.
Joel: That’s right.
TRR: Matt, as the guitarist in the band, when did you first pick up the guitar?
Matt: I started playing when I was about 13.
TRR: Who are your influences?
Matt: I would definitely say when I first started it was Kurt Cobain. As I’ve grown, I’ve gotten into a lot of Sabbath, Randy Rhoades, Mastadon. But, I mean, I’m really all over the place. (laughing). I can go from listening to Rap, R&B, Radiohead, Mastadon in one play list.
TRR: That’s a pretty eclectic mix.
Matt: I just really enjoy music, all kinds.
TRR: Matt, what are you playing when you hit the stage? Tell us about your gear.
Matt: I use a VOX and my Crybaby a lot. I use 2 different fuzz pedals, a big mouth is the one I used on the album songs. I have an OCD pedal, a chorus and I just started using a tape delay, which has always been one of my favorites. A lot of the stuff on the album, I like to use the effects in the program more than the ones on my pedal board. I haven’t always been a huge pedal person but, since we started the band, I’ve been messing around with a lot of stuff.
TRR: Did you guys go digital with this record?
Matt: Actually, we did a lot of analog. A lot of amp sounds. I like to layer everything, recording the drums and bass naturally. It was a process, recording the first album. I was really surprised we got it all done in a month, maybe a little less.
TRR: Where did you guys record?
Matt: I have a degree in Music Engineering, and my teachers were cool enough to let us use the studio time for free.
TRR: You can’t beat that!
Matt: I was in really good standing with them, so they were very appreciative.
TRR: Don’t burn that bridge!
Matt: (laughing) Exactly!
TRR: The further you guys go, the pricer it will be, so, enjoy the free studio time for the moment.
TRR: Let’s move to Rocco. As Peter Frampton calls the bass players, you’re the “balls” of the band. A tight rhythm section is key to a solid band. How long have you been playing?
Rocco: I like that. The balls of the band. I can live with that! (laughing)
TRR: So, when did you pick up the bass for the first time?
Rocco: Actually, I started out playing guitar some time in middle school. But, I picked up the bass when I was about 16 or 17, and when I did pick it up, it was everything. I just stopped playing the guitar as soon as I picked up the bass.
TRR: No looking back?
Rocco: No looking back.
TRR: Is there anyone you really looked up to when you began to play the bass?
Rocco: There are so many. Geezer Butler just kicked ass. He’s definitely high up on my list. Victor Wooten is really cool. But, when I play my bass, because I’ve been playing with Joel for so long, I try to think of myself as an extension of his drum kit while I’m playing. To the point of, when we’re trying to write, if Joel’s not here, I don’t know what to play. (laughing). I’m so used to having that heartbeat of him right behind me, so when he’s not there, I don’t have the same feel. But, when he is there, it just comes out and I don’t have to think about it. The bass is a melodic instrument, but really is the backbone.
TRR: Joel, how about you? When did you first pick up the drums, and who are some of your drum heroes?
Joel: I picked up the sticks when I was about 12. It’s been the life of me. That’s when I’m happiest, when I’m behind the drums, playing. When Matt started playing guitar, I told him I got a drum kit, and we started jamming. I never took lessons, I’m self-taught and watched a lot of my favorite drummers on video, seeing how they play behind the kit. I consider myself a visual learner rather than learning by- the- book.
TRR: Brendan, do you play any instruments?
Brendan: Pretty much everything. Everything in a rock band. I play guitar and bass. On our song Out of Time, on our album, I wrote that entire song. Joel made the drum parts better, and Rocco made the bass parts better. I wanted to be good enough on every instrument so I could write rock songs on my own.
TRR: Now that's just cool. You don't see lead vocalist knowing so many instruments. Which ones are you most advanced with?
Brendan: I'm best at guitar, but my favorite to play is the drums.
TRR: Who manages you guys? Do you manage yourselves and write all the music and do your own bookings?
Brendan: We have a manager. His name is Steve Glowalla. He’s great. He’s done a lot of great things for us. He also manages Joyous Wolf. They were just signed with Road Runner. They kick ass. They’re a bunch of young guys and they’re really awesome. But, the 4 of us try to take care of the business end. We’re all pretty smart and coherent, so we do pretty well with that stuff.
TRR: What do you think is the goal of the band as a whole at this point?
Brendan: To do the band full-time. Not just to live well, but to be out on the road, doing our music.
Rocco: Personally, I would like to live well! (laughing) I don’t know about these guys, but personally, I like to pay my bills. (laughing)
Brendan: We want to live in squalor and beg for our meals. (laughing)
TRR: Where would you like to see the band in the next 12 to 24 months?
Brendan: We have the start of another album, the very start. We just kinda want to get on the road before we really get into making another album, to get a lot of experience under our belt.Right now, we’ve really only played a lot locally. The next 12 to 24 months, we’re hoping and expecting to be playing some festivals in the Summer and Fall, and touring in the near future as a supporting act. It looks like that’s going to happen soon.
TRR: When you guys are on stage, what song really gets you going?
Matt: I love playing Pick Me Up. When we open with that, I feel it really sets the tone for everything that’s going to come. Once we get that going, it just begins to roll.
Brendan: Mine would be Seasons. I love playing that one live. It gets the heads banging. It’s a fun one for me.
Joel: I just have fun with all of our songs. It’s hard to choose just one. I’d say Out of Time is a fun one. Restless Heart because it’s so slow, sludgy and just heavy, and I get to hit a lot harder than I need to.
Rocco: I’ll go with Restless Heart.
TRR: When’s your next show? Where are you playing next?
Brendan: Our next show is down south in Tilton, Illinois. They actually speak with Southern accents there, it’s the land of Lincoln. We’ll be playing a private party, and then we’ll also be playing at The Forge on March 28th. That’s a rock venue show.
TRR: When are you guys heading down to South Florida?
Joel: If all goes well, we plan to be pretty much everywhere by Summertime.
TRR: Is there anyone you guys want to give a shout out to? There will be about 800,000 people seeing this interview.
Brendan: Our media guy Alec Bourke. We have to give him a big shout out. The band, Joyous Wolf, from Orange County, Ca. They’ve done a ton for us. Mundane Nation from Kentucky. And, Of Limbo, also from Orange County, CA.
TRR: Cool. I appreciate you guys getting together in the same room to do this interview. I know sometimes it’s tough because you all have different schedules. But, we did it, and I’m looking forward to seeing you guys really take off. Good luck with everything that’s coming.
Brendan: Hey Craig, we really appreciate this. Thanks again, and hopefully we’ll get to meet you at one of our shows soon.
TRR: That would be cool, guys.
Craig Marks, Publisher
Tru Rock Revival
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