Ryan White, an American expat living in Vienna, Austria had been toying with the idea of taking Spaghetti Western influences and mixing it with his own songwriting for several years. Early last year, while sitting in a bar and listening to The Go! Team’s debut album, White had a drunken conversation with his friend Iris Ruah, in which he convinced her to buy an electronic drum set and learn how to play the drums so that the duo could create and play dance parties for their friends. Of course, most of us have had countless drunken “great” ideas that we never actually do, Ruah actually went out and bought that drum set, the very next day. And White began writing more straightforward material based on chopped up snippets of Spaghetti Western chord progressions and simple, repetitive drum beats. Also wanting to focus on his vocals and stage performance, White moved from more complex guitar work to writing melodic bass lines and playing rhythm guitar – with the idea that the songs would possess relatively simple structures and techniques but be densely layered. And the only instrument that would be allowed to do any kind of solo would be the trumpet, meant to emphasize the Spaghetti Western influence.
Originally named Lee Van Cleef, after the actor who starred in classic Westerns like The Good, the Band and the Ugly and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, the band renamed themselves Chick Quest, which interestingly enough also sounds like the name of an actor, who could have co-starred in some of those classic Westerns alongside Van Cleef. “Explain Yourself to a Bat,” the latest single off the band’s debut effort, Vs. Galore effortlessly possesses the sort of danceable yet frantic neuroticism of Talking Heads, thanks to angular and stabbing guitar and bass chords paired with simple rhythms giving the song a decidedly familiar post-punk/New Wave sound – until you really pay attention and pick up on the chord progression, the blasts of trumpet, and lyrics that seem deeply indebted to B movie horror films, all of which create a unique and eccentric twist on a sound that mos of us have had ad infinitum for most of our lives.