On this particular January night, inside various rooms of the Coconut Teaszer in Hollywood, I was fortunate enough to be able to interview all five of the guys in Chapter 23 prior to their usual kick ass show. I began talking with Jerry (vocals), Louie (guitar), and Christian (guitar); Mark (drums/percussion) and Beto (bass) joined us later for the remainder of the interview. All five members of the band were candid, down-to-Earth, with a great sense of humor. They are, without fail, straightforward and honest, easygoing, a lot of fun to hang out with, and the band consistently put on rock solid performances with 100% dedication and energy. They aren’t above revealing the fact that they’d happily cover the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ theme song if given the opportunity, nor are they too good to break into an impromptu Howard Stern “Baba Booey Monkey Boy” chant if they’re properly provoked. This is what happened in the front poolroom…
Ok, so tell everyone out there who you are and what you do.
Jerry: I’m Jerry; I provide the larynx for the band
Christian: I’m Christian: I just play the geetar.
Louie: My name’s Louie and I just pretend to play the guitar.
…And this is 3/5 of Chapter 23.
What was the first song the band ever played together?
Louie: Freeload Theory.
Jerry: Still playing it to this day.
When was that?
Jerry: October of 97.
How would you describe your sound?
Jerry: I never know the answer to that question. Shit, man. You stumped me. Can I get a lifeline?
Louie: It’s kinda like Blink 182 meets the Backstreet Boys…on a good day.
Ok, I’ve seen the shows and I don’t think that’s accurate. Let’s try this then. What section of the record store would people find your CD in?
Christian: Well, we don’t consider it heavy metal, but our roots are in heavy metal.
Jerry: With the spice of rap.
Christian: And the beat of hip-hop.
Jerry: Just that little added bonus, you know. I don’t consider myself a rapper.
Louie: We just wanna be Korn.
Christian: Yeah. We just wanna be Korn.
(Mark walks up and seats himself)
Look who’s joined us!
Mark: Hello, my name is… uhhh…
Hi! My name is… My name is…
Mark: Butt PIrate.(laughter)
Mark (emphasizing a heavy accent): Naw, it’s Mahltico, and I play percussion.(more laughter)
All right. Has anyone in the band had any formal music training?
Louie: I took like one lesson. I don’t think that counts though.
Christian: Do Mel Bey books count?
Jerry: I guess, semi-formal, too.
Jerry: LACC and Hollywood High. (Jerry cheers)
Christian: I got no kind of training whatsoever. I just picked up the guitar to rehabilitate my arm, starting watching people play on TV, and..
Jerry: Cripple. (laughs)
Christian: Yeah. I was a cripple when I was little.
Jerry: He’s from Peru.
Christian: Exactly. Better than being a cripple though.
Wait. All cripples come from Peru?
Christian (to Jerry): Yeah. HEY, BACK OFF, MAN! BACK OFF!
Christian: Naw, I just stared watching people play while I was trying to rehabilitate my arm, I saw people doing all these wonderful things, and I just started learning…
Mark (in a dopey voice): “Wonderful”.
Christian: ..Learned scales here and there. Oh, you know what else? I gotta mention my boy who was real tight with us. Daniel Suna. He was my teacher, I guess, ’cause he was a virtuoso, man. He was, like, thirteen. Mark: Now, he’s all fat and bald.
This, coming from the bald man in the band.
Ok, who’s married, who’s single?
Jerry (looking very guilty): Uhhh.. Nobody’s married.(laughter)Everybody’s single…
Jerry: No. Mark and I are the only stupid ones. Right?
(long silent pause… then a burst of laughter)
Jerry (holds out his wrists): Shackles, baby.
Okay. For how long?
Jerry: I’ve been married five years. This Valentine’s Day will be five years.
Louie: And we’re playing that night.
Jerry: I know. And I’m fucking devoted, and I don’t fucking even cancel practice. I deal with band shit.
Who gets picked on most in the band?
(Everyone points at Christian and laughs)
Jerry: Okay, okay. We all pick on Mark, and we all pick on Chris. But Mark picks on Chris!
Christian: He doesn’t pick on me!
Jerry: Yeah, he does!
Christian: No, he doesn’t!
Louie: Mark rolls on him! What are you talking about?! He goes off when he gets mad, you gotta watch it!
Which member would you say is the biggest chick magnet?
(Everyone looks around. Jerry looks at Louis.)
Jerry: Right here.
(Louie just smiles. Then the band agrees that the biggest chick magnet hasn’t arrived yet. meaning Beto.)
Oh, I gotta agree with you there. He’s the most mysterious.
Jerry: Naw, it’s the light eyes. It’s all about the light eyes.
Oh yeah? Hmm. Well, we all know where the votes lie then.
Louie: That’s a smart comeback!
What equipment company or clothing line would you like to have endorse you?
Louie: Clothes are cool and all, but gear is better.
Christian: Clothes are important.
Mark: I’d rather play Mesa Boogie than wear Kappa.
Christian: I got pedals, and a guitar, and chords but I don’t have a cabinet. I don’t have a head, because it broke down this weekend.
