So Emperor Chung, for those people who haven’t heard your music yet, how would you describe your sound?
We’re big on melody with lots of dual guitars, solos and vocal acrobatics with a sinister edge of heaviness every now and again to keep ya guessing. A nice cold fruity cocktail that every now and again tastes like it has absinthe in it.
What’s the story on how you guys came together to form a band?
Dan: Me and Danny left our previous band and wanted to do something more akin to our influences and also something that we could inject a bit of humour/fun into. We knew Eddie from the local band circuit so we got him in on drums, we wanted some epic dual guitar harmonies so we knew a generic rhythm guitarist wouldn’t cut the mustard – so we recruited the beastly Richard Shaw. We were a bit stuck for a vocalist so we advertised for quite a while, tried quite a few out and one week at practise this skinny posh sounding bloke turned up and it not only sang but belted it out!
Your self-titled debut album is about to hit the shelves and there seems to be a strong lyrical theme running through it. What story are you telling?
The story of a vengeful penguin…….of course! Chico Chung’s father was the Emperor of all penguins before Emperor Gillette of China got jealous and killed him off. The rest of the story is about Chico avenging his father by working his way through the Chinese zodiac of animals slaying and gathering info until he comes face to face with the Chinese Emperor who slayed his father.
Who’s responsible for the name Emperor Chung and the whole ‘Chico Chung’ story concept?
Download Festival! A few years ago, Dan and Danny we’re wrecked at Download so we we’re making up random words for things – Chung was the word we made up for the line between sunburnt and unsunburnt skin (We know that’s just a tan line but we were wrecked!) along with a load of other words that later became working titles for all our songs. Anyway when we got together to create a new band the question of what shall we call ourselves popped up. I said “Why don’t we call ourselves something random like “Emperor Chung” and the rest is history. With the concept – being called Emperor Chung helped with the oriental theme and Danny loves penguins so an hour later and the basic concept of a penguin fighting against the chinese zodiac culminating in a battle with a parasitic moustache wearing man was only natural.
Creatively how do you work as a band? Who writes the songs?
With the exception of “Victory’s Calling” Danny Beardsley wrote all the music and Martin wrote all the lyrics. Danny is a beast at songwriting and even before we had a drummer, vocalist or second guitarist he was pumping out quality tracks at pace with every instrument recorded on his Mac. When we did recruit the rest of the band this made it so much easier than if we had nothing. Once Danny’s written the tracks we kinda practise them lots and they evolve naturally with everyone adding their own flair, some more mental solos and lead work from Rich and beast drum fills from Eddie. Martin goes away and fleshes out the story with the lyrics and vocal melodies and always comes back with something cracking.
The production on the album is immense, who did you work with to create the album?
That’s all down to the hard work and patience of Alex Cooper at Arkham Studios! We had such an awesome time recording it was a bit sad when it came to an end really. We all gelled well in the studio together, like he was another member of the band and we think that’s why it sounds as great as it does!
There’s a strong visual element to Emperor Chung, who’s your artist?
Daz Lawson of Binger Creative. He’s a local artist who’s in a couple of bands aswell, totally radical dude and a talented bastard! When we first started the band we all sat round with Daz and just emptied our brains of random ideas and he captured them perfectly.
There’s something very ‘Big Trouble In Little China’ about the artwork and logo. What are your favourite films?
Ha ha..We’re all film geeks to be honest so we have a massive range of films we love. Forrest Gump, The Great Escape, Goodfellas. Downfall, V for Vendetta, Hot Fuzz, Aliens, Kill Bill, Interview with the Vampire, Almost Famous, Waynes World, The Exorcist, Battle Royale. On a Saturday night it’s whichever wank horror film we think will piss off Hev the most from the darkest of Netflix’s corners.
What are your individual musical backgrounds?
Dan: I started off in a punk-ish band at school then joined metal band Isolysis – met Danny through when he joined a few years later, then we both left and beasted out the Chung.
