Not all restrictions circumvent freedom. What’s more, for Canadian garage rockers, Chains of Love, limitations have proven essential to artistic breakthrough and invention. Bound by the most amorous of sentiments and a self-imposed minimalist production scheme, the independent quintet from Vancouver makes a kind of pop music they’d loosely describe as “Sixties girl group,” but only if they’re forced to put on a label on it. More accurately, it’s a patchwork of influences, pulled viscerally from recollections ingrained in the mind of its players, rather than hand-selected or predetermined in the creative process.
Chains of Love, inherently, is a product of this menagerie, and can’t be recreated without the sum of its parts.
“It’s all recorded with certain limitations and period recording techniques, like pretending we can only lay down four tracks,” explains Felix Fung, guitarist and producer for the group. “Even if it was performed modern, we still record it under those conditions… It might sound a little bit pretentious, but it’s like a post-modern-y grab from whatever band we’re referencing in our minds. Maybe it’s a band from the ‘60s, or maybe it’s a band that was referencing a band from the ‘60s. Maybe it’s from an ‘80s ‘60s revival.”
Influenced by Brits like David Bowie as well as technical pioneers such as American drummer and Wall of Sound impresario, Hal Blaine, Chains of Love reflects the diversity of a range in musical tastes. All five members play in other bands – Steve Ferreira, the drummer, plays in five – crossing the spectrum from rock to punk to goth. Yet their music is unified and vivacious. Only a year in the making, the band released their first 7” single earlier in the year, they also put out two new songs on Dec. 13th, and their debut EP is due February 14th for Valentine’s Day. As a collection, their music assumes the psychedelic flair and whimsical vocals of decades past and present. The song “You Got Me” pairs a hyperbolic keyboard with a catchy hook and constrained harmonic arrangements, whereas “Breaking My Heart” travels a lamented course with the drumset and electric guitar. Others like “Black Hearts” maintain a homeostasis of the cooperative.
At times, Chains of Love could be construed as a hybrid of The Doors and The Supremes, yet there’s often also the musical essence of a soulster like Sam Cooke, or Motown’s finest, The Temptations. Like they said, they’re a consortium of time and inspiration.
“I always like those pop tunes that can get you out of the place you’re in and take you somewhere else,” remarks Ferreira, an attribute the band equates with a group like The Beatles. “You don’t feel like the song is two and a half minutes because you stepped out of your world…It’s escapism.”
Lead vocalist Nathalia Pizarro adds her own recommendation, “’Beyond the Clouds’ by The Poppy Family… There’s some great Canadian music for you.”
Pizarro describes the music scene in Canada as a generally good-natured slate. She portrays it as “incestuous,” with many artists overlapping in groups, and “pretty cool for the most part,” though there’s always that longing to try out another city – San Francisco and New York for example. At this point, nevertheless, the band is fortunate enough to have regular access to a studio and most members have other jobs and personal commitments, so they’ll keep Vancouver as a home base and save the other cities for touring. In fact, they’re hitting the West Coast this month, with dates set in San Diego, L.A. and the Bay Area.
Going forward, Chains of Love primarily aims to be continuous, maintaining a forward motion that will allow them the open-ended chance to put out records. They have no elaborate dreams of fortune and fame, though admittedly they wouldn’t turn down an opportunity should it be presented. Asked if they viewed love and relationships with optimism, there wasn’t a definite conclusion. Instead, they offer an elusive hope that, like their music and their band, love will never cease.
“We love love,” laughs Pizarro.
Chains of Love is undeniably a less-is-more sort of band – beginning with little and outputting significantly further than they’d conceived. True to character, if given the chance to live in another era, they’d prefer to stick around in this one. While they express nostalgia for the past, they like where they’re at now, and are content with their people and their music.
“It’s hard to define success because so many artists are chronically dissatisfied at all times,” notes Fung. “I think it’s being able to do what you want to do, and being able to live comfortably… I don’t know if we’ll ever get some six-album deal with Polydor, but I hope we can do another 7” record, another EP, another album… Success is just to do it again.”
Nevertheless, they might take credit for some pretty awesome inventions, if they could at least. For Pizarro, that’s free energy; for Fung, jet packs; and for Ferreira, albeit sarcastically, “the wheel.”