Childhood friends turned musical collaborators, Chain of Lynx defy distance to release their debut album, with proceeds benefiting a cause near and dear to many
Neil Clarke and Matthew Dicks have been friends since the seventh grade. They both discovered a love for music at roughly the same time. Both flirted with the idea of playing heavy metal, joking that they “never had the chops,” for the hard and fast stuff.
Silliness over substance
But they’d jam. From Dicks transitioning from the piano to drums and then guitar and Clarke likewise cutting his teeth learning Offspring riffs, the pair set out to creating their own signature brand of tunes with silliness over substance.
“We just started writing these stupid kind of Primus-y, carnival, pseudo kids songs,” Dicks recalls. “We’d sit in a basement with one other guy and like the tiniest little computer microphone. All three of us sitting around it writing songs about anything. Pretend dances, our own take on the Macarena, to a song about a banana that was a typewriter by day, a typewriter as a position not as an object. All of it was nonsense, and I think that’s what made it so easy.”
The pair were inseparable through junior high, high school and into university before job and distance intervened. Clarke pursued a degree in education which took him all the way to South Korea before returning to The Rock to work in La Scie, some seven and a half hours out of the capital.
Dicks, graduating with a degree in engineering, worked in Texas before returning home. It wasn’t until 2014 that the duo would begin their musical partnership again, albeit by distance.
Clarke, having an abundance of riffs and song ideas recorded, sent one particularly bluesy number to Dicks, who would return lyrics hours later.
“That just lit a fire under me,” said Clarke. “He and I have been going back and forth like that for the last two or three years now.”
While the long-distance correspondence has carried on for the duo, a happenstance holiday accident that nearly derailed Dicks’ playing career spurned on what would be their debut album under the RPM Challenge this past February.
“One of the kick starters for the album was that I fell off the roof at Christmas time doing Christmas lights and dislocated my elbow in a way that I was told only 4 year olds do. We were five months into something that I’ve been telling myself my whole life to do, which was finally make music, finally releasing music and all of a sudden I’ve got doctors saying you may never bend your arm again like this. You maybe stuck at 90 degrees from now on.”
Painstaking physiotherapy and rehab proved affective, as Dicks found himself ready to go, albeit banged up, just in time for the annual create a record in 28 days challenge. Battling the clock as well as miles (a trip to La Scie with sessions complete with Netflix, curry and jamming helped), the duo polished off their debut album for the RPM Challenge.
Diverse & eclectic
The result is the band Chain of Lynx and their album MMXIX, a nine song collection that is diverse, eclectic and the fruits of decades worth of ideas and camaraderie.
“I think when somebody says that it’s eclectic, the songs don’t sound the same, it just makes me feel good because I know there’s a thread of us in each track,” Dicks says proudly.
Proceeds from the first production run go to benefit Easter Seals NL, helping to aid in the recouping of losses from a flood this past summer which damaged musical instruments and resulted in the shuttering of programs and services for children.
“For me, I didn’t see any better way to kind of promote the album than to pick a charity that said, this is everything that music did for me and does for me on a regular basis,” Dicks explains. “It digs me out of holes.”
A December 28th album release show at Element Coffee in St. John’s will likewise see proceeds donated to Easter Seals NL, a charitable effort the pair hopes to replicate in the future.
“It is a labor of love for us, so just share the love,” Clarke says. “As long as we can still make our music and not go to the poorhouse (laughs). We realize that this isn’t going to be world tour type of stuff. For the amount that we make, if we can give it to somebody and make one or two people happy, that’s a win win, really.”
Music is the prize
“The music is all that we need from this,” Dicks adds. “Knowing that people are hearing and enjoying it is all I ever needed to get out of this.”
The music is the prize. The charity, the gravy. But the big kicker? Reconnecting with a life-long friend through the love of music.
“The best thing I get out of any of this is getting to spend a crazy amount of time with one of my best friends doing something that we really, really are passionate about,” Dicks says. “If Neil gets really excited about something that I do in a song or I get really excited about something he does in a song that is this incredible moment where seven hours apart, 40 hours apart, it doesn’t matter. We’re in the exact same place for a minute.”
For more information on Chain of Lynx visit the band on their official Facebook, Twitter and bandcamp pages.