Li'l Chuck, the talented one-man band from Christchurch, releases his third studio album, MONO, on March 29.
Well-known throughout the Canterbury region for his regular gigs and festival appearances, multi-instrumentalist David Thorpe (aka Li'l Chuck, The One Man Skiffle Machine) went to great lengths to record his latest material.
Having already produced Blues in Full Swing in 2015, and 2017’s Utility Blues, he wanted his third release to showcase his music in its rawest sense.
His vision fell into place when he happened to stumble across a video recorded at the famed Sugar Ray's Vintage Recording Studio in Essex, UK.
Known for their expertise in vintage recording techniques, he booked a session, and travelled nearly 12,000 miles to record with engineer Dean Amos.
All 14 tracks were completed in a one-day session, capturing single takes with no overdubs, and using entirely 1950's mono recording equipment, direct to tape.
Post production and mastering was completed by Lincoln Grounds (Thomm Jutz) and released on Thorpe’s own label, Backyard Music.
“Working at Sugar Ray’s was a meeting of minds, and, being a nostalgic fella, recording through their vintage gear was a buzz,” says Thorpe. “I was working with the gear my idols would have used. I like the raw, simplistic, organic, honest, uncomplicated, naked approach. I like warts n’ all, bumps and scrapes. Capturing the energy of a performance, not over-thinking it.”
Known for his storytelling skill and ability to play all his instruments simultaneously, he’s admired the craft of one-man bands ever since seeing iconic busker Rob Gray, of “The Little Big Band”, perform on the UK streets in the late 1980s. He was only 18, but says it influenced everything he’s done musically since.
Originally from the UK, the independent musician with more than 25 years of performance, writing and recording experience, relocated to Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2003.
He spent more than a decade in Christchurch's legendary Irish group, 'The Black Velvet Band', and managed 'The Vanguard', the official house band of The Crusaders’ rugby team in Canterbury.
He also recently supported American legend Jimmy Buffett, Bluesman Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, and, The Topp Twins, and has performed at The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Kaikoura Seafest, New Zealand Cup and Show Week, The New Zealand World Buskers’ Festival, and The Great Kiwi Beer Festival.
His second album, Utility Blues (2017) hit Number 6 on the official New Zealand albums chart, and he appeared as a feature artist on Jesse Mulligan's Radio New Zealand show in 2017.
This time around, as he gears up to release MONO, he’s proud to be bucking the trend by paring back his music to its core essentials knowing there’s nothing to hide behind.
“You go into the studio really well rehearsed, play and then go home. I like music with integrity.”
To celebrate the launch of MONO, Li'l Chuck has two album release shows planned, see below for more information;
The Wine Cellar
Auckland 29th March
Christchurch 5th April
Physical album available from https://skifflemachine.bandcamp.com/album/mono also available on all digital platforms.