The Australian trio are currently on their North American tour.
Inspired by an episode of Black Mirror, alt-pop group Chase Atlantic’s video for “Heaven and Back” starts out with a woman finding herself on the ground, unconscious after overdosing on heroin.
It’s a wildly dark image, but according to the Australian trio, the darkness only portrays the song’s story, not the overall feeling. They actually believe it’s an upbeat song, which is why the futuristic visual also comes equipped with a lot of getting down in the club and '80s-evoking scenes that include trumpets, lightning bolts, and dark purple lights. “Heaven and Back” might address the important issue of drug abuse ("She fell in love with a pill that could take away all her pain/ Then she fell in love with a whole new drug that could fill her veins"), but it’s also an explosive, genre-melding tune that feels cathartic to move to.
That contrast between light and dark stays true throughout the group's entire sophomore album PHASES, which was released last month on June 28. Brothers Mitchel and Clinton Cave and good friend Christian Anthony talked to Billboard all about the album, and how their audience has grown since they played New York's Irving Plaza as the opener for Lights last year. “And now we’re doing Webster Hall," the band remarks. "That's crazy."
Take a look at what went into the making of PHASES in the full interview below.
You just released your new album, PHASES, how has the reaction been so far?
The reaction has been pretty good. I think we released an album at a tough time of the year, so to be able to have this many streams and this much positive reaction is amazing. I feel like the reactions have all been really genuine. We’re not a new band anymore — the fan base has followed and they really like it. Haven’t heard anything negative except for maybe like, one crazy person.
Also, we’re on the road and focused on playing the shows every day. We don’t really have a lot of time to sit down and go through the streams, but we do have a look at what people say on Twitter and stuff and so far I think people are really enjoying the album. If there’s people who don’t, then all that does is gets the conversation going, which is what we want.
As you mentioned, you’re on tour. How have the shows been going? Are there any specific songs that people respond to?
I think the way we open the set is kind of the same way we open the album, with the intro song going into “Angels,” and that’s such a large, exciting song. Coming on the stage with that gets the crowd really hyped. We recently played “Heaven and Back” for the first time, before anybody had heard that song. Just watching the growth — even before the song came out, with people going online and trying to find the lyrics — that song has really had a huge reaction live. It’s such a fun song to play live as well, it really suits the environment. Those are the two new songs that have been crazy.
This is the follow up to your debut album — did you at any point during the recording process fear the sophomore slump?
It’s definitely a real thing to think about as you’re making an album at any point in time. You always think, “Is this album going to be better than the last album?” And you get that concern that it might not be. So yeah, it’s real. Our first album was much more towards the darker side — a little more edgy and serious and gritty — but this one’s more towards the brighter, poppier side, which we’re comfortable with.
We also think it’s going to be a timeless album and it’s going to be one that’s going to have to grow on people because it’s different. It’s like the first one — it didn’t hit straight away, it took some time. All good music is like that, it’s like The 1975’s album [A Brief Inquiry To Online Relatioships] even. When it finally does grow on you, it becomes your favorite album. They might not know it yet, but this will be a lot of people’s favorite album.
Since you produce everything yourselves, does that change the recording process for you?
Absolutely. It makes it a whole lot easier but it makes it harder to maintain a level of professionalism because we are kids out here making music. But we try to break that mold and become professional and successful. In a sense though, nothing’s changed, because it’s just the way we’ve always done it. We’re just in a bigger studio now. Doing it the same way we’ve always done it, just bigger rooms. It’s always changing, but it hasn’t changed at all. There’s no formula to it — it can’t be copied. It’s one of a kind.
Was there a song that set the tone for the rest of the album once you wrote it?
“Angels,” for sure. We actually produced a bunch of the instrumental at home and I think one day we walked in and Mitchel was working on “Heaven and Back,” and when we first heard that instrumental as well, that was definitely a direction we wanted to head in with this album.
You’re also about to release your new video for “Heaven and Back,” can you tell me a little bit about what inspired it?
Have you seen that Black Mirror episode with the two girls who are actually in a virtual reality world and they meet each other and go dancing and it turns out they’re actually old ladies the whole time and they go into the afterlife?
No, but that checks out.
Well in a way, the video was inspired by a Black Mirror episode. A lot of '80s scenes in the video. We wanted to make it like a dance party but the song is about literally doing heroine, so we wanted to contrast that between having a party and a dark situation.
Finally, what’s next for you?
We’re on tour at the moment! We’re just about halfway through, currently in Tulsa. There’s a lot of kids coming out, which is awesome because we’ve never really played a show here. And we’re going to continue making music. All last night, we were up making music. We had an off day and our favorite thing to do is to produce. This tour as well, the whole set up we have with the lighting rig… It’s a real show. It’s not just like a band set up on stage. It’s a big experience for fans. We’re actually confirming at the moment that hopefully we can bring it to other countries and turn it into a world tour. And yeah, always working on new music. There should hopefully be new music by the end of the year.