Chooglin . It s a verb, baby as in, to choogle. Just check your Creedence American Dictionary, it s right there: to ball and have a good time, an act to keep on or continue. Or better yet, check the Minneapolis octet that bears the name. To them, Chooglin means the Soul Train getting robbed by the James Gang, Kiss on 78 speed and the MC5 tearing into Blood, Sweat and Tears. All at once. With a bleating horn section and ferocious guitar playing, the band is a boogie-rock juggernaut that has the guts and the skills to deliver greasy, proto-Stax soul with as much power and conviction as their relentless, riff-driven rockers.
Formed in 2005 by guitarists and singers Brian Vanderwerf and Jesse Tomlinson, from Twin City contenders the Midnight Evils, as a rollicking but conventional two-guitars-bass-and-drums lineup, Chooglin made their official debut in November 2005, opening up for Reigning Sound and the Detroit Cobras. Their show garnered some early local praise, but the band hit their sonic stride a month later when they were joined by a three trombone and trumpet horn section that had been assembled for a one-off performance of the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street for a local club s cover band contest. The full Chooglin line-up Vanderwerf and Tomlinson on guitar and vocals, bassist Jeff Johnson (since replaced by Paul Diorio), drummer Shawn Walker, trombonists Harold Longley, Steve Erickson, and Zach Zins, and trumpet player Bob DeBoer was soon unleashed on an unsuspecting public in a round of now legendary high-octane live shows.
Yeah, we can get pretty high energy, laughs Vanderwerf. Kinda Mach 10 compared to the record. We all come from punk rock, but you know, when I get asked what we sound like, I just say rock and roll.
Considering the blistering opener of Chooglin s Big Legal Mess debut Sweet Time, Mach 10 compared to the record is a little terrifying to consider. Weaving ragged guitar and horn lines together at a breakneck pace, songs like Take Your Sweet Time, Airport Bar, and Tonight Alright (God Damn) careen between soul and early metal. Vanderwerf s gruff, soul-shouter vocals veer from heartbreak to sleaze and back again, while Tomlinson s blistering guitar playing stitches all the disparate elements together making Iron Maiden guitar gallup and Hi Records horns sit together seamlessly, and sound strangely natural together.
There s so many guys in the band, we all bring something to it, Vanderwerf says. We get a lot of comparisons to 70s rock, but I think we have more of an R&B thing going on. Jesse is an amazing guitarist, and he is writing all the time. Shawn our drummer likes more aggressive stuff, like punk rock and weird two-piece metal. And I m a huge Stones fan, so I m sure that comes through. But most good rock and roll is loud and fast
Very true but for a band that rocks this hard, it is a testament to Chooglin s musical ambition that some of the real gems on Sweet Time are when they slow down a little. Gritty ballads like Another Land, Nexium of Interest and Royal Vengeance, showcase the power of the full line-up the swaying melodicism of the horns, the songs dynamic arrangements, and the range and emotion of Vanderwerf s voice.
We started out as just straight up, balls-to-the-wall rock, but now we re trying to write different stuff, Vanderwerf says. And since we have the horns, we want to use them for more than just accenting the rock songs. I love the newer slower tunes, cause we re doing something different, but I think we pull it off. I think we can say to ourselves now we can try different stuff and not suck at it.
And then he laughs and says, But sometimes I listen to the lyrics and think, God what a bunch of big babies.
|Take Your Sweet Time|
|Waltz In D|
|Nexium Of Interest|
|Nothing To Show|
|Gone Gone Gone|
Chooglin' - Sweet Time [LP]
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