Chantel McGregor Interview

Chantel McGregor Interview

3rd September 2015 0 By John Deaux

We managed to catch up with the very talented & incredibly funny Chantel McGregor for a chat about the album, animals & the tour.

AATR – Hi Chantel How are you doing?

Chantel – I’m doing really good. Everything’s a bit crazy at the moment but really good.

AATR – All the promotion for your album Lose Control is just starting to kick into gear

Chantel – Yeah I’m really excited about it. Have you heard it?

AATR – I’ve been lucky enough to of heard a pre-release of it

Chantel – Did you like it?

AATR – It’s a really good album (Review Here)

Chantel – Good

AATR – The last track on the album “Walk On Land” is my favourite track

Chantel – Everyone seems to be saying that & that’s really strange.

AATR – Why’s that?

Chantel – To me it’s the least commercial one on the album because it is so long with the long guitar solo. It’s probably the one I’m most proud of but it’s a bit of a surprise. Loads of radio people are saying that they really like it & I’m kinda like “Really? It’s 7 & a half minutes long!”

AATR – That’s not a bad thing we all like a bit of prog here at AATR Towers so we were really surprised by that track but we all love it.

Chantel – When I wrote that I was listening to tonnes & tonnes of Steve Wilson & Porcupine Tree so I was like “Right I’m gonna write a prog song & see if I can do this”.
So it was a bit of a test to see if I could & it looks like I should maybe be prog instead (laughs)

AATR –Prog blues is maybe another direction for you.

Chantel – (laughs) I’m not to sure how much blues there is on this new album really

AATR – There’s a bit. Southern Belle springs to mind.

Chantel – Yeah I think that’s the only bluesy one on there really. Well to me anyway.

AATR – It is a very strong album & the writing is so much better than your debut Like No Other

Chantel – I’m really happy with it. Because I was writing this one myself & it was 10 weeks to write 10 songs which was a target I set myself as I had 10 weeks before I went on holiday. So I locked myself in my shed, wrote 10 songs & then went & drank loads of Pina Colada.

AATR – Surely you got that the wrong way round, drink loads & then write (chuckles)

Chantel – (Laughing) That’s the next album.

AATR – So you literally just wrote the 10 songs, no extras?

Chantel – (laughing) No just the 10 songs. It was that limited as I started in May & was going on holiday in August that I only had time to write 10 songs (laughs) which is great as I think I’ve ended up with 10 really good songs.

I like to give myself boundaries when writing because if I don’t it won’t happen.. If I don’t tell myself that I need a song done by 4pm it really won’t happen (laughs)

AATR – There’s been a bit of a break between your debut & this album.

Chantel – Yeah the 1st album was 4 years ago. Feels longer tho (laughs). Because it was my 1st album I wasn’t really confident in what I was doing so it was a bunch of songs, some old, some new & it was cobbled together whereas this album is a lot more cohesive.
I feel that this is a better album, well to me anyway (laughs) It seems to be more fluid.

AATR – It does flow & feels almost like a concept album.

Chantel – Well I’m really into Southern Gothic which I have been for years & years with TV programmes like True Blood, True Detective & those sort of things.
With it being such a small time period to write songs in I need to write about what I’m clued up about. I’m not one to sit & write about my relationships as I don’t have time to have any. It’s difficult to write from personal experience when all I do is write emails, go to the pub & do gigs (laughs). There’s only so many songs you can write about “Wetherspoons”

AATR – True & there’s only so many you can write about pets as well.

Chantel – Well I already have a cat song already & I have 2 cats & I only have one hamster.

AATR – Very rock n roll house with 2 cats & a hamster.

Chantel – Living on the edge me (laughs)

AATR – I’ve got a cat here who is a bit of an idiot & likes to try & set himself on fire! I now have to keep the toaster unplugged as he’ll walk IN the toaster & wonder why his feet are getting warm.

