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These You Have Loved: Part Chimp For Your Stereo
Stevie Chick , October 19th, 2011 05:11

Stevie Chick is working on a massive history of London rock bastards Part Chimp for us. Ahead of this weekend's Supersonic he performs featurus interruptus to advise us on the purchase of their back catalogue with the help of Tim Cedar...

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A behemoth of pulverising riffs, twisted wit and strychnine-dipped melodies, Part Chimp formed in 1999 from the ashes of wry London noiseniks Ligament, din-spitting singer/guitarist Tim Cedar and flail-armed drummer Jon Hamilton joining forces with guitarist Iain Hinchcliffe (ex of excellent noisers Sawyer) and bassist Nick Prior to flatten eardrums and blow speaker cones across the globe. In eleven years of grin-inducing sonic malevolence, they’ve delivered three molten, glorious studio albums, a compilation of stray song shrapnel and a self-released CDr of live tracks sold at their recent shows.

Their performance at Supersonic this weekend might be one of your last chances to see the group, who have announced they are to split amicably after playing some farewell shows in Europe, the USA and Britain. Sad news, but this is not a time for tears… No, let us instead celebrate the simian genius of Part Chimp, and the hearing damage we’ve gladly sustained during their existence.

Chart Pimp (Rock Action, 2003)

The Chimp’s first was an inspired trainwreck of raw tuneage and deafening squall, all wrapped around Cedar’s perverse earworm lyrics (see 'Too Many Hitlers And Not Enough Jews', 'Exladyboy', the smother-fantasy of 'Cover Me'), witnessing the transformation of late-era Ligament into the wonderful beast they’d become.

Tim Cedar: “Nick had joined Ligament towards the end, after our original bassist Ray buggered off. When Nick joined, it sparked something else. It seemed a strangely natural progression, really, just getting heavier and heavier. We almost relaxed into heaviness… ‘Don’t worry about melody, who gives a fuck about that? Just make it more disgusting!’ [laughs]

“We started writing the new songs and just thought, ‘more guitar’. That’s when Iain joined… When he played with Sawyer, his sound was totally full-on, just excruciatingly brutal sonic nastiness. He plugged in at our first practice with him, and I just thought, ‘Fucking… Jesus… yes!’ It’s strange, he uses the same amps I do, but my amps never sound like that.

“Melodies were always there; believe it or not, listen to Chart Pimp and there are some tunes in there. Lyrics always come last with us, to a ridiculous degree, to the frustration of everybody. We can write music and record it quickly, and then spend an interminable amount of time squeezing the lyrics out. Usually, they’re completely ad-libbed, but it works.

“How did we come up with the new bandname? We found this pamphlet from some animal hospital for old junkie chimps from the circus... They were all drug addicts, and all had some really nasty pasts. They just seemed really ‘rock & roll’, for chimps. This particular chimp, he was fucked up, and we thought he’d make the most amazing band member, like a Sid Vicious type [laughs]. We thought, we should get him in the band, because he was way more ‘rock & roll’ than us. Then we talked about training a bunch of chimps to mime instruments, while we performed alongside them… or was it the other way around? [laughs] A half-human, half-chimp outfit. We were really high.”

I Am Come (Rock Action, 2005)

Nick Prior exits, replaced by Joe McLaughlin of Liverpudlian kraut-rockers Kling Klang, for a second album that stomps from the eye-wateringly heavy bellow of 'Sweatcorn', to the Sonic Youth-in-a-cyclone tangle of 'Bring Back The Sound', to the stadium-levelling football chant of the title track, seemingly getting louder and louder with every passing, cochlea-puncturing second.

Tim Cedar: “Nick left the band and disappeared. We kept writing, and really this was the most creative period of Part Chimp, it was all good. But we needed bass. So we got Joe in, which was the biggest stroke of genius we ever had. He played in Kling Klang, and I don’t think we’d even met him that many times before he joined. I called him, and he came down from Liverpool a few days later. I met him at Elephant & Castle tube station, and he was all long-hair and flares and a tracky top, and a bin-bag with a bass sticking out of it. [laughs] But again, like with Iain before him, it was great, it was right. It really helped us finish that album, it all started coming together proper-like.

“When we finished mixing I Am Come, it didn’t sound loud, and we were really surprised. Like, I was pretty sure it was fucking loud when we played it [laughs]. So when we mastered it, we just turned it way up. Professional mastering engineers would say you shouldn’t do that… but it sounds pretty fucking loud! And I like it, it’s cool.

“We had Part Chimp-branded earplugs made, to give out at shows. That was Iain’s idea, it was cool. But we always wear earplugs onstage and in practice, so we were just using them ourselves, and getting them all waxy, so we couldn’t really put them back in the bags and give them to people. I don’t think anyone outside of the band got any of them. My hearing’s good, and that’s got to be down to wearing earplugs, religiously. My ears are remarkably un-waxy, so my doctor tells me. They’re in pretty good nick. I’d be fucked without them, being a recording engineer.”

