The Alrights

The Alrights:Doing it their way

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

The Alrights have re-released their debut album High School nationally through Manhattan’s City Canyons Records. They also are recording a new five song E.P. and can be heard this Friday night for free at Carmody’s Irish Pub.

The Alrights’ Toby Churchill, Danny Cosgrove, and Chad “Chavo" Amborn have been playing together for four years now, and they continue to cultivate catchy songs through their philosophy of “Bigness through Smallness". From their name to what they wear, the band has a working class attitude about making it big.

“We want to stay small," Churchill said. “We can putz around with our little tours and recordings, but we don’t want to be ostentatious."

In order to make it big today a musician must be business savvy as well as true to their artistic side. Many musicians are great artists, but their lack of business sense can end up hurting them if they don’t think about merchandise sales or making it big.

“We hope to turn that back," Churchill said. “We don’t want to be rich or famous, and bands that are interested in that couldn’t learn anything from our philosophy."

Hard work has paved the way for The Alrights, and a grounded attitude lays their foundation for success. They don’t want to be famous though, they just want to be able to express their art. Although Churchill said that if he did ever become famous there is one positive aspect.

“Fame would let us do more for society, but fame for fame’s sake is not what we are interested in." Churchill said. “We take our little tours where we go for ten dates straight, and that is where we want to be right now."

With a new booking agent, Jared Johnson of Pepper Entertainment, the Alrights have a plan for the future.

“This is the stuff I think about," Churchill said with a smile. “We have a 20 date tour scheduled for the fall and we hope to repeat that three times a year. All of our money that we are paid as a band goes back into the pot to pay for recording costs."

Working at a studio in Minneapolis, the Alrights have been polishing off their fresh new sound. For their next album they plan a media blitzkrieg with live songs appearing on and a studio album highlighting their newest hits.

“We are correlating the studio E.P. with live releases of other songs on Myspace," Cosgrove said. “Our new album will be released sometime in October and our Myspace page will have a bunch of new live stuff appear at the same time. Together the five songs on the EP and the four to six live ones on the internet will add up to an entire album."

The mouthful of a name for that new EP is titled, Meeting Of The Saint Louis County League of Volunteer Astronauts; Excerpts From The Keynote Address.

On the elongated title Churchill said, “I just liked the idea of some obscure group sitting somewhere and meeting and feeling self important... But they really aren’t important."

The five new tunes on the EP are written by the band, with Churchill penning four and Cosgrove composing the fifth. A few can be heard live at their show this Friday, and one new song is already available on their Myspace page:

Their new song on the internet is titled, “All I Know Is Rock & Roll" and has a “Strawberry Fields Forever" feel.

Churchill, who is influenced so greatly by the Beatles and John Lennon that he named his son Lennon after the famous singer, doesn’t know many Beatles songs on the guitar though.

“I have been playing the guitar since I was eleven," Churchill said. “But I never learned to play lead and I don’t know how to play Beatles songs either."

Churchill’s son is eleven now, lives in Minneapolis, and maintains a close relationship with his father.

“He will be the best man at my wedding when I marry my girlfriend," Churchill said. “Annie and I have been together for six years and she is my best friend."

With his son being only eleven I was curious if Toby was offering Lennon as his best man to buy some time before committing.

“It doesn’t matter what age he is," Churchill said. “He’ll be my best man."

Chad “Chavo" Amborn also is a family man with two children already and one on the way. When he came to Duluth in 1999 he met Cosgrove when he was delivered a Herb’s & Gerb’s sandwich. At the time, Amborn was playing in a local cover band called Average Sun. He was asked to fill in with Crazy Betty and later became their permanent drummer.

Danny Cosgrove is also feeling the love lately and contributes his songwriting skills to the new E.P. in the tune titled, “Love Love Love Love Love," which is about nothing else but…love, or as he put it, “stuff that reminds me of love."

Even though Cosgrove plays bass, he still uses a guitar to write songs and play the basic chords or riffs. He then adds the bassline on top of the tune later. For those of you who follow the band, Cosgrove sings the song “The Sickness" off of their High School album.

The Alrights have come a long way since their debut album High School was originally recorded late in 2004, and even farther from their roots.

Two members are Duluth natives, and another has strong family connections in the area that brought him here. Cosgrove (Bass) and Churchill (Vocals, Guitar, & Keyboards) both went to Central High School and grew up on the hill. Chad “Chavo" Amborn grew up in the Valley of California and made his way here much later. He does note that he has always lived on the West-Side of whatever town he has lived in.

Churchill played guitar with a few friends in high school and eventually when that number dwindled to two people they got together and formed a band. Cosgrove joined that band later after ski bumming in Breckinridge and Vail, Colorado. As they rose through the Duluth scene Amborn was added to the Crazy Betty equation last.

Then in 2003 it was out with the old and in with the new as The Alrights formed a three-piece band wanting to become something different. Gone were the house parties, large fan base, and security of being a house-band at Norm’s. Now it was time to start all over with a new philosophy.

Churchill reluctantly talked about that early Alrights period in 2003, but shies away from talk about his previous band.

“At first the people who came to Alrights shows that were fans from before were curious, but it didn’t last long," Churchill said. “Our next thought was how do we get beyond our immediate borders and not be just a local band."

Their new philosophy of being big by being small has done wonders for the band and their artistic sanity. Amborn is sponsored by several endorsement deals for equipment, the band has crisscrossed the country on recent tours, and they are about to release a second album.

“We must tour to go out and get our music heard," Churchill said. “Then we return to the same areas we’ve been before and hopefully the crowds grow. Sometimes there is one person at a show and at others we have 500. When we went to Pittsburgh recently we had a low turnout, but I don’t blame that on the city."

Other songs that appear on the new E.P. are “When I Get Born", “Happy Birthday Universe", and “All This Time." “Happy Birthday Universe" is infectiously catchy and a staple of their live show. The song “All This Time" is unreleased currently, but is sure to follow the Alrights formula.

“The song “All This Time" is about inescapable fates," Churchill said. “I wrote it as a love song about my girlfriend… That we couldn’t have found each other except for the cosmic marbles that brought us together."

Check them out this Friday at Carmody’s and to hear a few songs or purchase the CD go to: