When Peter Hook left New Order for the last time in 2007, he simply stated “Me and Bernard [Sumner] aren’t working together”. So a band reunion in 2011 found Tom Chapman stepping into his shoes, having filled the role admirably in Sumner’s Bad Lieutenant project. A bassist with immense talent, we caught up with him ahead of a tour with side project ShadowParty, a band made up of members from New Order (Tom and Phil Cunningham) and Devo (Josh Hager and Jeff Friedl). They released their debut album in 2018 which included some stellar collaborations with Denise Johnson (Primal Scream, A Certain Ratio) and The Verve’s Nick McCabe.
Joni: So… How did you end up here?
Tom Chapman: I grew up in France in a little town called Chevreuse just outside Paris.
The music scene was almost inexistant there and I remember feeling quite a young frustrated musician. I knew music was a big part of my life but I wasn’t quite sure what to do? One day I came across a record from a Manchester band called The Smiths. I totally fell in love with them, everything about their music felt original. The way they operated within the industry, it was a refreshing change from what I’d seen or heard before. I became serious about playing my instrument and felt a strong connection with Manchester music. In 1993 I decided to move to Manchester!
J: At what point did you realise you would be a professional musician?
Tom Chapman: I established myself as a local musician playing in various groups going through the struggles that most bands experience trying to make it. But I always believed that if I kept at it something good would happen and it did when I got my break with Bad Lieutenant and then New Order In 2011.
J: Where does the name ShadowParty come from? Has this been long in the making?
Tom Chapman: We thought it was quite fitting since we were standing in the shadows of giants. We wanted our own voice, our own sound, the album took 2 years to complete. We were fortunate to collaborate with some amazing musicians on the album, Denise Johnson, Nick McCabe, to name but a few and signed a deal with Mute records and released our album last year.
J: Do you cover any tracks in the ShadowParty set or is this exclusively a chance to play your own material?
Tom Chapman: Yes on the last tour we covered a song by Pete Shelley called Homosapien and we’re doing a David Bowie cover on this tour. I won’t say which one, you’ll have to come to the shows to find out! We’ve written a couple of new songs that we have included in the set which is mainly songs from our first album.
THE SOUND OF MANCHESTER
J: The album was recorded in Manchester, Boston and LA but you can really hear those Manchester sounds, does that come naturally?
Tom Chapman: It does now yes. I think it’s true to say that most bands are influenced by the environment they surround themselves in. Our sound is at times melancholic but always seems to have an uplifting message, too. Working in all these different cities gave our songs a different angle and perspective that really defined the end result.
J: Will you be more nervous for the upcoming tour given the material is more personal and the gigs more intimate?
Tom Chapman: Not nervous no, as we have done a few tours already and the response has been fantastic. More excited I’d say and really looking forward to support The Slow Readers Club. Every new band has to start playing in small clubs and earn their dues. It’s important to start in small venues and grow stronger as a live act, it’s a treat for fans to watch the band close up.
LOVE WILL TEAR US APART
J: How did it feel stepping into such big shoes and the whole legacy of New Order? I presume you were always a fan?
Tom Chapman: It feels great, I love being part of New Order! It’s an honour to be part of such an influential band with so many great songs. I guess I was always thinking at the back of my mind I would eventually get a break as a musician in Manchester! I remember thinking when I auditioned for Bad lieutenant that it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t get the job because I got to play Love Will Tear Us Apart with Bernard, Stephen and Phil! Luckily I got the gig!
J: Has your relationship with the New Order back catalogue of songs changed now you play them to such huge crowds alongside these legends?
Tom Chapman: It has yes! I grew up listening to a lot of these songs, to now be able to share a stage and play with them still gets me! It’s a wonderful experience to witness the passion from New Order fans all around the world at our concerts!
J: Away from the music, are you inspired by movies, video games or any other form of art?
Tom Chapman: Yes I particular appreciate paintings and visual art. I’m not a big video games fan. I watch quite a lot of films too, but for me personally inspiration finds me when I am working in the studio. It can start from anything, a rhythm, a chord, and it will develop from there, music always comes first.
J: What are your plans for the future?
Tom Chapman: Write new songs for a second ShadowParty album and from June onwards I’m back on the road with New Order for the festival season.
10 SONGS OF INSPIRATION
And one special ShadowParty track…
ShadowParty are coming to a town near you! Get your tickets sharpish: