We caught up with Chris Gordon from Baby Chaos just after the release of the excellent album “Ape Confronts Cosmos” to chat about the new album and more, here is what Chris had to say to James from Scottish Music Network.
You’re back with your new album Ape Confronts Cosmos; how different was it recording this album compared to previous albums?
The first two albums were back in ye olden times when people still used multitrack reel to reel tape machines and recording studios whose daily rate would bankrupt small island nations in a week. This fourth album was a similar process to the previous album Skulls, Skulls, Skulls … in that it was recorded over a fairly long and drawn out period in my own studio. Writing and recording kind of took place in tandem and the chaps from the band would make it round whenever they could to record parts. I would work on writing and recording in the downtime between other projects hence it takes friggin’ ages to actually have enough songs to call an album. Haha.
There seems to be a story going through the album, with a lot of emotion flowing through the music and the lyrics; did these songs come about through the band’s personal experiences?
I think my actual lived personal history really just pops its head above the parapet from time to time on this album, more in the hint of a line here and there. Mostly I have an image or small narrative playing out in my head and I take this as a lead for exploring something. I try to let things swim up from the depths of my subconscious and I am not at all attached to the idea that it has to be clear or explicable to me or anyone else. What I am after above all is a feeling of words and lines falling into place, to the point where I can almost taste their readiness.
Did you have a favourite song that you wrote for this album, and did it turn out the way you thought it was going to sound?
There was a bigger picture I had of the overall feel of the record, which would be a bit more spacious than our previous three albums. Not just in terms of having some gentler moments but in terms of FX on guitars and vocals providing a bit more air and texture. I don’t recall having a favourite song pre-recording though some things surprise you, and others that you thought would be great don’t even end up on the record. Although I find it generally much easier to bring a song from inside my skull to fruition these days, I can’t say it offers any guarantee of satisfaction.
After listening to the album, our stand out track is Everything I Counted on Has Been Proved Wrong, which feels very personal to me, with strong lyrics and a memorable chorus. What sort of feedback have you had on this song and on the album generally?
Thank you kindly. As I mentioned before this is only personal with a flourish here and there. Really, it’s more generally about a killer moment when a mind or a worldview is shattered into a thousand irretrievable pieces. Much like all our minds are being boggled at this particular moment in history. I hope, as I am sure we all do, that much long-term good can come from the testing times we are going to face over the next year. In general, the feedback has been beyond what I expected, not just in terms of reviews but from friends and fans singing its praises too. The song you mentioned has hit home with a number of other people too, as it’s an up-tempo riffer that doesn’t surprise me so much, it’s more when something of a gentler ilk like The White Witch gets a mention that I am surprised, as I know we were going out on a limb with tracks like that.
How different is it now for the band being on stage compared to the early years?
Maybe there is an internal confidence that just comes out of being more at ease in your own skin as you live and grow, maybe it feels a little less frantic on the whole. I know I have much more confidence in my voice holding out and that was always a source of anxiety as a youngster. We did a show in Stereo a few years back where I actually felt an almost identical excitement to some of our very early breakthrough shows. That was a lovely experience as sometimes you may feel these things are in the past and, although there is still enjoyment, it has different more subtle flavours.
And how was the process of writing Ape Confronts Cosmos compared to the three previous albums?
The wonderful thing about the last two albums is our freedom to do as we please without any external pressure. Along with all the excitement of being on a major label and touring a lot, as we were in the mid 90s, there were pressures from record companies and pressures from our own expectations that often took the shine off certain moments. I know many bands who were way more successful than we were felt these same pressures and flogged themselves with unflattering comparisons with their contemporaries. Ape Confronts Cosmos was written when I had the time and more importantly the inclination. I took the very deliberate stance that even if I had a few free days I wouldn’t force anything, I would wait until a natural burst of enthusiasm created its own flow.
The band teamed up with students from the University of the West of Scotland to document live footage of your latest single, Run Towards the Roar, and also on the full film from Glasgow Oran Mor. How do you feel the collaboration worked and will you be working more with those students?
The team that was assembled by the college and the effort they put in was really something to behold. Our old friend Billy Kinnear is head of their creative departments and I had shared my idea of doing some kind of recording of this nature, but to be honest he took my vision and blew it up to 10 times the productions I thought we would manage. It was a phenomenal experience for the band, fans and students alike. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude for setting us up with this archive of this moment in the bands history.
You play a hometown show at Glasgow Stereo on Friday 3 April, but does the band have any full touring plans for the album?
Full touring is not really an option these days and this was a big part of the motivation to do the live archive mentioned above. We will continue to do gigs as often as we can manage and when they feel like the right opportunities. Given the current situation I don’t know what will come of the things we have booked just now. If we can play, and we are not putting anyone’s health at risk, then we will. Plotting a path with virtue and consideration through this next year is going to be a challenge that everyone, everywhere on the planet will face, it would seem.
We have a lot of readers from around the UK and also in Europe, so when will they be likely to see Baby Chaos near them?
Hmmmm … YouTube may be safest 😊
One last question for you Chris; where does the title of the album come from and what is the meaning of it?
I heard Sam Harris (American philosopher, author and neuroscientist) use this phrase on his podcast and it stuck with me. I googled it as I assumed it was a thing, but was amazed there was no real return. So, Sam Harris can assume full credit. As to the ‘meaning’ of an ape confronting the cosmos, this is what we are all up to … is it not? All trying to figure it out, all making our own meanings or buying into the ones we are told to some degree or another. The most curious among us keep it going to the last breath and hopefully pay close attention most of the way there 😉
We would just like to thank Chris for taking the time out to chat with us and also wish the band all the best with the album. The band are due to play Oran Mor on the 3rd of April and a few shows around the UK but these are not looking good with the recent restricions put in place to the virus. As soon as we have details regarding these shows and any announcements we will release them on our website and social media channels.
More information regarding the album and tour dates can be found here
Baby Chaos – Ape Confronts Cosmos – Album review can be found here