Danny: I started playing guitar at the age of 9 after witnessing a performance of “Old MacDonald had a farm” and has been obsessed ever since. At the age of 15 I was Brian May in a Queen tribute band! Then after playing for several other bands joined Isolysis where I met Dan and the brotherhood of the Chung was born. Not a day goes by that I don’t pick up my guitar. You could say I’m obsessed.
Rich: I started playing guitar at 11 after years of begging my parents for a guitar. Began with Metallica, Queen, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin, and then on to heavier bands like Disturbed, Slipknot and Stone Sour. At 18, went to The Academy Of Contemporary Music where my tastes diversified into blues, funk, country, soul and musical theatre. Get a little cranky if I don’t play and listen to music on a daily basis.
Martin: Music’s always been a huge part of my life, I grew up listening to a wide variety of genres like new wave, funk, blues and jazz. But when I started learning guitar to accompany my voice I was big into rock acts like Manic Street Preachers and Nirvana, and later on into heavy metal like Machine Head and System of a Down, and prog such as Opeth and The Mars Volta. Sang in several bands while studying music at Derby University and since I graduated been gigging regularly as a singer-songwriter to develop my voice, my biggest vocal inspirations are Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell and Myles Kennedy.
Eddie: Started playing drums and guitar when I was 11, after watching a show at school n thought who is cooler, the guitarist or the drummer!?! So I did both! And in later years join a band as a drummer and decided ‘this one is for me’. Early influences include; Blink 182, Green Day, Stereophonics and the old classics like led Zep and Jimi Hendrix! Nowdays it’s bands like Black Stone Cherry, Alterbridge, Dark New Day, Audioslave, Egypt Central… And the list goes on! My top two favourite drummers are John Bonham and John Fred Young.
And what about your influences?
We all have a massive range of bands we listen to so its a bit crazy…..or eclectic lets say. Coheed & Cambria, Queen, Big Wreck, Thin Lizzy, Opeth, Tesseract, Eric Johnson, Alterbridge, the list goes on. Between us we seem to span the genres to be honest. We appreciate great songwriters whatever the genre. We’re all music geeks so we listen to almost anything and everything. We do all have different tastes though and that definitely comes through in our individual performances on the album and on stage.
If you were sent on a one-way mission to Mars and could only take one album with you for company, what album would you each choose?
Danny: No hesitation. Albatross by Big Wreck. I bloody love that album.
Dan: Panopticon by Isis – It’s brutally heavy but also relaxing at the same time, it’s also a concept album about surveillance which would be quite fitting.
Eddie: You will never guess in a million years……….. Oh, ok you did! Blackstone cherry- black stone cherry. Because is raw and pure southern rock music at its best beast of an album!!
Martin: Fuck. Evil question!! So many amazing records in the world… I’m gonna have to go with Still Life by Opeth. My mind will probably change halfway to Mars haha.
Richard: I hate this question. ‘A Night At The Opera’ by Queen is the first one that popped into my head at this time. This will possibly change every day until we actually leave for Mars!
Your fanbase is growing rapidly but what demographic are the biggest Emperor Chung fans?
According to Facebook stats; males between 18-34 but actually we have been pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of people that like our music. Girls and boys, young and old. Also its been cool that our fans seem to vary from metalheads to hard rockers to prog rockers to indie kids. Generally we would say fun happy people that appreciate awesome music! 😛
Which of the songs on the album are proving a fan favourite and are they the same ones that you enjoy playing live the most?
I think so far a lot of people love our opener “I Vow This Day” which is good cos it’s probably going to be our next single and video! “Free At Last” is always a favourite as that brings the set and story to an epic conclusion.
What’s next for Emperor Chung? Will there be a sequel to the story?
YES! We’re going to spend a lot of time promoting and touring this album first though, we’ve put a huge amount of effort into making this the album we wanted to make so we’re going to be doing all we can to make sure people hear these tunes and love it before starting work on the sequel!
Finally who would you like to thank for bringing the Emperor Chung story to the point you’re at now?
First off the rest of the band
Hev our totally radical Manager/Cook/Fwend
Alex Cooper – Producer of Doom
Daz Lawson – Legendary Artist
Plus gotta thank people like your good self that are giving us the chance to get our random name and story out there! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!