By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Doing this other thing doesn't mean Chellew has walked out on Captain Audio for good. She says she's been talking to Curtis and Garza about doing a run of shows featuring Chao and The Secret Machines, along with Captain Audio. "Just have one long set, basically, with rotating members," she says. "That would take a little bit of rehearsal and stuff to get into it, but that's something we'd all look forward to doing. And we'd love to break in and make another record. It's just not on the calendar right now."
Originally, Chellew was supposed to go with Curtis and Garza to New York. The plan was for the band to move up there for short periods of time, to facilitate touring along the East Coast. "But when it came down to it, I really wasn't ready to move," Chellew admits. "It was just perfect timing to do a Chao record."
Timing is something Chellew brings up often while discussing Hitsthemiss, and it does seem as if the project was supposed to happen, that everything fell into place without being forced there. Captain Audio's sabbatical is the most obvious example: She needed time to pursue a solo project, and then Garza and Curtis left town, freeing up her schedule. But there are subtler instances, like the inclusion of "I Wanna Be Sedated," retitled "Something for Joey," in honor of the late Joey Ramone. "I had done a version like that years ago, just playing around in the studio," Chellew says. "And that was something that Tami had remembered when I was getting this together. He passed away in April, and that was the week before I was going into the studio, so it was kind of like, yeah."
Once Chellew got into the studio, she quickly decided to shoulder most of the load herself, rather than trying to explain what she wanted. And even though Chellew handled most of the instruments--Earl Harvin and Vibrolux's Trey Pendergrass play drums--there are times when it sounds like there's a full band in the room, playing off one another, watching each other for the changes. Chellew laughs a little when she's told this, because nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, anytime Chellew was in the studio a full band was in the room: She just couldn't play all the instruments at the same time.
"That was just the way it turned out, really," Chellew says. "Never really done any of these songs really with other people, so to speak. It's all been stuff I've done at home, and I just kind of had all the pieces in my head. It's hard to try to convey that to someone else. It's just easier going in and trying to get it yourself. I'm not really good at playing the drums and stuff; I played live drums on one track. It takes a long time to do all the instruments. Because you have to run into the control room to listen to it, and then you have to run back in there and try to do that."
Chellew played at the North Texas New Music Festival, backed by Striplin and Joe Butcher and drummer Tony Barsotti, yet she doesn't plan to turn Chao into much more than a studio project. Counting the first Chao show last December, she's only performed four times and doesn't expect that number to increase much. She has ideas for different performances, though they don't necessarily include more Chao shows. And she's also already planning more studio-based projects. She talks about taking a break, but as the ideas pour out, it's hard to see that actually happening.
"I want to keep busy. I want to keep things going out," she says. "There's an idea for a remix record for Hitsthemiss. Got some people in the works to do some remixing, so I want to get that out pretty soon. And I'm going to take some time off and just really put different shows together. Different players, different lineups, different executions of the set--you know, electronic shows, acoustic shows. A lot of it's really conceptual; I haven't put it down yet. But I want to do some electronic shows where there's all just kind of chaos happening, whether it's me doing it physically, with sampler and keyboards or drum machines and things like that, or I have people contributing."
She pauses, thinking about all the projects she's just mentioned, all these plans that exist in her head and heart. All these ideas that need a group of people to speed them along. A band. She finally continues, sighing, "It's really frustrating sometimes being totally solo, because you can't do all these things."