Chantel McGregor is getting ready to release her eagerly anticipated second album Lose Control.

National Rock Review recently caught up with Chantel to talk about the new album, upcoming European tour, her love of Jeff Buckley and new found passion for the ukelele.

NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review. We’ve just been sent your new album Lose Control which we like a lot. The album is a bit different from Like No Other a little more on the hard rock side. What sparked the change in direction?
Chantel: Yeah, the change in direction. I mean I’ve never really been strictly blues, it’s always been sort of on that rock vein. So I think for me I just wanted to write songs that I enjoyed playing and hopefully that people enjoyed listening to.
NRR: Have you always been a fan of hard rock music?
Chantel: Yeah, it’s something I’ve always been into. When I was younger I was into Hendrix and Zeppelin and things like that. More recently I’ve been getting into the progressive side of things with the likes of King Crimson and Porcupine Tree.

As a kid I used to love stuff like Metallica, Iron Maiden (laughing). I used to play along every Sunday for like three or four hours to Iron Maiden albums, so it’s always been there and I think it’s just this album is sort of me doing my own thing as a songwriter as well and saying OK I want to write some stuff that I’m happy with and enjoy.

NRR: From what we hear there is a lot of influence on your new album from Southern Gothic literature. What sparked your interest in that area in particular?
Chantel: Basically it was because I wanted to write an album that I was interested in. When I wrote the album I did a lot of research so it was like I was spending a couple of days a week just sponging as I call it, my sponge days. Either watching films or videos or looking at art or reading about it.

I wanted to do something that I was interested in because I’ve got to spend a lot of time researching this, so I’ve got to be into it. I’ve always been into the Southern Gothic type of thing you know with things like ‘True Blood’, there was a song on the first album about it. That’s always been of interest to me and that sort of genre of film. It was kind of a given, I like it, I’ve got to spend time with it, let’s do that.

NRR: You can tell it runs right through the album and even the artwork has the Southern Gothic vibe to it.
Chantel: It was important for the consistency for me you know because the first album was very much a mish mash of loads of songs that had been written a while ago and new and stuff like that, it was just like a collection of songs really. Where as this new one I wanted a concise focused thing of this is what this is and it’s one thing and not 62 different things.
NRR: Did you take a different approach to writing and recording the new album?
Chantel: Yeah I gave myself 10 weeks. It was the start of May and I was going on holiday in August. So I said to myself I’ve got 10 weeks, so you’ve got to get 10 songs together and if you write a song a week and make sure it’s really good then you’ve got enough songs and you can go on holiday (laughing). So that’s what I did, I literally did one song a week and every one of them made it onto the album.
NRR: You recorded the album with Livingstone Brown at his studio in Brixton. What was it like working with Livingstone?
Chantel: Oh it was awesome. I mean I’ve known him since I was 15-16. He knows how I work and I know how he works and we get on great. I enjoy working with him because he listens to what I want and I can have my input.

You know with some producers it’s like you do it how they want and they are the producer. To me that’s not how it is, the producer is there to lend their ear and give their opinion but that’s not definitive. He values my own opinion and lets me do some of the production side of things, so that’s really cool.

NRR: Obviously this album has got more of a hard rock sound. Do you think that’s the direction that you are going to continue in or is it the sound for this album?
Chantel: I think it’s always kind of been rock anyway. I think it will continue being more rock (laughing) oops.
NRR: What’s the response been like from your fans so far?
Chantel: It’s been great, really good. I mean we’ve been playing these songs live for not quite a year yet. They love it, they are really into it which is brilliant because at first I was like it’s a bit of a risk putting out a rock album and I’m now playing all of these really heavy songs.

“Your Fever” is practically a metal song, and I was like are they going to like it, are they going to kill me, what’s gonna happen? They are just embracing it and they’ve kind of grown with it as well which is really nice. Their response has been so lovely.

You still get one every maybe 30 gigs where there is some guy who comes up and says I bought tickets thinking it was a blues gig and it’s like yeah but didn’t you look us up on YouTube to see what we actually do (laughing).

NRR: Out of all of the new tracks which is your favorite to perform live and why?
Chantel: Oh gosh. I love all of them. I just enjoy them because they are fresh and they evolve all the time as well. “Walk On Land” every time is different because it’s all improvised in the solos. It can go off on one, it can go modal it can go totally prog and start with syncopation and time displacement and it’s just nuts and every time it’s different. It’s great fun to mess about with.

I don’t know all of them are just really cool to play, I really enjoy all of them, I can’t pick.

NRR: When you mentioned Walk On Land there, I enjoyed it when I heard it live the couple of times I have seen you play it but when I heard it on the album it just blew me away. The whole thing just comes together and it sounds huge. Like you mentioned there about the solo it’s really, really passionate playing, it’s superb.
Chantel: That was the first take of the solo (laughing). We did three takes and I listened back and I was like it’s the first one, go with the first one. It was just performed straight through live and that was the take we used.
NRR: There’s a track I wanted to talk to you about “Eternal Dream” which I believed is about Jeff Buckley. How much of an influence was Jeff on you?
Chantel: Massive, I mean you can’t hear it in what I do normally. I never try and emulate or copy or even go near a Jeff Buckley song because you just don’t do it, nobody is ever going to match that.

