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Chon introduce their sweet second album Honey

A decade ago, they were playing to empty rooms in their hometown of San Diego, but today Chon are packing out venues with their friendly math rock sound. Mario Camarena sums up their progress

“Sometimes I’ll see a 40- or 50-year-old guy in a Rush T-shirt at our show,” says Chon’s laconic guitarist Mario Camarena, who’s all of 25. “It’s cool that older prog dudes like us – it gives us some real credit. Often they’ll say that after seeing us, they’re not worried about the future of prog, and that’s good to hear.”

The math rock trio are hearing many good things this year, from old prog dudes and young crowdsurfer types alike. Homey, the follow‑up to their 2015 debut album Grow, came out in June and peaked at No.66 on the US Billboard chart – respectable, given the genre’s niche appeal.

Their American tour dates regularly sell out, and you only have to check out online footage to see the connection they’re making with people. They packed out New York’s Webster Hall, a 1,500-capacity room, and their homecoming gig at San Diego’s House Of Blues saw 1,100 heaving bodies going apeshit to the band’s complex yet oddly sunny tunes. Of the new stuff, Camarena says the rhythmically tricky No Signal has been going down surprisingly well, along with old favourites like Grow’s Perfect Pillow.

“We’d play that same song nine years ago, when we were starting out, to empty rooms,” says Camarena. “We’ve played to nobody a lot. We’d do any show we could in San Diego for our first two years, usually just to the other bands and our friends. We knew we were making cool music, but instrumental music wasn’t thriving as much as now. The first question people would ask was, ‘When are you getting a vocalist? You’ll never do anything without one.’ That’s an outdated question now. People know instrumental music is its own thing.”

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