Charm & Chain

Written by Josh Snider

The Pittsburgh based rock band Charm & Chain began as singer/songwriter Laurie Kudis's (vocals/keys) solo project in 2011. Soon after the release of "Heliacal Rise" in 2012, she was joined by bassist Eric Koester, guitarist Ryan Roseborough, and drummer Ben Sukenik to form the band's current line-up. Over living room and basement jam sessions, a tight chemistry between the four developed and they began turning out new songs rather quickly, building up a repertoire of original music. With over a year of writing and playing live shows under their belt, Charm & Chain headed into The Wilderness Recording Studio in late 2013 to record a new EP representative of the line-up. This 2nd release from Charm & Chain, "I Know What You Are", captures the diversity of the bands writing, the energy and atmosphere of a live show, and the range of influences playing a part in their unique style. Sometimes described as reminiscent of 70's classic rock, their sound is in many ways indefinable. And they like it that way. The members have widely eclectic music tastes and influences. They are just as comfortable exploring a bluesy rock groove, as they are building a spacey expansive jam or closing in on a sweet and melodic moment.

Josh Snider said: Have you played any shows out side of Pittsburgh?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: Hey Josh! Thanks for having us today.  We have yet to play outside of the city, but we would love to visit some of the towns around the burgh and play some shows.

Josh Snider said: What's it like booking shows in Pittsburgh? Has working with promoters been a positive or negative experience? Which is your favorite promoter or venue to work with?

Eric of Charm & Chain: We decided to take turns typing in order to get each band member's perspectives on these questions.  Booking shows in Pittsburgh has been a positive experience.  Early on, most every gig was booked independently of any promoters.  Now that we have this new EP, which shows want the current line up truly sounds like, we have been able to work with promoters like Opus One and Grey Area.  Both have been a pleasure to work.

Josh Snider said: Do you have anything currently in the works that your fans should be looking forward to soon?

Ben of Charm & Chain:  We are working on new material that we would like to have recorded soon. We have a Club Cafe show on May 3 in the Southside of Pittsburgh and a show at Thunderbird Cafe on June 7.  We will definitely be rocking the new tunes at those shows!

Josh Snider said: Who recorded your last album?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: We recorded "I Know What You Are", our new EP, with Jay Vega at Wilderness Recording Studio (formerly Jay Bird Studio). Jay was amazing to work with. His studio is in his home in Cranberry, PA and the atmosphere of the place is natural and wild and conducive to creativity.

Josh Snider said: What do you hope someone will take away from listing to your music?

Eric of Charm & Chain: I feel as though our music can elicit many emotions.  We have some happy, upbeat songs, songs with themes longing, sorrow, and regret, and even a few tunes that are more dark and angry.  That's one thing I really enjoy about playing in this band: I like the idea of allowing our listeners to experience a range of emotions when they hear our songs.

Josh Snider said: Laurie, Where did you find the rest of the band?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: I met Eric & Ryan when they were playing in a band called Kindsight. I practiced with that band a few times.  Then when I was recording the first CD, "Heliacal Rise", Ryan played guitar on two of the tracks.  I met Ben when he played in the band There There.  All these knuckleheads knew each other before that - Ben and Eric had played in a band called Bring Your Feet together a few years back. Anyway, when I was trying to get a band together to perform the songs live, I was super lucky that these guys were all available and we just clicked musically. 

BarbieK said: Which of your own songs are your favorites and why?

Eric of Charm & Chain:I like all of our songs!  Hehehe.  If I had to choose though, I'd probably say one of our new songs, "Best View".  It's the first song we wrote using a technique I like to refer to as Legostyle, where we all had these little sections that we put together like Lego bricks to form a song.  So the part I came up with is the first section of the song, then Laurie's part came next, then we repeated those two parts, and Ryan had an idea that got tacked on at the end, and it all just sort of fit.  My favorite song to play, though, is an instrumental tune called "Crooked".  It's probably our most difficult song to play, has like 6 or 7 different sections, and we like to think it sort of takes you on this musical journey.

Josh Snider said: How did yinz get into playing music?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: I started playing piano  in a children's piano program at Carnegie Mellon. I think I was about 5. I would go all day on Saturday and take all kinds of classes and have lessons each week. That was how I got started.

Ben of Charm & Chain:  4th grade concert band.  That is where I learned to rock so hard!

Eric of Charm & Chain: I started playing cello in 3rd grade.  After years of playing in an orchestral setting, I felt the need to play an instrument in a rock band, so I picked up the bass guitar in 8th grade.

