The Incredible Lightness of Being Chumped

Post Author: Katie Capri

“New York needs to step up it’s bagel game,” says 
Chumped guitarist and lead singer, Anika Pyle, on a day off during a three-week tour. She doesn’t have a problem telling it how it is. As Pyle sits in a dive bar in New York, the city she’s lived in for eight years, she doesn’t mince words—even if those words include unpopular opinions on the city’s signature delicacy. “I had the best bagel I’ve eaten in a fucking decade in Washington D.C. and that’s sad,” Pyle says with sincerity. We’re sitting just yards away from world-famous NYC delis, but as expected, Chumped don’t let context dictate the delivery of their message. “Bullfrog Bagels in D.C. is no joke,” adds bassist Doug McKeever.

Even in lighthearted conversation, Pyle’s direct route from heart to mouth mirrors her style of lyrical delivery: playful but candid. “I regret not quitting my job after college to travel around Europe,” she sings on “Something About Geography,” a cut from their first full-length, Teenage Retirement, released yesterday on Anchorless. “I regret that I never acknowledge what I want but what I think I should…I didn’t know that’s what I wanted until after it was gone.” It’s a bouncy, driving pop song with fuzzed out riffs under Pyle’s crystal clear vocals. “They always say that. They always say it’s what they always say.”

Chumped’s upfront genuineness feels refreshing and familiar, on record and in person. In an era of increasing overstimulation and perfectly posed nonchalance, it feels kind of nostalgic, too. Everything is going to be okay, even if the past or future seem overwhelming — that’s the sentiment running throughout their entire album. Most of the songs grapple with the uncomfortable realization that your behavior hasn’t changed as your age slips nearer to chronologically “adult” life. “We drank and we talked shit and I was happy,” Pyle sings on “Name the Thing”. “Tried so desperately to hold on to the feeling of being young, of being sure, of being lucky. ‘Cause I get down and it’s so easy to feel nothing.”

At the time of our NYC interview, Pyle, McKeever, plus drummer Dan Frelly and guitarist Drew Johnson have been on the road for about two weeks, but they seem like seasoned professionals, unworried and organized. The emotive pop punk crew behave with poise and confidence, not taking anything too serious or too lax. Laughter punctuates their balancing act between load in times, parking logistics and last minute list-spot requests. It’s a few hours before their late show at Mercury Lounge with tourmates PUP and Typefighter, when we meet up to talk tour lessons, genre “revivals” and getting yelled at from car windows.

Tour lessons learned (to date)

Doug McKeever: Sleep as much as you possibly can.

Dan Frelly: Taco Bell now has verde sauce.

Drew Johnson: Also clutch.

Dan: They’ve only ever had Mild, Hot or Fire. Now there’s also verde.

Drew: We’re just trying to live as más as possible.

Doug: Having a solid sleeping pad is no joke.

Drew: I fucked up. I only brought this sleeping bag. We’ve slept on many a hard floor and the pad is crucial.

Anika: And scope out your sleep spot right away, and put your stuff down on it so no one else can claim it.

Drew: We also learned that when you’re in North Carolina, ask the bartender for moonshine.

Dan: When you’re in DC, wear socks or else you’ll get yelled at.

Anika: Yesterday we were in DC and someone yelled at Dan, “Get some socks, bitch!”

Dan: From a car. I was just walking down the street. He pulled over and rolled down his window and was like “Get some socks, bitch.” And peeled out.

Drew: Dan self-assessed and was like, “Damn, he’s kinda right.”

Dan: I was weak in that moment, without socks.

Doug: Also, eat your vegetables.

Dan: Vegetables are crucial.

Doug: It’s really easy to eat like a garbage 13-year old on tour. But that will catch up with you.

We’re just trying to live as más as possible.

Chumped covers from Scott Pilgrim, No Doubt and…a chunk of Kesha.

Anika: At The Fest this year we covered [the band] Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim [vs. the World]. The song was called “Threshold”. It’s during the scene when Sex Bob-Omb battles the two twin dragon video game characters…it’s pretty cool.

Doug: Japanese twin ex-boyfriends.

Drew: In conclusion, it’s dope.

Dan: We did “I’m Just a Girl” by No Doubt last Fest.

Doug: We retired that one though.

