New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

The Bitter Chills

By Gary Wien

originally published: 01/21/2017

The Bitter Chills

“When I formed the band with Pete, part of the mantra for me was I wanted to do something with more of a sense of humor to it,” said Matt Cheplic, talking about the history of The Bitter Chills.  “The first go around for me was straight forward and honest, which was fine.  It was what I was doing at the time, but I felt I had done that and wanted to do something that was a little more tongue in cheek… a little sillier.”

In the early 2000s, Cheplic had given the singer-songwriter route a strong run.  He released Don’t Let Me Lose My Mind, a solo album put out under his own name, on a Monmouth County label and did shows around the country.  The record received airplay on college stations and public radio, but things fell apart when the label went under. Years later, he released Who Burned The Book of Love? - another solo album as a fundraiser for a homeless shelter in Union City.  He had already begun playing with Pietro Ciliberto, a fellow teacher at Roselle Catholic High School, about starting a band.

“Pete plays mandolin and we got to talking about mutual artists we like - rootsy, Americana stuff,” recalled Cheplic. “And so for a little while it was just the two of us and then it was the two of us plus somebody else.  There was a lot of different iterations.”

The band released their first record, Birth Of The Cold, in 2013.  It began simply by recording a few tunes, but before they knew it they had enough for a full record. It was largely a low-fi acoustic effort, but it was here that the band’s sense of humor was instilled via songs with titles like “You’re Not the Girl of My Dreams (But You’ll Do)” and “I’m Ready for My Mid-Life Crisis.”

The Bitter Chills

Humor, from puns in their lyrics to quirky promotional videos, became part of the band’s lore.



The article continues after this ad

 


What would you do if you discovered you happened to schedule a live concert on an internet radio station at the same time the World Cup Final (the most watched sporting match in the world) was taking place? For The Bitter Chills, it meant shooting a tongue-in-cheek video providing all of the reasons why people should listen to their concert rather than watch a bunch of guys flopping around a soccer field. 

There’s a video which promotes the band’s tour of New Jersey that kicks off and ends on the very same day.  Cheplic compares the two shows the band will play on that day to the two sets Phil Collins played in London and Philadelphia for Live Aid.  It may or may not bring a chuckle, but it’s something different, something creative just like the band’s website which features an FAQ page that reads like a classic Beatles presser.

“I think a lot of bands and artists are uncomfortable with showing a sense of humor for some reason,” said Cheplic.  “I don’t know what that means.  Don’t it mean that they’re less serious as artists or less legitimate? It makes me laugh because you’ve got the greatest, most influential band of all time who always had a sense of humor.  The Beatles were always doing things that were tongue-in-cheek or mocking themselves a bit.  I think you can be a band that’s serious about what you do, but not feel the need to be overtly serious all of the time.”

None of that would matter if the music wasn’t good, but the songs are incredibly catchy.  The Bitter Chills have songs that evoke artists like Marshall Crenshaw, Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe. The band will celebrate the release of their second album, Feel-Good Songs For Feel-Bad People on Friday, February 3 at Sticks & Stones in Hawthorne, NJ.  They will be joined on the bill by fellow Mint 400 labelmates The One and Nines and Young Legs.

This album was produced by Neil Sabatino who runs Mint 400 Records and plays in the band Fairmont. He took the band’s rootsy sound and gave it a complete polish over, almost making the songs sound like the British artists like Nick Lowe who are inspirations to Cheplic.  It’s a wonderful blend of folk, sixties groove, and melodic power-pop with plenty of hooks.

While not as silly as the band’s first album, there is still quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek lyrics on this album as well. Songs include titles like “My Lady Lacks the Energy (To Find Somebody New)” and “Jared Livingston, Last of the Great American Schoolyard Bullies” and lyrics that remind me of the type of songs Elvis Costello used to write in the late 70s and 80s.

I’ve got nothing but love for you / I’ve got nothing but love for you / but unfortunately for me, you need money too — (“Nothing But Love, Unfortunately”)

In addition to Cheplic (vocals and guitar) and Ciliberto (mandolin, backing vocals), the band includes bassist, Chris Bobbins, who had been a student of theirs; Christian Kisala, someone Cheplic has known for 20 years on drums; and Clint Morris on guitar who joined the band more recently. Cheplic says that Clint’s guitar playing is one of the key distinctive factors about this new record that sets it apart from the first one.

The band has a few shows scheduled in addition to the record release.  They will be playing an all-day festival called Saylestock in Ridgewood on April 30 (an event which is also a cancer research fundraiser) and will be back at Mexicali Live in Teaneck on May 25.

 





For more by this author, click here






State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.


"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!










Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.