By MIKE CHAIKEN
If you’ve been patrolling the original music scene of Connecticut, you may have run into, listened to, or seen the band Mission Zero.
The duo of brother and sister duo of David and Chenot has been around since 2010, keeping up a full schedule of gigs and releasing their self-described “smart, sexy trip-hop indie pop” recordings out into the unsuspecting world.
After a busy December and January, and with a little bit of a break before their next gig at the Desultory Theater Club in Torrington in February, we caught up with Chenot for a little Facebook Q&A.
OBSERVER: There was a stylistic musical journey you guys went through before you got to Mission Zero. Talk to me a little bit of the other ventures past and present.
CHENOT: Well, when David was about 5, he got his first drum set, and since then it’s been non-stop, pretty much. Along the way we’ve played in a bunch of bands together, including several years touring with Connecticut swing and R&B band Eight to the Bar. Playing other peoples’ styles of music was a great way for us to hone our chops and find our own sound on our own time. We still play with other bands – David is currently Ritchie Blackmore’s drummer, and I play solo acoustic shows around New England (Editor’s note: She was at the Hearthstone in Plantsville Jan. 11)– but when we play together as Mission Zero it feels like home.
O: How does the sound of Mission Zero fit your creative needs?
C: We’re kind of an unusual pair because our main instruments are drums and voice. With just those two elements, we wouldn’t be able to get the big, full sound we’re after. So we add live guitar and keys here and there, plus some nifty vocal effects, and a whole bunch of sounds we craft and in the studio and take with us on a laptop. David gets to play the crap out of those drums, and I get to sing my lungs out, and the music around us is the sound we specifically made to support what we each do best.
O: What led you to the particular sound of Mission Zero?
C: Most of the time when we’re writing, we start with our two primary instruments and try to feature them, so you’re always going to get intricate percussion and challenging vocal parts. The rest is us trying things out and seeing what sounds right in the studio and later on stage.
O: Why a duo and not a full blown band?
C: On New Year’s Eve, we played with 1974, and the lead guitarist (of 1974) and I were talking about that very thing. 1974’s dynamic works so well (there are five of them) but it sounds like it can be tricky to make their schedules work together sometimes. Also, when I handed them their paycheck at the end of the night, I was bummed when I realized they had to split it five ways. For us, music is our only job. Eventually, when we’re making mad cash from it, then maybe we’ll consider adding some bandmates.
O: You’re siblings. Was this combo inevitable? Or was it an odd twist that you guys decided you were each other’s best musical partners? How so?
C: I can only speak for myself here but David is an absolutely brilliant musician. He’s also the nicest guy around (seriously, wander around New Haven and ask anybody). I can’t imagine not being in a band with him.
O: The history of musical siblings is long in rock and roll. How do you guys help foster the best of being related to other members of the band, and how do you avoid the worst of being related to your bandmates?
C: We’re lucky because we both love making music more than almost anything in the world, and there’s no ego-driven rivalry or any of the usual stuff that breaks up sibling bands. When we write music, we barely ever have to construct actual sentences to get ideas across to each other. We just have our own language made up of facial expressions and funny bits of song references and old movie quotes. And we don’t fight. Ever. So that’s good.
O: There is also an irreverence in the band’s demeanor as evidenced by your Facebook page. (For example, “Bands Interests: the band is interested.”) Is that a deliberate move, or does it reflect your own personalities? How so?
C: We’re so appreciative when people follow what we’re up to, so we try to keep it light and fun.
O: Talk to me about songwriting. What inspires a Mission Zero song, musically and then lyrically.
C: Musically, our inspiration comes from all over. We both love to travel… I think it’s important to get away from familiar surroundings if you want to get different sounds going in your head. Most of the time our lyrics come later, after the music has started to take shape. Sometimes they have meanings that are clear to us, and fictional or non-fictional stories behind them, and other times they’re more ambiguous… We have this new song called “Stickers,” and we joke about how David says the lyrics reflect his growing discomfort with large corporations gaining sinister amounts of political influence, and how I think the song is about cute people in the audience. So, basically, the point is that we come at things differently sometimes, but if the end result is something we both think sounds great, it doesn’t really matter.
O: You guys are fairly busy with gigs for a group with original material. What is your long term goal for Mission Zero?
C: Our long-term goal is to be able to tour around the world with Mission Zero whenever we feel like it (which will be a lot). We’re working on our first southern tour this spring, so I think that will be a good start.
O: What gigs are coming up for Mission Zero?
C: Our next local shows will be Feb. 21 in Torrington at Desultory Theatre Club’s Third Year Anniversary Bash, and Feb. 28 at Hoops ‘n’ Hops in Simsbury (my birthday bash). Spring tour dates are coming soon.
For more information about Mission Zero and its upcoming gigs, check out Mission0.net