Chat Pile and No Coast Fest founder interview each other about noise rock’s current moment, dream reunions & more
Oklahoma City sludge/noise rock/post-hardcore band Chat Pile's debut LP God's Country is quickly becoming one of the year's most widely-loved heavy albums, and one of the band's upcoming dates is Denton, Texas' noise rock-heavy No Coast Fest in October (10/27-30) alongside Young Widows, METZ, Protomartyr, KEN mode, Child Bite, Child Abuse, and more. Ahead of that festival, Chat Pile bassist Stin and No Coast founder Jeff Helland have interviewed each other for BrooklynVegan. They talk about the moment that noise rock is having right now, the possibility of a TAD reunion (unlikely), Jeff's dream booking, Chat Pile's influences, and much more. Read on for their chat...
Chat Pile's Stin interviews No Coast Fest's Jeff Helland:
Stin: Organizing a music festival is clearly a massive undertaking, especially one involving a high concentration of drug addled, anti-social freaks. What drives you to keep this festival going despite the many hurdles, and where exactly do you fall in the DSM-IV?
Jeff Helland: If you ask me that same question during the fest, I’d just make a broad sweep of the arm and smile. But right now, while the stress is at its peak, I couldn’t answer you without a cracked voice and a bit of gargling. But I guess it’s the promise of seeing fans and bands in a small venue enjoying each other’s company.
I have not read the fourth volume of the Digest of Spiritual Margarine. But I suspect I would discover that I worship butter.
Stin: Noise rock seems to be having a bit of a moment right now in the zeitgeist, which No Coast certainly plays a role in. Is there anything else you attribute to this? Quality of bands? Nostalgia cycles? The decline of civilization?
Jeff: I hope it’s not just a moment, but I follow you. I would love to think that No Coast has something to do with it. There have been lots of noise rock bands since the '80s; it's just that there hasn’t been a way to see a large group of bands in one place, for a while. Yes, there were the AmRep bashes (but those are largely gone and were mostly limited to the label), both AmRep and Skin Graft had showcase tours in the '90s and, it’s a stretch, but the early Lollapaloozas had some pretty great bands on the side stages. But nothing like what we are trying to do. There are hotbeds of noise rock all over the world. I’m just trying to connect them in a place that’s cheap to fly to and has decent tour stops on the way down.
Stin: The names attached to the festival become more impressive each year. Any chance we could see one-off reunion gigs, “play a classic album in its entirety” sets or some other form of music geek stunt booking? I guess this is my way of asking you to please get some type of TAD thing going in 2023.
Jeff: I usually send out a handful of Hail Marys every booking cycle. I actually emailed Tad Doyle in 2021 and received a respectful confirmation that the band would not be reuniting, ever. Aside from reunions, I would really love to mix some “stunt” booking in the fest. But that gravy comes with financial backing and/or more confidence in ticket sales. Once we get there, I can book Shellac under a pseudonym to reward the lifers.
Stin: Chat Pile would like to personally thank you for hosting the fest in Denton as opposed to Dallas, America’s most dystopian city. How did this decision come about and do you ever foresee switching locales in the future?
Jeff: First and foremost, Denton has Rubber Gloves. Without Rob, Chad and their staff, this festival wouldn’t happen. Two, the town is full of small and exceptionally well-run businesses. Like, Recycled Records – it’s within walking distance to the festival and you can lose yourself for hours flipping through their bins. There’s a class act guitar shop down the street and a dozen eateries of all flavors. And here’s the kicker, you will not have to get on an elevated road, pay a toll or drive an hour to your hotel. Dallas can suck it.
Stin: Finally, it’s obvious that No Coast is a true labor of love curated and operated by a die hard fan of the genre. What’s the one dream band you wish you could book assuming that money, location or mortality were not an issue?
No Coast Fest's Jeff Helland interviews Chat Pile's Stin:
Jeff: Congratulations on the 4th pressing of God’s Country. Are you considering limiting the number of pressings? Or do you just want to get it in as many hands as possible?
Stin: Thank you! I think the plan is to print as many as people are willing to buy. Lord knows we don’t need to clog Discogs with $300 copies of our record if we can help it at all. Those patient enough will have a field day finding copies in used bins across America once we officially wear out our welcome (which according to my calendar will be in about two months).
