By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Boston mod-pop trio The Chelsea Curve recently dropped their new single “Inconceivable,” the latest in their “Singles Scene” series, where they’ll drop a new song each month until the Winter 2022 debut album via Red On Red Records.
Originally called “WWPWD” (What Would Paul Weller Do?”), the song revolves around someone mocking another for the use of big words, modeled after the 2006 movie “Idiocracy.”
New England to the core, the band’s name is derived from a treacherous roadway north of Boston on Route 1 and engages in a throwback garage rock sound comparable to The Jam, Pretenders and Husker Du that perhaps Ted Williams himself would approve of.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with two members of the band – fully composed of vocalist/bassist Linda Pardee, guitarist/vocalist Tim Gillis and drummer Ron Belanger – about “Inconceivable” and more.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your new material to your earlier?
Linda Pardee – Our new songs were written during COVID without the chance to test drive them live first, so we spent the extra time we had on writing, refining, layering instruments and vocals and creating these songs that have no chance of sounding the same live! (Laughs) Our earlier stuff was born out of the live show and will sound pretty much the same on the record.
Tim Gillis – We recorded in two separate batches. The first tunes were ones that we’d been playing live for a while and they had a more stripped-down feel. We added some vocals and keyboards in the studio, but they stayed pretty close to the live versions. They’re a little more raw and that’s what we wanted for them. The second batch happened during COVID. No live shows, so we were fully focused on the writing. We didn’t have any restrictions from live versions. We put a lot of thought and effort and heart and booze into getting the arrangements and the vibe just right. There’s more emphasis on vocals and a little more going on with the guitars and keyboards, but they all represent the sound we’re going for — mod, pop, maybe a little soul and always a thread of punk through everything. They hold together pretty well when you listen to them together.
Music Bugle – How did you decide on the band name?
Linda Pardee – I kept hearing “the Chelsea curve” referred to on the local radio traffic report and thought it sounded cool, plus it had a British ring to it. I thought the name would appeal to both the local crowd, as well as the kid in the UK who never traveled on that part of Route 1 north of Boston. Plus, free advertising on the traffic report!
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Linda Pardee – Our style packs a punch, but is also very tuneful and so fun to play! There’s a little bit of overlapping of genres. There’s something for all — punks, rockers and mods. I think sometimes people are surprised by the big sound the three of us manage to create.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for “Inconceivable”?
Linda Pardee – We wanted to open up a little more. We stuck our toes slightly — ever so slightly — into Paul Weller Style Council territory, as we already had with Weller’s style in The Jam.
Tim Gillis – “Inconceivable” is right in our mod/pop sweet spot. Our working title was “WWPWD” — “What Would Paul Weller Do?” — and we had that in mind all the way through the writing and recording. The first part is more like The Jam version of Weller and in the second part, we gave a little nod to ‘60s soul, a little bit Weller’s Style Council and there’s an overall punk edge, the way we like it.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Boston to someone who has never been there before?
Linda Pardee – Boston is authentic. You need to stay off the tourist trail and take the side streets to discover its charm.
Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge in being a musical trio?
Linda Pardee – Not being able to recreate the latest songs as recorded without bringing in a dozen extra musicians that would piss off Tim!
Tim Gillis – Love being a trio! It might be a little limiting live in terms of recreating all the studio stuff, but it’s interesting to hear the contrast between the studio and live versions of the latest songs. I like our raw live rock sound. There’s nothing worse than seeing something like an old reunion band with about 20 extra musicians on stage so they can exactly recreate their studio versions. That’s freakin’ boring! To be playing live with only two other people up there is like working without a net. Way more exciting! Even if it’s easier to hear any clams… It definitely helps with decision-making to have only three opinions instead of four or five or more and we can figure out a practice schedule without a spreadsheet.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your debut album?
Linda Pardee – We had decided to release a monthly series of eight singles, dubbed “The Singles Scene,” to keep us on the radar while there were no live shows due to COVID. We had another five new unreleased songs that we were going to put out as an EP, but then decided to collapse it all into one album. For those new to The Chelsea Curve, they could buy the full album and for those who collected the singles all along, they could buy just the five new tracks. Something for everyone!
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Linda Pardee – The Spitfires are killing it for me right now, a cool mod band from England. Would love to share a bill with them on either side of the pond!
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Linda Pardee – More helpful, as it lends to the DIY aesthetic to put your message out unfiltered. More harmful, as it is sometimes a popularity contest.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Linda Pardee – COVID has been a reminder of not taking things for granted anymore, whether playing shows, going to shows, or just going to the store.