Chantel – Aww bless him

AATR – Not bless him at all (laughs) this cat has serious issues. Had to keep him as he’s a danger to himself & others around him (laughing)

Chantel – 1 of my cats is a bit gormless too . He came in this morning caked up to his ears in mud, & I looked at his & pondered what do I do with you? I can’t wash you as you won’t sit still so it was an idea just to wrap him in a towel & hope he didn’t walk on envelopes or anything else that was important (laughs)

AATR – I need to touch on this briefly before we get back to discussing the new album, I have to ask what you have named your hamster.

Chantel – Hamlet No.5

AATR – Hamlet No.5!? So you’ve had 4 others prior called Hamlet?

Chantel – Yeah. When I was 12 I got a hamster & he was Hamlet No.1. Well just Hamlet at that point (chuckles) & subsequent hamsters have all been Hamlet as all baby hamsters are called Hamlets just like a baby pig is called a piglet so that’s where the Hamlet comes from. Plus it’s easier just to call them all the same name hence why I’m now on Hamlet No.5.

AATR – (Laughing) OK back to the plot. Your guitar equipment, is it anything special?

Chantel – It’s all special (chuckles). I use an Ernie Ball Music Man JP6 which is John Petrucci of Dream Theater signature model basically because it’s so nice. It’s small, light has a really thin neck which is great as I only have tiny hands & the action is so low it’s brilliant. I’ve used them since I was about 14 or 15 so I have a few of them in different colors which is very girly comment. But it’s the white sparkly one that plays nicest.

AATR – Is the sparkly one coming out on the road with you?

Chantel – It will be as I tour with that one all the time because it is just so comfortable. They all play slightly different & they all sound slightly different as well. The White Sparkly has different pickups on it as it’s a slightly newer model & it just cuts through, it’s amazing, I love it.

I also use a slightly modified Strat as well which I’ve had since I was about 12. My dad has done a Frankenstein job on it by putting stacked Seymour Duncan humbuckers on it. It’s not as comfy to play so I use that mainly for Drop D tuning.

Amp wise, I use a Carvin Legacy 3 which is the Steve Vai model. & it’s just lovely. It has such a thick creamy tone I just love it along with a Messa Boogie Thiele ported cab with an EV in it & a JHS Sweet tea pedal for my distortion & it’s lovely. I can’t go anywhere without it now.

As a guitarist you’re always searching for that perfect sound & I always like to try different things. I did buy a lovely PRS guitar & it’s in a gorgeous green colour but it didn’t sound the same as my Music Man so I keep coming back to the same set up because it works, feels like home & I sound like me again.

In the studio I used a Taylor GS Mini Limited Edition acoustic that was a pure fluke that I tried it as I was using an Adamas which was really expensive. I used to take it out on the road & a lot of sound engineers found it temperamental to work with as it was so high end & they couldn’t cope with it as it would feedback as well as other things. So I decided I was going to buy a cheap acoustic that was small, comfortable & would go on the road. So I tried this GS Mini Taylor thing & I was like “this is just amazing”. It was like 500 & odd quid! So I bought that & I don’t use the Adamas anymore.

The GS wood sounds so lush, it such a thick sound. Considering it’s such a small bodied guitar it sounds really huge. It’s just gorgeous & can be heard on Walk On Land on the album.

On the album as well I use a nylon string acoustic just because it sounded more mellow & fitted the tracks Anesthetise & Home to make them sound more personal & close.

AATR – They both come across as personal tracks, especially Home

Chantel – I think Home is the most personal on that album for me. It’s about real things that really matter to me & I really wanted to get that across in the sound & the production & not just in the lyrics.

It’s easy to say that a certain song means such & such because the lyrics say that. But to me it’s all about the way you use strings to make it sound personal. Then you have the production side of how you use the reverb, if you put a bit of delay on it & where you put the backing vocal. To me that was as important as the lyrics

I’ve just geeked out haven’t I?

AATR – (Laughs) A little, but it’s fine. I actually understood it

Chantel – To me it’s about every element & not just what the words are.

It’s a very linear way of looking at it if you just think what are the words saying, when it should be how does it make you feel which is the deeper aspect & how does it affect the listener which to me is what a song is all about.

AATR – Speaking of the production side of the album, it doesn’t actually sound like you’ve taken much time on it. By that I mean it’s not an over produced record unlike your first.

