FOCUS // A quick chat with Erick Hansel from CHON

The laid-back Oceanside, Californian math-rockers, CHON just released their latest self-titled album on June 7th and it is easily the four instrumentalist’s most mature and widely accessible album to date. The album features the signature guitar playing of Erick Hansel and Mario Camarena; technically complex yet undeniably groovy. Drummer Nathan Camarena and bassist Esiah Camarena compliment Mario and Erick’s playing with an equally impressive yet danceable rhythm section. From the dreamy chords of “Dead End” to the moody polyrhythms of “Pitch Dark” CHON showcases their ability to deliver a unique blend of math-rock for everybody (case in point: I moshed between an Anderson.Paak fan and a Don Caballero fan during their show in Richmond, VA). The reason for such broad appeal on this latest album may be explained by Mario Camarena’s statement, (found in The Noise blog), that the band wanted to write with more “simplistic” song structures in order to appeal to “people who maybe don’t listen to this style of music”. Mario’s shredding counterpart, Erick Hansel gave me his perspective on how this exciting genre-blending new album is allowing CHON to connect with fans across the world.

FB: What was the songwriting process like on this album?
Erick Hansel (guitar): This time we tracked the guitars and most the effects ourselves. We had been getting gear for a while to be able to do that so it was sick to finally be able to. And songwriting felt easier because we could track in the comfort of our home studio. We wanted to do different stuff on this record and i feel we achieved that.

Do you have any thoughts on what kind of “peace” you hope for, in reference to the “i hope peace.” statement at the beginning of the “Peace” music video?
Hope for inner peace and spread it around. Help each other out.

FB: So was there a specific moment that inspired this song?
It’s one of those inspirational quotes that motivates you when you’re feeling off. At least that’s what I gather from it. As for a specific moment, not really. More like multiple moments that meet the benefit.

How do you feel that culture and music are connected?
Some cultures have a distinctive sound musically. But it’s the individual that can appreciate music in all types. I feel like in our time, everyone is starting to be influenced by music from around the world. We’re more connected.

What are your thoughts on starting out as a DIY band from Oceanside, California to now being able to share a musical connection with fans from Asia and Europe?
Starting as a band that played to practically no one for years and to where we are at now is awesome. The travel and performances are an impactful journey for us and for the fans/listeners. I notice that music can change things sometimes. It can pick you up or express those feelings when you need it the most. Whosoever you are.


What are some of your biggest musical influences and favorite artists?
This band called Estradasphere is one of our biggest influences. Aside from being great artists they have humor in their songs. Other bands from Meshuggah to Hiromi Uehara have been very influential.

What is your favorite song on the new record and why?
I like “Cloudy” because its got a good mix of shred and groove. Although “Spike” is cool as well because it’s like our old stuff.

Was there a specific feeling you wanted this record to have?
A more somber vibe on this new one. Gloomy and groovy.

Since the new album, and most of your music, is instrumental, how do you express your emotions without words?
Music is a good outlet for expression. Especially when you’re introverted.

If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?
Collab with Flying Lotus or Toro y Moi would be sick. We already listen to their stuff a lot.

Do you have any advice for DIY bands?
Keep writing and playing. Don’t stop.

a1369708735_10CHON’s self-titled album is out now. You can follow their tour dates across Asia and Europe here and purchase their album on their website here.