Interview – Chil

Ohio indie rockers Chil are celebrating 10 years of making music together with their biggest headlining show to date in Akron. This Kent-based band was formed back in 2007 by brothers, Nick and Ben Batton. They have since added Ian Minnick and Justin Solitro to the lineup. In 2012, the band released their debut album Only Good Karma and have been growing ever since. Chil released Keep Us From Sinking in 2014 and No Sleep, No Silence just this past year. The anniversary show will be on April 9th at the Akron Musica. Learn more about the band from their questions and be sure to check out Chil’s music and find tickets at the website below.

Chil August 2016 portrait session.

Three words to describe the band?

Nick: Dynamic, Complex, Introspective


What is the story/meaning behind the name, Chil?

Nick: Ben and I have played together when we were very young and when we were making our first poster Ben hand drew it. The last ‘L’ didn’t have enough room to fit on that original poster. Neither of us are really sure where the name Chil actually came from because it was so long ago!


Who and what influences your music? Why?

Nick: In the beginning we listened to a lot of Green Day and Blink 182. So a lot of our early stuff reflected that sound. The first two EPs dealt with a lot of the growing pains of growing up wanting to do this. When we set out to do No Sleep, No Silence there was a conscious decision made to push ourselves. That was the point we realized that we could develop and create our own refined version of alternative music. Austin Bello definitely helped us shape out our sound during that process. Before we went to the studio we met up to talk about what all we could incorporate into that record. I found I took a lot more from Indie and Pop artists than ever before. Austin and Ian tracked a lot of guitars in a very Black Keys like fashion and there was a ton of work with synths and keys. It definitely translates on tracks like “Glass House” and “Back to Me.”

Ian: In terms of other artists, anything from the heaviest metal, to the hardest hitting rap song, to the softest singer songwriter ballad. Except country. But for actual content, experiences from my current life and fictional storytelling are big influences.

Ben: Since No Sleep, No Silence, we’ve taken inspiration from a wide variety of musical styles to make our own sound, comprised of alternative rock, EDM, and indie.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Nick: I don’t have a lot of spare time usually but it’s generally spent watching soccer or hockey. When we travel we play a good bit of soccer together or go to music stores.

Ben: I compete in chess tournaments, write, and do nerd things mostly.

Ian: Creating music/artwork/film, anything outdoors, sports


How often and how long do you practice together?

Nick: We practice at least once a week. About 4 weeks before shows it gets a lot more intense with longer sessions and it goes to 2 or 3 times a week. Chil has the mentality that everything needs to be to a point where you all are so tight playing together that it sounds like you could track it right to the record.


How would you describe your writing process?

Nick: When it comes to the writing process, every time we record it’s actually been a lot different. On Only Good Karma we spent about 6 months doing 15-20 demos and cutting songs from the list about 2 months out from heading to the studio. We knew every piece of those songs top to bottom when we were ready to record. Keep Us From Sinking was done quite similarly in terms of the writing process. The main difference with this EP was that we spent all of our time on those 6 songs instead of writing some excessive amount and cutting down to that.

We had about 5-6 ideas leading up to No Sleep, No Silence but all of them but one were cut. So we wrote that entire EP at the studio and all over the town from like 6pm until about 3 or 4 in the morning. It was basically recording all morning and afternoon and writing all night.

Ben: During the last EP release, most of the music was written on the fly, and we came up with a ton of new ideas during our time in Virginia as the music evolved.

Ian: It’s been different every time, but I think we got the best stuff out of the last style. Basically we all wrote like crazy while we were in the studio as a group and recorded as we went. There are good things and bad things about doing this, but we definitely learned from it.


Can you talk about the inspiration behind your single, “Lionhearted”?

Ben: “Lionhearted” went through a few lyrical drafts before we really found something we were proud of. We wrote a few drafts that didn’t quite fit the tone of the song until Ian said the song had a mafia, gangster feel to it. So we wrote the song with that in mind. The song brings lot of people together and is about rising as a group. The themes of the song of course are mafia related, prohibition era.