Josh Snider said: What were the childhood rock stars that you looked up to most? 

Ben of Charm & Chain:  Eddie Vedder.  And Animal, from the Muppets.

Josh Snider said: What is the drive and motivation behind the music you make today?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: Making music is fun. Period. It is a chance to express yourself and playing in a group when the chemistry is right is all the motivation you need. It is an awesome feeling.  With each song, we try to make it the best it can be, push new boundaries, try new things, experiment.  We want to bring our fans the best experience of our music and keep it fresh and interesting. Lyrically, I'm constantly driven to write something for listeners to connect with and to be moved by, but also keep some mystery so that their experience with the song is truly unique.

Jonny Havoc said: What are some of your favorite music venues that you've performed at in Pittsburgh? 

Ben of Charm & Chain:  Club Cafe for sure.  We seem to have played there the most.  Then there is the Lava Lounge, Altar Bar, Smiling Moose, Bloomfield Bridge Tavern...and the Science Center (believe it or not).

Jesse said: What is the most difficult thing about playing live? What is the most rewarding thing about playing live?

Eric of Charm & Chain: Good question, Jesse.  I find the most difficult thing about playing live is getting a good sound mix.  For gigs that we've played in venues with a good sound man (Club Cafe, Lava Lounge, The Smiling Moose, Altar Bar, etc.), it's usually not an issue because these guys know the rooms and how it should sound.  For gigs where we need to be self-sufficient (provide our own PA and run our own sound), it can be tricky to sound the way we should.  As far as what is rewarding about live shows, I just like the idea of getting our music out to our fans and to people who have never heard us before.  

Amstel said: Where do begin when creating a new song?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: Hi Amstel. Thanks for taking the time to log on today. A song can start with a groove that someone starts at practice. Then we layer on parts and a full song starts to form.  Sometimes, the lyrics come first in the form of a poem, then the music is built around those.  It can also start when someone brings in a part or a chord progression they wrote and we build from there.

Barbie said: If given the opportunity...What would be your dream venue to play at? 

Ben of Charm & Chain:  Red Rocks Amphitheater 

Eric :  Here in Pittsburgh, Heinz Hall.  Anywhere on Earth, either the Sydney Opera House or the Lost City of Atlantis.

Laurie of Charm & Chain:  Madison Square Garden, of course...

Josh Snider said: Where did you get the idea for Seeker? 

Laurie of Charm & Chain: It started around the idea of playing on the words "Seeker" and "Seek Her".  When you think of a seeker, it's typically associated with a spiritual seeker. The song is about that, looking for truths, but it's also a multilayered theme. it's also about how we can spend our time seeking something, or someone,  and trying for it so hard, when maybe the better option might be to let it, or that person, come to us naturally or unfold on it's own. 

Amstel said: Who is your #1 fan? 

Ben of Charm & Chain::  Other than you, of course, I think that it is anyone who happens to be in earshot of our music.  Good question, Amstel!

Josh Snider said: If you were to do a cover song, who would it be?

Eric of Charm & Chain: We do lots of cover's a list!

Voodoo Lady by Ween Meatstick by Phish For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield Where is My Mind by The Pixies Corrina by Bob Weir & Ratdog That's All by Genesis Kids by MGMT

We're working on a few new ones, too.  We try to go for a good variety of songs by bands that we are fans of, and we try to make them our own. 

Josh Snider said: What age group do you mostly appeal to? 

Eric of Charm & Chain:  I would say we're a band for all ages!  Bring your kids, bring your grandparents...Charm & Chain is for EVERYONE!

Josh Snider said: Who writes the songs for the band?  

Ben of Charm & Chain:: All lyrics are written by Laurie.  As far as music is concerned, sometimes Laurie has songs she has already written that she brings to rehearsal and the rest of the band writes their own parts.  Other times, songs simply come out of a jam during practice.  We also have used the aforementioned Lego-style technique of songwriting, where we try to piece something together out of those little "bricks".  Everyone generally has their hand in the songwriting process.

Josh Snider said: How long has your band been together? 

Eric of Charm & Chain: We formed in July of 2012.  Our first gig was in November 2012 @ The Altar Bar here in Pittsburgh, opening for Lovebettie.

Katie Mc said: Laurie...Who is your greatest inspiration?

Laurie of Charm & Chain: I find inspiration in many people - especially those who push forward and are positive in the face of adversity. People amaze and inspire me all of the time.

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