Interview with Chip Dominick and Maleena Dominick of Chip & The Charge Ups
You can trace many styles of music back to the early punk sounds of the Ramones and the Pistols. Whether its the early MTV era rock (Billy Idol, Joan Jett), pop punk (Green Day) or today’s alternative rock (Twenty One Pilots, Yungblud), there’s a common thread uniting these genres.
Chip & The Charge Ups unapologetically incorporates all of these influences into their energetic songs. Catch this band as they electrify the East Coast and beyond or check out their album, “Flow of the Current, Part I (+),” available now! We recently had the opportunity to interview Chip Dominick (vocalist and guitarist) and Maleena Dominick (bassist). Below is our interview with the electrifying Chip & The Charge Ups.
You guys announced “Flow of the Current, Part II (-),” this album is appears to be a direct sequel to the previous album. How does this album differ from the first “Flow of the Current, Part I” and how is it similar?
CHIP: All of the songs on these two albums were written and recorded one-by-one over more than a year's time. So, there are common threads throughout both albums. However, when we were deciding on the track order for our first release, we felt that the songs created two different experiences when combined in a certain way. Therefore, we decided to release them in two parts. Part I is more direct. Like "Hey we're Chip & The Charge Ups and we're here to rock!" I think Part II shows more depth. The lyrics are more poetic, metaphorical and thought-provoking, while we musically retained and expanded on the sound we established with Part I. We think they make a great one-two punch!
What's the backstory to Chip & The Charge Ups? How did you guys meet and form? How'd you come up with the name?
CHIP: Each of us met in different ways. I met Jeff DiPerna (drummer) when his band beat my old band in a battle of the bands many years ago. I didn't hold any hard feelings. Well, not for long, at least! He and I stayed in touch and when he got word that I was putting a new project together, he enthusiastically got in touch and we finally got to play together! I had put a Facebook post out about looking for guitarists and Chris Bowers saw a mutual friend share it. He got in touch, auditioned, and was the perfect fit from the first song we played together. And I know Maleena because she's my daughter!
As far as the name goes, I wanted to tie in my name since it is a familiar one in the music world. I also wanted to incorporate a new name, so that it was clear that this was a new project, just not a continuation of my past work. I thought it would be cool to have the name be Chip & the somethings. I liked the alliteration of using a word that began with "Ch." I think I had about 26 different names that I had friends and family share their opinions on. It came down to two and I actually chose the other name. But, when I had a design firm create a logo for that other name, there was no way I could use it. It was just such a bad logo! I had them do a mock up of a Chip & The Charge Ups logo and loved it. So, the band name was highly influenced by the logo design!
What musicians influenced you guys to become musicians?
MALEENA: I lived in a house with my dad, who was always playing music. So, that made me want to make music myself.
CHIP: When I heard Jimmy Page's riffs in Led Zeppelin songs, they resonated with me like nothing ever had. I wanted to create riffs like that! And, Ozzy was the guy who made me want to pick up a microphone, although I put it down after an ill-fated attempt to sing "Crazy Train" in the 6th grade talent show! Fortunately, I got braver and took up singing again after building up my chops on guitar.
Any music in your playlist that people wouldn't expect you to listen to?
MALEENA: My playlists mostly consist of The Beatles and Yungblud. But, people may be surprised to know that I also listen to a lot of Christian music.
CHIP: My wheelhouse ranges from original punk like the Ramones and the Pistols through Green Day right up to today's punk-inspired artists like Yungblud, SWMRS and The Interrupters. That may not surprise people. But, the fact that I have been taking a voice class and listening to a lot of soundtracks of theatrical musicals like "Miss Saigon" might!
You started out going by Chip DiMonick, which was more of a rock and punk sound, what made you form Chip & The Chargeups and change the kind of music you write?
CHIP: Chip DiMonick was going strong up until late-2015. At that time, my parents had fallen ill and had to move in with me to be under my 24/7 care. I had to step down from the stage because my time was spent caring for them. The only time I had to play music was when they were getting ready for bed at night. During that time, I'd grab my acoustic guitar and write songs while sitting on the edge of my mom's bed. Now, in that situation which stretched over a two-year period, I couldn't write maximum volume metal, if you know what I mean! So, the songs on the "Flow of the Current" albums ended up being different than my previous work. The situation opened up new windows for me and exploring different sides of music was liberating for me! Yet, I think there are many nods to punk, hard rock and metal sprinkled throughout the releases, so I see the direction of Chip & The Charge Ups as more of an expansion of my identity than a departure from it.
How would you describe Chip & The Charge Ups to those who are hearing of you guys for the first time?
CHIP: I think we fit well within the new punk-inspired movement that is bubbling up from the underground. People who are on top of what's hot in today's music will know who The Interrupters and SWMRS and Yungblud are and I think that we belong in the same sentence with those acts, even though we're all different. Others who may have more traditional musical tastes may relate us more to the Ramones and Green Day. We call our sound Electrifying East Coast Power Pop.
If you could have a sit down discussion with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
MALEENA: My choice would be John Lennon. He was one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Also, I'm intrigued by him and Yoko Ono.
CHIP: I'd love to sit down with any of my family members who have passed to learn what life after death is really like.
On your previous album, you guys exploded with the mash-up of Fallen Angel and Good Riddance, what made you guys choose those two songs? And could we expect another mash-up on the new album?
CHIP: I've been composing mashups for over a decade. And I never feel like I choose the songs. I feel like the songs choose me. It's like I have a jukebox in my head. Sometimes, I'll hear a song that will trigger something in my head that says "hey, there's another record in your jukebox that uses those chords." And I'll mentally put them together before even picking up an instrument. That's how it was with our Green Day/Poison mashup. "Flow of the Current, Part II (-)" does not have any mashups but we have one conceived for our third album already. It's gonna be my most challenging mashup but I think it will be mindblowing if we can execute what I'm hearing in my head!
You guys are opening for Nita Strauss, so are you an Alice Cooper fan? If so, favorite album or song?
CHIP: Yes, we are opening for Nita Strauss at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh on May 22. And I am indeed now an Alice fan. But, what's weird was that I was never an Alice fan growing up. When the first Chip DiMonick album, "Bat An Eyelash," came out, so many people said "You guys sound just like Alice Cooper." I was surprised by that. I guess I was influenced by artists who were influenced by Alice. I loved Wednesday 13, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. My drummer at the time - and forever one of my best friends - Carmen Capozzi always touted Alice's "Love It To Death" as the album to listen to. And I can't disagree! Alice is a legend in every sense of the word.
Is there anything you guys would like to promote besides the new album and the Nita Strauss show?
Yes! We have a pretty cool program on Patreon where we give our most dedicated fans access to some exclusive stuff. We give them access to our songs way before our albums come out, the chance to video chat with us, handwritten lyrics, and other awesome perks. We really want to build it up because, unlike social media where you are communicating to the world in a somewhat impersonal way, we get to interact with our best fans in a special way and to do special things for them to reward them for their support. Anyone interested can find more information at http://www.patreon.com/thechargeups.