Local Band Little Chief to Release New Album
As the story goes, Little Chief was an old oil boom town in Oklahoma in the 60s. After the oil fields stopped working, it became a deserted ghost town.
“So that’s kind of where we got our sound,” said Matt Cooper, who does lead vocals and guitar in the Fayetteville folk band Little Chief. “We think that our sound is kinda ghosty, but at the same time it has a lot of relatability. We think that name does it justice and we fell in love with it.”
The band said the Indian name had a tribe feel, which they liked. “It’s a big family, for sure,” Cooper said.
The tribe of Little Chief includes Cooper, Matthew Heckmann on cello and vocals, Ellie Turner on vocals and Andrew Meyers on drums.
The mellow harmonies of Cooper, Heckmann and Turner compliment the complicated rhythms of Meyer’s beats and Cooper’s picking on the guitar, making the perfect blend of a smooth, confident, gung-ho sound.
The band’s first EP was recorded at East Hall Studios in Fayetteville and released Friday on iTunes, available for only $5. “Everyone’s got five bucks,” Cooper said.
Fans of artists like The Head & the Heart, The Lumineers, and Mumford & Sons can easily listen to Little Chief’s tracks on repeat, or see them live at their upcoming show in the UA’s Battle of the Bands this Friday.
The band entered a contest put on by East Hall Studios in May of last year. “They basically gave us a free album because they were impressed with our sound,” Cooper said. “That was completely paid for by an anonymous donor.”
“You don’t realize how much recording five songs is until you record songs,” said Heckmann. “I always imagined you go in and record, and it’s so much fun and games and everyone’s laughing and throwing daisies in the air, but it’s not. It’s a lot of work and it’s frustrating, and sometimes you disagree on stuff, but we put a lot of work into it and we think it turned out really well.”
Meyers described the album as upbeat, but with the chill, ghostly feel that the harmonies Turner, Cooper and Heckmann provide. “All these are originals, and my favorite song is all of them,” Meyers said.
Heckmann and Cooper met last year though Beta Upsilon Chi, a Christian fraternity on campus.
“I knew Matt (Cooper) played music because he put this one song on SoundCloud, and I kind of listened to it like 40 times creepily, and really liked it,” Heckmann said. Cooper found out Heckmann played cello and the two started playing together.
“It was kind of a series of jams at first,” Cooper said. “We would just kind of get together and play for a while. We kind of built up a chemistry and started playing random shows.”
The two played under Cooper’s name for a while before they decided to record their own music. Meyers joined the band originally on banjo, but soon switched to his preferred drum set. The three began recording videos, which are all on Cooper’s Youtube channel.
“Then when we decided to make a band and call it Little Chief, we decided to add Miss Ellie Turner, which actually happened right as we started recording this new album,” Cooper said.
Turner said Cooper called her in to hear some of the final recordings of the album. “They handed me a sheet of paper, that had a bouquet of flowers drawn on it that said ‘Join our band,’ and I was like, ‘Heck yes!’” Turner said.
“Just like that,” Cooper said. “The magic started.”
“The rest is history,” Turner said.
The band laughed as they described Ellie’s voice as honey dripping on a living cat, alluding to Turner’s passionate love for cats. “Who doesn’t like that?” Cooper said.
“You couldn’t get a cat covered in honey away from you. It sticks to you,” Meyers said.
“That’s basically what Ellie Turner’s voice is,” said Cooper. “It sticks to you forever.”
Cooper said the process for writing the band’s original songs comes naturally to them. Cooper said he will write the first half of a song, and then run it by Heckmann, and the two will work on it. Most of their songs start with guitar and cello. Then Cooper takes the song to Meyers and Turner in practice.
“Then we throw in Ellie’s voice, and we just let Andrew drop a beat,” Cooper said. “That’s pretty much the process, it’s pretty simple.”
Little Chief’s music is available on iTunes and so is their app, which is an interactive tool that includes shows, videos, and updates.
Fans can also purchase CDs with hand-stamped logos of the band’s name, with a geometric border on the cover.
The band is selling blue T-shirts with a large chief on the back, whose headdress feathers have ornate tribal shapes. The shirt, which is on sale for $20, has a frocket (a pocket in the front) with the band’s name in the center. “You can put girls’ numbers in here,” said Heckmann.