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Philly2Philly Music Spotlight on The Armchairs

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“I think we’re just weird idiots,” says Michael Chadwick, when asked where his band, The Armchairs, manages to come up with their unique indie- The Armchairs-photo by Robert Pattersonpsyche blend of pop. “Someone comes up with an idea. It might be serious at first, but we tend to make it absurd.”

Reminiscent of bands like The Velvet Underground, The Zombies and The Kinks, The Armchairs are a Philly foursome letting off a sound that’s more circus, less night-at-the-club than most of what’s coming out of Philly’s pop scene these days.

I speak with members Michael Chadwick and Andy Molholt over the phone, trying to decipher what, exactly, got these guys to where they are today – headlining shows all over Philly, touring the east coast, playing tunes that aren’t really genre-specific, lackadaisically accepting their success as it comes.

They tell me their influences include Andy Kaufman and Richard Elfman (Danny Elfman’s brother) and his 1982 movie, The Forbidden Zone, called by one critic, a “sheer insane spectacle” that “would certainly qualify as among the most gold-bedecked movies of the past quarter century.” We manage to discuss the flick for more for more than just a few minutes. (The film is about traveling through dimensions by way of gigantic intestine.)

“It’s got the midget from that Fantasy Island show in it,” says Molholt. “If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.”

Sometimes, these guys costume-up on stage, dressing like hot dogs, furry animals, and space aliens. Or, half-costume up. It depends. Days they wear their costumes, if I’m hearing correctly, they call these Foosdays. “That’s a very serious part of our band,” says Molholt.

Chadwick cuts in. “That’s when you pick a costume that you’ve had on standby. There are three states of the show. The first one is no costume. The second is the half. The third is full. It’s like how animals evolve. It’s sort of Darwinian in a way. It’s an evolutionary process.”

Okay, I ask, but what’s the relevance of that?

“I think I can answer that quite simply,” says Chadwick. “There is no significance at all.”

“It’s like a cosmic thing,” remarks Molholt.

Got it? Me neither.

Just back from a New England/New York tour, The Armchairs have been sporadically recording their first album – an ambitious 17-track self-release. And they’ve been working on it for a year. Previous press reports have mentioned a problem with their original engineer, which is why it’s taken so long. “Don’t mention that,” says Molholt. “Just put he evaporated or something.”

So, really, what makes these guys click to form their sound? They don’t know. Molholt claims he and Chadwick’s music writing connection, since their college days, has always been “explosive.”

“Almost like diarrhea,” says Chadwick. “But happier and more fun. Like if you could dye the diarrhea a festive neon green or something.”

“Diarrhea that’s glowing,” says Molholt.

The Armchairs will be headlining Johnny Brenda’s  (1201 N. Frankford Ave) this Saturday (11/14) alongside local acts Cheers Elephant and Univox, and Brooklyn band Horse’s Mouth. The show is $10 and begins at 9pm.

Thumbnail photo: Robert Patterson