Chris Chasse and the other members of Last of the Believers have quite the impressive resume when it comes to hardcore and punk bands. In spite of all that, the band has done it on their own, self-releasing a five-song EP that has been praised across the board. Scene Point Blank chatted with Chasse about the band's formation, roots in hardcore/punk, and what we can expect in the months ahead.
Scene Point Blank: First off, let's talk about the formation of Last of the Believers. How did the band come together?
Chris Chasse: Steve, the singer, and I were simply talking online one day and said, "Lets start a band." He lives in California, and I live in Chicago. Within a few days I was on a plane to California and started writing songs. We got Brett, Nik, and Phil on board, and finished writing five songs, and hit the studio to record the EP.
Scene Point Blank: What was the writing process like for the songs on the EP? Were the songs written beforehand or were they a collaborative effort of everyone involved?
Chris Chasse: They were collaborative for sure. We all came in with ideas and partial songs, and we created the complete songs together. Even Phil, the drummer, had a key role in putting the songs together, which has been a blessing. Having a drummer that has song ideas rather than just sitting back and playing a beat is really refreshing and an important part of this band.
Scene Point Blank: On the EP there is a definite splintering of styles ? some songs veering more towards hardcore, while others are much more melodic. Was it a conscious effort to write songs of each style, or is that how things just kind of happened?
Chris Chasse: Exactly, it all just kind of happened. We're not trying to stick to one genre of music. We simply play what we enjoy and what sounds good to us. I hate labels personally, and I like the diversity that this band has.
Scene Point Blank: On the track "Throwing Matches" you handle much of the vocals. Was this your first time taking the lead vocals in a song? How did the experience differ for you, as opposed to solely being responsible for writing music?
Chris Chasse: This is in fact my first attempt at lead vocals. It's been a long time coming I suppose. I sang quite a lot of back up vocals for Rise Against, and I figured why not try to sing something in the lead area. I hope to continue to do so in upcoming songs.
Scene Point Blank: The band self-released your debut EP; why the decision to release the EP on your own as opposed to with label support?
Chris Chasse: I have nothing against labels at all, and we are currently looking for one to put out a full-length. Putting out the EP ourselves was just so much easier, and MUCH faster. I was able to record and produce the CDs within three weeks. Normally, you have to wait months for a CD to be available. I'm an impatient person at times, and this just seemed to be the better route. Eventually, I'm sure that this EP will be re-released by whatever label we may sign to so it gets better distribution around the world.
Scene Point Blank: It was recently announced that New Age Records would be issuing a 7" of material from Last of the Believers. How did you end up working with them and what will be on the 7"?
Chris Chasse: Steve and Mike from New Age have been friends for a while now. Apparently, they liked the EP and wanted to issue it on limited vinyl. Steve and I are both "vinyl nerds" and we jumped at the opportunity. Three of the five songs from the EP will be on the 7" and MAYBE and exclusive track. We're not 100% positive as of yet.
Scene Point Blank: Reach the Sky broke up as a result of being on the road and away from home. You left Rise Against due to the band's extensive touring schedule. Does this mean that Last of the Believers won't be touring that much? Can we expect any touring in support of the EP in the near future?
Chris Chasse: Reach the Sky didn't break up because of touring by any means. The band simply ran its course over the six years it was together, and people in the band wanted to do different things.
I left Rise Against because it was time to. I wasn't an original member, and always felt like the "new guy" in the band. I also really needed to spend some time with my family. My father and step-father were both having heart problems at the time, and I wanted to spend time with them. Luckily, they are both doing much better, and I plan on starting up my music career once again.
Last of the Believers will be touring for sure. I plan on booking shows around Ignite's touring schedule. I've started booking US shows for October already, and I'd love to get to Europe and Australia before the year is over.
Scene Point Blank: You've been involved in the hardcore and punk scene for quite a while, what were the main differences between touring with the likes of Reach the Sky in the DIY atmosphere vs. the major-label funded Rise Against?
Chris Chasse: They are completely different worlds. On one hand, you have to bust your ass and doing everything yourself, while on the other you're not allowed to do anything yourself. I'm a pretty independent person, and it's hard for me to accept help from others. Having a guitar tech was one of the weirdest experiences for me. I always got yelled at by management because I was always trying to set up my own gear/rig on tour. Don't get me wrong. I got to live "the dream" and tour the world in front of thousand of people and sell hundreds of thousands of records. At the same time, it hasn't changed me one bit, and I'm still the same person I was ten years ago playing shows in front of fifteen people.
Scene Point Blank: Prior to breaking up, Reach the Sky had demoed five new songs and been planning to record a third full-length? Did any of that material resurface in your writing with Rise Against or Last of the Believers?
Chris Chasse: That is actually false. I had written a few songs, but nothing was ever recorded. The "Transient Hearts" EP was the last material ever recorded by Reach the Sky. In the case of Reach the Sky songs showing up in Rise Against / Last of the Believers material, it was bound to happen. The song "Paper Wings" off of Rise Against's "Siren Song of the Counter Culture" was a song that I showed to the Reach the Sky guys, and it was rejected. During the year I had off between Reach the Sky and Rise Against, I developed the song into something that I loved. I showed it to Rise Against, and we went from there. Tim did such an amazing job on vocals with that song, and I finally got to see my song come to life.
For Last of the Believers, the song "Workhorse" is something I've had hanging around for a while as well. Working with Phil, the drummer, we got it to where I really liked the song and wanted to release it.
Scene Point Blank: The style of music that Reach the Sky was performing was under the radar. In recent years the mixture of hardcore and melodic punk has grown increasingly popular with artists like Thrice and Rise Against landing on major labels. What are you thoughts on major labels swooping up "punk" bands? Do you feel that artists ? such as Rise Against, Anti-Flag, and Against Me! - can maintain their punk status even while being funded by the corporate machine that they claim to oppose?
Chris Chasse: Absolutely. I see major labels as distribution. I loved being on Geffen. They were some of the nicest people I've ever met. They did wonders for Rise Against and introduced them to the world. I don't think the band has changed at all simply because it is now better funded and has a major label emblem on the back of the CD.
Scene Point Blank: In light of the recent backlash by former employees and artists of Victory Records, what was Reach the Sky's relationship like with Tony Brummel and Victory?
Chris Chasse: I really didn't have much of a relationship with Victory. I was the quiet one in the band, and I kept to myself. All I know is that they took a chance on a small Boston hardcore band and put our CDs in stores worldwide. I have no problem with Victory at all, and I've actually sent music to Tony to check out and we may even work with them in the future.
Scene Point Blank: What would you consider to be the most musically influential albums on your approach to writing?
Chris Chasse: There are endless amounts of albums that come to mind, so I'm going to limit it to a hand full of bands: Texas is the Reason, Buried Alive, Gorilla Biscuits, Bad Religion, Good Riddance, Alexisonfire, Taking Back Sunday, Weezer, and City and Colour.
Scene Point Blank: Rolling Stone recently published an article on the violence that is associated with hardcore music. What kind of impact - positive or negative - do you feel this article will have on the hardcore music world?
Chris Chasse: As always, any time anything is said about the "scene" it's negative. I grew up in Boston, and there was always violence at shows, but only to an extent. It is what it is. It's just that random ass people try to write stories about things they know nothing about whatsoever.
Scene Point Blank: What can we expect from you and the rest of the band in the coming months?
Chris Chasse: We start touring in October, and plan on having a full-length out in early 2008.
Scene Point Blank: Any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
Chris Chasse: Just simply want to thank everyone for the overwhelming support. We appreciate it so much, and we are anxious to hit the road and share this band with everyone. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Last of the Believers Websites