Sidewalk Chalk releases the new album, Leaves, today and hit the road over the weekend on their North American tour. We dropped five questions to Charlie Coffeen (keys) on the day of his hometown release show in Chicago. New Yorkers will have a second chance to see the 8-piece in action on Thursday night at Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery. Details here and enter to win tickets here. A full list of tour dates are here.
Your new album, Leaves, drops today. Can you tell our readers what they can expect to hear?
Leaves is raw. We’re pushing our limits with sound, emotions, our writing…all of it. The album marks the evolution of not only our music, but us as people.
An MC, a vocalist, keys, bass, drums, horns, and even a tap dancer, how did Sidewalk Chalk come to be?
Sidewalk Chalk formed in Chicago and was born at Columbia College. As we added the pieces, everything seemed to fall into place. The group formed out of everyone’s individual love for music and creating, and wanting to put those elements together to create something.
What artists do you find influence your sound, whether they are legends from the past or contemporary artists?
There is so much J Dilla influence in the rhythm section. He changed the way we hear music and hear rhythms. Otherwise, there are a lot of D’angelo’s Voodoo-esque production elements on the new album. We’re influenced by so much music that’s coming out right now – Snarky Puppy, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kaiyote, Janelle Monae…all of that stuff.
You are about cross North America on a tour. We imagine that being a group of 8 people, traveling can be quite a task. What is the road situation like?
We just got a new ride (a converted school bus) so we will have more space on this tour than any of the others. We make it work. We all hang out and kick it, but it’s obvious when somebody needs some room to chill, read, be by themselves, and everybody appreciates that.
What have been some of your favorite cities or venues to play and which shows are you most looking forward to playing on this current run?
There are a few spots that we absolutely love playing every time we go – Lincoln (Nebraska), St. Louis, Nashville, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne (Indiana). They’re always so live. We’re hitting a ton of new cities on this tour, mainly in Canada and the Northwest, so we’re really excited to get up there and rock for them.