Since 2011, California quintet The Neighbourhood, with Jesse Rutherford (vocals), Zach Abels (guitar), Jeremy Freedman (guitar), Mikey Margott (bass), and Brandon Fried (drums), have zigged and zagged past conventions and expectations. Following the success of their platinum-selling debut I Love You. and lead single "Sweater Weather," they worked with everyone from YG to Denzel Curry, graced top festivals like Coachella, and appeared on late-night television. With 2018's third album, The Neighbourhood, the band pushed past mere commercial success with over 1 billion streams and views, and earned critical acclaim.
So, what's next? Instead of stealing away to a remote locale or exotic hideaway, Jesse Rutherford has retreated inward. Under silver paint and grills, Chip Chrome introduces himself on the band's fourth full-length, Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones. Big questions remain. Is this still The Neighbourhood? Are Chip and Jesse the same person?
In fact, Chip has always been behind-the-scenes. He stepped into the spotlight on the 2019 single "Middle of Somewhere." "I wanted to do something totally new," Jesse revealed. "We had a plan to do a music video for 'Middle of Somewhere,' and I showed up in spandex and paint! Chip was a way for me to say, 'I'm going to do me. You're not going to stop me.'"
"Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones helped define my voice," Jesse added. "The more I hear it, the more I think, 'This is totally a Neighbourhood record.'"
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If you escape from your world, you have the chance to possibly make it a little bit better upon your return.
Instead of stealing away to some remote locale or exotic hideaway, The Neighbourhood frontman Jesse Rutherford escaped to a different place. In his case, retreat happened inward where Chip Chrome resides.
Under silver paint and flaunting glistening diamond grills, he introduces himself on The Neighbourhood's fourth full-length album, Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones [Columbia Records].
Big questions remain...
Is this still The Neighbourhood?
Are Chip and frontman Jesse Rutherford the same person?
And, what is next?
"I wanted to speak in a different way with music," explains Jesse. "At the end of the day, I've been trying to figure out what it really means. Sometimes, it's hard for me to put it into words-even though it's supposed to be my job with the lyrics. Chip helped me find that voice. He's the best leader I could be for this project, for the boys, and for my friends. The Mono-Tones are the voices in my head that are always there. They can be a bit haunting and keep me up at night, but I trust their taste. In the same way I want to make the guys happy, I want to make the fans happy. To do that, I shut everything out, sat alone, found what makes me happy, and discovered my voice. The funny thing is it takes the piss out of being so serious. I don't want to be brooding. A lot of these songs are based on major chords, so it might be a happier version of The Neighbourhood."
Chip Chrome has always been somewhere behind-the-scenes as The Neighbourhood rose to prominence. Since 2011, the Southern California quintet -- Jesse, Zach [guitar], Jeremy [guitar], Mikey [bass], and Brandon [drums] -- have consistently zigged and zagged past conventions and expectations. Following the success of their platinum-selling debut I Love You. powered by the 5x platinum smash "Sweater Weather," they collaborated with everyone from YG to Denzel Curry and graced the stages of top festivals such as Coachella and late-night television, including Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! Beyond over 1 billion streams and views, they earned critical acclaim. Of 2018's self-titled album, Atwood Magazine, wrote, "On The Neighbourhood, The Neighbourhood bring 42 minutes of brilliance and resilience, remaining lucidly transparent about life's greatest emotional toils."
However, Chip stepped into the spotlight on the 2019 single "Middle of Somewhere."
"We came out of the gate pretty hot and successful with 'Sweater Weather,' but then I always got stuck in my head and thought, 'How can I do it again?,'" Jesse admits. "I didn't want to do that this time; I wanted to do something totally new. We had a plan to do the music video for 'Middle of Somewhere,' and I showed up in silver spandex and paint! To my surprise, it was the best move I could've made with the band, because they ended up liking how whacky and interesting it was. In the process, I still got to do the most Jesse thing possible. Chip was a way for me to say, 'I'm going to do me. You're not going to stop me.'"
At the top of 2020, he unplugged himself and plugged into Chip. As Jesse puts it, he "got off the internet, picked up a guitar, played it until [his] fingers bled, and learned how to write songs in a new way."
That brings us to the first single "Cherry Flavoured." His delicate delivery drips through the cracks of a simmering beat and clean guitar towards an admission, "I sold my soul a long time ago. I feel like a ghost now."
"'Cherry Flavoured Conversations' means exactly what it sounds like," he goes on. "It's something that seems really good and sweet when you're talking about it, but it may not be possible in reality. I ended up going to an internal place and got back to me. I realized, 'Maybe I'm the one who's putting the cherry flavoring in these conversations?' I needed to take a look at myself."
For as much as Chip has affected The Neighbourhood, Chip also has the power to affect listeners everywhere.
"I think Chip was really about saying, 'We don't know what's going to happen, but you're never going to know what to expect from us, because we might switch it up,'" he leaves off. "At the end of the day, this is an art project. It's supposed to be fun. I feel like the boys and I are closer than ever. It's amazing we get to live this life of music together. If we still get to have a voice in the world, we're going to use it. Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones helped define my voice. The more I hear it, the more I think, 'This is totally a Neighbourhood record.'"