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Heading up Topman CTRL online for the month of April, Chew Lip’s  James Watkins and Tigs sit down with DIY to talk success, SXSW and a fondness for bum smacking.

Chew Lip's James Watkins and Tigs at Topman, Oxford Circus.

Hi guys, thank you for joining us. How is everything in the world of Chew Lips?

Tigs and James: We’re jetlagged, we just arrived back from SXSW last night.

As a new band, playing SXSW is a pretty big deal. Can you describe the experience for our readers.

Tigs: Mind-blowing. You walk down the street, catch someone’s eye, and they smile. Even if it was just for a second, people are so warm, and always want to talk. It was incredible.

James: It’s definitely a lot more laid back from UK festivals.

Tigs: I really cannot stress that point enough, I have never seen anything like it.

James: After we arrived, we went down to the lobby of the hotel, met another band and got chatting. We shared a taxi with them into town and ended up at their show at the Copa Cabana, which is your classic SXSW club. We had just met these guys, and ended up at their show. This is what it is like.

You clearly see an obvious difference from the UK and US crowd?

Tigs: I don’t know if SXSW is typical of your US crowd. I think it’s just a special festival. They’re not shy in telling you what they like they properly go for it. Even the bands are clapping. That would never happen here, bands are too cool to do that. The crowd get so enthusiastic, high-fives and everything.

James: I’m not a natural high-fiver though.

Tigs: I am. At SXSW I spent a whole night running through the street just smacking bums, no one said a thing, everyone was just so happy. (She laughs) I’m sorry this has nothing to do with your question.

Blame it on the jetlag

Tigs: I’m babbling on now aren’t I?

James: Yes.

That said SXSW really helps young bands to gain exposure. Have you had any offers that might help you crack America?

Tigs: There are deals on the table from this trip, which is why a lot of people go out there. All the right labels came and we are in talks now. You need a big label to crack America; you can’t do it in low-key way.

You’ll definitely go back then?

Tigs: Oh God Yeah, we’re going to New York in six months for a few shows.

Despite your debut album, ‘Unicorn‘ not being released in the US you have a growing number of fans (During their performance at SXSW the entire crowd sang along to every one of their songs) were you surprised at the crowd’s response?

Tigs: I was shocked and surprised. You play in front of industry crowds, and industry crowds are cack, they don’t give you any promotion. But when we were there it was a packed room, the front two-thirds knew every word not just the singles, but the whole album. I was touched. And we haven’t even had a release over there. They’re probably ripping it off online.

We’ve heard the term ‘overnight success’ being used a lot in relation to Chew Lips beginnings. Is this the case, or did it take a very long way to get to where you are today?

Tigs: Both. We got noticed very quickly. But, we spent a long time writing before we put anything out, because we wanted it to be good. It was our fifth show when we started to get touted by management companies. For any band that was ridiculous, because we weren’t ready for it at all, and we weren’t very good. We had something but we weren’t polished, it was rough and messy. But you can’t chose when you get attention.

Do you worry about the fact that with fame comes the fear of selling yourselves out, and bowing down to certain industry standards?

James: I think if you change who you are to become big then that is selling out.

There has been a lot of criticism over the use of advertising in Lady Gaga’s single  Telephone, where would you draw the line?

Tigs: If something came up that we didn’t find morally unacceptable, and they wanted to use our song, that had already been ripped off online to promote their product then we wouldn’t have a massive problem with that. Like the classic example of bands in a mobile phone advert. Obviously we wouldn’t let them use it for something like a tampon advert. Gaga can do whatever she wants. She is so out there anyway and makes all her own rules. In American that is totally acceptable, here people do not forgive you for things like that. Here, that is viewed as selling out.
James: As long as you don’t bend over backwards for people it’s fine.

So what have you got lined up for the summer, any UK dates?

James: It’s shaping up quite nicely.

Tigs: We played 35 dates last summer, and with some of them, we punched way above our weight. We opened for the Killers at Hard Rock Calling for example, which was crazy. We will be more selective this time with UK dates because there is like five festivals every weekend now. We’re doing the Montreux Jazz festival. Everyone from Bo Diddley to Stevie Nicks has played there. We’re also playing at Exit festival in Serbia, Rock n Seine, in Paris. And in the UK, we are doing Lovebox, V, and Camden Crawl.

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