Mark: When it broke down, did you have it towed home?
Christian: Yeah. I had it towed home.
There they go; he’s picking on him.
(At this point, Blind by Choice was beginning an appropriately loud sound check -which sounded great, by the way- but in order to hear, we collected ourselves and relocated to the poolroom in the back of the club… then “Chick Magnet” Beto joined us and I got a little help from Jerry…)
Jerry (to Beto): How would you describe Chapter 23’s music?
Beto: Uhhh.. Well, I think it’s got a little something for everybody. You know, if you like hip-hop, it’s got them funky-ass grooves. If you’re, like, a metal head, it’s got the metal-ass riffs. If you like the fast shit, you know, a little bit of everything.
Jerry: But how would you describe it, just..
Beto: One word?
I’m gonna hand the mic over to Jerry. I’m liking this.
Jerry: One word.
Mark: Sac rockin’.
Beto: Fuckin’ bad. (laughs)
Heh. Okay, everybody, it’s in the ‘Fuckin’ Bad’ section of your local record store.
Jerry: Did you introduce yourself?
Beto: Hi. I’m Beto.
Jerry: What do you play?
Beto: I play bass, supposedly. And uhhh..
And he’s the chick magnet.
Beto: I’m uh…. I guess I’m the shy one.
Beto: I’m not good at dealing with crowds. It’s kind of awkward. I think I’ve got that.. what is it? Social anxiety disorder.
I’ll be nice to you, I promise..
Okay. Let’s see who takes on this next question. Have you ever been arrested?
Louie: That depends. I never got booked. They had to take me in but they didn’t put cuffs on me. They had a gun to me.
Jerry: They were all chick cops in miniskirts.
What did you do? You look so innocent!
Louie: We were trying to get busy in one of the stalls in the L.A. Coliseum and I guess somebody saw us. I put my hands up and they had a gun to me, took me in. Spoiled my good time.
Were your pants down?
Louie: We were only in there, like, two minutes before we got busted.
Jerry: I’ve been arrested once. For shoplifting, but I was under 18, so it’s not on my record.
What were you trying to get?
Jerry: CDs. Well, tapes.
I think I’ve already answered this question myself, because I know you guys now, but I was going to ask if you guys hang out as friends other than just being in the band.
Louie: I make sure my manager calls all these guys and makes sure everything is good.
Go through your agent? (laughter)
Jerry: Not as often as we should but we do. We get together for stuff. Birthday parties… you know.
Christian: We should get together more often. We live pretty far apart.
What would define success for you?
Louie: For me? To get picked up, have a lot of financial backing from a record company, promote and tour for about nine months, come home, break, and then turn around and do it all over again.
Christian: For me, personally, it would probably be longevity. In this industry, you’re big for about a year, and then you’re forgotten forever so I think longevity would mean a lot more success so you can look back in about 10 years and think, “We’ve done something good for ourselves”.
Beto: I think as long as we’re all happy; that’s the main thing that matters more than anything. As long as we stay true to what we’re doing, ’cause once it feels like a job, that’s bullshit and there’s no point, you know? So, success is, like, to be happy. And not having a day job!
Who would win in a fight? Courtney Love or Fred Durst?
(The band wastes no time, all voices agreed that Courtney Love would win, hands down.)
Christian: Courtney’s bad-ass bitch, man.
Yeah, and Fred’s just a bitch.
What was your single, most embarrassing moment on stage?
Christian: Number one, completely fucking up a song to the point where we just had to like, stop. And number two, there’s the times that Jerry’s just straight up fucked up the lyrics.
No head firsts off the stage or pants falling down by accident or anything like that?
Christian: No. Luckily.
Beto: In the words of the late, great Chris Farley, “I have a bit of a weight problem” and I’m always self-conscious about it, and looking back at the old videotapes, I’m just like, “Oh my god”.
Favorite Pokemon characters.
Louie: Kill Pokemon!
Jerry: Who do we have? We got Pikachu, Charmander and… Squirtle.
All right, so a little while ago, we established the “Chick Magnet” – so now I have to ask who the “Bad Boy” of the band is. Like, who would get sent to the corner the most often, if you were all in a classroom?
(After much debate, the band decides that they are all guilty, and since there are five members, there wouldn’t be enough corners in that classroom.)
Okay. This is the question to end the interview, and this is Brian’s question.
(Everyone looks at Brian May, who has been diligently shooting a photo documentary of the interview. Jerry takes it upon himself to answer the question before it’s even been asked and, jokingly assuming the question from Brian was ‘Circumcised or Uncircumcised?’, Jerry begins systematically pointing out the ‘yes’s’ and the ‘no’s’ in the band one at a time. I’m not giving this secret away. Some things just gotta remain sacred… Don’t they???)
Seriously though. This is Brian’s real question! Who IS down with Chapter 23?
Jerry: Well, as quoted by Brian himself, “Everyone and their Mamas should be”.
The interview ended with an enthusiastic “Whoooooooaaaaa Chapter 23!!!” and the band went on to play their usual “fuckin’ bad” set. Be sure to check out the brand new website at: www.chapter23.com