Parisian pop punk/post-hardcore outfit Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s with infectious, party mosh anthems such as ‘Captain Blood’ and ‘In Friends We Trust’, the latter of which has become an iconic staple in the pop punk community. The band signed to Fearless Records in 2011, released two albums (Pardon My French and Get Lost, Find Yourself) and made several tour appearances around the world, including Australia’s very own Soundwave Festival in 2013.
While Chunk! haven’t been on our radars since 2015, the band took some time away from music to look after their personal wellbeing. They had been hoping to make 2020 their comeback to music with an appearance on UK’s biggest alternative/pop punk festival, Slam Dunk. Since obvious COVID restrictions has pushed that event back towards 2021 (fingers crossed!), vocalist Bertrand Poncet spoke at Fearless’ At Home livestream event earlier this year, clearing up all speculations that the band had broken up and announced the band were working on some new songs!
Before they drop new material however, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! are taking this extended downtime to reflect on their career and are determined to make the next phase even bigger than before. This week, they’re celebrating the album that seemingly cemented their musical style, Pardon My French. The band’s sophomore release featured fan faves ‘Restart’, ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ and ‘Taking Chances’ and saw the band tighten their style with catchier melodies, all while keeping the hefty A Day To Remember-like breakdowns we heard on their debut, Something For Nothing intact.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Bert to see how he’s doing during COVID, his thoughts on their career to date as well as what exactly they’ve got in store for 2021… (Spoiler alert: album #4 is in the works!)
Hey Bert! How are you? How has this whole COVID experience been for you?
It’s been such a rough year. Before lockdown we were actually beginning to write new material, then we had all of our shows for the year cancelled. It’s been a mess, but things are slowly getting back on track. Even now in October in Europe, the COVID situation is not so good at the moment, but we’re managing to make it work somehow.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen you guys. Your last release was ‘Blame It On This Song’ in 2016, which was such a killer song by the way. Then you all kind of disappeared off the radar.
We took a long break because we needed to take the time to pause in our career because after seven or eight years of touring nonstop, our lives were getting a little tough and we needed to take care of ourselves and everything first.
But now we’re ready to get back into it. We had been talking about new material for awhile now, and we were going to have one or two songs ready for Slam Dunk Festival (initially May 2020). Since that got cancelled, our label were like, “Hey, why don’t you guys write more songs, then you can come out with an EP or something?” So we kept writing and the label got really excited with what we came up with already. They were like, “OK, what do you guys think about making an album?” We haven’t really communicated on the fact that we’re making an actual album yet, but everybody on our team is very excited about it.
The problem is there’s now a fucking pandemic in the middle of everything. The plan is now to have the album ready for 2021 and by its release, hopefully there will be festivals and tours again.
Are you looking to stick to pop punk, or perhaps bring back more of the heavier riffs from Something For Nothing?
There will be something for everyone. From the typical Chunk! vibe of Pardon My French to even older stuff from our first album (Something For Nothing). However, these songs will be more mature. We really focused on making our sound evolve this time around. For a band like us that’s in such a niche genre, it’s not as easy to come up with a fourth album without being too repetitive or redundant.
I’m very happy that we’ve been able to take some time to think about the musical direction that would make sense for us as a band in 2020. Honestly, I wasn’t so confident writing new stuff at first for Chunk! But it’s all very exciting now. The songs so far are sounding legit. They make sense to us and our sound. I can’t wait to show everyone.
Yeah, I for one cannot wait to hear it because I freaking love you guys. One of my favourite songs is ‘Taking Chances’ from Pardon My French. I remember hitting repeat on that song so much when it was first released.
I think Pardon My French was the album that we really took into consideration the most with creating the new songs this year because that album was such a milestone for us. It has set the path for the rest of our career and our sound.
Yeah, 100%. It kind of became your breakthrough album. What was your favourite song to play live from Pardon My French?
They’re all fun to play, but I guess my pick would go with either ‘Restart’, ‘Taking Chances’ or ‘Haters Gonna Hate’. They’re the three songs that are a good representation of the album and they are very fun to play live as well.
You guys are also coming up to another milestone next year because it’ll be ten years since your first album, Something For Nothing. Any plans to do anything for it?
We were supposed to play a show in one of the biggest venues in Paris. I guess the show may still happen with all the social distancing and everything, but like everything else, it’s definitely not what we expected to do. But yeah, this will be our own way to celebrate that.
Did you guys expect your breakthrough song from that record, ‘In Friends We Trust’ to explode as big as it did? I mean, that’s like a pop punk staple now.
*laughs* Wow, yeah. Everything that happened with Something For Nothing was so unexpected. It’s true that everything and our entire career began with ‘In Friends We Trust’ and that music video. Even when I think about it today, I barely understand what happened but I’m just very happy that happened. It’s insane.
Is there anything you would do differently about the past?
Um, yeah, actually yeah, probably a lot of things. I mean, I don’t regret anything that we’ve done. With the first album, it’s the album we did when we were teenagers, partying, making mistakes and being very childish in general. Those were themes that made up a lot of the sounds of that album as well. That’s also what got us started.
If there’s one thing I wish we could have done earlier though, is be more serious and professional, especially when we started touring around the world. When we had our first tour in the United States and everything, it’s safe to say that I felt that we weren’t as prepared as we should have been. Fortunately, we did get to that point a little later, but at least we had a lot of fun and there’s no regrets!
Yeah, kinda like what you sing about on ‘Taking Chances’ in a way. Everyone eventually learns to grow up. And I’m sure we can definitely expect a much more mature aged Chunk! on Slam Dunk Festival as well as on the new album next year?
Yes and no, because we know that the fun part is in the party and it’s also part of our sound. However, the Chunk! you’ll get in 2020 will be more fun, but also a lot smarter and mature in a way than we were five years ago.
Absolutely! Well, we cannot wait to hear what you all come up with next year. Fingers crossed for you all in your plans, and stay safe!
Interview by Tamara May (@citylightstam)
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! re-release Pardon My French on an exclusive vinyl on Friday 30 October. But it
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! – Pardon My French vinyl tracklisting:
2. Taking Chances
3. Bipolar Mind
4. Haters Gonna Hate
5. The Progression of Regression
6. Pardon My French
1. Between Your Lines
2. I Am Nothing Like You
3. Reasons to Turn Back
4. So Close and Yet So Far
5. Miles and Decibels
6. The Best Is Yet to Come