Cup (Monitor, 2005)

A US-only compendium of B-sides, compilation tracks and radio sessions, essential for the MBV-played-by-mammoths wipeout of 'Crash The High Octave', the chainsaw-grind of 'Seedsy', and the colossal crescendos of 'Once More Forever', and topped off with a slow and charring cover of the Beatles’ 'Wild Honey Pie'.

Tim Cedar: “Monitor are just lovely people. I don’t think we ever did them any favours saleswise. [laughs] The artwork for this was so amazing; we’d wanted to use it for I Am Come but we couldn’t get it finished in time, and we were gutted. It was so devastatingly brilliant, this multi-coloured beardman character.

“We played America for the first time around then, six or seven dates with Mogwai. It was kind of a mixed experience. I think we were pretty raw, not in the good sense; a bit shabby, playing-wise. It was weird, playing before Mogwai, because their audiences are just there to see Mogwai. A funny old tour, that. But New York was awesome; it always is.”

Thriller (Rock Action, 2009)

The third album played masterfully to their chimp part, evidenced by the cro-magnon crunch of opener 'Trad' (which fashioned a riff brawny enough to drill to the centre of the Earth) and the melee meltdown of 'Today III', but also displayed a more tuneful bent on the psychedelic haze of 'Dirty Sun', which sounded like a 60s nugget played at 16rpm and dressed in only the finest sludge. The epic 'Starpiss', swaying between tender, melodic chimes and hurtling hurricanes of noise, found a sublime balance between both poles.

Tim Cedar: “Joe had gone back to do more Kling Klang, as they’d gotten back together to tour with Portishead and make another record. We did some shows as a three-piece, and people were really loving it, telling me, ‘You don’t need bass’. But we did. We needed that extra layer of thickness. So we got Tracy [Bellaries, ex-Ikara Colt]. She said, ‘Don’t ask me to write anything, I’ll just play’, which was cool. But she ended up being an integral part of forming these songs, so, little did she know...

“'Starpiss' is one of my faves. It’s kind of my thing, the most ‘me’ music we make: odd melodic parts, strange guitars, heavy bits. I love that kind of stuff, and have written some like that since. It’s great to play live, as well. There are interchangeable endings, and I enjoy the surprise of seeing which way we go; it’s always at the last minute, when we decide where to take it.

“The cover is by Peter Elson… Funnily enough, around when we were choosing the Part Chimp name, we were looking at this book, Great Space Battles, that Jon had, and which I’d had as a kid, this ridiculous sci-fi book with the most amazing pictures in it. And we thought this painting would make a brilliant album cover. Strangely, we forgot all about it until we were getting together ideas for the Thriller sleeve. We had to get permission to use the painting, which took a long time, and delayed the release. The artist had died, but his sister, who owned the rights, looked at our band and understood we had no money, and she let us have the artwork for free, which was utterly amazing.

“The album title was another collectively stupid, fun idea. It was like, fuck it, we can’t think of a name for this record, let’s just pick one that’s done well. Like Thriller. It was a joke, but one which made us laugh. Still does.”

Reduce To Clear (self-released CDR, 2011)

Seventy-odd minutes of live Chimp marmalising, from an early 'Exladyboy' dating back to their pre-Hinchcliffe three-piece days, to a clutch of tracks from a truly berserk 2003 show in Belgium, to a mordant slough through 'Iron Pond' at a 2004 ICA show that drew complaints of noise pollution from the council for just how loud the Chimp played that particular night, to a shuddering, incandescent 'Starpiss' from Switzerland in 2008. Earplugs not required.

Tim Cedar: “When we tour, it’s always tight cash-wise, and Jonny said, let’s just make a record we can sell at the merch-stand. We had so many recordings of shows, I thought I could knock out a live album pretty easily. I went round to Jonny’s to trawl through all these old recordings, and we decided to put them in some chronological order, representing the times when Tracy played with us, and Joe, and Nick; stuff from each album. It was hard to choose, because we had so many good, raw, loud live recordings. Maybe we should do a volume two?

“That ICA show, that was supporting Explosions In The Sky. Dave Lamb, our sound engineer, I don’t know what he was doing, but it was good. But we had a few complaints about that. Someone started crying in front of the stage, a girl in the audience [laughs], with her hands over her ears, just sobbing. Quite funny, really.”

Watch Part Chimp this weekend at Supersonic Festival

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ian
Oct 19, 2011 10:42am

Best band fucking ever. So loud.

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Hayley Parvin
Oct 21, 2011 12:12am

Great article by a great writer about a great band. I was unaware that they were splitting up. Being unemployed and living in Australia I guess I'll never get to see them now...

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