Chirp proudly follows their funky musical instincts.
The Ann Arbor prog-funk-jazz jam quartet of Jay Frydenlund (guitar, vocals), Brian Long (bass, vocals), Sam Naples (guitar, vocals) and Gastón Reggio (drums) listens to their collective creative conscience on their fervent new single, “Solo.”
“Vulfpeck and Cory Wong were a massive influence on the approach to this tune and the rest of the upcoming record. The old school, funky vibe they bring to their songwriting and playing has been a big influence on all of us,” Frydenlund said. “I’m not sure this song would have happened without a steady amount of Vulf in my listening diet. Or at least it would have come out through a very different lens.”
By peering through that groovy “Solo” lens, Chirp fans will encounter a group of lively musicians entrenched in jubilant electric guitars, shimmering keys and synths, pulsating bass, confident drums and ticking cymbals.
In tandem, Frydenlund soulfully sings, “And we all know you can shred the 32nds/But I wanna hear something from your soul/So take your time to find the truth inside you/And let it go.”
“Sam’s melodic lead guitar through the song adds a lot of texture and warms up the tune quite a bit, and he also complements Kevin (Gastonguay’s) solo toward the end of the song really nicely. Brian’s self-written bassline is really catchy throughout, to the point of being singable.” Frydenlund said.
“Both of them killed it on the smooth backup vocals. The different feels Gastón moves throughout are seamless, which is easier said than done on a tune like ‘Solo,’ where we’ve got a lot of dramatic change from section to section feel-wise and tempo-wise.”
From the Stage to the Studio
For Chirp, “Solo” first started as a captivating live version that’s featured on several live albums, including 2020’s Live at Otus Supply and Live at the Park Theatre. However, it quickly morphed into the condensed studio version that’s available now on all streaming platforms.
“I wrote ‘Solo’ in one night a couple years ago and was excited to play it live right away. The initial form was much longer, and when we started playing it live, it would stretch out over 13 minutes,” Frydenlund said. “We played with the arrangement to try and trim the fat before recording it and got it down to the near seven-minute mark, which is still long, but hopefully doesn’t feel that way.”
The band recorded their latest track and a slew of others for their upcoming album, In Motion, at Willis Sound. They teamed up with engineers Ken Yamori Ball and Joe Sleep to help shape the track’s overall sound and creative vision.
“We gave ourselves a couple days at the studio to get sharp and prep the tunes before actually hitting ‘record’ on anything. We especially wanted to do that because we hadn’t rehearsed much or gotten the opportunity to play together very often during quarantine,” Frydenlund said.
“‘For ‘Solo,’ I came into Willis Sound with a shortened version of the form, and we shortened it even more as a group and reworked a few things. I really dig how the form we settled on moves. Ken and Joe came in with some really helpful suggestions on note/tone choices for this one.”
Chirp also collaborated remotely with Minneapolis keyboardist-composer Kevin Gastonguay of Cory Wong and The Wongnotes on “Solo.” He added radiant keys and synth to the track after meeting the band in Grand Rapids a few years ago.
“We were incredibly lucky to meet Kevin when he shared the stage with another band he was playing at Tip Top Deluxe Bar. He blew our minds with his ability on the keys, and we didn’t know until talking to him after the set that he played with Cory Wong,” Frydenlund said.
“We stayed in touch after the show and have been lucky to have him send in remote key/synth parts on both of our albums. We’re stoked to get to collaborate with such an insane player and for folks to hear the rest of his work on this album.”
New Video and Album
To accompany their new single, Chirp released a dynamic music video interspersing studio sessions with performance footage at Willis Sound. Squidlyhabu Productions’ Mark Samano shot and edited the video.
“We thought it would be cool to divide the video up into a couple aesthetics – one that looked a little more natural and behind-the-scenes and one that was a little more dressed up with lighting and fog. Mark did a killer job and is a really easy guy to work with,” Frydenlund said.
“The live room at Willis Sound is a pretty cool-looking space in the first place, but Mark’s vision of how to execute the different shots, lighting and fog really made the video a quality production. He did a great job editing the tune to match the energy of the song from section to section as well.”
“Solo” is the first of several singles Chirp will be releasing from In Motion, which will drop in April. The upcoming album will serve as the second studio release for the band, whose self-titled debut came out in 2019. Since that time, Chirp has experienced lineup changes and creative growth.
“For starters, we have a different drummer and guitarist these days, which has changed the vibe somewhat. This is our first album-length project we’ve recorded in a proper studio,” Frydenlund said.
“The first one was recorded in various rooms at my grandma’s house with the basement being the control room. I think the threads of soul, prog and fusion have always run through Chirp’s sound and my songwriting, but this one maybe feels a bit more danceable than the previous projects. There are still some weird songs and parts though.”
To help support their new album, Chirp received a $2,500 grant from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.
“Our friend Aaron Burroughs of Funkwagon contacted us to give us a heads-up about the opportunity. We applied and were lucky enough to receive the grant,” Frydenlund said. “That was a massive chunk of the expenses we had on the album, so we couldn’t be more grateful, especially during a time when gigs were few and far between.”
In the meantime, Chirp continues to play live shows while navigating the current challenges of COVID-19’s Omicron variant. They’re scheduled to play Chelsea’s Rumpus Room on Jan. 29 with Telesonic 9000.
“As of now, Jan. 29 at the Rumpus Room is still a go. We’re excited to be back there. It’s the first place Sam ever played with us. We’re being a bit more selective with the booking and not trying to fill the books as much as we used to because of the risk of cancellations,” Frydenlund said.
“We love playing live and look forward to the shows we do have on the books. But until we’re back to being on the road as much as we were pre-COVID, we’re really damn excited to be getting new music out to our fans.”