Chantel – You’re right. The first album was almost pop produced if you like which is kind of what I wanted. Not clinical but perfect. With this album I was listening to a lot of grungey stuff like Royal Blood so when I went into the studio I wanted it to be more organic & be more rock n roll. So I think we’ve achieved that.

It certainly seems a lot looser & a bit more rock which is what I wanted.

With the 1st album I didn’t really get a lot of say in it. I’m still proud of it but even thou I had been in recording studios since I was 15 I didn’t have the confidence on that 1st album to say exactly what I wanted. I was still learning. Especially as I really didn’t know what sound I did want.

So with this album all the demos & pre-production was already done before I went into the studio.. Infact the demo for Walk on Land is pretty much the same as the album, apart from being live instruments on the album & midi on the demos.

This time around I was able to go into the studio & say exactly what I wanted. Here are my references & I want this production on this track etc & we went in & did that. I had a much clearer view of this is what I want this time around & was able to put more of my stamp on it.

To me this is more of my 1st album

AATR – Lets re-write history & ignore the previous release so the next album will be your difficult 2nd album (chuckles)

Chantel – (laughs) this was meant to be the difficult 2nd album. It weren’t that hard infact it was easier than the 1st album (laughs)

AATR – You’ve had quite a lot of acclaim over the past couple of years. Voted Guitarist of the year TWICE as well as winning 5 awards in the last 3 years including female vocalist of the year. How does it feel to be nominated & then win?

Chantel – It’s quite a surprize & I never expect it. I’m nominated again this year (guitarist of the year category) I won’t win so there’s no point getting giddy over it. I always resign myself to the fact that nothing will do well, I won’t win. I think that’s the best way to be to be honest with you. If you go out there thinking you’re the greatest blah blah blah, no-one’s great, there’s always some-one better than you so get used to it. So you may as well just sit back & go I’ll just do my best & my own thing. So if I win then it’s really nice & if I don’t well I didn’t lose as I didn’t have it to start with (chuckles)

AATR –  The up & coming tour are you bringing any one out on the road or are you just relying on local support acts?

Chantel – Actually we’ve got quite alot of local support this year. Last year we had certain bands that we took out on tour with us & it was good.
But alot of our fans come to different gigs. So if I’m playing down south they’ll come to London, Essex, Kent, Worthing & they don’t want to see the same band every night & we’re so obsessed with it being different every night & alot of it is improvised so it’s never the same gig twice.

We’ve had to be a bit more structured as in the past I never had a set list. It was always a case of I fancy doing this now & that’ll work. I was constantly thinking in my head whilst playing “ok we have 15 minutes left & I can fit those 2 songs in there & if I extend this solo that’ll work” & it kinda got to a point where we actually needed some structure (laughs) so I needed to behave & started to have set lists last year.

With this year because of our drummer is playing to alot of click track & we’re using samples I can’t really spring songs on him.

AATR – You could always tell him the click tracks broken & you’ll just have to play this instead

Chantel – (Laughing) That would certainly make things interesting. Especially Fabulous played at the speed of Daydream would be great.

AATR – That would certainly make for an interesting show.

Chantel – True but with the structure I think it makes the show more improvised especially with the solos as they’ve always been improvised. I love pushing boundaries & I love being able to say “Let’s Do Daydream but I want to do it with more feeling & not so much widdling or I want to do it with more widdling as I’ve been listening to load of Guthrie Goven” & it’s different every night which I think is great for the fans as they don’t want to see the same show every gig they want to see something different & makes it more fun. Which is why the support band thing which is where I was going with this (laughs) is why we’ve said that rather than have a tour support we’ll have local bands instead & it gives other bands a chance as well, keeps it fresh for us & we get to meet different people as we go.

AATR – So what’s next after the tour?

Chantel – The last date is 17th December in Derby & then it’s time for a break

AATR – Looking at your schedule for the next couple of months you’re certainly going to need one.
Thank you Chantel It’s been an absolute pleasure & one of the most fun chats I’ve had. Take care & we’ll see you on the road soon.




