Timeout with Chris Poynton of The Crown and Two Chairmen

Few people have heard of The Crown and Two Chairmen, an instrumental post-rock band from Chicago. However, for those interested in seeking out a different style of music, this might be a band to hear. The Crown and Two Chairmen consists of four guys: two guitarists (Ken Bonner and Kevin McAfee), Chris Solano on the drums, and bassist Chris Poynton. Three of these four musicians are recent graduates from the Chicagoland area. Recently, Poynton answered a few questions about the band and talked about how being a recent college graduate has impacted the group.

Tell me a little about your band, The Crown and Two Chairmen. Where did the name even come from?

Um, actually I stole the name last year when I was studying abroad in England. When we were in London, we used to visit this pub that I really liked. And it was called The Crown and Two Chairmen, and it just kind of stuck with me. But yeah, the band…we’ve been together a little over a year now. If I had to label what style of music we are, I would categorize us as post-rock or experimental. I met Kevin [guitarist] my freshman year at UIC [University of Illinois at Chicago]. He was moving here to Chicago and contacted my roommate at the time through Facebook because they liked similar styles of music, so we became pretty close through that. I met Chris [drummer] because he played with my old band from back in the day and then we contacted Ken [second guitarist] through Craigslist.

So you played in a band before this?

Ha ha, yeah. We were called How Bright the Sky. It was more, like, pop-punk style, which I was really into in high school. We were pretty big, I guess, for our age, but it didn’t work out, which is a long-ass story.

Understandable. You graduated last year from UIC. How has college prepared you, if at all, for your music career?

It really didn’t help me at all. I guess, from a business school perspective, I learned the importance of contacts and learning who can and cannot help you out in the long run. Emailing, calling, and promoting…but that is really all common sense stuff, y’know?

True. You were a business major, I take it?

No, I was an English major, actually. I just imagine, maybe if I were a business major, it might be of some help with my band? I was an English major because I thought maybe I could fall back on a teaching degree at some point. I don’t know, though, exactly what I am going to do.

So you guys have been together a little over a year now. Was it hard balancing your last semester of school and the band at the same time?

Well, yeah, it was. I really care about the music and the other people in the group, so we treat it as if it were a job. It definitely is a really big commitment, but it’s worth it if you are passionate about something. I really had to learn how to balance my time between the two. I never was very into school. I got straight A’s for the most part, although I never had to put in too much effort. The only punishment was that band practice was at noon on Sundays for a while, and 99% of the time I was hungover.

That must have been terrible for your headache. Where do you see The Crown and Two Chairmen in the future?

I don’t know. I really hope we’ll continue on. Our last show at the Beat Kitchen [drew] such a great crowd. We had a few technical difficulties in the beginning, which was frustrating, but we were just so pumped by the amount of people there that it felt right. But if you want me to be realistic, a real job is in my future. It is hard to have four guys as young and attractive and unpopular for the time being as us focus solely on one aspect of their life…unless you are Fall Out Boy. After high school, I got really sick of playing songs that ended after three-and-a-half minutes and were designed for sixteen-year-olds. For us, it’s all about wanting people to hear our music and our style and think to themselves, this is good. We really just want to be respected by other musicians, first and foremost, as well as the fans. Our music is [about] trying to have more thought appeal to life, rather than just singing about a girl you like that broke up with you or [about] getting drunk this weekend.

Is that the reason you chose to play all of your songs thus far entirely instrumental?

I don’t know. Maybe. When we first started playing together, we didn’t know what to expect or what was going to come of us playing together. In the end, adding lyrics just didn’t fit for us, and we decided to exclude it entirely.

I am a big fan of Explosions in the Sky, and I definitely think you guys have a similar song style to them.

I’ll take that as a compliment. Thank you.

Check out The Crown and Two Chairmen’s Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/thecrownandtwochairmen

-Laura Green


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