The Chordaes, who released their debut album in 2016, are on a mission: to bring back great, melodic rock, refracted through a contemporary lens. The band’s songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist, Leo Sawikin, crafts complex harmonies, inventive chord and tempo changes, and heartfelt lyrics. According to Elmore Magazine, The Chordaes offer “A diverse array of sounds and ideas, inspired by the freewheeling experimentation of Radiohead and late period Beatles while retaining a strictly pop essence.”
Along with Leo, The Chordaes’ lineup includes Ethan Glenn (Drums) and Nick Haberstroh (Bass), with frequent collaborator Max Ventura filling in on keyboards. Leo and Ethan have been playing in bands together since meeting as ninth grade troublemakers in their NYC music elective class. They formed the current incarnation in 2014 during Leo’s summer break from Bard College. Nick, who hails from the Jersey Shore, joined in 2016.
The first tracks from the band’s debut album Touch the Ground were recorded in August 2014 on the Jersey Shore, under the production of veteran Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, Roger Daltrey). Ethan recalls the initial visit to Shorefire Studios, filled with analog gear such as the famed Helios console, as “stepping into a time capsule.” The first song they cut, the album’s title track, also expressed its main theme: the confusing transition from youth to maturity. Diffuser.fm, premiering the song in 2015, quoted Leo: “My whole childhood I felt unsettled, I was always waiting on something . . . . I thought adulthood would bring contentedness for some weird reason, maybe because I thought I would be free. ‘Touch the Ground’ is about realizing that freedom is as exhausting as it is liberating.”
When the track Touch the Ground was finished, everyone involved knew they had created “something special and significant,” in Ethan’s words. It was original music, with substance. Leo, believing that he had to pursue what they’d tapped into, left college, making what he says was one of the hardest decisions of his life. The rest of the album was recorded over the next year, a time of personal change for the group, when Leo and Ethan each turned 21. Leo continued to write songs, finding, despite his youth, his main inspiration in such great melodically-driven idols as Brian Wilson and Todd Rundgren.