From panoramic vistas from the peaks of stately Yorkshire ridges to drug-running ranches in the deserts of Texas, The Chevin are a band steeped in natural grandeur. They’re a band who grew up relishing the magnificent swathes of moorland stretching from York to Leeds visible from atop the hill overlooking their home town of Otley – the geological marvel after which they’re named – and instinctively destined to recreate the wonder of it in music.
“Otley sits in a valley in Wharfdale and the hill on one side of the valley is The Chevin,” singer and songwriter Coyle Girelli explains. “I like the romance of naming ourselves after something so local and personal, and at the same time it creates an image of being stood on the edge of a ridge or a cliff looking out. If you go up into the hills, you can see all the way to York on one
side and as far as the eye can see on the other. When you write without being contrived you’re directly influenced by your surroundings and growing up in a place with such a wide landscape we naturally go towards that sort of feeling.”
As a teenager, roaming the tiny market town of Otley in The Chevin’s shadow with a head full of Nirvana, Oasis and The Beatles, Coyle had a soundtrack to his life spooling constantly through his head. “I was constantly singing music to myself when I was playing, everything always had a soundtrack attached. I guess it was a natural place I was heading, I was constantly writing melody and words for as long as I can remember, without realising. Nirvana was the first
thing that made me want to be in a band. The first album I got was ’In Utero’ and I remember listening to it all the way through, and Nirvana strike a chord with a lot of teenagers but it really spoke to me personally. I’d loved other music but that was the first time that something had hit deep. After that I bought ‘Nevermind’ and I was hooked. The idea of being in a band was
something that was formed from really getting deep into the songs, really starting to analyse the songs and the words.”
Surprisingly, Otley proved to be a hotbed for 90s-inspired rock hopefuls, and Coyle and his guitarist schoolmate Mat Steel began writing and playing in a variety of musical incarnations from the age of 12, eventually graduating to the lively live scene of Leeds. It wasn’t until the start of 2010, though, that Coyle, Mat and their regular bassist Jon Langford chanced upon fellow Otley drummer Mal Taylor and Coyle felt the band was right to record the album’s worth of songs he’d been hoarding for his big push. Enormous rock songs with the clout and sizzle of early U2, The Killers and Coldplay, but also with the cultish edge of Band Of Horses and Arcade Fire. Uplifting desert air punchers like ‘Champion’ and ‘Blue Eyes’, piano-led paeans to nature’s wonders like ‘Beautiful World’, rousing rock wreckages like ‘Drive’ (in which a mourning Coyle fantasises about crashes, both physical and emotional), synth disco stomps like ‘Colours’ and tangled relationship elegies such as ‘Dirty Little Secret’ and ‘Love Is Just A Game’ that hinted at messy affairs and youthful promiscuity. Songs that retained their style and stature while swerving between the defiant and the devastated, a reflection of Coyle’s mindset at the time. “The last few years has been a time of break-ups and I’ve had some close friends pass away as well as family,” says Coyle. “Throughout writing the album, it was a time of loss. ‘So Long Summer’ is a good closer because it sums it up more than any other. It’s an uplifting song but the lyrics are about losing someone close. That sums the album up lyrically – melodically it’s quite uplifting, but the undertone is constantly sad. These songs, personally for me, were very therapeutic, and I hope for other people they are too.”
Demoing the entire album on Coyle’s home studio (recordings The Chevin were so pleased with that they kept many of the original keyboard tracks for the finished album) and using them to lure in a manager, the band concentrated on perfecting their songs in rehearsal rather than playing live and opted for the increasingly fashionable approach of self-financing their debut album and approached LA producer Noah Shain early in 2011 to find them a studio as
dramatic and dislocated as their music and origins required.