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An Interview With Chapel Club

Article Ref: #ChapelClubInterview

Ines Punessen - 9th December 2012

The Pro Audio Web Blog

A young man in his mid-twenties is standing at a coffee table, enjoying a sip of a strong espresso at Brighton's 'Komedia Bar'. He is wearing a grey-striped shirt stuck in chic grey trousers. His look is switched on, his eyes are shining with intrigue and he seems to enjoy the attention he receives.

Lewis Bowman is one of the best young British lyricists of the new decade, being heavily influenced by writers such as Michail Bulgakow, Ted Hughes and Ernest Hemingway.

His job: singer of London-based quintet Chapel Club whose synergy of gloomy post punk instrumentation and metaphorical poetry made them one of the most striking newcomer bands of 2011.

Since the age of eleven 11 when he found the ‘Oxford Dictionary Of Quotations' in school Bowman has been writing poems and short stories, laying the foundation for what it seems a spotless career so far. However, he soon reveals the abysms and struggles behind his confident appearance.

Bowman says reflectively: “I think there's nothing that will make you more unhappy than being in a band, but I suppose there's nothing that will make you happier either.” What he means is some of the criticism his band has faced in the music press and various industry routines he does not agree with.

For instance, the practise of record companies telling their artists to be a bit arrogant to push through. The singer says: “I've never got more congratulated by the record label people than when I said nasty things about other bands.” Bowman admits that he often walked away, thinking that this was not really how he wanted to be.​

IThe Pro Audio Web Blogndeed, it was an album review by NME writer Laura Snapes that really got to him and from which Bowman has yet to recover. Snapes considered Chapel Club's debut album Palace, which received good critics overall in other media, as “a portentous kingdom helmed by a conflicted prince wriggling in his throne.”​

It appeared to be almost a character assassination which fuelled the self-doubts of this young London talent, whose inclination for self-criticism has become apparent throughout the interview.

Bowman is clever, witty and opinionated, yet he has an over thinking personality. However emotionally self-destructive this characteristic may be it might help him to improve and therefore push him to the next level of the likes of Leonard Cohen or Elbow's Guy Garvey. It might be the necessary progress from a genius to blossom to a genius to shine.

Bowman says: “I think it's a quite hard industry to exist in unless you are very sure of yourself and unfortunately I am not sure of myself at all in this sense and I constantly fantasise about writing a book, getting a publishing deal and just fucking off to the woods and never having to talk to anyone ever again."

His words shall be sought after by lovers of sophisticated, metaphorical language and poetry in any case – no doubt. When playing their show at the packed out ‘Komedia’ that night, Chapel Club presented some of their new material for the first time.

It is more synthesizer-based, more optimistic and joyful than the material from predecessor Palace.

More importantly, despite putting on the ever confident ‘face’, Bowman showed off a naturally relaxed and satisfied grin. NME´s curse might have been lifted.

Ines Punessen

End of Interview

Photography: © 2011 Luke W. Dorosz