When Chase Atlantic first released their music, they did not expect it to change anyone’s life but their own. The band, comprised of Mitchel Cave on lead vocals, his brother Clinton Cave on lead guitar and saxophone, and Christian Anthony on rhythm guitar, started in Australia, and were signed by none other than the Madden Brothers. Since 2014, they released a few EPs, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve truly come into a style all of their own.
Their latest album ‘PHASES’, released in 2019, took inspiration from the vastness of outer space. When I sat down with the band before their London show, they explained that the aesthetic was the first thing that inspired the album, but that it transformed into something more: ‘how twisted and dark the human brain could be.’ The songs cover a wide range of feelings, from thoughts after one-night stands to mental health issues. When performing the songs live, Mitchel admits that tapping into their darker subject matter can be hard. I DON’T LIKE DARKNESS is ‘probably the most emotional we’ve ever gotten on stage.’ The song, as you may have guessed, is about dealing with depression and wanting to get out of that mindset. When I ask the band how they cope with going back to those dark places on stage, Michael answers ‘as a creative outlet, music is probably the most helpful for dealing with mental health.’ He also cites songs like STUCKINMYBRAIN and EVEN THOUGH I’M DEPRESSED, as extracts of their diary.
What’s interesting though is that EVEN THOUGH I’M DEPRESSED is an aggressively happy song. Christian brings it up when we discuss the song: ‘we made this very happy instrumental, but Mitchel wanted the lyrics to be super sad and contrasting.’ With lyrics about life being a mess and filling the emptiness with money and validation, they’ve done just that. Mitchel describes it as ‘something real, contradictory and kind of uplifting.’
Yet, the thing that distinguishes Chase Atlantic from other artists is not their lyrics but how they create their music. The band, coming from an EDM background, is very meticulous in the way they produce their songs. However, sometimes they do need to make sure not to overthink things, especially when it comes to the live show. ‘There’s been multiple times where we’ve wound up confused and second-guessed what we were doing too much,’ Mitchel admits. Now, they know to trust their instincts. Interestingly, Clinton tells me that ‘lyrics usually come last in their process.’ ‘It’s very primal. But we also add elements that appeal to everyone.’ While a lot of artists would confidently state that every single word they write is meaningful, Chase mixes it up and tries to combine their purposeful lyrics with generic references to drugs and money, accompanying the trap beats that are dominating the charts right now. Mitchel brings up a line that makes the crowd go wild at their shows: ‘cocaine stains on my Nikes’ which he poetically states ‘means fuck all.’
It’s true that at a show with a demographic of young e-boy and e-girl impersonators, casually alluding to drug abuse might not be the wisest decision, but Chase Atlantic have a valid defense. ‘The name of the EP that song is on is literally called DON’T TRY THIS,’ Christian responds. ‘We’re not parents. We’re just making the music that we want to make.’ Fair enough. In a way, they’re right: the ways in which the band tackles dark subject matters are very tightly intertwined with mental health and finding coping mechanisms, no matter how unhealthy, to help them through it. When we talk about their fans’ reactions to their work and the stories they share to the band, Mitchel is appreciative. ‘It’s beautiful and surprising because we never set out to do that. But it’s the same stuff that everybody is going through.’ And it’s true, songs like HEAVEN AND BACK and Numb to The Feeling are both about addiction and drug use, but if you look past what could be seen as trivial clichés, the songs still reflect universal themes that everybody can relate to: trying to escape. ‘That’s why people come to our shows,’ Mitchel tells me. And, after listening to fans in hysterics singing and dancing along to every word, I understand why they do.