Whitby, Ontario based Chastity, makes haunting, brutal and beautiful anthems for suburban dysphoria. Put it this way, you would not be wrong if you described Chastity as the new millennial answer to Smashing Pumpkins. Williams kicked off 2017 with the release of his ‘Peroxide‘ 7″ in January and closed the year with the release of his brutal Chains EP. In between all that, Williams joined fellow Canadian punk rockers Metz and Fucked Up on tour and ventured out to Europe to shake things up. Before Williams unleashes the debut full-length Chastity album, we reflect on how 2017 has treated him.
If you were going to sum up your 2017 in one word what would it be?
I think, confronted. I hope I’m more prepared to listen, stand when and where I need to and especially not stand in the way.
You released the Chains EP late in the year, what should people know about it?
It’s a compilation. The last two songs are live and were recorded in Manchester, and the rest just at sporadic times here. I lose my voice a lot, get headaches a lot, I have no idea how to properly use my voice, and it happens in the middle of lines of shows. I threw up last night from a migraine it sucks. There’s a shorter set that’s played when this starts happening, when I can only use my voice to yell and this EP is it.
Nicole Dollanganger & Crew at the Benefit for Youth Mental Health April 2017
Can you expand on some of the themes you’re dealing with on the tracks on this EP?
‘Manning Hill’ is about SSRIs, ‘Chains’ I’m dreaming of Marx, ‘Flesh’ is about the spiritual fight of trying to survive, ‘Institution’ is about decaying democracy, ‘Popular Belief’ mocks the abused privilege of casual substance use in the company of those without the privilege to do so in their addiction, about those who reduce a women to a body, about the naivety of the status quo.
Hows your relationship with your audience evolved this year?
Great songwriters write for an audience of one and I really want to do that, I want to be a great songwriter and I want to grow inside that audience of one. To have people singing the songs in England really fucked with me, stirred me up I mean, made me cry.
I think a lot of human purpose is to survive by each other and keep each other alive and healthy.
How did tour go down this year and how was it playing with Metz?
It was beyond any sort of dream for this project honestly. Usually we sleep where we can, floors of course, have slept on concrete before, almost never in hotels. We were given hotels to stay in out of Metz pocket, and we were left with a good example of the type of tour mates we ought to be to others. I would have been happy to just watch Metz shows for nights in a row, but being able to play with them was obviously a privilege. I don’t drink alcohol and there were conversations on this tour that felt like real solidarity, safety in what otherwise feels like a bit of a storm on tours, or just out in the world.
Grand Rapids on the Metz tour June 2017
Was the benefit for youth mental health that you organized a success? Why’s this event so important to you?
I think about dying and I think a lot of people do, and I think a lot of human purpose is to survive by each other and keep each other alive and healthy. Youth mental health, and generally keeping each other as healthy as we can, is a responsibility that we all have to each other. That’s been the hope with the Youth Mental Health benefits.
There’s an awesome place the next town over called Frontenac House, it’s a centre for 12-18-year-olds facing mental health challenges. My friends and I put the money we made from this show back in to Frontenac. Nicole Dollanganger, Spunk and Poor You played this past show and it was one of my favourite nights of this year.
Chastity at Paradiso, Amsterdam Netherlands
What do you dream about?
I’ve been sleeping sort of fucked. I’m away right now and I think I’m just off the timezone. I’ve been sleeping dark, I don’t remember anything. That’s been the last two or three nights and I don’t remember… like black feeling sleep.
How would you describe the Chastity aesthetic?
Character is those who surround you and it’s kind of in my surroundings, my friends, these people in the videos, playing these songs with me, and in these places. It’s their character that comes out of me. It’s kind of reflecting. There may sometimes be a melancholy or like a dark element in Chastity, but I think that has to do with my nature and the nature of Whitby.
Chastity’s first full length recording London Ontario
What’s it like in Whitby?
It’s a pretty straight up the middle type of bedroom town. It’s an hour train ride outside of Toronto. I’m not from Toronto, I can’t pull off Toronto honestly, and I don’t really like being there. There are thousands of Whitbys, and there are millions of skid kids just like there are from here, and that’s just Whitby.
What’s in store for 2018?
I’ve just finished recording the first record. Writing and recording this was the most emotional labor I’ve ever put in to anything.