The Chameleons – “Where Are You?”

The Chameleons – “Where Are You?”

While fans have been blessed with a steady stream of archival releases, live documents, and reissues it has been almost a quarter-century since there’s been new music from The Chameleons proper: 2021’s Why Call It Anything?, which the band – reunited after after 15 years – managed to write, track, and tour before in-fighting and acrimony tore them apart again.

In that time, there’s been irreplaceable loss (the passing of drummer John Lever in 2017), insurmountable differences (the odds of guitarist Dave Fielding and bassist/vocalist Mark Burgess working together again are… poor), and welcome reunions (guitarist Reg Smithies returning to the fold, allowing Burgess to justify dropping the “Vox” from the band name). They’ve also increased their draw on the live circuit, constant touring bringing them from clubs too-small for their legacy to support in larger venues, to their own headlining theatre tour this Summer, playing 1987’s Strange Times in its entirety. And now, with the new material, they can lay claim to not just being a legacy act.

Where Are You? comprises three songs, all of which will also appear on Arctic Moon. Says Burgess on the road to creating new music:

It’s exciting to finally be putting out fresh Chameleons material for the first time in over twenty years, although initially I found it quite daunting. The question about new music is one I had been asked the most from people coming to the shows, a great many of whom weren’t even born when those records were originally made but nevertheless were excited and inspired by the music enough to catch multiple shows on multiple tours.

Mark Burgess, The Chameleons
Stream The Chameleons’ First New Music In 23 Years @ Stereogum

And perhaps with those younger fans in mind, Burgess is unapologetic that these are not your father’s Chameleons. The production is decidedly drier and rawer than the lush atmospherics of their 80s records and more obviously it lacks Dave Fielding’s trademark chorus-y guitar. In an interview baked into The Big Takeover’s review of the EP, he addresses this directly:

David: How much does it matter to you to reference touchstones of your sound the way fans know it?

Mark: “It doesn’t matter to us at all. In fact, I was determined that it would be a break from what has previously been a recognized cornerstone of the band’s sound. Firstly, because we want to take the band forward. We want to progress. The band sounding [like we did] 20, 30, or 40 years ago wasn’t interesting to us, or the least bit satisfying. We [also] didn’t want to trade on the guitar sound that wasn’t ours. What I mean by that is the contribution to that [by original guitarist, Dave Fielding] was very important, obviously, but he left years ago. It’s his sound, not ours. We wanted the sound of the band to reflect the band that was actually making this record. I think we succeeded on both counts.”

Chameleons: Where Are You? @ The Big Takeover

And over at The Spill, Burgess talks about how the Strange Times tour came about, despite not being a fan of album tours, and also a bit about the new EP:

Spill Feature: Underrated, Ignored, Considered Irrelevant And All The Rest Of It – A Conversation With Mark Burgess Of The Chameleons @ The Spill

The title track of Where Are You? comes with an official music video which I believe is their first one ever?

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