Chase Atlantic Are Bringing Truth Back to Pop Music: ‘No Filters, No Sugarcoating Anything’
As a writer, it doesn’t take long to stop thinking that emotional intelligence and age are directly proportional. Thought runs deep and free despite the number on someone’s driving license. Yet, the kind of organic, wholesome excitement that paints Mitchel Cave’s voice is something that comes with complete and utter youthful confidence. Discussing Chase Atlantic’s new album Phases over the phone, Mitchel — lead vocalist of the Australian alt-pop trio also consisting of his brother Clinton Cave and friend Christian Anthony — speaks from a place of delightful cognizance, giving the band’s unique voice an equally focused vision.
Chase Atlantic started as a university project when Clinton recruited Mitchel and Christian to record and produce an album for school. That eventually became Dalliance, the group’s debut EP. Then came their release Nostalgia, containing the viral track “Friends,” which is largely considered the group’s breakout song. Four more EPs preceded their eponymous debut album, but the group had set their tone much sooner, carving out a space among fans that only they could fill.
Chase Atlantic are both tethered to the ground and floating up in space. Their lyrics delve into the unlikable parts of your psyche, bringing to life things and people and mistakes you’d rather forget, all brought to an addictive saxophone crescendo courtesy of Clinton. It’s a lethal, seductive combination you will only “know once you taste it.” According to Mitchel, part of the reason for music this visceral and borderline unhinged at times is that the trio runs pretty much on instinct.
“Some songs in the first album sounded a certain way because they were made at a certain time in our lives. That's why it was such a big mix of darker and heavier songs,” he shares. “I think we were in a different place for this new album. It all accidentally represents how we were feeling in that exact point of time.”
As the band prepare for a new album era, gradually making a musical shift and embarking on a world tour that will thrust them headlong into the global spotlight, Mitchel opens up about Chase Atlantic’s future musical direction, the pros and cons of isolation and why they’re not going to sugarcoat their pop music for you.
You started touring properly in 2017. What is your upcoming tour going to be like?
I think this tour in general is going to be the biggest and most exciting tour we've ever done. Just now, looking at the stage production and all the lighting and stuff that we've done. I think it's going to be a whole ‘nother experience and adventure. It's going to look insane. It's going to be a whole show to remember.
Tell me about Phases. What's about?
Well, “phases” in general, it's a very broad term. The song itself is about going through different phases, but the album is kind of space-themed. You get that vibe from it, like a spacey vibe. So, phases, like, the way the moon comes in phases; the way that we go through phases as human beings — ever changing and ever growing.
If I had to describe it in one word, I would say it's surprising, because it's a departure from your previous work. Was that a conscious choice?
I think it was conscious and also subconscious. Like, we didn't intend for it to sound drastically different to our old music, but it kind of happened that way. And it happened so organically, I think we didn't try and fight it.
What was the general mood like when you were working on this album?
We were very isolated. We had just come back from touring for that whole year, and we weren't sure what to do. Back home, we started making all the instrumentals — back in our old house, where we grew up in Cairns (Australia). There weren't that many people there. You can't really do a whole lot of things, so all we'd do is sit and make instrumentals every day that we knew we were gonna blow up to an album.
Does the isolation have an effect on creativity or does it send you into overdrive?
Both. It can make you a little... it's like, no one else can tell you that it's good enough. It can make you a little crazy, because no one is there inspiring you. No one is there to say, “Hey, this is a good idea, that's not a good idea...” You literally just have to decide within yourself what the right decision is. That can always be a little difficult when you're isolated because you have zero feedback. There is no feedback; you just truly have to follow your gut instincts, which is what we did.
It must have an effect on the dynamic between the three of you. Does it make the trust stronger?
Yeah, we don't have to depend on anyone to do anything. Because we make it all ourselves. We don't have to rely on a producer or an engineer. We can do it all ourselves and I think we're at that point where we're all so in sync, we can kind of figure out what the right decision is together.
How have you maintained that dynamic?
I think friendship. Above everything, we try and hold our friendship at the closest level. We all kind of influenced each other growing up so much that we don't really have, like, too far left or too far right in opinion when it comes to anything. We're all very locked on the same kind of thing. So, it happened organically. You don't have to force anything. At some point, if one person disagrees on something then we all disagree.
Why did you think the material on Phases would be a good follow-up to Don’t Try This, or do you not think of your albums as a continuation of one another?
In some aspects, yes, but I think it's a whole different project. Don't Try This was very honest, expressive and kind of up-tempo. But this album was whole new. It's like a brand new era. So Don’t Try This was like the bridge between our older music and our new music. It was like a transitional period.
This is your second full-length album. How do you think your artistry has developed since the first one?
Because we produce all our music, it's important not to stray all the way; we have to keep some kind of similarities. It's all about the vibe. We just make music based on how we're feeling, and we know whether it sounds cool. It's like a gut instinct, like fashion sense. You know what looks good on you, and you know what doesn't look good. So you make those decisions based on how you feel and how the music makes you feel and what kind of emotions they evoke.
We went as hard as we could on this album, and threw together as many cool songs as we could, but we still followed a similar pattern. We followed a true story line, true emotion, and we didn't force anything.
You said you want to pivot the angle from which pop culture is viewed and ultimately digested through Phases. Can you elaborate on that?
We want to take pop music as a whole, as a dignified genre, and change it so it's digested in a very mature, organic and honest way. A lot of pop music that we grew up on isn't very honest: there's like five songwriters, and five producers, and the singer doesn't even know what they're singing about because they didn't write the song. We want to make it true — true pop music, with our honest stories. No filters, no sugarcoating anything. We just want to keep it raw as possible while still giving you that feeling that you get from pop music.