Towards the end of my conversation with Mitchel Cave, the lead singer of Chase Atlantic, I mentioned that their second album was a reintroduction. He replied, “let’s call it a reintroduction. I’m down with that. I like that.” While their first self-titled album was an accumulation of songs from EPs and took over three years to make, the process for Phases was seamless. It is a product of two short months of ideas and themes that see the Australia trio push themselves into regions of what alternative pop music can be. There’s a little something for everyone of every genre.
As the album is more personal and musically heavy as hinted from the Don’t Try This EP released in January, you can sit back and listen to the album as a whole. The beginning of the album invokes a countdown like a space shuttle launch, ready to take you to where Chase Atlantic has been.
The band put out an EP earlier in January, Don’t Try This. When I listened to it, it seemed like there was more of a precautionary theme.
Yea, I mean, we wanted to make something that would throw people off a little bit. We wanted to push pop to that edge. Conceptually, a lot of the song themes were about enjoying life. At the same time, feeling crazy about life. Feeling a little reckless, you know what I mean? “Like A Rockstar” is a precautionary tale. It’s me saying, “this is what I do, but don’t try this.” That why we named the EP that. This is what we do, but we’re not condoning it.
Going into Phases and listening to that, I felt that a lot of themes bridged between the EP and the album. Perhaps an even bigger idea of Don’t Try This.
Yea, I mean, it’s crazy because you kind of just grow. That’s why we called the album Phases. We’ve been through so many phases. Everyone is going through phases. Everyone. It’s such a broad thing as well. So, we kinda grew from the Don’t Try This EP into the Phases album. We put the album together in under two months. It was crazy. We put our heads down and it was a quickly made album. We just delivered it and produced it so quickly. With such determination.
The sound came naturally, you know what I mean? We started thinking that we weren’t too afraid to make pop music. Pop is what you make of it. We put some R&B feelings in there. We put some rock feelings in there and mixed that all together to come up with something really cool. The process from Don’t Try This to Phases – Phases has some lighter themes, except for a song like “STUCKINMYBRAIN” which is about mental health awareness. The rest of the album is like a journey, man. Like a journey to outer space going around the world and then coming back down.
I noticed there’s a space shuttle theme throughout the album. In the beginning, you’re at takeoff and the album ends coming back down. Whose initial idea was that because Phases is a journey both from a lyrical standpoint and sonically?
That’s where it was. We made all the instrumentals before we made any of the songs. The way we produced the instrumentals, it could literally be a soundtrack of its own. Just like if we were scoring a film. Like if Phases was a soundtrack for a movie. From there, we wrote all the lyrics.
It was cool for this being our sophomore album and conceptualizing it. The first one, we kinda didn’t really know what we were doing. The second album, I feel like you get a little bit more freedom creativity wise. When we were in the studio, we were like, this definitely sounds like a journey through space. Clinton does all the graphic design. He just thought of this whole space theme.
You touched on pop music a little earlier, but there’s a lot of R&B and even jazz. Even some older 90’s R&B flavor. The title is indicative of where Chase Atlantic is now. Not just one genre, but everything.
I have no idea how we did it, dude. Honestly [laughs]! I have no clue. We went into the studio and put our heads down and said, “let’s make an album in a month.” You say that to hype yourselves up. I was expecting so many throwaway songs, but it was some kind of miracle. Destiny or some shit that every single song we worked on, we love and kept. We went to six tracks and then to 12 and was like what? This is sick.
The first song, “Angels.” I really felt that was a good segway from Don’t Try This.
Yeah! It gives a more of a different vibe.
I know that Chase Atlantic has been on the road a lot. For you, especially, touching on a lot of personal themes with love and substance abuse being a precautionary tale. Going into album two, how was it for you personally being on the road and witnessing all these changes?
That changes everything. You go on the road and see things. Just living that lifestyle in general. It looks glamorous, but it could be quite depressing. Everyday going to a new city just constantly sleeping in a moving vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, I love performing for the fans all over the world. We wouldn’t be anything without them. The performing part is so good.
Everything around it..it could be fun when you’re doing the right things, but it could get real dark at times. Get bored at times or you feel stress and anxiety. That kinda shaped a little bit of what’s on the album. It’s the experiences that we have on the road and then some when we come back home. It was different from the first album when we had a 9-5, you know what I mean? Writing these songs, it was special. The first album took about three years to this. Phases is literally about how I’m living right now, our current situation. It was kinda fun… well, I wouldn’t say fun. It was fulfilling to speak honestly on the record and not worry about which songs made the album.
The first single on the album is “Her.” There’s a dichotomy. You talk about all the superficial things with the glamour, but she can’t be loved for a long time. Is that your critique on love now? More on the surface and not as deep?
Yeah! It’s a social commentary on this generation. We’re very disconnected. We’re missing a lot of fulfillment in our lives. We look for it on Instagram or Twitter. Looking for that validation. A lot of us are empty. People look to try to fill that void, that emptiness. They don’t trust anyone to stick around with them. Buying expensive clothing or..it doesn’t even have to be clothing. It could be drugs. It’s toxic. You wanna love someone, but they don’t love themselves.
In a way, it was like a metaphor as well. It’s like a substance that you really shouldn’t be taking.
That’s what I felt when I was listening to both “No Rainbows” and “Heaven and Back.” In “No Rainbows,” there’s a lyric that says, We don’t live the life that we say we do in our pictures.” With “Heaven and Back,” there’s that metaphor again of a girl who takes the drugs to try to feel something, but she’s really hurting inside. You do a good job at painting these pictures. How did it feel processing these experiences?
It’s crazy because we start with “No Rainbows,” because I come from Australia. I had maybe five friends growing up. It was a small group. We kept it real. There was no status or anything like that. It was very simple. For “No Rainbows,” talking about Los Angeles, people back home say “ahhh, it’s so dope that you get to go there. It looks so good!” It’s no rainbows like you have no real friends. They just waste your time. It’s a real statement. It’s about me personally, but it’s for a lot of different people.
There’s “Love Is Not Easy,” where it sounds like where you guys put your own spin on a doo-wop type of song. It touches again on the younger generation, “It’s easier to say we’re just friends/Our generation made us that way.” Where the connections don’t have a deepness to them.
On the album, now that we gained a little bit more time [and] freedom. We gained popularity and got that fan base that people know about us now. We can start to write songs more with conceptual messages. “Love Is Not Easy,” is how our generation is. Instagram ruins everything. Everybody’s in the DMs. It’s like we’re very shallow and afraid of love.
When you released the lyric video for “STUCKINMYBRAIN,” it got a very positive response from fans. With the mental health message that is within the song, I listened to it and knew that a lot of people were going to resonate with it. With hearing all your fans’ stories of their battles, how important was it to make this song a single?
It was important in a general sense because our band is just assumed to be just about drugs and money. People don’t really know us that well. That’s their perception of us. We’re not always talking about it in a glorifying way. We talk about it in a realistic way. I think the single itself, coming off Mental Health Awareness Month, it was to show people that it’s not all going to be catchy songs. There are going to be songs with stories.
“STUCKINMYBRAIN” was written when I was in a pretty dark place. It’s that feeling. You don’t get out of bed. You don’t leave the house. You overthink everything. You can’t even move. You’re literally stuck in your brain and have one thought process that goes over and over. I think it’s important to share that with the fans.
We didn’t start making music to help people, if that makes sense. We did it because it was our outlet. We made music because it was our way to express how we were feeling. I think it’s important to write that personal stuff and to be real honest with it. Then people know it’s genuine. It’s not forced. I’m not telling anyone what they should do. I’m just explaining my situation. If someone is going through the same thing, it could help them.