Dan: It’s not retired, it’s just taking a nap.

Anika: It’s on hiatus.

Dan: We’ve covered a chunk of Kesha before too.

Drew: We try to keep our covers as poppy as possible.

Anika: I really wanted to cover Avril Lavigne but I got shut down. I have a full year to convince people it’s worth it.

Drew: By “people” you mean the three people surrounding you at this table. [laughs]

Anika: By “people” I mean you guys.

On “Revivals” and pop punk’s second coming

Drew: I think there’s cool stuff happening with punk now. Like when Warped Tour came in the early 2000s, there was this weird push for overtly poppy punk stuff. Now there’s been a push back with that, I feel.

Dan: Actually, I think the opposite. I think people are rediscovering what pop punk means. Pop punk, sorta like emo, was a bad word for a while. Then all of a sudden there was an “emo revival” and emo was cool again. Pop punk was a bad word for a while too. It was a way to put people down, like a jab. And now it’s okay to be a pop punk band. People are rediscovering the roots of it and there’s legitimacy in being a pop punk band and that’s kinda cool. Pop Punk is being redefined.

Drew: As long as it’s genuine. As long as people are being authentic and writing about shit that’s important to them, then fuck it. As long as there’s some soul. There’s so much music that just gets pushed out and regurgitated, you feel nothing.

As long as people are being authentic and writing about shit that’s important to them, then fuck it.

Influences from across time

Drew: Superchunk is a huge influence on all of us.

Anika: Weezer…I listened to a lot of Weezer.

Dan: I know it’s kind of a cliché but we all definitely fell into a 90s rock rut for a while.

Anika: Dan listened to a lot of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. I listened to a lot of Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool and Weezer’s Blue Album.

Dan: We all just kinda like pop punk.

Drew: We all love Swearin’.

Anika: We all started playing together right when their first record came out.

Dan: It was kind of perfect timing because we were all super into that record right when we first started playing together.

Drew: Before that band popped up, I just love the Crutchfield’s.

Anika: Yeah, P.S. Eliot, Bad Banana was so awesome. I guess we had been following them for a while.

Drew: They are extremely talented songwriters plus, when we first moved to Brooklyn from Colorado all that shit was super new. Those were the house shows we went to.

Anika: Yeah and it was inspiring. Like ‘look at this thing going on. This is fucking cool. I want to be a part of it.’

[The Crutchfields] are extremely talented songwriters plus, when we first moved [to Brooklyn] from Colorado all that shit was super new. Those were the house shows we went to.

Releases & missed recording deadlines, “because… punk”

Anika: We really wanted to release it in August but then we missed a whole bunch of deadlines… because… punk, [group laughs] and now it’s coming out in November.

Drew: We though, “okay, we recorded 15 songs total [in April] and we are throwing 12 on the full-length.” So we had some extra B-sides laying around and we wanted those songs to see the light of day. We liked them. So That’s The Thing Is Like… [which came out in August] was just an excuse to release some stuff before the album came out.

Anika: They were definitely in the mix for the record. The acoustic song “Vices”, we liked but we didn’t want an acoustic song on the full-length. “Doubt”, we liked a lot but the way we sequenced it, it didn’t quite make the cut.

Drew: There was a lot of arguing with our record label about putting “Doubt” on the record. The guy who runs Anchorless, that’s one of his favorite songs.

Doug: It came to sequencing, mostly. I know Drew tried like, every permutation of song order available.

Drew: Anika and I went up to a friend’s wedding in Buffalo and the entire ride up and the entire ride back to New York City…

Anika: We just re-sequenced it until we were totally sick of it.

Drew: So, yes, we are absolutely excited to see the record come into fruition.

Doug: And we absolutely got the order right.

Three words to describe each release

Chumped EP: Planless. Directionless. Exciting-Chill.

That’s The Thing is Like… EP: Small. Cute. Better.

Teenage Retirement: Tight As Fuck.

Teenage Retirement
album release shows:

12 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot and Saddle with A Wilhelm Scream, The Holy Mess
13 Brooklyn, NY @ Suburbia with Cayetana, Jeff Rosenstock, Adult Dude & comedy by Chris Gethard
14 Long Island, NY @ TBA with Sad and French, Remnants