American Chills hit the ground running

Hallie Thomas

Hallie Thomas

The American Chills are hoping to quit their day jobs.

“We consider this band a business,” bassist Mike Owsley said during a late night phone call from Tennessee. “This is what we want to do and we’re trying to get it off the ground.”

Formed in 2001, this rock upstart has a deeply rooted familial closeness as well as a connectivity with the writing.

They were initially faced with only one problem: What would they call themselves?

They wanted something simple, something along the same vein as The Strokes, The White Stripes, or The Hives. Friends and family pitched several ideas and most were discarded, including a suggestion that they call themselves The Holy Romans.

Finally, while booking for a show, they decided to just call themselves The Chills. A member of the local press spotted one of their flyers and took it upon himself to inform them publicly that a band in New Zealand shared the moniker. In the greatest of humor, they took the stage that week as The American Chills. The name has been unchallenged thus far.

The Nashville-based band is a family affair. The band’s singer and guitarist, Amy, is married to Mike. Mike’s brother Andrew also plays guitar, and drummer Lex Reeves is a close friend.

Their first CD, Nine Times, has already charted on the College Music Journal’s Top 200. Not bad for an unsigned act that only pressed 500 copies of their freshman effort.

“We sent 300 copies to college radio stations, and out of the other 200, we only have ten left,” Mike adds. “I guess we should probably make some more.”

The early accomplishments of this band are not surprising, considering the noise they make. The hyper blend of Amy’s cocky riot chick vocals and the boys’ tight punk delivery is a winning combination.

They offer up a heart similar to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with Donnas-esque commercial appeal.

Their current search for a label appears to be a quest that may be short-lived.

“We’re hoping to be contacted, preferably by a smaller label that could concentrate on us,” Mike said. “We want to move slower and more steady. We’ve been taking small steps and we don’t want things to be so cutthroat.”

The band is also curious about which songs are getting the most airplay.

Since the CMJ only charts albums in whole–not singles–the group has no idea what exactly that people like.

“My guess is that stations probably are playing ‘Long Gone,'” Amy wonders excitedly, “I love that song, I call it my Kravitz song. I can go along and be able to rock out and bob my head. The jam parts are the best.”

Right now, The American Chills are mostly excited about doing some traveling.

A college tour may occur in the near future–Rand MacNally was even consulted concerning the location of Brookings– but not until after a mass exodus to California. “The musician mentality has taken over Nashville,” Amy explains.

“Everyone is in a band or knows someone in a band, and that tends to make the atmosphere very critical. Besides, even if we hate California, we’ll love the whole adventure of going there.”

So just what jobs will these indie up-and-comers leave behind when they take to the road?

“I work in a flower shop,” a somewhat embarrassed Mike said, “Amy is a receptionist, my brother is a server in a restaurant, and Lex drives the airport shuttle. It’s amazing how we dished out a lot of money and somehow managed to pull it all together.”

#1.887366:1944707860.jpg:americanchillls.jpg:Nashville-based American Chills now chart at 135 on the College Music Journal?s Top 200, even though they only sent 300 copies of their debut, Nine Times, to college radio stations. The group plans to relocate to California sometime this year.:courtesy photo