For a band on the verge of releasing a new album during a global pandemic, Chase Atlantic is surprisingly chill. It could be that they’ve spent their day at a beach in Los Angeles or maybe it’s just confidence in knowing that they did what they set out to do. When I catch up with two thirds of the band—vocalist/bassist Mitchel Cave and vocalist/guitarist Christian Anthony—a week before release, they’re totally laid back and gearing up for a day of press in anticipation of Beauty in Death, their third full length and first Fearless Records release.
“To be honest, the way we started recording and making music was just in our bedrooms back in Brisbane,” says Anthony. “We’re lucky that we’re all producers, so we just kind of hunkered down and built little studios in our rooms. And then we just kind of went back to our roots, really how we started. So the pandemic, obviously, mentally it was a challenge and for inspiration, it was a struggle at the start but it’s no different to what we’ve always been doing.”
A shift to a new label last year—the band signed to Fearless Records in August 2020—could have meant a stifled creative process but thankfully that’s not the case. “Fearless has been great, letting us do our thing, giving us creative control.” The biggest challenge, they agree, is getting themselves motivated. “When the studio is ten minutes away from your bed, sometimes you can get a little complacent…If anything, it feels more personal than when we’re doing it in the studio.”
“We had to kind of hit the reset button when we started Chase Atlantic.”
No one can say that Chase Atlantic didn’t work hard to get to where they are, giving everything they do one hundred percent. Since 2014, they’ve released a number of EPs, signed with MDDN management, dabbled with major labels (their self titled album was released through Warner Brothers in 2017), went independent, and now they’re embarking on this new era with Fearless.
Before all that, though, Anthony and Cave were, believe it or not, in a boy band. It’s hard to reconcile the stereotypical boy band sound with the alternative-pop-trap-R&B Chase Atlantic has been honing for the past few years but according to Cave, it was a surprisingly easy transition. “It was a pretty shit boy band,” they both laugh. “So we had to kind of hit the reset button when we started Chase Atlantic.” It wasn’t totally worthless, though—being in a boy band, “taught us what an artist shouldn’t be like rather than how it should be. So we took whatever knowledge we gained from that whole experience…and applied it to our musical inspirations and [how] we wanted to sound.”
In addition to these unique roots, they draw inspiration from a wide range of musical acts. Bands they’ve listened to for years—“we actually bonded over Skrillex”—including fellow Australians in Tame Impala and artists like The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Porter Robinson, and Drake. When they find out I’m in Toronto, they banter about how they love all the best Canadians, including Justin Bieber, “and Ryan Gosling, he influences me.”
Something that helps their sound stand out is the tenor saxophone. I can’t be alone in saying that more music needs horns these days (who doesn’t love a good sax solo?) and for Chase Atlantic it was a perfectly natural thing to incorporate. “Clinton (Mitchel’s older brother) can play pretty well and the saxophone is a staple in some really great songs,” says Cave. It’s also something of a tribute to their Australian roots. “It’s like paying homage in a way to INXS and other fantastic Australian bands,” adds Anthony. “Clinton is such a good saxophone player and it’s just another voice to add to the band, an extra secret weapon.”
So how do a trio of Australians find themselves in Los Angeles? “We went back and forth for a little while,” says Cave. “We’d tour America and make some music and then fly back for the holidays.” Last year, they finally found a place to call their own in LA and unfortunately haven’t been back to Australia since the pandemic started. “I’m looking forward to going home when we can.”
I would think that LA would be a whole new world for them and while they admit to being struck by the cultural hotspot when they first started traveling to America, it doesn’t have the same hold on them any more. “I’m not sure if we’re allowed to say this but we were 17, 18, sneaking into clubs here and meeting people…that definitely influenced us a little bit,” Anthony confides. “It’s kind of like a natural growth…It’s more like we’ve used LA and gone past that now and we’re just doing our thing, leading the way.”
“We have no cool backstory for our name but the music’s cool.“
It may come as a surprise given their bold sound—it’s hard to pin down one genre for Chase Atlantic—but Cave describes the band as being “reclusive and kind of introverted by nature.” That being said, if they could celebrate the new release anywhere in the world, it would be Ibiza, hands down. They laugh, imagining how they would “tear it up”, but concede that they’re more likely to celebrate with a few friends. If all goes to plan this week, “we’re thinking of going on a little snow[boarding] trip.”
It’s clear that they live and breathe music, joking that they could be “locked in a cage and we’d still make music”. They’re passionate, ambitious guys, just as keen on being in the studio as they are on putting together live shows that feel more like, “experiences…not too guitar-bandy”. They dream of playing sets at Brazil’s Rock in Rio or a tour leg in Asia or maybe even a stint at Coachella. And their goals don’t end with them: In addition to producing their own music, they’ve dabbled with other artists including Xavier Mayne and De’Wayne Jackson, both of whom feature on the new album. When it comes to producing for others, “it’s mainly the people that we are invested in, in their careers,” explains Anthony. “We don’t just do random sessions.”
Our entire conversation feels easy-going and I can hear the camaraderie between Cave and Anthony even over the conference line. I sometimes mix up who is speaking from equal parts a slight connection issue, my own fascination with their accents, and the fact they occasionally finish each other’s thoughts—trading answers the way they trade vocal duties in the band. At one point, the third and final member, Clinton Cave, pops in and assures me that the other two have everything under control, and their mutual respect and appreciation of each other’s talents is palpable.
We spend a couple of minutes trying to come up with a plausible and profound explanation for their band name. “[Chase Atlantic] literally means nothing,” says Cave. “It’s so hard to find band names, we just put two words we really liked together that can’t be associated with anything else.” “We have no cool backstory for our name but the music’s cool,” adds Anthony. “So that’s something.” I suggest a type of metaphor, something about moving from Australia to chase their dream, and they riff off that: “There’s the Chase Bank here in America and the Atlantic Ocean and we want money!”
With Beauty in Death on the horizon, Chase Atlantic is excited for fans to experience another phase in their already successful careers. There’s a real sense of pride when they talk about their past work and anticipation for what the future holds. “I would say the whole discography,” says Anthony when I ask which essential Chase Atlantic song a new listener should start with. “Then you can hear the growth…us finding ourselves.” But don’t just stop there—make sure you continue the journey with them and Beauty in Death. “We’ve been subconsciously creating a narrative over the course of [these] albums.”
“We’ve been subconsciously creating a narrative over the course of [these] albums.”
It’s just as tough for them to choose a favorite song off the new record. “Some of the ones that haven’t been released yet are amazing,” says Anthony. Cave pipes in, “It’s like trying to pick a favorite child.” He pauses for a moment then decides that “Wasted” (the final track—which he mistakenly refers to as their already released single “Empty” before correcting himself, causing Anthony to laugh) is one that is “a little different…sets the new trend [in our music].” In any case, they promise a lot of “hidden meanings…up for interpretation” and many Easter Eggs in Beauty in Death that you can only get from listening to it in full over and over again.
As we wrap up our conversation, their final thoughts range from quippy (“Make sure you tell them Christian is the coolest member…” “…And Mitchel is the best-looking, everyone nodded in agreement.”) to sincere (“Everyone, stay happy and hydrated and look after [your] mental health.”), along with a promise to tour once things are back to normal. Ultimately, all they want is for people—both longtime fans and new listeners—to give their music a chance and watch them continue to rise, challenging themselves sonically and making the most of what they have.