Dress Loud Play Louder
An Interview with Chase and the Barons
By Zach Nellis
A few weeks ago, local indie/rock band Chase and the Barons put out their debut EP, Purpose a Toaster. They celebrated the release with a show at Stage AE which, unfortunately, I missed. But Luckily for me these dudes have been booking shows around the Burgh like crazy to help promote their new music. So I caught up with them at a house show in Oakland where they headlined a show with support from Gaffer Project, liteweight, and Sam Pellegrino. All the bands were amazing and it felt good to be back in that same South Oakland basement where I had shot some early Denzell shows a few years back. Between sets I managed to pull Chase and the Barons out onto the front porch to ask them a few questions about the EP, bright colors, and their summer schedule.
SSE: Sorry I missed the Purpose a Toaster EP release at AE, but how did it go?
Jake Stretch: EP release at Stage AE was fire as fuck [background laughter]. No but seriously it went really well, we played a good set, I think at least.
Mike Saunders: It went by really fast
Jake Stretch: It was the debut of like the most poppin outfits I think we’ve had on stage yet, which is cool. We sold some merch, we played pretty well, and I think the audience was genuinely invested
Chase Barron: There was a wide variety of people there and they were all groovin which is what we love to see.
SSE: So going off the whole outfit comment, what started the whole Chase and the Baron’s image with the flashy colors?
Jake Stretch: I guess I’ll field this one… So in high school I started to wear really nice clothes by the end of senior year, like senior year I did not wear a t-shirt once and I did not win the best dressed superlative and I felt really butt hurt about it so i bought even more nice clothes and continued to wear them and then we started this band and I’m like wow this is a really groovy band, I have all these groovy clothes, we should all wear these groovy clothes and look really funky cause no one looks groovy, Well I don’t mean that in an insulting way but like….
Mike Saunders: No groovy is a very specific look, its like these crazy 70s colors. Like you know, you watch a Herbie Handcock video him and Head Hunters and he’s wearing like platform shoes and red pants and a tan shirt and its just funky as fuck dude and it looks awesome.
SSE: You kinda know they’re ready to party.
Jake Stretch: Dude there is no doubt that Herbie Handcock and the Head Hunters were ready to party at all times. I mean they stripped down at one show to like completely nude and played still. So yeah. But so our first show we played in the basement of our friend Sigfried’s house and I lent everyone some ties cause not everyone had like colorful pants and shirts and stuff and we played and a lot of the people at the show were like “man those clothes are really cool” so like we were like okay this could kinda be a thing. And I was like already 100% on board but after our next couple shows everyone was wow, everyone was noticing it was kinda our thing so we decided to keep doing it. And now at this point I did not give anyone here an article of clothing besides Riegers tie.
Chase Barron: Dress loud, play louder
SSE: Back to the EP, Any reasoning behind the name or is it just a play on words? And back story behind it?
Tyler Handyside: We just tried to come up with a bunch of toast puns because it steamed from the one toast lyric we have in Rule the World. And yeah we just brainstormed, came up with some good ones, but we all ultimately decided that Purpose a Toaster fuckin rad.
Jake Stretch: We had CommaToast, which was one of our other favorites, but our label said that we couldn’t use it, sooooooo
SSE: Was there reasoning behind that decision?
Jake Stretch: They’re a college and they didn’t want to purpose something that could be potentially offensive and I can see CommaToast being offensive to those who have lost relatives to comma’s.
SSE: Yeah I guess you gotta play it safe.
Mike Saunders: And I mean like, the various drug references they aren’t okay with and stuff like that which is totally understandable. I mean that isn’t something that were all about like selling crack on the streets and like pimping out people…all the time
Jake Stretch: But if you listen to the EP really closely you can tell that all the songs are secretly about being a pimp and smoking crack
Chase Barron: Well if you listen to it backwards….
Mike Saunders: No I mean, I think in the end they definitely had our best interest in mind with like pushing us to get couple different name ideas instead of just going with the first one that popped into our heads. Because we were pretty dead set on CommaToast, so we were a little upset when they said we couldn’t use it, but luckily Purpose a Toaster was a close second and still got our point across.
Jake Stretch: But we’re definitely happy about the toast though. Its given us a lot of merchandising ideas like we have the toasted t shirt which is just a slice of toast that says toasted on it.
Mike Sunders: We can sell it at Subway. Be like, “Would you like your shirt toasted?”
Jake Stretch: We put toasters all over the stage when we played at AE. We had like 4 or 5 toasters on stage with us. Our merch was sold inside of a toaster.
Chase Barron: If you get the CD you’ll realize that the CD is actually just a bunch of pieces of toast. You can’t even put it in your CD player.
Jake Stretch: Yeah you take the cellophane off and you immediately have crumbs all over your lap.
Chase Barron: It like, to get the music to play you have to put the CD in your toaster and then put it on high and it’ll play the songs.
Mike Saunders: Gotta get that four slot toaster, it’s a four toast album
Tyler Handyside: Put your toaster on shuffle
SSE: How long were you guys working on this toasty EP?
Chase Barron: So yeah, it all started when we got signed to Pioneer Records. Then a lot of the time was thinking of the concept and what songs would be on it because we were coming into it with like 16 original songs pretty much, and then like 20 of my songs too. We had this giant collection of songs and we all sat down and listened to them all which was super weird. But yeah we ended up picking the four in late 2016.
