by Ian Anderson
Travis Bos is back with a brand new invention. With his new band, Chariots, the ex-Song of Zarathustra front man has picked up right where he left off, only this time sporting a slightly more user-friendly sound. Chariots’ debut album, Congratulations, is worthy of its title, and will no doubt be earning the group plenty of kudos in the coming year.
Download an mp3 of the Chariots’ song Twister Party Fails to Get Dirty.
Chariots is a band on a mission, a group dead set on filling the quality hard
rock void in the Twin Cities. Bos’ black and gold feathered locks are
more than a passing trend—this fashion mullet is in it for the long haul.
Bos’ distorted nazgul-esque vocals push Chariots toward semi-hardcore
musical terrain, but their upbeat pop awareness and strong “dance fever”
sensibility stretch their appeal beyond the Minor Threat-loving set.
band is strongly guitar driven, but never dominated by the instrument. Guitarist
Eric Odness of So Fox fame knows his place in the band: his Refused-like riffs
push the theme, but never overwhelm it, creating a strong synergy between his
playing and Bos’ drowning vocals. Bos’ manic vocals hover just above
the surface of the din, his gift of gab acting like another instrument in the
mix than a message oriented center of attention.
“I write lyrics how I want to hear the words placed in each song,”
explains Bos. “I place them like sound within the music—like another
instrument. I usually try to write and form lyrics around how the song works,
which is why [the lyrics] usually end up so vague. I like it because it doesn’t
put out a message that our band stands for just this.”
Bos’ vocals are supplemented by his own ghostly synth parts, which bear
a strong resemblance to the late Murder City Devils in their spookiness. His
vocals and synth parts compete for dominance throughout the album, interweaving
various threads of melody and counter melody, while Matt Kepler’s drums
and Arthur Gandy’s surprisingly versatile bass lines—with a tone
is similar to that on Dillinger Four’s Situationist Comedy —keep
everything in order.
The best track on the record is also the best titled: “Twister Party Fails
to Get Dirty.” “Twister Party” is the most radio friendly
tune on the record, and will most likely give the band some much deserved attention
from college radio. The song begins with Bos’ vocals running through a
rotary filter and frantic guitar riffs. Bos screams, “That city is losing
its mind” in a Big Black sort of way, while playing his spooky synth with
an eerie demeanor. Then a story unfolds about “a bunch of characters with
a very interesting outcome at the end of the night, forcing one person to move
out of the city,” according to Bos.
“I’m never really too revealing with my lyrics,” Bos admits.
“I write vaguely because it’s where I feel most comfortable. There’s
often much to interpret.”
formed in the spring of 2003, immediately after Song of Zarathrustra’s
breakup. The group’s original incarnation featured two bassists, one guitarist
and a drummer. The band eventually lost a bass player, gained another guitarist
and cycled through a handful of drummers before finally solidifying their current
“We had tried out about seven or eight drummers,” recalls Bos. “For
a while it was a two-bass-and-one-guitar band, but the five-piece thing wasn’t
working out, so we had to deal with things like how you tell [the fifth] person
[to leave] and how to work as a four-piece without knowing each other—members
all playing together for the first time and with different ideas as to how things
Out of all this adversity a sturdy band with an unexpectedly close bond has
“I was happy that it all happened at the beginning,” says Bos of
the group’s early tribulations. “So we’ve had an upward battle,
sort of like training wheels—this usually happens at the end of a band’s
But as soon as everything was sorted out things fell together relatively quickly
for the band.
“This was a fresh start,” offers Bos. “It was fun to be able
to do that, start over. Something with more rock, like something we would listen
to. As you get older, you gradually start writing towards the styles you like.
You get more comfortable. I can’t stick with one style because I like
too much different music. Eventually, all of our personalities found a middle
went on tour for the first time late last fall, eventually making their way
up to New York City for the prestigious College Music Journal Festival, an internationally
recognized independent record industry showcase. At the Festival they hooked
up with reputed indie-label Trouble Man Unlimited (the same label that supported
Song of Zarathrustra). Trouble Man will be releasing Congratulations
“With Trouble Man and publicists backing our tour, we’re just waiting
to see what happens,” Bos said. “We’re not looking to get
signed or make money really. The aspiration is just to be able to stay together
and avoid a lot of the bullshit that most bands end up dealing with.”
Chariots plays the CD release party for Congratulations
on Sat. Mar. 12 at the 7th St. Entry with Passions, H.A.N.D., A False Notion.
5 p.m. All Ages. $6. 701 First Ave. N., Mpls. 612-338-8388. They also perform
a 21+ show later that same night with Askeleton, Die Electric! and Passions.
9 p.m. $6.
Find out more about Chariots on their official website at
Download an mp3 of the Chariots’ song Twister
Party Fails to Get Dirty.