CHAMPS are Michael and David Champion, two brothers from Niton, a tiny village near the Victorian seaside resort of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Influenced by the The Beatles, Flaming Lips, Fleet Foxes, and early REM, the Champion brothers create the most extraordinarily beautiful music.
Like The Everlys and The Beach Boys, there is a unique and striking depth to their vocal harmonies that only siblings can create.
White Satellite is the sublime new single from CHAMPS, released June 16th on Play It Again Sam.
Thanks to CHAMPS
We didn’t have an especially musical upbringing to be honest. It wasn’t something which was forced upon us by our parents which seems to happen to a lot of children. We both decided to take up the guitar in our mid teens because we felt like it, and we both learnt from the same guy. We grew up listening to early REM, Donovan, Kirsty Maccoll and a lot of the greats like Dylan, Orbison and Young.
And how did you guys get together as a duo on stage, when did that come about?
Mike was in a band called The Shutes for a few years which was quite a serious thing. I’d always loved the music and after a while Mike thought that it needed a second guitarist so he just asked if I fancied it. We did that for a year or so and then Mike started this new project called Champs. Again he asked if I fancied joining in and so we went on to record the album together. It was then quite easy to convert this to a live show as we’d already played live together for a while.
How do you manage your differences in terms of aspirations or desires for the band?
That’s never actually been a problem at all. We both have exactly the same creative vision, probably because we’ve grown up with near identical influences. We also both really respect each other when it comes to creative direction in the studio. We’ve never really had a disagreement about creative direction or aspirations as we both want the same thing.
Your new single ‘White Satellite’ is released on June 16th, can you talk a bit about that track?
This a track which was first demoed years ago and so was quite easy to revisit. One of the most distinctive parts of the track which has come over from the demo, is the drums. I really love the drums in this song and I feel like they provide the main driving force. It’s quite an immediate song.
The album was recorded on the Isle of White; can you describe what the recording process was like?
We recorded it in a water tower on the grounds of Queen Victoria’s old house. It was designed by Prince Albert and is a pretty amazing structure. The studio is owned by two brothers called Jim and Rob Homes who also produced the album. It was a great place to record an album as the history and atmosphere of the place is genuinely quite inspiring. I feel that the sound of the album is quite reflective of the location in which it was recorded. We’re pretty sure it’s haunted as there are quite a few sounds on the album which we can’t account for. We’d do a take, listen back and say « did you make that sound? » To which the answer was always « no ». I think the spirit of Prince Albert wanted to be on the album.
You must have some personal favourites across the album…which tracks are real high points for you?
I think St. Peter’s is probably my favourite is it was the starting point for everything. Radio 2’s Dermot O’leary heard the track right when the project was in its really early stages and played it quite a lot on his show. This sort of made us take it more seriously and in hindsight, was quite milestone.
If Champs existed in any of the the three previous decades, which one do you think would suit best your mood and inspiration ?
Technically this isn’t one of the last 3 but I’d porbably have to say the 60s or 70s. We’re big fans of what was going on in America during that period and we think some of the vocal harmonies would maybe fit quite well.
You’re doing a lot of festivals this summer, have you got a favourite?
We’re really excited about Secret Garden Party as we’ve heard a lot of good things about it. We’re also really excited about Haldern Pop Festival in Germany as it had one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen!
Finally, after all this is over, where will you both be?
On the Isle of Wight! We’re really keen to get started with the second album and we’ve got about 40 tracks compiled for it. We want to release it as soon as possible and get back out playing it live!