Most bands release an EP to present a sonic snapshot of the direction they’re heading at the time. And while OC punk legends CH3 literally titled their new release The Bellwether for that very reason, they decided to keep those snapshots under wraps until the moment they decided to release it.
“Usually you go in the studio and start posting in Instagram ‘Hey we’re working on a new album, this time we said let’s not say anything about it,” says lead singer Mike Magrann. We made it all the way up until we had the record in our hands until someone leaked the news.”
Released as a special project in honor of Record Store Day, The Bellwether’s punchy, five-song salvo revives the spirit of the band’s 1981 debut on Posh Boy Records. The landmark punk label put out their self-titled EP to the world as a hardcore introduction to the Cerritos-bred band with 12 in full of five, fast-paced raucous tracks that was a departure from the groups early original pop punk sound. Nevertheless, it opened the door to decades of songs and endless touring that helped the band build their name. Nearly 40 years and six albums later, using the same original format to recapture the spirit of the past on their latest batch of songs seemed like the best way to move forward.
“The 12-inch, 5 song EP is a fitting format for us,” Magrann says. “Five strong tracks, no filler, just a snapshot of where we are in the moment, that’s how we did it with Posh Boy.”
The artwork for the EP, which Magrann originally found online, depicts a monkey burning a bridge behind it and moving forward regardless of any consequences. That theme played heavily into the title and theme of the project. It also turned out to be created by a fan of the band who saw them back in the days following CH3’s Posh Boy debut.
“I found the artist who did it, Rob Elliot in Toronto, and [emailed him] ’Hey man love your work, found it online and would love to use it for our new album. He responded ‘Oh man I saw CH3 in Vancouver in 1982!”
In honor of the album being released on the holiest day of the year for music collectors, the band released a video “Blackballed,” which starts with an homage to the scene from the lonely record store signing in Spinal Tap where nobody but the band shows up.
“We wanted to do something in a record store for record store day so we thought it would be funny to replay that opening,” Magrann says. “Third Eye Records on 4th Street opened up early for us one day and we shot it there. It turned out funny, quick and cool.”
Fortunately, there should be plenty of people showing up to their free record release show at Alex’s Bar on Easter Sunday at the bar’s Sunday Social event alongside The Capsules and Jackie Mendez. Kim Gardener’s son, dream pop artist Max Gardener, is also sharing the stage and celebrating the release his new album, Children Melting Velvet, at the show.
For full details on the show on April 21, click here.