Jeff: You’ve got a tour to the East Coast coming up. Can you describe a typical day in the van? Seems like it could be pretty normal, or punctuated by stops at pawn shops and in depth discussions on snack foods. Which might be normal.
Stin: A typical tour day starts with us groggily coming to life at about 9AM. Diner food is a must in the morning as it’s relatively cheap, abundant and versatile enough to not offend any dietary predilections among band members. Then it’s back to the van where Mad Cobra’s “Flex” will be played as loud as our rental vehicle can handle. All our touring up to this point has been across the wide expanses of the southern plains and Midwest, so there’s typically zero time to do anything other than take pee breaks as we zip across God’s mighty interstates trying desperately to fulfill our end of the venue’s arbitrary load in time. We kill the hours mostly by talking about food, infuriating each other with music opinions or drowning out the thoughts in our heads with podcasts. Inside jokes develop quickly and reach a delirious fever pitch by the time we’re close to home. Used bookstores are a must if time ever permits. The day typically ends with someone begging to go to McDonalds at three in the morning on the way to wherever we’re sleeping.
Jeff: There’s been a lot of chatter about one of your stated influences (and we won’t bring those up here). What are a couple bands or artists that are less “obvious?” Or some that are potentially more polarizing?
Stin: Well, we loudly wear our influences on our sleeve, so I don't think there's going to be too many surprises for people. The obvious ones are Jesus Lizard, Big Black, TAD and Head of David. But we also like to draw from slimier extreme bands like Godflesh, Gorguts, Demilich, dISEMBOWELMENT, Morbid Angel and other wonky OSDM bands. Raygun’s a big Pere Ubu and Xiu Xiu fan. Sonic Youth might literally be the only band everyone in Chat Pile can agree upon loving. We’re all in our 30s and grew up in rural Oklahoma, so we’ll never not draw influence from '90s alt rock radio (the only cultural lifeline that existed at the time).
Jeff: When people ask me for new music recommendations, I always grab your releases. What songs do you feel accurately represent the band? Are there any songs that point to the future sound of Chat Pile?
Stin: The band always talks about Rat Boy being the penultimate Chat Pile song, but it’s algorithmically our least popular one, so who knows! We’re wrapping up a split release right now with a couple songs that lean into the more alt-rock side of the band, reflected in songs like “Anywhere” and “Pamela”. The songs we’re starting to prep for LP 2 are skidding hard into ass beating territory. We’ll always try to throw some surprises in the mix if only for the sake of entertaining ourselves.
Jeff: I met the band a couple years ago and was just stoked to see you play. It’s one of the highlights of No Coast. What have been some of your favorite performances?
Stin: Thank you for the kind words and thank you for having us at No Coast. You're actually one of the first people to ever reach out to our band and be supportive in a structural, meaningful way with inviting us to play - we'll always appreciate that! Tongue Party's set in 2020 is something that comes up all the time at Chat Pile HQ. It was just so relentlessly intense, but in the most joyful way. It really made an impression on us. Bummer is also always so fun to watch and we were all danging out to Psychic Graveyard's set last year as well. No Coast is such a great experience all around, barring the one drunk weird elderly noise rock scenester dude from Minneapolis who hones in on Raygun the second he walks through the door ha ha.
Chat Pile's upcoming tour dates include two sold-out joint release shows with Scarcity at Brooklyn's Saint Vitus Bar on October 21 & 24, with Psychic Graveyard also on both dates and Couch Slut on night one. All dates are listed below. Full No Coast lineup and tickets here.
God's Country is out now via The Flenser.
Chat Pile -- 2022 Tour Dates
September 10 ICT Fest Wichita, KS
September 11 The Whittier Bar Tulsa, OK w/ Nerver, Big Hand Big Knife
September 15 The Sanctuary Oklahoma City, OK w/ Glassing, Alumnus, Speak Memory, Grandpa Vern
October 22 Karl Hall Wilkes-Barre, PA w/ Planning for Burial, The Scoleri Brothers
October 23 Underground Arts Philadelphia, PA w/ Planning For Burial, Orphan Donor
October 21 Saint Vitus Bar Brooklyn, NY w/ Scarcity, Psychic Graveyard, Couch Slut
October 24 Saint Vitus Bar Brooklyn, NY w/ Scarcity, Psychic Graveyard
October 30 No Coast Fest Denton, TX w/ KEN mode & more