Cincinnati Punks Choncy: “The DIY punk scene here is ever evolving…”

Original photos by Zachary S. Pennington courtesy of Choncy / Handmade mixed media collage by B.

Cincinnati band, Choncy, make sharp, propulsive post-punk, garage, and hardcore-adjacent music.  Their debut album Community Chest recently came across our radar and we’ve been giving it a thrashing on the stereo ever since. Inspired by Parquet Courts, Gee Tee, Vintage Crop, and The Coneheads, their fun punk tunes talk about regular day occurrences while having a “rust belt flair. Gimmie got the scoop about all things Choncy from the band – Liam Shaw (guitar/vox), Nathan McVeigh (bass/vox), Simon Schadler (guitar )and Joe Carpenter (drums).

Choncy are from Cincinnati, Ohio; what’s your town like? What are the best and worst bits about it?

CHONCY: Cincinnati is a sprawling city with a tight knit and supportive community. Some of the best bits are the parks in the area and the zoo is pretty sick. We are also overrun with craft breweries so take that as you will. Some of the worst parts of Cincinnati are the dog water infrastructure, the poor quality of public transportation, and they also shot Harambe.

What’s the DIY punk scene like where you are? Who are the bands we should check out?

CHONCY: The DIY punk scene here is ever evolving, new bands come out of the woodwork from the plethora of niche scenes and neighborhoods around the city, combining their influences to create genuine music. Also, Sam Richardson of Feel it Records has moved here which has really kickstarted the scene and put Cincinnati on the map for punk and adjacent. Some bands you should check out are Devils Cross Country, Corker, Spoils, Beef, Louise, and Comando.

In February Choncy released a debut album, Community Chest. Thematically the album explores the trials and tribulations of the modern day workforce culture day-by-day in the Rust Belt; when not making music, what do you each of you do? Liam’s a videographer and editor, and Joe an artist, right?

CHONCY: Joe is indeed an artist; he specifically does freelance graphic design work while he is not working in the meat department at Kroger. Nathan is a mix and master engineer when he is not slinging drinks and pies. Simon is a lighting designer for The Seed, a studio in Brooklyn, NY. Liam does a lot of video editing work including freelance editing for twitch streamers, Poggers.

How did you first discover music?

SIMON: When I was born my dad was playing in the Fairmount Girls, who are still around today, and a handful of other bands in the punk/rock scene in Cincinnati, and my mom was a bass player. So, music has always been a looming factor when growing up, but I distinctly remember Queen’s News of the World being the first album I loved as a kid.

LIAM: I used to make Call of Duty trickshotting montages when I was a kid, so I listened to a lot of dubstep and YouTube rap.

NATHAN: I grew up listening to 70’s and 80’s rock n’ roll because it was the only thing my dad would listen to. I really didn’t start discovering punk and indie music until early high school, the first band was Knuckle Puck, I heard them playing on the speakers in a Zumiez.

JOE: I have never known life without music, but I remember getting my iPod touch in 4th grade and discovering minor threat, which lead me down the rabbit hole.

What’s an album that has had a big impact? What do you appreciate about it?

LIAM: Light Up Gold – Parquet Courts. Their style of punk resonates a lot with my style. My song ideas are stolen from them basically.  

JOE: Songs From The Big Chair – Tears for Fears. I appreciate the excellent song writing, which tackles socio-political topics and turns them into timeless pop songs. 

NATHAN: Floating Coffin – Thee Oh Sees. John Dwyer is essential one of my idols for music and that album will never get old. His raw power in the music with cryptic lyrics has and will blow me away.

SIMON: My Love is Cool – Wolf Alice. When I first listened to the record, I was blown away by the layering of complex sounds that are highly chaotic but functional. The album conveys a particular emotion that is hard to describe.

Live photos courtesy of Choncy / by Zachary S. Pennington.

How did you get into making music?

JOE: Started playing guitar at 12, it hurt my hands too much so then I bought a drum set with my birthday money and it just clicked.

LIAM: I have the least experience with music in the band. I picked up guitar like 3 years ago. But I’ve always had a knack for performing on stage because I used to be a ballet dancer so screaming and dancing is what drew me into wanting to be in a band.

NATHAN: I met my dearest friend Drake Hinkle at a minimum wage pizza job in high school, he introduced me to just jamming in a basement with him and his friend. I had never picked up a guitar before that, but I fell in love with the energy and wanted to join in. I started playing with them on a $50 knockoff Walmart Strat and then switched over to a squire P bass I got for my 17th birthday.

SIMON: I started drums and piano lessons when I was around 6, and like most kids do I ditched the piano for the instrument that matched my desire to be loud and crazy. During the covid lockdown, I was fortunate enough to keep myself sane by teaching myself guitar and bass using my parent’s hand-me-down instruments and learning some casual audio production through friends to write my own songs. 

How did all you meet? How did Choncy come into being?

CHONCY: So Choncy was originally just Liam (guitar,vox), Simon (drums), and Nathan (bass). Liam and Simon were both good buddies throughout high school. Coincidentally during our freshman year of college Simon and Nathan lived across the hall from each other and quickly became pals. Fast forward to fall 2021 we cleaned out Nathan’s basement and then boom baby Choncy. Shortly before Simon moved to NYC for the majority of 2022, we met Joe at the GAG & Corker show at Torn Light Records and were able to convince him to take over the drumming role. When Simon moved back to Cincinnati in August, he quickly joined back as the lead guitarist.

Choncy’s first show was a costume party in October 2021 with Red Metaphor and Heat Death; what do you remember about your debut show?

