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
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.
?I wanted to find somewhere in a forest or somewhere where we'd be split off from any
distraction or outside influence for three and a half weeks,? says Coyle. ?He found this place
out in the desert of El Paso in South Texas. The story of the ranch is pretty crazy, it's right on
the Mexican border and there's a history of arms running and drug running but the ranch is
now a pecan farm so he makes his money from that and puts it into buying insane vintage
gear. It was this old ranch building they'd turned into a studio and anything you ever want is
there, vintage guitars, mandolins, baby pianos, everything was there. We were able to go there
and completely lose ourselves in the middle of the desert for almost a month. The experience
was pretty mind-altering in a lot of ways, it maybe even widened the sound a little more. You
opened the door and all you could see was desert. It was completely insane. When we had
a bit of time off the owner of the ranch came down and made us fire guns into the desert to
make us feel Texan.?
Between taking pot-shots at cacti, The Chevin recorded thirteen songs, working relentlessly on
getting the perfect Peter Gabriel drum sound for ?Dirty Little Secret' and luring in local members
of the El Paso Philharmonic Orchestra to add strings to the ever-expanding pop monster that
was ?Champion', the song that would become the lead track on their debut EP that October.
They emerged with a ?very rich, ambitious album? that may well kick-start a revival in properly
produced rock. ?It's quite rich sonically,? Coyle explains, ?and that's something that's coming
back more and more over the last year, which is good. Maybe it's a reaction to how easy it's got
to make music on a computer in your bedroom. It's nice to hear so much music recently where
you can tell it's recorded in a studio and the takes are live and there's some thought that's gone
into the sound, it's not just a plug-in.?
The album certainly turned ears. Fierce Panda heard it and offered them a record contract,
starting with the ravenously received ?Champion EP'; US contacts heard it at Stateside
showcase gigs and built an American team around them; The Airborne Toxic Event heard it
and took them on the road around the UK for a month; The Pigeon Detectives heard it and
offered them a 16-date tour of Europe at the start of 2012, sharing their tourbus. And White
Lies heard it, came down to catch them on their UK headline club tour towards the end of 2011
and invited The Chevin to support them on their winter arena tour, culminating at Wembley
Arena: ?an amazing experience. It was weird, once we were onstage and the place was pretty
much full, it's one of my favourite gigs ever. It's great as a support band but as a headliner I'm
sure it's better. It's something to tick off on the list.?
So even before their show-stopping performances at SXSW 2012, The Chevin were being
given glimpses of the big time. All that remained was to put the finishing touches to their
immense debut album ? the shimmering, propulsive, organ-drenched centrepiece and title
track ?Borderland', an Arcade Fire-esque epic recorded at Shain's LA studio early in 2012 but
inspired by the El Paso recording stint that brought out Coyle's inner Springsteen/Morricone.
?Where the studio is situated, it sits right on the Mexican/American border,? he says. ?You can
literally walk for five minutes and hit the big black fence that Cheney put up a few years ago.
The song can be taken a couple of ways. When I wrote it it was a little bit about the border
war, the almost moral war that goes on at that and many other borders around the world, but
subconsciously it was about coming through a period and being re-awoken.?