Q&A: Chairlift's Patrick Wimberly


Chairlift are one of the many bands to recently emerge from the Brooklyn music scene and find themselves in the national spotlight. Like some of the other bands selling records far from their burrow (Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, and Grizzly Bear to name a few), Chairlift got a lot of attention in the online music blog world that eventually got them fans all over the country. They got their biggest break, however with a savvy marketing campaign that catapulted them into the mainstream.

The band's enormous boost came last year when their song "Bruises" was picked to introduce a new line of iPods. This shot the song to number 1 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Singles list and sent hordes of people online to check out the band behind the infectious tune.

Now signed to Columbia, Chairlift are coming to Minneapolis, a city this constantly touring band is familiar with, in support of Peter, Bjorn, and John. Before coming to town Chairlift's Patrick Wimberly spoke to City Pages by phone.

City Pages: We heard that the band started out as a project that made music for haunted houses. Is this true?

Patrick Wimberly: That's true, but it was before I joined band. It's an import part of our identity as a group though and I think it's definitely transferred over to what we do now. The concept really gave us an outlet creatively to have something different to offer than your average band.

CP: Can you give us some insight into your experience of being signed to a major record label? How do you find out you're going to be signed?

Wimberly: It's actually a long process. In our case there were a few labels that were sort of courting us. Then you have management who act as the liaison between the band and the labels. We knew that we were going to be with Columbia for awhile, it just took time to work out the details. As a band, of course you want to get signed to the right label and really the final decision was all ours. It's a longer, more drawn out process than people think.

CP: Your debut (Does You Inspire You) has recently been rereleased and revamped with some new tracks and some revisions to the old ones. Were you unhappy with the original version?

Wimberly: We were a bit rushed when we recorded the first time. There were a few things that felt incomplete and when the opportunity came to rerelease it, we wanted to make the record exactly how we intended it to sound. Crawling back into the studio was exciting and we are really happy with the way it turned out. The whole record sounds warmer than it used to.

CP: The concert you are playing in Minneapolis with Peter, Bjorn and John will be the third time Chairlift has been in the city in less than a year. Does all that time touring wear on the band?

Wimberly: I actually love it. I think we find ourselves at home on the road. The longer we tour the better we get and it's fun to hang out with some of the people we're touring with. I'm looking forward to meeting Peter, Bjorn and John. I've heard that their super nice guys.

CP: The Brooklyn indie rock scene has become the center of the genre in recent years, much the way Seattle was the center for grunge in the 90's. With so many great bands in a relatively confined area we imagine that there is a decent amount of interaction.

Wimberly: There is definitely a cool thing happening out here. It's a community that were excited to be a part of but were not necessarily friends with all of the bands you're thinking of. There are definitely bands that were close with and get support from, but there are a lot of different things going on out here and you don't meet everyone.

CP: People that only know the band from the song "Bruises" and the iPod commercial that helped launch it may be surprised by the rest of your music; much of which is dark and a sometimes downright creepy. Do you feel any pressure to make lighter pop music now that you've found success with it?

Wimberly: We've never felt any pressure from our management or label to change the way we make our music. We love writing pop songs and we love writing creepy songs. Throwing curve balls so people don't know what they're going to get keeps our music interesting. We like surprising our listeners.

CP: Since you have been to Minneapolis so many times in the past year, is there a favorite experience you've had here?

Wimberly: Definitely. When we played at the 7th St. Entry last year we made friends with some of the guys from the Minneapolis band Velvet Davenport. We found out that it was our tour manager's birthday and one of the guys from Velvet Davenport's birthday so we decided we should go out and do something fun. We ended up going to a house party where they had one of those giant blow-up jumping castles. That was my favorite time in Minneapolis. We were jumping on that thing until 4 o'clock in the morning. Hopefully we will have more fun times in the city this year.

CHAIRLIFT play with Peter Bjorn and John tonight at the FINE LINE MUSIC CAFE. 18+. $17/$18 at the door. 7:30 p.m. doors.