CHONCY: We went with country/western costume theme, everyone thought Simon was a minion and people thought Liam was John Denver. It was in a frat style basement with a makeshift bar and a Keg. It was a great warm up for the show we played the next day in Simon’s garage (another kegger) with our good friends Gool. Kegs on Kegs on Kegs, Joe didn’t come.

Community Chest was recorded in Amish Studios with Joe Tellman in Nashville, Tennessee; what’s’ one of your fondest memories from recording?

CHONCY: The dizzy wizzy burger on the drive through Louisville, and both the Joes indoctrinating Nathan and Liam into the rip-it energy drink culture. Did you know they were the prime energy drink for active United States military personnel in the Iraq war?

What’s one of your favourite songs from Community Chest?

CHONCY: ’Swatted’ is one of our favorites because it’s about a kid getting swatted in a Black Ops II Ranked S&D Standoff match. Joe wrote the bass part even though he couldn’t play it, that shit is disgusting.

What song was the most fun to write? 

CHONCY: ’Company Man’ was probably the most fun to write because it was the first song where we fully locked in with Joe as the new drummer. It is arguably our most musically inclined song, lots of substance.

What’s the story behind the album title?

CHONCY: Community Chest is a card you get from the board game monopoly. Even with rampant monopolies in America still existing, nobody gets a community chest card. We also thought it was a good metaphor for the hodgepodge of our sound.

Joe, you do the art for Choncy releases; how did the art for Community Chest come together? Aesthetically were you inspired by anything specific?

JOE: Initially I was inspired by Snooper’s use of a puppet/shtick on stage and so I bought a dummy from Spirit Halloween as the representation of Choncy- a landlord, boss, capitalist, weak willed and dull individual. After a few shows his body was all but entrails of filling and cardboard on the venues floor. This scene inspired me a lot in the creation of the artwork, seeing parallels between the destruction of our bodies for a large game of life in America. A realization of the use of propaganda, fear mongering, physical attachments, and fleeting desires from someone who was once unaware of such a narrative being projected onto them.

In the artwork, I use elements of the monopoly board game, which ties into the album title or vice versa. I use tools of photography, xeroxed images, and illustrations that are mixed digitally with a distorted perspective, collaged outgrowths, and deep manipulation. Those stylistic choices came naturally after a 2-month period of band group chat banter on half-baked artwork which I wouldn’t have come to alone.

When do you feel most creative? Is it ever a challenge for you to create? What helps?

JOE: I don’t have a specific time when I feel most creative, but it comes in waves very unexpectedly. Often when creativity strikes, I start jotting down notes/poetry/song ideas on my phone to create a repository to remind me of my thoughts later on. It is always a challenge, a good exercise for me is the practice of automatic drawing (closing your eyes and drawing intuitively.) This tends to relieve the perfectionist anxiety, as well as exercise.

LIAM: I feel most creative when I am at work or right before I go to bed. I find myself humming melodies and recording voice memos more and more. Yes, if you can’t create its not worth trying to push through the block. It helps to give your brain time; I also get good ideas on my runs.

SIMON: I feel most creative when I can take leisure breaks and when I have no external distractions. Every aspect of my life requires me to be creative in one way or another whether its work, school, or music. As much as I love creating, everyone needs their breaks. I usually cycle through the focus of my creativity. A lot of my creativity is fueled by real world experiences that I can use as inspiration and motivation, especially projects from friends.

NATHAN: I feel the most creative after I get back from someone else’s gig, I get a lot of inspiration from live settings. I struggle with landing on an idea that sounds good in my ear, I tend to be hyper-critical of my own craft but realistically who isn’t? I usually try and take a step away from what I’m doing to clear my ears and head. 

If you could move to any city in the world, where would you go?

JOE: New Delhi. Cows are sacred.

SIMON: Amsterdam. If I ride my bicycle into a car, legally it’s their fault.

LIAM: Sydney. Catch me at a Gee Tee show. *Insert hot rod revving noises*

NATHAN: Outskirts of Zürich. The alps look beautiful.

What’s the rest of the year look like for you personally and for Choncy?

NATHAN: The rest of the year is going to consist of me graduating from the university this April and then hopefully landing a studio job or some good freelance work with mixing and mastering in Cincinnati. I am going to keep working on a few side projects I have going but nothing too crazy. Looking forward to doing a lot with my plants and maybe building a garden once it starts to warm up here. Going to be gaming on some gs-go add me on discord and I will buy you awp, spungas#5145.

JOE: Working and creating. My other band Waning has an ep coming out soon. I am trying to turn my music and design side hustle into a main gig. I’ll be moving into my grandparents’ house to help them out, while rebuilding their barn. I plan on using this opportunity to dig into myself and my creative work while enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

SIMON: I graduate from the University of Cincinnati in April and am wrapping up two design competitions as well as a lighting exhibition for Blink. Going to continue working remote full time with my studio and using the extra time to pursue more musical endeavors with a future move back to New York in mind. Might also speedrun the resident evil 4 remake.. we will see.

LIAM: I might start a solo project, getting into synthesizers and digital audio spaces. Trying to get a better paying job. My degree is useless.

CHONCY: We are working on writing more songs, we want to start introducing more sounds into our music and possibly other instruments. We are also working on more visual content for some upcoming releases. We are starting to branch out to other cities for shows. Just had a successful first weekender, hitting Chicago and Bloomington with Pat and the Pissers. There are hopes to do more things like this soon, especially with how well this weekend went. But most importantly we are going to have fun.

Choncy’s Community Chest out now digitally and cassette via Feel It Records – get it HERE. Follow @choncyband and @feelitrecordshop.