Nick: Gangster Squad haha


How is No Sleep, No Silence different from previous releases?

Nick: No Sleep, No Silence was really the first time we made a record that was us. Before that we were so young that we didn’t have a lot of experience writing and producing our tracks. We were also listening to a lot of other music by that point besides our typical pop-punk sound. It lead us to a weird mix of Alternative, Indie, and Dance music.

Ben: I think our music had a huge evolution with the new EP. We’ve managed to created a unique sound for ourselves. I’m really looking forward to where this takes us.

Ian: NSNS is the first release of ours where I feel Chil has found its voice.


What are your favorite tracks to play live?

Nick: “Glass House” is it for me. I think it’s possibly the most progressive song off NSNS and it defines us pretty well.

Ben: My favorite track to play live is “Back to Me.” It’s really easy for the crowd to get into and punches really well.

Ian: “Hiding from the Wolves” might be my favorite track to play because of how badass the song is, and it translates well live. Or “Light up the Dark” because of how amped it can get the crowd.


What do you typically do post-gig?

Nick: We spend a lot of time hanging out with the local bands. If we’re home we will have some bands and friends hang out. Traveling shows are the best because we always go out to a local restaurant with one or more of the bands on the bill that night. For the most part, we only see our friends in bands that are far away 2/3 times a year so we have to make the most of it. Those nights are mostly talking about music we’re working on and catching up on everyone’s lives outside of the bubble we tend to live in.

Ben: First thing we usually do is talk to fans and thank them for coming to see us. We really appreciate everyone who takes the time to come and support us and the local music scene. Afterward, we usually hang out with the other bands.

Ian: Hang out with fans, other bands, friends, or get wasted somewhere. Or just get back and go straight to sleep, kinda depends on the night.


What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as a band?

Nick: Our last CD release we played to just under 300 people (our largest headliner to date). That was actually kind of insane walking out on stage to that and having everyone sing “Lionhearted” just after it had come out. It’s always nice meeting people too, it sounds a bit cliché but as a band we’ve gotten to meet a lot of great fans, see a bunch of cities we never would’ve seen, and gotten the chance to work with some genuinely incredible people. I think personally I don’t always realize what’s going on at the time but when I look back I can say how rewarding and different things were retrospectively.

Ben: I think that finally getting the No Sleep, No Silence disk in our hands was one of the most rewarding experiences. Crazy to think how much work goes into something like that, that I can just hold in my hand.

Ian: I remember after playing a show one time this guy came up to me and said “Dude…the way you played guitar…I don’t know, it inspired me.” I’ve always thought that was really cool because that’s what I think we’re striving for and I have always remembered that as my favorite moment.


Favorite 90’s jam?

Nick: For me it’s going to be “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. It’s just a genuinely great song.

Ben: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith is a quality jam.

Ian: “Jump Around” by House of Pain. THAT SONG GOES


What is something odd you want fans to know about you?

Nick: I’m kind of a neat freak; I label everything unnecessarily. My band mates will say I have a shoe problem. One thing people may not know is I eat a ton of potato chips when I cut vocals on our records.

Ben: I can sing “Nations of the World” from the Animaniacs cartoon from memory.

Ian: I’m studying digital media production. That’s not really odd but I bet you didn’t know.


Bigfoot: real or hoax?

Nick: Real. Don’t let the other guys tell you differently! Ben likes dismantling all of my conspiracy theories.

Ben: Nick’s a madman.

Ian: ITS 2017 WHY ARE THERE STILL PEOPLE LOOKING FOR BIGFOOT. That dude is fake as hell.


What can we expect from Chil in 2017?

Nick: We’ll be announcing a bunch of traveling shows, we’ll be recording again this summer, and everyone will hear a new single before the year is out!

Chil: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

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