Brite Winter 2016 Artist Spotlight: Chomp

By Rachel Hunt

“We played Peabody’s on the East Bank when we were 14. I remember calling to book the show from a payphone in high school,” Joe Boyer recalls the last time that he played a gig anywhere near the Flats. On Saturday, Chomp will play at 11:45 p.m. on the Harbor Inn Stage at Brite Winter, this time from the Flat’s West Bank.

The guys in Chomp have a lot of throwback stories from around the time that they first became a band. They played as “The Flukes”, a younger iteration of themselves barely in high school with little knowledge under their belts except for an intense love of performing the type of music they liked to listen to.

As Latimer, Reid, and Boyer got older they split up, joining other bands without plans to reunite. Boyer joined Cloud Nothings as a part of their live lineup, traveling extensively with them until 2012 when a series of life events landed him back in his hometown of Medina, OH. That same year Boyer released Buddha Jabba Momma, Chomp’s debut that was made from the remnants of his previous groups, but Boyer realized he needed to make a clean break after becoming disenchanted with aspects of the music industry and becoming physically removed from it as well.

“I was worried for a long time, because I wasn’t able to travel, that I was missing out on stuff,” says Boyer. “A friend of mine brought up that it’s actually a good thing because we’re writing music all the time removed from any influence; that it’s just going to be totally our own thing.”

Boyer reconnected with Reid, Chomp’s bassist, and Latimer their drummer at a similar juncture; a time where everyone needed to grow up and figure out what their next step would be without forgetting who they were and the music they enjoyed playing in their formative years.

That’s where it feels like Chomp’s newest release Bruise Control picks up, a more traditionally loud and fast, defiant punchy punk that deals with themes of alienation, anxiety, challenging authority and even themselves. Their songs have roots in early Fugazi or Green Day, but there is also room for experimentation as they toy around with amplified feedback, processed vocals, guitar setups, and utilizing samples within their music videos and live sets.

“I don’t feel part of the Cleveland scene. I have a lot of friends who play music in Cleveland, but I don’t feel we’re part of that. We play up there, sure, but I feel like since we got back together a few years ago, we’ve always had a bigger picture in mind.” Chomp played several shows surrounding the 2015 CMJ Music Festival in New York City, including a stint at The Cake Shop where they befriended the owner and have returned to visit and play since.

“The live show is only cherished by a select few anymore, where it used to be all that going to a show was about,” says Latimer sadly. For those willing to really watch and immerse themselves firsthand, Chomp’s sets stand out as the best in the city, more nuanced and powerful live than what’s actually on the record. To see Boyer play guitar with your own eyes is to really live. The group is ridiculously tight and can all shred. “I feel like people loose sight of what it’s like to be a fan. They’re so wrapped up in putting out news or a story or whatever, that they forget what it’s like to genuinely like music,” says Boyer.

They are off to Chicago and Detroit to play a few dates before SXSW where they hope to just continue to play music to new ears. “It’s cool to be recognized, I suppose, but we’ve been doing this for so long without the recognition we’re going to do it regardless,” Boyer reinforces their constant grind writing new songs, booking shows, and reaching out to old connections. “If there wasn’t for doubt, what would there be to push you?” he asks.