Prog Rock Band Chon Make India Debut This Week
The Californian quartet’s guitarist Mario Camarena talks about touring, fun riffs and the importance of merchandize
In December, on the final stop of their tour in Anaheim, California, prog rock band Chon kicked into their distinctively flittering song “Perfect Pillow” and suddenly, their tour mates from Between the Buried and Me and Intervals came out on stage, rolled out a carpet, placed a couch and began playing dice. Chon guitarist Mario Camarena recounts, “I’m used to pranks now. Everyone pulls pranks on us especially during that specific song. I’m always ready, like something might go down, but I didn’t know they’re gonna bring a whole couch out.”
Over the phone from Kyoto where they’ve just come in to kick off their Asia tour, Camarena says they’re going to play songs like “Perfect Pillow” – off their 2015 album Grow – and more old and new songs for their debut in India. And just like everyone fan who asks important questions, Camarena does mention that they’re bringing merchandize. The guitarist recounts how merch became a priority after they began selling out from their first U.S. tour itself. “After that we made it a big priority to always have nice merch and it works out, it really helps our overall income,” he says.
Active for just under a decade, Chon have steadily found their space in instrumental math rock and prog rock circuits alongside peers such as Polyphia, Intervals and Plini (all of whom have toured India) and made a small but important dent in the Billboard charts with albums like Grow, Homey  and their self-titled 2019 album. The sound covers saccharine guitar melodies and sometimes complex time signatures. Camarena has noted in interviews how he and the band – brothers Esiah Camarena on bass, Nathan Camarena on drums and guitarist Erick Hansel – write “joke riffs” to amuse each other on the record and at live shows. He uses “Bubble Dream” – off their 2013 album Newborn Sun – to explain how the complicated is actually fun for Chon. Mario says, “The riff has a bunch of harmonics. And then every few bars, the riff changes and more harmonics are added every time. We just thought it was funny at the time and never heard anything like that. We’re thinking, ‘Oh let’s just throw a shitload of harmonics in this riff, change a little bit and add more.’”
While Chon has gained international acclaim, the guitarist feels that it still takes a lot to make an international tour happen, whether it’s in Europe, Australia and New Zealand or now, Asia. Camarena says, “We know we wanted to go overseas eventually, but we just had to wait for the right offers. It’s really hard for bands to actually make money or even break even going overseas, so we’re just patient and we take our time and we kind of trust that if we keep working hard and putting a lot of effort into what we do, the right offers and everything will come out and it’s worked out so far.”
Chon will kick off their India tour – put together by Bengaluru event firm Bohemian Live – with a set at the Vh1 Sound Nation stage at Vh1 Supersonic in Pune on February 9th. They’ll also perform in Bengaluru on February 11th, in Hyderabad on February 13th and close off with a set in New Delhi on February 15th. Camarena recounts how prog band Intervals’ founder Aaron Marshall told them about his India experiences and “said it was fun.” The guitarist adds about their plans while in the country, “We don’t have any plans at all. We’ve never been there so I think our liaison will probably help us figure out some things to do. I’m sure everyone will love the vibe of the place.”
Bohemian Live presents Chon India Tour
February 9th – Mahalakshmi Lawns, Pune (Vh1 Supersonic) – tickets
February 11th – Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined, Bengaluru (w/Sei Hek) – tickets
February 13th – The Moonshine Project, Hyderabad (w/ Foi, C6) – tickets
February 15th – Raasta, New Delhi (w/The Pirate Radio) – tickets
Watch the video for “Waterslide” below.