Many artists grow up feeling like they don’t really fit in anywhere. This suburban malaise is a part of a lot of peoples teenage years. This is usually accompanied by a deep dive into searching out music that makes you feel like there’s a community out there, somewhere, that you would fit in with. For Brandon Williams growing up in Whitby, Ontario was just like this. The talented front person of Chastity has taken these feelings and turned them into huge, soaring songs on their amazing 2018 debut Death Lust and now on this years follow up Home Made Satan. Death Lust catapulted the group onto the world’s stage, seeing them tour all over the world to like minded fans. With this follow up, available now via Capture Tracks,/Royal Mountain Records, Williams deep dives into the alienation he felt growing up and with it the connection he desires to create with others. It’s a beautiful collection of songs, jumping between melancholy and aggression but always thoughtful and anthemic, causing you to sing aloud along to his provocative and astute lyrical content.
When we reach Williams, he is sitting in the Chastity tour van rocketing from Brandon, Manitoba to their that night gig in Saskatoon. “We just left Brandon,” Williams explains, “Touring in Canada is so tough. It was a long drive from Whitby but I’m starting to feel into it now.” While it may take a little bit of time to get back into the monotony of life on the road, Williams is no stranger to it. Chastity toured all over the world last year promoting Death Lust and even recorded Home Made Satan on a short break in between an American and European run. Their new album is in fact directly inspired by what Williams observed while on the road. “We spent so much time in America that my writing and instinct and sympathy was going that way,” he says, “It was pretty visceral being in the states. Seeing that classic thing, this shiny city that we played and then driving 15 mins outside of it and seeing this huge wealth disparity that exists. It’s often a way different story to being in the city and for me there’s a lot of popular culture shit that is brutal and wrong and unquestioned and I wanted to start to pry a little at that and fuck it up.”
Seeing this disparity first hand hasn’t made Williams feel though that there is no hope for the future. “There’s hope for sure but it’s an uphill battle,” he explains, “I think it’s sort of a malicious ignorance on the right or this centrist complacency.” Talking about these things so directly on the album isn’t something that Williams wanted to shy away from. “I don’t do anything in moderation,” he says, “So I don’t feel neutral about political shit. I want to challenge it. In my lyrics I’ve talked about killing cops and shit, killing bankers, it’s meant to provoke reaction and hopefully action and with this record, it’s concept record and I gave myself some liberty to say these things in a character but I hope that people can feel hope through a compassionate stance. If my songs can activate one person that would be amazing. Then this one person can activate someone else and that hope spreads.” Williams is quick to explain though that there hasn’t been much push back from any people that may disagree with his politics. “The feedback from the kids at the shows is that they get it,” he explains,”Like, I’lI sing about austerity and how the first places government will penny pinch is on their populations most vulnerable. Some kids will dm me about these lyrics and ask what they mean and I am more than happy to explain.” When discussing why he feels he hasn’t heard anything negative, Williams offers, laughing, “The right is sensitive to logic and compassion and I think I’m probably a bit of a detriment to them.”
Through Chastity, Williams is trying to connect with people, to expand his community, to reach like minded kids like he was, living in their own suburban malaise, to show them that they aren’t alone. On the albums closing track “Strife”, Williams sings, “You Make Your Families” and he explains that he was initially referring to his close friends and bandmates but the focus has slightly changed. “The vision with Chastity has always been to sing my neighbourhood song. It’s for the glory of Whitby and then we start finding these other Whitby,” he says “Turns out here’s thousands of Whitbys and millions of skid kids like us. With that lyric I was more literally thinking about friends and close people in your life and finding fellowship and family in that but yeah with touring you do find this family in community.”
With Home Made Satan, Williams is in the process of finding his community. He has reached out to them through his songs. Appealing to them through his criticism of the political world we find ourselves living in but also in his compassion to relating to their shared experience. Growing up is hard but with someone like Williams and Chastity out there, letting kids all over the world know that they aren’t alone, that you have this community and that this community is worldwide, is a pretty wonderful thing.
interview by Adam Fink