Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Chop Tops on tap

California trio delivers revved-up rockabilly


By JENNIFER LIEBRUM
Express Staff Writer


Catch these cool cats at Sun Valley Brewery tonight.
Courtesy photo

    The Stray Cats and band leader Brian Setzer, with all their “cat class” and great style, discovered their doppelganger in The Chop Tops, a rockabilly trio from California sliding into Hailey this week for one night, tonight, May 14, at the Sun Valley Brewery.
    Sinner, on vocals and standing drums, started the band in 1995 and was joined by Shelby on guitar and Josh on upright bass.
    Their wild, upbeat blend of rockabilly has put them out front for the Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, John Lee Hooker and Chuck Berry, and three of their songs are featured in the video game WET.
    The boys, sponsored by Murray’s Pomade, greased the skids for an introductory interview with the Idaho Mountain Express in preparation for their upcoming show.

    IME: For the uninitiated, describe your music.
    The Chop Tops: Not at all predictable—we coined the term “revved-up rockabilly” to describe it. It’s a blend of rockabilly, surf, blues, punk, rock. We try and mix it up so fans don’t get bored. It’s all based mainly in American music, though we pay tribute to other influences from across the pond as well.
    
    And your show?
    Sinner: Well, we love playing and always hope to lift the spirits of those at our shows with our unique style, solid musicianship, and a laugh or two if the timing’s right!
    Shelby: High energy and in your face! We look at it this way: People have paid their hard-earned money to come and see us. They could have probably gone to another show, or spent their money elsewhere, but they decided to see us. So we’re going to give them their money’s worth.
That’s our way of saying thank you for choosing us!
    Josh: An energized and animated performance that will definitely impress.
    
    Do you live your music’s lifestyle, or is this a persona?
    Sinner: No, I live Chuck Norris’s lifestyle ... lol! Seriously, I certainly think our music can be great anthems for a bunch of friends having a party and going off, or someone wrenching on an old hot rod, or driving a date to a nice make-out spot, or any number of other scenarios. But as much as I love the music of my father’s generation and am influenced by it, I’m not trapped in the ’50s—it’s 2014. There were great things about that era—cars, girls, music—and there were not-so-great things about that era (read a history book to find out the bad as I prefer to enjoy the good).
    Shelby: Our music is not written around what we think our lives should be about, rather, what our lives are really about! Broken relationships, hard times, feelings about maybe not fitting in anywhere. It mirrors the lives of our fans and they can relate.
    After all, at the end of the day we’re all human. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in the world. We are going through, or have gone through it, too.
    Josh: I’ve lived out experiences that are hand-in-hand with most lyrics in these songs, speaking about both high and low times, and will probably continue to do so for the rest of my life.

    If you had one chance to hook someone with a song, what would you refer them to?
    Sinner: I’d say “Evil Six” for its “live by the sword, die by the sword” message set in a Western gun ballad story. It’s a cool bit of writing we did that was inspired by, and is in tribute to, the late and great Marty Robbins.
    Shelby: That’s a hard one. I think I wouldn’t point a person in just one direction of our music. It’s really to be taken in as a whole. It’s not like we’re a singles band. We’re more of an album-oriented band. Which album? Well, that’s entirely up to you.
    Josh: I would say as far as instrumental songs, “Bad One Stomp” because I could listen to that song over and over and still look forward to playing it again, but in terms of lyrics, I would say “Bitch” because it speaks volumes of the true nature of most relationships.


The Chop Tops
When: Wednesday, May 14, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Brewery, Hailey.


 

 




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