Chamberlain break down every track on their classic ‘Fate’s Got A Driver’ for 25th anniversary
Chamberlain continue to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their classic album Fate's Got A Driver this year. The album came out in a time of transition for the band; it was originally released in 1995 when they were still called Split Lip, and then a revamped version came out in 1996 after they changed their name to Chamberlain. They followed it in 1998 with The Moon, My Saddle, which saw the band transitioning from emo to alt-country, and then broke up in 2000. Their breakup was followed by a collection of previously unreleased material and a retrospective double LP, and then the band finally reunited and put out Red Weather in 2020.
Fate's Got A Driver was celebrated with a tribute album featuring covers by Dashboard Confessional, Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, and more, and a 25th anniversary vinyl reissue has come out too. Reflecting on the album, guitarist Adam Rubenstein said:
Fate’s Got A Driver was inarguably the record that set Chamberlain on its ever-winding path, and where we found our collective voice while still incredibly young. I still remember so much youthful naivety — driving through the night to arrive and seeking inspiration from the gravesite of James Dean, David straining his voice so hard that his arms went numb, all of us cackling kids being kicked out of the control room more than once. We were balancing school, different lives, and always on the cusp of calling it quits. It’s miraculous we mustered these 8 songs that have somehow stood the test of time.
Chamberlain have now also give us a track-by-track breakdown of the album and the four bonus tracks that appear on the 25th anniversary edition (including covers of Operation Ivy and Tracy Chapman). Listen to the album below, and read on for the story of Fate's Got A Driver.
1. "Her Side of Sundown"
There was little doubt that this one would become the opener. The crack of Charlie’s snare and that initial high note that David is forced to hit, really ignite the record from the get-go. It’s a short song where no space is wasted. In this era we had a tendency to Frankenstein different sections we wrote into singular songs – but each part feels purposeful in this track. Can also detect some influence from our big brothers in Endpoint. David’s use of the word “boy” in the chorus is likely a result of our fandom at the time.
2. "Street Singer"
I’m almost certain we wrote this just after opening for Shudder To Think in Buffalo. They were just so otherworldly live, and their mastery of “loud/quiet” songs floored us. Safe to say we borrowed some ideas for this one.
3. "Yellow Like Gold"
This one might be the most emo-leaning song on the record melodically and tempo-wise. Although my Police and Andy Summers obsessions at the time creep into the angular bridge section. David is also at his peak poetic powers here. “This is the sound thoughts make, like ballads from the barrel of a gun” is one of my favorite illustrative lines.
4. "Five Year Diary"
We wrote this when we were called Split Lip, and its original song title was actually “Chamberlain.” I remember just assuming everyone in our scene would hate the tune for its slow power ballad approach – and I think in many ways it was a harbinger for our gradual transition into a more rootsy approach to songwriting.
Pearl Jam probably sunk into our collective subconscious when penning this one. They were just everywhere at the time and impossible for them not to have had an influence. Originally a demo version of this song appeared on a one-sided 7-inch included in an issue of Anti-Matter Fanzine. Pretty certain the title was borrowed from an exit sign for Uniontown, IN, along highway 65.
6. "Surrendering the Ghost"
This track is the most ambitious of all the songs and a bear to play. My first true musical obsession was metal, particularly thrash. So much of the genre had all these melodramatic classically influenced moments. I suppose the voicings, and in particular the intro was borrowed from that tradition.
7. "Drums and Shotguns"
The band had called it quits at some point in high school, and this was the first song we wrote after we reconciled our differences. I always found David’s lyric “This is my refuge, awake” befitting for that reason. It was certainly comforting to return to making music in our insular tight-knit group. Creatively this was a leap for us, as we drifted away from palm-muted power chords to more intricate guitar voicings and strummy big choruses.
8. "The Simple Life"
Wrote this one alone with David at the band’s isolated rehearsal cabin in Brown County, IN. We affectionately referred to the place as “Big Brown”— an obvious homage to The Band. We stayed up late borrowing fragments from several poems. Admittedly some words remained in the final lyrics. Recording a fully acoustic song seemed like a such a risk at the time in our loud scene, which feels ridiculous to contemplate now. It wasn’t quite “Dylan goes electric” level uproar, but we certainly enjoyed any grumblings the song may have generated.
"Talkin' Bout a Revolution" (Tracy Chapman cover)
This song by Tracy Chapman despite its gentle instrumentation has always felt like the perfect punk song. It’s specifically 4 chords and a message of rebellion. Adapting it live way back as Spilt Lip came so easily for us.
This is a re-recording of this particular B-side (and the second time it didn’t make an album). The first time we recorded this song two years prior, it was supposed to be included on “For the Love of The Wounded,” but due to a production snafu was omitted from the CD. A colossal blunder as the song title appears in the printed track-listing.
"Unity" (Operation Ivy cover)
Operation Ivy was loved by all of us, and this cover was always a big hit at shows. Our tour manager Matt Reece sings one of the verses. Just a fun time in the studio. We got wind Tim Armstrong played this once on his radio show which is a huge honor.
"Magnetic 62nd (Live in London)"
I had two goals set in my mind when we became more active around 2018. One was to make a new record (which we did in 2020 with Red Weather) and the other was to return to Europe and the UK again (which we finally made happen in 2019). This one was recorded on a handheld field recorder at London’s Seabright Arms—a sweaty basement club on the northeast side of the city. "Magnetic 62nd" was a song written just after the completion of Fate’s, so feels like it almost belongs on the LP.