Chris Lemos Takes Us to Chrch
Within smokey ruin, there is a holy site delivering lead-laden masses, crushing its congregation in droves -- the only thing that’s missing is "u." Literally. But what Sacramento’s Chrch lacks in vowels, it packs in a punch of mysterious, all-consuming bliss. Like the layers of an ancient rock, Chrch’s inaugural Unanswered Hymns garnered a reputation for maintaining gradient alongside heaviness. After a busy couple of years of recording a split with Fister and a follow-up full-length Light Will Consume Us All, the five-piece has still found time to tour abroad while turning wheels about their next musical move.
In order to shed light on a come-up shrouded in darkness, we spoke with guitarist and backing vocalist, Chris Lemos.
You have been touring pretty damn prolifically with some other powerhouse artists, from Fister to YOB. What are your reflections on touring this year? Any interesting stories or lessons learned?
Being invited to tour with YOB and Acid King was such an honor. All of the shows were amazing. YOB brings such an incredible vibe to the room, both as people and as musicians. It was a really great experience touring with them. Also, being able to traverse a lot of Europe, and become even better friends with Fister was rad. That band is definitely one of the heaviest bands around right now. Touring is never easy and we learn something new pretty much every time we hit the road. It's a constant learning experience, no matter how often you're out there.
In addition to touring, you also spared time to drop Light Will Consume Us All in the spring. What was it like bringing your follow-up full length to life?
It was definitely a different experience than Unanswered Hymns, to say the least. When we went in to record that one, we didn't really have any expectations or plans for it and we never expected the reaction it got. So when we started writing for the follow-up, we were definitely a bit more focused and had more of a specific goal in mind. With that said, writing for us has always been an organic process. We don't try, or want, to force anything. We typically write for six to 12 months before going into the studio. There's some of the music that is fleshed out while we're in the studio, but for the most part it's all organically written and planned out. Pat did an amazing job engineering the record; we work really well with him and it always feels very natural recording at Earthtone.
Returning to the early years for a moment, I think it's interesting that your name alteration came about in 2015 when you released your first full-length -- it's almost as if it marked a new era for the band. Nevertheless, what did those 2013 to 2014 years look like?
The name change was purely a legal thing. 2013 to 2014 was spent crafting our sound and testing the waters live. We practiced and wrote for a year before we even played our first show, which was technically in Chris' living room. We actually started in Eva's basement in the winter of 2013 with no intention of anything other than "starting a heavy band." We started writing and Unanswered Hymns is eventually what came from the first era of songs.
A part of your bio really caught my eye: "There is no image or campy gimmick to uphold, only the humble glorification of their fundamental musical elements." I think it really captures Chrch is a nutshell. What advice can you offer when it comes to capturing such profound darkness and that antique horror vibe while maintaining a sense of minimalism?
Honestly, nothing we do is 100% intentional. Of course, we have an idea of what we want out of specific riffs, or songs, or overall themes, but more often than not, it comes from an emotional state. We write what we feel, and lately the world has been a pretty dark place so it's difficult to separate yourself from it sometimes. Music is, and always has been, a release for us. We want the music we write to be translated to a live show without any hiccups, and with that comes a sense of minimalism. We don't feel like we need anything more than the fundamental musical elements to create something cohesive and beautiful, while keeping the natural darkness within.
What is Chrch looking forward to in 2019?
We will be doing a tour of the Pacific northwest with Un in February. We have some tentative summer plans as well where we'll be hitting a good amount of cities we haven't played before or cities we haven't been to in years. We're also making a festival appearance at the Psycho Smokeout in Los Angeles in April. The second half of the year we will slow down a bit and continue writing for our next release.
Follow Chrch on Facebook. Tour dates below:
2/17 Seattle, WA @ Substation
2/18 Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
2/19 Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s
2/20 Eureka, CA @ Siren Song Tavern
2/21 Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
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