By the end of 2016, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! had reached heights that most bands can only dream of. They had played for eager crowds around the world and became fan favorites at Warped Tour. Their three killer albums had set the standard for easycore excellence, placing them on equal footing with legendary groups such as A Day To Remember and Four Year Strong.
And then they disappeared.
OK, they didn’t go completely radio silent—but they stopped touring and making music, offering little information about what they were up to or when they were coming back. What gives?
It turns out that after five straight years of recording and touring, the band were experiencing something we can all relate to: burnout. They tried to go back into the studio to write some new songs, but something just wasn’t right.
“After two or three months, we got a lot of starting points in a lot of different directions, but we didn’t think it was good enough,” lead vocalist Bert Poncet says. “At that point, we were like, ‘Hmm. Should we actually force it or take a little more time to process it? Maybe we should go back to normal life and come back to it later on.’”
That’s exactly what they did. And now, five years later, Chunk! are finally back with what could be the best work of their careers: Gone Are The Good Days, an absolute banger of an album and one of this summer’s most hotly anticipated releases.
Never content to settle for old patterns and formulas, Chunk! have pushed their creativity in exciting new directions. A couple of love songs find Poncet at his most vulnerable and heartfelt, while a surprise saxophone solo will leave your jaw on the floor. Even so, it’s still classic Chunk!: fun, bouncy choruses and brutal breakdowns, plus the perennial marvel of Poncet’s voice, which masterfully switches from soaring tenor to deep, guttural scream.
And with the end of the pandemic in sight, maybe Chunk!’s signature sound is exactly what we need. “I feel like a lot of people can relate to our music right now because that positive energy mixed with anger is where a lot of people are,” Poncet says. “They’re angry at the world, maybe at the government, and they want to party—but with some anger.”
Chunk!’s music really does feel more timely than ever, so we sat down with Poncet to ask about which lyrics mean the most to him, why fans might be misunderstanding the album title and which Jedi he would pick as his master.
The pandemic has been a weird time for everybody, but especially for artists. Since you haven’t been playing shows, what have you been up to over the last year?
Well, I’m running a business, a recording studio called Alias—that’s actually where we produced the new album. But when France got locked down, all my clients for the entire year canceled. I have to be honest: I got really worried for a minute. I thought that I’d be running out of business and money.
But I actually got a lot of new clients. A lot of people started working from home because of COVID, so they started to pick up their guitars and jam a little bit. They would send me their tracks, and we worked on a few songs with them, so it was actually a busy year. My business is doing pretty well right now because of COVID, which is insane.
I feel like COVID has triggered some sort of creativity for everyone, even the ones that didn’t expect it. And for us, the fact that we had plenty of time to focus on songwriting is what made the new album so special.
Before we discuss the new album, I want to ask about your past. I was blown away when I learned that you have a law degree. Have you ever thought about what life would be like if you had decided to become a lawyer?
It would not be as fun as it is right now, that’s for sure. However, I don’t regret my studies. Even if it doesn’t sound very rock ’n’ roll, when you study law, it helps you structure your mind and your thoughts. I learned a lot, and now I can read a contract pretty well.
That probably came in handy for your record deals, right?
Definitely. But I have to say that I was not the best in my class. It took me four years to get a three-year degree, so I had to do one year twice. But then we got our deal with Fearless Records, and I’m glad I decided to do that instead. Because there was some pressure from my parents, [who were] saying, “Law is serious, so that’s what you should do.” But I knew that I wanted to at least give the band a shot and see how far we could go. Now here we are in 2021, with a fourth album and a couple of world tours, and my parents are very proud.
Let’s talk about the new album. You’ve indicated that some listeners might be misunderstanding a couple of the songs, like “Bitter” and “Gone Are The Good Days.” What impression have people been getting, and what message are you really trying to send?
So we chose the album title Gone Are The Good Days because it’s catchy and cool. But I’ve seen some comments saying, “What a sad title. You’re so pessimistic!” The initial idea was actually to think of nostalgia in a positive way because nostalgia doesn’t necessarily need to be sad. We all just had a rough year locked in our rooms, and I feel that looking back on all those good memories—like with friends at shows—cheers you up. It has helped a lot of my friends that were in a very bad place. So yeah, “gone are the good days” can sound a little sad, but that does not necessarily mean that the future is going to be dark or that the good days are definitely over. It’s just that we all have those good memories, the good old times that are really cool to remember.
That makes a lot of sense, and you see that in the lyrics of the title track. It goes, “Gone are the good days, but they stay with me always.” Speaking of lyrics, I’ve heard that your favorite lyric off the new album is from “True Colors,” and it’s a Shakespeare quote: “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” What does that mean to you?
Well, first of all, I think it’s pretty classy to have Shakespeare in a song. In a way, I think everybody can relate to that quote. We all know that one guy who is always trying to take advantage of situations, and at some point, you’ve got to realize that those people are just not good to have around you—they’re toxic.
So the song is about trying to get rid of those toxic people and trying to understand who you are. We don’t have a very, very heavy track on the record, but if there is one, that might be it. It’s also very angry with the lyrics, and that’s an exception for us because we are always trying to put positivity in our lyrics. But this one is pure anger toward someone, especially those toxic people.
My favorite track on the album is probably “Tongue Tied,” in which you’re accompanied by a female vocalist. How did that collaboration happen?
Her name is Yvette Young, and her band, Covet, is not a Warped Tour sort of band that we’re all used to. However, she’s really famous in the guitar world. We got the opportunity to work with her because my brother [Eric Poncet, guitarist for Chunk!] works with D’Addario, and she’s sponsored by them. They got along really well, so my brother was like, “Hey, what about Yvette Young on this song?” And I was like, “Hell yeah!” She also plays all the violin parts on the record.
I’ve always enjoyed atmospheric sounds, so the beginning and end of “Tongue Tied” were recorded at night in our yard—it’s close to a road, so you can actually hear some cars passing through. The album has a lot of energy, so we wanted to have a little pause here to grab people’s attention even more.
I also hear you’re a big fan of Star Wars. If you could have any Jedi or Sith Lord train you in the ways of the Force, who would you choose?
I would go with Yoda, for sure. I just trust the experience from the old guy, you know? I actually watched The Mandalorian not long ago—I don’t know how I missed it, but I was so happy when I discovered it. The fact that they had Baby Yoda was genius; it felt like home instantly.
I just trust the experience from older people in general, and I think that’s one thing that’s missing nowadays. I see a lot of the younger generation who think they’re better than the previous ones, that they know the world better than the older generations. But that’s not how I’ve been raised—I’ve been raised with teachers who were way older than me, and I could tell that that experience is not replaceable. That’s definitely the one thing you can trust: getting advice from experienced people.
One last question for you, Bert: What’s next for Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!?
We’re playing Slam Dunk Festival in the U.K. in September, but since the pandemic is still around, we don’t have a year-long schedule for touring and promoting the record, which is weird for us. But we take it as a challenge to maintain the hype around the album for as long as we can. So maybe we’ll do some livestreams, and we’ll definitely shoot some new music videos. Maybe we’ll write covers, and we’ll start writing a fifth record, for sure. But for now, I just really hope that people enjoy the new album.