Portsmouth rockers Curbwire launch their debut album with a hometown gig
With his band Thirst, Chris Perrin was tipped for the big time at the turn of the century.
Their debut album received favourable reviews from the national rock press, they toured America and supported Bush, Therapy?, My Vitriol and more.
For a brief, glorious moment, it looked like the Portsmouth four-piece were going to break out.
‘Within a very short space of time we had a record deal with an American label, Zip Records,’ Chris recalls.
‘We put one album out under that label, and we never got to put another album out.
‘So it went up very quickly and gained this momentum very quickly. At one point we were getting looked at by Danny Goldberg, who was Nirvana’s manager.
‘But as a band, we really didn’t have a grasp on the whole business side of things, we didn’t really have a grasp on how to behave in that environment, and didn’t really get involved.
‘I don’t really know what went wrong, but as quick as we went up, we came back down again.
‘When that momentum goes... We tried for about a year or so afterwards, but it had lost its drive by then.’
Sadly things fizzled out and the band had split by 2003.
Since then guitarist and vocalist Chris has played with Red Letter Day and had his own solo project Race Car Hearts, among others.
But now he is back where he belongs, fronting Curbwire and playing the kind of melodic, grunge-hued rock that fits him best.
And Curbwire are playing a home town gig to mark the launch of their self-titled debut album.
‘I’ve been making music in this city a long time, 20-odd years,’ says Chris. ‘I've been in a few different bands, but this band, it's been a real labour of love.
‘There’s been some real tense times over the last two or three years, there’s been a few line-up changes, and we've embarked on various different recording projects which, for whatever reason, brought it all back to the start.
‘But for the last six months we just seem to have found our feet – we've got a steady line-up and we just decided to take the recording process back in-house.’
Chris turned to his old Thirst bandmate Rich Tamblyn for help.
‘Instead of looking further field for people to help, I thought, let's take it back to basics and trust some of the people I've been working with all my life. So we got Rich to do the mixing and producing and suddenly all of our problems were a thing of the past so we’re in a really healthy place now.’
With the line-up completed by Steve Bull on drums, Harrison Stone on guitar and Greg Choszcz on bass, Chris adds: ‘The beauty is that the tension seems to feed the great chemistry we share, and it's helped produce an album we're all very proud of.’
Once they realised they had a solid line-up and healthy working atmosphere in the band, the album received a major overhaul.
‘The album was originally going to consist of 10 songs, which this time last year, were our 10 best songs.
‘Because of this sort of debacle with the recording process and the line-up changes, we've ended up taking away five of the older songs and put in five of the new songs which we did with Rich.
‘Those songs are the best on the album in terms of the production and energy.
‘We've really stumbled across a really comfortable and positive way of working for the band.’
The project did also originally go by another name – Fainites.
‘Some people come up with awesome band names, you read them in the paper or online and think: “What a killer band name!” But it’s something I’ve always struggled with, and I probably put too much pressure on it.
‘Fainites was something my granddad used to say to me. If you said “Fainites” and crossed your fingers, it was this old language for the calling of a truce or the end of battle.
‘I thought that was cool, but nobody could spell it and nobody could pronounce it properly – we were getting introduced on the radio under the wrong name, things like that.
‘There's enough obstacles for a new band, so I thought, enough of that, and we changed it.’
So where does Curbwire come from, then?
‘It's an indirect reference to trying to just be aware of the state that we're in, in terms of our dependency on being connected.
‘I've got a couple of kids that are the age now where they're just currently staring at a screen. And you look around everywhere you go, cafes, train stations, bus stations, even walking on the street, people are just glued to screens.
‘Curbing the wire is essentially a more romantic way of saying we need to get some more humanistic interaction going, rather than living our lives in the virtual world. There's just wires and connections everywhere and I find it quite frightening.’
And Chris realised how differently we consume our music now to when he was starting out with Thirst.
‘I noticed that compared to having done it 20 years ago, people who come to gigs or buy records these days, it’s massively affected by the fact that your entertainment now is on the screen and you don't really have to get out of your armchair and you can stream music and you can stream gigs.’It’s certainly a change from when Chris began paying attention to bands as a teenager.
‘I would wait for (rock Bible) Kerrang! to come out every week, just to see a new picture of your favourite band, or get a snippet of an interview. That was so much more special.
‘And now I can't even keep up. I'm not even up to speed with what my favorite bands are doing because there’s this kind of information overload.
‘It has certainly taken the romance out of it for me, but I guess I’m old school!’
But Chris is looking forward to getting the album out and playing the launch show as ‘a celebration of being back in the scene and in the city that I love, with people who I have a good chemistry.’
And being part of that scene is important to Chris too – for example, the video for recent single Signals featured friends and family, while the video for Solid Gold was directed by Joe Watson, frontman of local post-rock band Horseflies, and also a film-maker and photographer.
‘I've known Joe for a long time and we’ve shared the stage a few times. He's a great talent in the city.
‘There's so many talented people here and I think people have this belief that you’ve got to get out and get away from here. Of course you do in terms of travelling and meeting people, but there’s such a vast array of talent in this city, and there's so many people that can help each other out.
‘It's a really healthy place to be musically.’
The Edge of The Wedge, Southsea
Friday, November 15