Choke... Easier To Swallow

Choke... Easier To Swallow
With so damn much sameness in punk rock these days, it's getting harder and harder to differentiate from a world of bands like New Found Glory and Fenix TX. More often than not, the bands that claim to be playing punk are actually, to quote the mighty Wretch Like Me, "watered down bullshit versions of the real thing." So it's completely understandable and commendable that real punk bands want to do something to set themselves apart from the cloned major label pretenders. Edmonton's Choke is clearly one of those bands.

Over the course of their first four albums, the quartet made a name for themselves as one of the most technically complex hardcore bands, not only in Canada, but pretty much anywhere. They joked on their last album, 1999's [foreword], that things got so complex they couldn't even play what they had written. "I think with [foreword] we were trying to destroy any chance we had at a career," bassist Clay Shea says half-jokingly. "We were purposely trying to distance ourselves from all the bands that were doing the same thing."

That was then. On their fifth album, There's a Story to This Moral, Shea, drummer Stefan Levasseur, and guitarists/vocalists Shawn Montcrieff and Jack Jaggard have dispensed with much of the intricate King Crimson noodling and complex mathematical time signatures of their last two releases and are incorporating traditional song structures into their frantic punk rock maelstrom — less Frisell and more Fugazi. Less Refused and more Rush.

"We are doing crazy things like singing choruses twice and some songs don't have 14 parts," says Shea. "When we were making [foreword] it was exactly what we wanted to do at the time and it was crazy. Writing this record, we tried to listen from the perspective not of guys who just spent 15 hours trying to learn these parts and ‘goddamn we're keeping them,' but more from the notion of does this flow, does this sound pretentious? We wanted to keep the technicality and things that make us ‘us' but have someone who isn't necessarily a music major appreciate us. I don't think it's a drastic thing. If you listen to the record you go, ‘yah, that's Choke.' But at the same time it is quite a bit different." Choke tours Canada in support of the disc in late April and early May.