Billericay, New Crawdaddy Club
Friday 28th August 2015

Box Office: 01702 347007
Tickets: £12.00
Billericay Town Football Club, Blunts Wall Road, Billericay, Essex, CM12 9SA

Leamington Spa, The Assembly, Zephyr Lounge
Friday 11th September 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
2a Spencer Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV31 3NE

Newark, Blues Festival
Saturday 12th September 2015

Tickets: £15.00
Newark Castle, Castlegate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1BG

London, 100 Club
Thursday 17th September 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £14.00
100 Oxford Street, London, W1D 1LL

Whitby, Pavilion Theatre
Sunday 20th September 2015

Box Office:  01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00 / £15.00 door
West Cliff, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 3EN

Stockton, The Arc
Thursday 24th September 2015

Box Office:  01642 52519
Tickets: £13.00 adv / £15.00 door
Stockton Arts Centre, Dovecot Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1LL

Louth, Riverhead Theatre
Friday 25th September 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £14.00
Victoria Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 0BX

Wrexham, Central Station
Saturday 26th September 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
15 – 17 Hill Street, Wrexham, LL11 1SN

Birmingham, The Institute, The Temple
Thursday 1st October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
78 Digbeth High Street, Birmingham, B5 6DY

Ruislip, The Tropic
Friday 2nd October 2015

Box Office: 020 8707 2256
Tickets: £14.00 adv / £15.00 door
Grosvenor Vale, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 6JQ

Halifax, Playhouse
Friday 9th October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
King Cross Street, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 2SH

Southport, The Atkinson Blues Festival
Saturday 10th October 2015

Box Office: 01704 533333
Tickets: £15.00
Lord Street, Southport, PR8 1DB

Doncaster, The Dome
Friday 16th October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
Doncaster Lakeside, Bawtry Road, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN4 7PD

Retford, The Elms
Saturday 17th October 2015

Box Office: 07737 130534
Tickets: £12.50 adv / £15.00 Door
London Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire, DN22 7DX

Sheffield, Greystones
Wednesday 21st October 2015

Box Office: 0114 266 5599
Tickets: £13.00
Greystones Road, Sheffield, S11 7BS

Edinburgh, The Caves
Thursday 22nd October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
8-12 Niddry Street South, Edinburgh, EH1 1NS

Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy
Friday 23rd October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
421 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3LG

Carlisle, The Venue
Saturday 24th October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
English Gate Plaza, Carlisle, CA1 1RP

Salisbury, Arts Centre
Monday 26th October 2015

Box Office: 01722 321744
Tickets: £15.50 adv / £18 door
Bedwin Street, Salisbury, SP1 3UT

Exeter, Phoenix
Tuesday 27th October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £14.00
Gandy St, Exeter, Devon EX4 3LS

Bridport, Arts Centre
Wednesday 28th October 2015

Box Office: 01308 427183
Tickets: TBA
South Street, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3NR

Brighton, Komedia
Thursday 29th October 2015

Box Office: 0845 293 8480
Tickets: £14.00
44-47 Gardner Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1UN

Lincoln, Engine Shed
Saturday 31st October 2015

Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln LN6 7TS

Ripley, Town Hall
Saturday 12th December 2015

Tickets: £15.00
Ripley Town Hall, Ripley, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 3AX

Newcastle, The Cluny
Sunday 13th December 2015

Box Office: 0191 230 4474
Tickets: £13.00
36 Lime Street, Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ

Morecambe, The Platform
Monday 14th December 2015

Box Office:  01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
Old Station Buildings, Marine Rd W, Morecambe LA4 4DB

Leeds, The Brudenell
Tuesday 15th December 2015

Box Office: 0113 245 5570
Tickets: £13.00
33 Queens Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1NY

Bristol, The Tunnels
Wednesday 16th December 2015

Box Office: 0845 6050255
Tickets: £12.00
Arches 31 & 32, Bristol & Exeter Mews, Lower Station Approach Road,
Temple Meads, Bristol, BS1 6QF

Derby, The Flowerpot
Thursday 17th December 2015

Box Office:  01332 834438
Tickets: £13.00
25, King Street, Derby, DE1 3DZ


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