I’ve been in love with his music since I was probably about 14 and I’d love to be able to play and write songs how he did. I just kind of wanted to have a bit of a nod to him on the album and it kind of fitted in with the deep south theme and the river and whatever else.

I was like I’m going to write this song about him, as well as the song being about him I wanted it to sound similar to how he sounded.

NRR: It does too, I was just listening to it. The first time I listened to it I didn’t know the story behind it. Then I heard the back story and listened to it again and I could hear the Jeff Buckley influence in the track. I love Jeff Buckley’s music also.
Chantel: It’s kind of tricky because I didn’t want it to sound like I had just ripped off a Jeff Buckley song, so it was about analyzing how he did things and how he phrased things. You know different versions of how he would play something and the sound he was getting and how he was getting it then trying to use that for inspiration. So that was a bit weird, it was a bit of a challenge but it was good fun.
NRR: So you are about to embark on quite an extensive UK tour, I think you are playing pretty much everywhere. Is there any show in particular that you are looking forward to the most?
Chantel: Kind of all of them. The thing is they are all different. It’s just really good fun playing live all of the time. I mean we’ve got Europe coming up in November for a month as well.

I don’t know, there’s not one gig that I say oh I love that gig. I mean there is, there’s Durham Gala Theater (laughing) that every year I look forward to because I know it’s going to be an amazing gig and it’s a great sound, the crew are lovely. You know there are places like Clitheroe Grand and things like that which you know is going to be a great gig.

For me I just love the whole live thing and seeing fans and friends, it’s like a catch up every time we have a gig (laughing) it’s great.

NRR: The last time I saw you in Durham I remember you were saying that you had just discovered the ukelele and I was just wondering how that had been going or if you have written anything on it yet?
Chantel: (laughing) I’ve kind of been messing about with it, i’ve not really done anything serious with it. Did you find out about the posh ukelele that I ended up buying?
NRR: No, I didn’t.
Chantel: Well, the little blue ukelele is over there in the conservatory and it’s naff but somebody gave it to me and it was really funny and I ended up taking it home, playing it a bit and then my dad was like well why don’t you get a proper one because it sounds really good. I was like really?

So we went down to this little folk music shop near where we live and they’ve got a wall full of ukeleles, they are all hand made ukeleles and I ended up buying the most expensive one on the wall. I think its a tenor ukelele or something. It was about £400 for a ukelele and I was like what have I done, but I haven’t really had time to use it yet. I need to use it.

NRR: I was wondering how you were going to turn the ukelele into a nice hard rock song.
Chantel: That’s for the next album (laughing).
NRR: I look forward to hearing that. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, it’s great talking to you again.
Chantel: Thank you so much.

Chantel McGregor’s new album Lose Control will be released on Friday 9th October via Tis Rock Music. She tours the UK until mid-December. Album and tour date info: www.chantelmcgregor.com
2015 Tour Dates

15-Aug Worthing Pier South Pavilion Box Office: 01903 366017
Tickets: £16.50
website
28-Aug Billericay New Crawdaddy Club Box Office: 01702 347007
Tickets: £12.00
website
11-Sep Leamington Spa, The Assembly
Zephyr Lounge
Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
12-Sep Newark Blues Festival Tickets: £15.00 website
17-Sep London, 100 Club Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £14.00
website
19-Sep Hessle, Town Hall Box Office: 07969 457382
Tickets: £13.00
website
20-Sep Whitby, Pavilion Theatre Box Office:  01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00 | £15.00 door
website
24-Sep Stockton, The Arc Box Office:  01642 52519
Tickets: £13.00 adv | £15.00 door
website
25-Sep Louth Riverhead Theatre Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £14.00
website
26-Sep Wrexham, Central Station Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
01-Oct Birmingham, The Institute
The Temple
Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
02-Oct Ruislip, The Tropic Box Office: 020 8707 2256
Tickets: £14.00 adv | £15.00 door
website
09-Oct Halifax, Playhouse Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
10-Oct Southport, The Atkinson
Blues Festival
Box Office: 01704 533333
Tickets: Â£15.00
website
16-Oct Doncaster, The Dome Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
17-Oct Retford, The Elms Box Office: 07737 130534
Tickets: Â£12.50 adv | £15.00 Door
London Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire, DN22 7DX
21-Oct Sheffield, Greystones Box Office: 0114 266 5599
Tickets: £13.00
website
22-Oct Edinburgh, The Caves Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
8-12 Niddry Street South, Edinburgh, EH1 1NS
23-Oct Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
24-Oct Carlisle, The Venue Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website
26-Oct Salisbury, Arts Centre Box Office: 01722 321744
Tickets: Â£15.50 adv | £18 door
website
27-Oct Exeter, Phoenix Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £14.00
website
28-Oct Bridport Arts Centre Box Office: 01308 427183
Tickets: TBA
website
29-Oct Brighton, Komedia Box Office: 0845 293 8480
Tickets: £14.00
website
31-Oct Lincoln, Engine Shed Box Office: 01472 349222
Tickets: £13.00
website

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Photo: © Steve Howdle

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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