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Up with sideways

Most new bands arrive trailing a personal mythology. But few have a shaggy dog story as heartwarming as that of The Chapman Society. "Our biggest problem is that nobody knows who we are," claims guitarist Sean Kavanagh. "So we thought we'd better get this album out there so that when people asked what we sounded like we could say, 'This is what we are'."

The 12-track collection, Arnold Sideways, is more than a cut above average. A guitar, bass and drums outfit, The Chapman Society display a musical ambition that's not dissimilar to that of questing British bands from The Kinks to The Smiths. Whether they embellish their songs with the jazz rhythms of Dave Brubeck or the pizzicato strings of vintage pop, they make the ideas work for them.

"The main emphasis for us is the songs," says Sean. "The band revolves around the songwriting process. That's what spurs things on," says Sean.

Although they've been together formally for four years, Sean began a songwriting partnership with singer Russell Keogh when the pair got their first guitars at the age of 14. "It was around the time that Oasis and Nirvana came out," recalls Kavanagh. "Some of the songs on the album are quite old."

The band has been gigging for the past few years. "You never know who's watching you at gigs," says Sean. "We played on a Tuesday night once to an audience of four people. But two of the audience were in JJ72. Mark Greaney had a chat with us. Eighteen months later we ended up playing on stage with Mark, doing JJ72 songs."

When not rehearsing, Kavanagh and his mates help out at an animal rescue service. (You might meet them at Dogs Aid in Swords). "Two of us are vegetarians," reveals Sean. "We do a bit of work for animal shelters. It's something that we hold dear to our hearts."

Contemplating the title of their album, I deduce that perhaps it's a coded reference to arcane musical influences. Arnold from the early Pink Floyd single Arnold Layne. Sideways from The Yardbirds epic Over Under Sideways Down. Not so.

"We were at the shelter one day and a dog came in who'd been involved in an accident when he was a pup," explains Sean. "His spine was bent sideways. He was a lovely little thing. He could only walk sideways. They called him Arnold. It was around the time that we were in the studio... so we just took it from there."

The band's album is available from their website but will be on iTunes and in shops next week. Such an elegant calling card ensures The Chapman Society can expect bigger crowds at their shows. -- EC

Arnold Sideways will be launched at Think Tank on Saturday, January 30th


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