June 9, 2010 | The Grog Shop | Cleveland, OH
Photos by John Danner
John and I had been pumping ourselves up for this show for weeks. I picked him up behind his apartment and looked at him with an eager grin as he climbed into the passenger seat. “Are you ready?!” I asked. “I’m ready!” he repiled. We drove the 2.5 hours to Cleveland excitedly chatting about music, past and future interviews, and life. When we arrived at The Grog Shop in Cleveland, the line for the show was already out the door and wrapping around the block. Eventually we made it into the dark, red, wide venue where I hunted down Toro y Moi’s tour manager and introduced myself. He informed me Chaz was going on stage in 15 minutes.
"Oh okay, would it be ok if we say hi before they go on? That way they’re not surprised when we walk into the green room after the set?" I asked.
"Sure thing!" He agreed and we were led into the small graffiti-ed bright red green room. I was introduced to Chaz who immediately struck me as lamb-like, timid and kind. He shorter than I first imagined, and gently shook my hand as I greeted him.
"I’ll see you after the set!" I exclaimed as I dorkily waved and stepped back out into the sea of people awaiting the show. John and I excused our way into a semi decent position, much to the disdain of the young short girls behind me who kept making rude remarks about how tall I was.
After the set, John and I worked our way back to the green room and sat down with Chaz, Andy and Patrick…
Chaz: Sorry, I have a cold… my voice is going away.
KP: Well, five weeks on the road… [laughs] I mean…
Chaz: Yeah. I’m not — I’m not contagious or anything.
KP: I don’t know. You sound pretty contagious.
Chaz: I thought I had bronchitis or something. Almost back to feeling 100%. Yeah.
KP: How many weeks do you have left on this tour?
Chaz: This is the second to last day. Third to — well, the second to last day’s over.
KP: Do you get to go home after the next show?
Chaz: Tomorrow’s Knoxville, then Columbia. Yeah, home.
KP: So, how’s it been touring with Caribou for five weeks?
Chaz: It’s been really great. We learned a lot. As a full band.
KP: This is your first tour as a full band, right?
Chaz: Yeah. And this is [the band’s] first tour.
KP: [To Andy & Patrick] This the first time on the road for you guys?
Andy: For me. Besides from just like playing here and there, this is the first, like, real tour.
Chaz: So yeah. I mean. We learned a lot. Like how to, uh, work the band as a business and as entertainment… as entertainers or whatever.
KP: Why the switch to full band? ‘Cause I know you were touring solo for awhile.
Chaz: Playing out with a laptop is sort of like the only thing left to do. I’ve always wanted to, even before like all this started happening, to try to get like a full band together. But I never had the time and there was really no main motivation to get it done. But the tour was pretty much was a good motivator.
KP: I know when you were touring solo, you got everything stolen from at one point. So how did you handle that… did you cancel shows after that?
Chaz: Yeah, I canceled like four shows.
KP: How did you get everything back together?
Chaz: Um, I took loans from my parents.
KP: What about the sounds that you had on that laptop? Did you have to recreate them or did you have them all backed up?
Chaz: I lost some sounds. Some songs like Blessa were sort of messed up for awhile. But I happened to have sent the sample out to someone for a remix, but they never did it, so I asked them back for it.
KP: Touring with a full band, how did you get everything to work so fluidly? I noticed when you [Andy] were drumming; you were always looking at Chaz, keeping up. It seems like it has be hard.
Andy: We use a lot of, like, eye contact. A lot of it’s like not structured exactly. It’s structured, but not like, you know, we don’t do things for a certain amount of time.
KP: What about the live video? Do you sync that up, or is that all randomized?
Chaz: Yeah, it’s just — it’s not really synced up, but… there are like several different animations for it.
Patrick: It was created by a friend of ours. He listened to the set and created it to sort of compliment the music.
KP: A lot of people put you in the genre of chill wave, low-fi, gorilla vs bear-core Do you like being classified in a genre, or do you like creating your own thing?
Chaz: It’s not that I like it or dislike it, I just don’t mind.I mean, I classify bands, so. People just do it to relate to the music. It’s like, Dan… of Caribou? They don’t talk about it anymore, but his first few years they kept calling him folk-tronic. And he’s been around for like two years and eventually that just kind of went away.
Andy: Yeah. The whole chill wave seems to be like everybody’s classified everybody as chill wave.
KP: It’s kind of funny.
Chaz: Yeah, it is.
KP: How old were you when you first started creating music? Did you pick up an instrument or were you always —?
Chaz: Yep. I was about 15 or 16., I got a recorder for my 15th birthday. 15ish.Took me like awhile to sort of get the guts to start recording with it. I mean, like it’s a really simple machine, it’s like a tape… what’s that thing called? I didn’t know where to start.
KP: You just evolved from there?
KP: So, what was the whole concept behind Toro y Moi?
Chaz: There wasn’t really a concept. My thing was I definitely wanted to make sure I didn’t pigeonhole myself. That’s really hard. It’s kind of weird and confusing to some people.
KP: Is your next album going to sound anything like the first?
Chaz: Well, I mean, there’s going to be like similar attributes like melodies… it’s not going to be electronic at all.
KP: So, you going to keep these guys around?
Chaz: [Smiles] Yeah.
Andy: I mean for the recording process, that’s Chaz’s deal.
KP: This the first time I have ever seen you live. I never saw you play solo. There’s a really big difference from the transition from your stereo to the stage, and I kind of like it. It is a whole different experience live than it is when you listen to it.
Chaz: Yeah, that’s what I like. It’s hard to try to play songs exactly like the record. ‘Cause either the live show doesn’t live up to the record, or the record doesn’t live up to the live show. So it’s better to have them as two separate entities.
Patrick: I always think it’s kind of boring when you go to see bands and it’s kind of like they’re karaoke-ing their record.
Suddenly a hand popped thru a hole in the door. I thought it was the 16 year old girl in hot pants I saw giggling and trying into the green room earlier. Chaz, John, the band and I just looked at this pale arm grappling for the knob. Finally, it succeeded and the door opened to reveal Dan and the other two members of Caribou. I geeked out for a hot second and lost my train of thought.
KP: How are you feeling concluding this tour Caribou?
Chaz: Satisfied. I mean, I was talking to a kid about it and he said that we sound a lot better than we did when we first started on tour. And it’s like, inevitable, you know? It’s going to happen. It’s like practicing everyday.
Dan [Caribou]: We can all come up and do it.
Chaz: We what?
Dan: All grab a microphone.
KP: Big party on stage? That’d be a good way to end the tour.
Chaz: You guys playing the state fair song? What’s the secret song today?
KP: No! I don’t want to ruin the surprise! [Laughs]
"Causers of This" is available now through Insound. Chaz and the band are about to take off on a grand European tour. Check out the upcoming shows on Toro y Moi’s Myspace. Also, Chaz has a really cool photoblog.
Thanks to Kristi for transcribing this interview for me! It was a hard one to do!