Bangor band Chamberlain goes underground to rise above

What’s in a name? That which we call an indie rock band by any other name would sound just as awesome. So Chamberlain, the Bangor-based four piece, has learned, after tossing around multiple ideas for names and different songwriting approaches since their very first rehearsals two years ago. They were initially known as Tree Streets, after the East Side neighborhood in Bangor; after some personnel changes, they felt the name was no longer appropriate. They wanted something a little punchier, to reflect their new, more energetic sound.

“It had some bad vibes connected with it,” said Adam Goode, bass player and current state legislator for Bangor, who is running for re-election this year. “We wanted a fresh start, though we also wanted to keep a Bangor area kind of theme to it.”

To that end, Chamberlain references the Civil War general Joshua Chamberlain; a Brewer resident, but an area hero nonetheless. Over the summer, the band recorded a four-song EP with Bangor producer Joshua Strange; it’ll be released to the public on Saturday, Nov. 10. Goode, vocalist Kat Johnson, drummer Ryan Tipping-Spitz (also running for the State House, but in Orono) and guitarist Christopher Dodd recorded the album in the basement of an undisclosed building in downtown Bangor, and Johnson’s striking design for the cover art is inspired by two mannequin heads found randomly, in their subterranean lair.

“That basement is our center, kind of,” said Johnson. “That’s where everything came together for us, and luckily Josh was able to record us right there. We figured it was appropriate to reference that with the cover art. We’ve spent a lot of time down there.”

The self-titled EP is approximately 16 minutes of stomping indie garage-rock, with a bit of a fuzzy, noisy, Sonic Youth-esque edge thanks to Dodd’s stellar guitar work (as on the opening track, “Patti Holly,” full of zooming, distorted solos), and a punk rock flair via Johnson’s channeling of vocalists like Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Patti Smith. For a band that has been through a lot of changes since its inception in Fall 2010, there’s been a remarkable continuity in terms of attitude, something all four members have lots of.

“I think our biggest thing is that we’re much more concerned with being a fun live band than we are being perfectly technical or a perfect in the studio or whatever,” said Goode. “I’ve always just wanted to have fun playing live. That’s what I get the most enjoyment out of. It was almost strange for me to record, though I really like how the album came out. It helped that we recorded it all live, with almost no overdubs.”

“I know I love to perform live and get all that creative energy out,” said Johnson. “Trying to distill that wasn’t easy.”

The band is busy solidifying a series of shows in November and December to celebrate the release of the album, which is available online via their Facebook page, or at the Rock & Art Shop on Central Street in downtown Bangor.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.