Jake Stretch: We were signed in October and then the album song listing was finalized by the end of that month and then we started recording by the end of November.
Chase Barron: Yeah and then we did recording for like a month probably
Jake Stretch: But we finished in Feb cause of winter break
Chase Barron: it was probably like a month total, i mean we just spent like the weekend up there
Jake Stretch: We cant even imagine how much it cost. We never saw a bill for it and Jesse definitely gave us a lot of free time.
Mike Saunders: It was so cool though. the environment was so loose like we weren’t rushed for time, everyone was like “just sound good, do whatever you gotta do to sound good”
Chase Barron: Yeah we had like this hour long conversation about Star Wars and then Jesse was like, “See that needed to happen so that the next take you guys are super relaxed” and I was like uhhhh I guess you’re right
Jake Stretch: That was like a $50 conversation…but worth it
SSE: Okay so then this EP wasn’t recorded in your basement (Jake Stretch) like where I originally met you guys when Denzell was recording?
Jake Stretch: We started this whole process of like getting our music somewhere by recording in my basement where we did some demos. So last summer, Chase’s family lives out Dubois, PA really close to Punxy. And we uhhhh went out there [interrupted by Jackson Boytim who is the bees knees] but yeah we planned on going out to the cabin and we took all our gear there and we recorded the album, then we sent it to Point Park just to like apply and see if they would be down to sign us, and they liked it. But we’ve actually only used like 3 songs that we recorded in the cabin and they were all released before the EP came out.
SSE: I saw that you guys did a video for Rule the World, pretty tight. Was that something you guys already had the idea for or was something that came out of signing the record deal?
Chase Barron: What happened there was part of the Pioneer experience. They gave us the opportunity to make a music video, which they have done the past two years but no one really took it to the extreme like this year. Cause Point Park has a cinema program so they actually had a class get together with 10 cinema student and 10 SAEM students (Sports Arts Entertainment Management) and they all just spent an entire semester making a music video for us.
Jake Stretch: As far as ideas came to the table, we knew that Rule the World was the leading single for the EP just from like hearing the crowd response to the song. Like normal people in the audience, not just musicians, were really into that song and we got a lot of nice compliments on it so we were like, “I guess this is the one that people want to hear”. And Point Park agreed with that and everyone on the label was kinda on board so we came to the table knowing that we liked the OkGo videos and we really want a lot of color and just a lot of fun in general. And we also wanted to try to do everything in one shot.
Tyler Handyside: Yeah the idea kinda came from that one episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, where the health inspector comes the bar and just the one shot idea is so cool looking, just seamless.
SSE: I dig the Always Sunny reference, but down the road is there talks of doing any more music video or are you guys waiting to release some more music.
Jake Stretch: The only thing that we have really thought of music vide wise is, we have the song Sasquatch Sightings which opens the EP. We really want Jack Links to realize that it exists and we wanna make a video with Sasquatch. But other than that, as far as music videos go we really have no plans.
Chase Barron: Basically our plans right now are that were just focusing on pushing this EP everywhere and trying to get out of Pittsburgh a little bit. Ya know start doing some weekend tours that will hopefully turn into week long tours.
SSE: On that note, what are your plans for the summer?
Tyler Handyside: Yeah we have a few shows booked throughout the summer, between April and May we’ve played about 25-30 shows.
SSE: Are those all shows that were around here?
Tyler Handyside: We’ve played out in Lancaster, a few shows out there and at the Launch Music Conference. Then Boobies brewery…
Mike Saunders: It’s actually Boobs Brewery, I’ve talked to several people who have said it was Boobs Brewery
[Inaudible arguing over Boobies vs Boobs Brewery]
Jake Stretch: Were playing the Millvale Music Fest now which is supposed to be bumping
Tyler Handyside: Theres a ton of bands on that roster.
Jake Stretch: Whats cool is that it actually filled up and we thought we missed out, but they got back to us a today actually and said there was like one slot left and that we should play so we jumped right on that. So we will be playing at Element Church for that. But yeah oddly enough we haven’t really done anything to book shows ourselves. Everything we’ve played has been set up by people reaching out asking us to play which is cool. But now that the EP is out and the craziness that was promoting it is over, we’re focusing all of our efforts on getting some reviews on the album and getting it out to some indy blogs and playing more shows.
SSE: Think thats about it, any last words from Chase or the Barons?
Mike Saunders: Keep your ears open because this has been the most creative season of music that I have ever experienced in my life, like in the past two weeks we’ve written like 4 new songs and we kinda want to get started on a new album by like the beginning of next year.
Chase Barron: Keep your ears and eyes open.
Jake Stretch: I think the overall message of the band at this current moment in time, is that we just really like to have fun and we just want everyone who comes out to our shows to have fun and feel included in that. People should never be weary of having too much fun at our shows
Chase Barron: Yeah dude Chase and Barons is a party that everyone can go to.
Chase Barron – Vocals/Guitar
Tyler Handyside – Saxophone
Jacob Rieger – Bass
Mike Saunders – Lead Guitar
Jake Stretch – Percussion
Chase and the Barons – chaseandthebarons.com (new EP on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms)