To find musicians who take themselves seriously in their craft and not seriously at all in their presentation is rare...and somewhat questionable. But for Chloie P. and The Scouts, the vibe is everything, and these formally trained musicians are on a mission to give us a campy and whimsical vibe we'll never forget...while emotionally bludgeoning us with every new release.
Songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Chloie P. and bassist/producer Viktor Mendez sit down with me to share the heart and the humor behind this punk-infused troop. My dear friends answer the questions we all have been asking — first and foremost, what are they wearing? And second, how does this group of misfits make music that breeds such raw energy?
In all seriousness, Viktor and Chloie speak of one another — and their other bandmates — with such appreciation and camaraderie, it's clear and undeniable that there's much more beneath the uniforms and sassy Instagram reels. They truly are a force that has found their niche.
In preparation for their next single, "Gaslight," The Scouts pull back the curtain about how their silly and memorable vibe is only the very surface of their love and need for music, and their deep-rooted loyalty to it.
So, you guys just played your first show. How was it? CP: Unbelievable.
VM: Yeah, it was probably the best show. I think either one of us is played between us, for sure. How many shows do you think we played?
CP: Let's see, my four years with Sleeping Seasons and Marci, and filling in for God-knows-who... 100 plus?
And you were in the small room [at the HiTone].
CP: Yeah, so, full-ish. Full enough to feel full.
VM: I mean, full enough that whenever people started moving, everyone had to back up and get out of the way.
I'm so glad people were moving though. You had a pit
CP: Jokingly, before "Haunted" — you know how slow it starts — he's like, "Alright, move around and punch a motherfucker if you want." And then, the first chorus, they did.
VM: I eyeballed skates from Acorn and I was like, "Listen, if you want to move around and punch someone, now's the time."
So did people know the songs?
VM: Looking back at the videos, there are some people singing your part in "Haunted." I thought, that doesn't sound like Chloie because she's yelling like a banshee. Like, that's too pretty. Who is that?
I had a lot of people come up to me afterwards. One guy particularly said, "Yeah, to be honest, I didn't know who you guys were." So I was like, "Of course not. It's our first show, dude." And he said, "I'm so glad I stayed."
So I saw that you guys were in uniform — were people like, "What the hell?" or did they get it?
VM: They were definitely like, "What the hell?" right when we walked out and they kind of kept it to themselves. I was nervous to walk out in the uniform because, I don't know, that's a lot of leg for me to show. That's a lot of leg. I'd rather walk out shirtless.
CP: I love you guys, thank you for putting up with my bullshit.
Okay, so that leads me to a question, Chloie. You're the visionary here. So tell me how y'all came to be The Scouts.
CP: Honestly, the Scouts idea was just something stupid that happened in college. We went to a small college with about 80 people, and somehow, I ended up in a dorm with all of the guys who didn't have cars. I did, and they all needed to go to the grocery store. So we'd load up my car with way too many fucking people and buy so many groceries that we almost couldn't fit the people and the groceries in the car.
One day, we get back and make everything we fucking bought and are just playing games and eating. When I got up to leave, I said, "Peace out Girl Scouts," and one of our friends just thought that was so funny. He was crying laughing because they were guys and I was the only girl. So it just kind of stuck.
But you don't want to get sued, so it's just the scouts.
"He encouraged me to watch Moonrise kingdom, and I fell in love with the style and colors. Of course, he was right, we can't not wear uniforms. So now we wear silly uniforms and make the silliest videos to make the people and ourselves laugh."
Okay, so with the whole vision, you're also influenced by film, and there's a whole look to this band. How does that play in?
CP: I had always been in bands that had no social media. Unless we were pushing a show. That always bugged me. It was hard because we didn't really have a brand or a bit, and it wasn't my ship to sail. So, I always knew for my own music, I wanted to be able to have something that would make it easy for us to make content.
After I decided on the name CP and The Scouts, I thought for 0.5 seconds about wearing uniforms and immediately thought it was way too stupid. Also, I didn't want to play in shorts. So that's a no.
Back in 2017ish, maybe 2018, I ran into a friend of mine one day and we started talking music, as you do at music school. I told him about The Scouts and that I was struggling with branding. As soon as the words left my mouth, he said "You have to wear scouts uniforms. It would be hilarious."
I told him I didn't really want to do that. He was so encouraging, saying it would also make marketing and merch so easy. He asked if I watched any Wes Anderson films and at the time, I had only seen a few of them. He encouraged me to watch Moonrise kingdom, and I fell in love with the style and colors. Of course, he was right, we can't not wear uniforms. So now we wear silly uniforms and make the silliest videos to make the people and ourselves laugh.
I didn't even know that.
CP: Yeah, he gave me the idea for it, so I can't take full credit for that one. We're just getting around to actually being able to do all this stuff, and everyone's down for it in the band.
What are your backgrounds musically?
CP: I learned to play guitar to Green Day, because I'm dyslexic, can't read tab, not good at theory. So I learned to play guitar to Green Day and Nirvana — stuff that feels like Kurt just made up shit. I make up chords all the time and I feel so bad for our other two guitarists.
So yeah, I grew up playing and loving punk music, but the songs are too short to say things the way that I want to say them. So then I got into bands like Paramore, who play more technically. Early on in my guitar playing I couldn't play it, but I liked the way that they wrote and sang about shit that I actually related to, unlike Green Day. It's like, in middle school, I couldn't have told you what they were actually singing about...
I loved watching Paramore live and seeing Jeremy Davis just fucking spin around that stage around Haley and Taylor and I was like, "That. That is what I want to do. Just have fun with the homies." And because I don't know theory, I just became a really energetic guitar player — someone to watch while you're at a show instead of the shreddy guy in the corner that just stands there.
Other than that, I'd say Bring Me the Horizon for sure, for lyrics. I think Oliver's incredible. Viktor's gonna give me the side-eye because he's sick of my shit with Oliver and Soupy from The Wonder Years, just for how incredible they are...
VM: He is one of my favorite lyricists.
"I ended up learning bass and discovered that the music I was listening to, which is heavier stuff, was not naturally coming out whenever I picked up an instrument. It was the music that helped shape me."
How about you, Viktor?
VM: My brother kind of helped me get into music. He was into the Christ-core stuff, like Demon Hunter, Underøath, ABR, that mid- to late-stage Solid State and Tooth and Nail stuff. So I listened to that because he listened to it.
I remember the first time I ever saw bands play and it made sense to me. It was — I think it was Blink 182 at Big Day Out in Sydney. If you're a Blink fan, you know this show. I just remember watching that and thinking, "I want to do that." I didn't know what "that" was. I don't know what that meant. I just thought, "I want to do that."
So I just begged my grandfather to buy me a guitar. And he did. I started taking guitar classes and was playing whatever my guitar teacher told me to — Hendrix, Green Day, Metallica — and realized that didn't feel like me, so I stopped playing for a while and just kind of delved into music history and music production.
I was obsessed with bands like Blink or whatever was on the Warped Tour at the time, but in watching those bands play, just seeing whatever t-shirt they were wearing, I'd be like, "Oh, I want to find out what that is." That's how I discovered The Misfits. That's how I discovered Black Flag. That's how I discovered Descendents. That's how I discovered The Cure.
Eventually, a friend of mine told me, "Hey, we should play." He had a band and needed a bass player. I didn't know how to play the bass. So I ended up learning bass and discovered that the music I was listening to, which is heavier stuff, was not naturally coming out whenever I picked up an instrument. It was the music that helped shape me, so it was a lot of The Cure. It was a lot of Blink — more melodic playing. A lot of chords, a lot of movement, but still very rhythmic, which works with a rhythmic player like Chloie. So yeah, I just kept playing bass, kept trying to get better and I guess now I'm doing that. I still don't know what "that" is, but we're doing it.
But hold on...Viktor, you're into heavy shit.
VM: I am into very heavy shit. What's crazy though is that I'll pick up my bass and say, "I'm gonna learn this Acacia Strain record," and I will, and it's so much fun. Or I'll pick up my guitar and I'll just start playing As I Lay Dying riffs. Or, I just listened to All Hail [by Norma Jean] three times on my trip back from Pittsburgh because their new single just came out. But whenever I pick up an instrument to write or just to play, that's not what comes out.
Oh, okay, I totally get that. That's me, too.
I just remember reading an interview with Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park about when they did one record where they went back to the heavy stuff, and I just remember him saying in the interview that, while they don't necessarily listen to heavy stuff, that's what comes out naturally whenever they're in a room together. I always thought that was so cool. It's like yeah, this is what I'm into. Give me all the breakdowns. Give me the mosh parts. But whenever I pick up the bass to play, it's pretty, and I don't really know why. It sounds like it could be on a Cure record.
Okay, so I'm kind of veering off the question a little bit now. So we'll get back to the other dudes, but how does what you listen to —because you're also producing all this stuff — how does that influence the sound of Chloie P, and The Scouts? Because of how you listen to music not just how you play it...
VM: I think mostly in stylistic choices. Like, how glossy do you want this mix to be? Do we want this to go more in an organic direction or do we want this to be more produced under a microscope? But I'm trying not to let what I listen to affect the music too much because this isn't this isn't a heavy project, right?
I think now we're in a good spot because in the new song that's coming out...
CP: Yeah, this was the first song that everyone got to help write. We kind of finished writing it together in a room, so it feels like the most "us" with all five of us.
VM: We all have our strengths.
CP: But you're all willing to do what's best to serve a song. Even if it's not what I wrote or what you wrote or what one of the boys wrote, if it doesn't work, they're like, "It doesn't work."
VM: The best idea is the best idea. Better is better.
CP: And Jeremy won't say this about himself, but he is an amazing arranger. He just takes these skeletons and if it doesn't feel right, he's can say, "Yeah, it needs to do this here."
VM: He's been the one I've been turning to a lot in the producing stage, particularly the arrangement of songs. We were in here, the whole band, and we were demoing out some songs. The rest of the guys are sitting back, hanging out, and me and him were sitting up at the computer talking about arrangement and where it would go dynamically, where it would go with post-production, if we wanted any of that... So he's been the one who's helped me a lot and making those decisions.
CP: For sure, and I think out of everyone in the band, he's the one who listens to a lot of different shit, but he also definitely listens to everything I grew up listening to. So, he knows the feel very well. He gets it, which is good for the rhythm section.
And then everyone else's tastes are so different, with all the pretty frilly stuff on top, that it makes it our own. I think our lead guitarist is what makes The Scout songs the Scout songs and not, you know, a Brand New rip-off or a Wonder Years rip-off or anything that I've ever listened to.
Yeah. So we got Jeremy, we got you guys and then Chris and Kyle. Where are they at?
CP: Kyle helps a lot on rhythm for me, which is great, so I don't have to play that intro to "Haunted" with my hand shaking and trying to sing and fucking it all up.
Honestly, he was just such a late addition and he's someone we really like to hang out with, and he really wanted to be in a band. We're like, "Yeah, we can have a third guitarist. We don't know what you're gonna do." But he comes in and he's just happy to play whatever. He is like the perfect in-between for me and Chris because we're so drastically different. I am solely rhythm and Chris is such a metalhead. Kyle just sits perfectly in the middle of us.
VM: Kyle gets it.
CP: Yeah, he comes from a punk background, too. And usually Chris has already done his part and I've done mine, and Kyle just comes in and he's like, "Okay, here's this cool octave riff," and it just makes the shit.
VM: He came into three songs that were done, and already out, and he just figured out where he fit. And I don't think anyone in this band is like "Hey, this is what you should play."
CP: No, never. I I've been in bands like that. I hate bands like that. We all hate bands like that. Also, I know no theory so I'm not Dave Grohl-ing it on a first record, writing every part and making you play what I wrote. Kyle and Jeremy get references for stuff. We don't give Chris any reference. Sometimes he doesn't even hear the song until he comes in to play his parts.
VM: Chris comes from a church music, gospel music, and metal background. Whenever it was, me, Chloie, and Chris, I felt like I was kind of the bridge between the two of them because I grew up listening to what Chloie listened to and I grew up listening to what Chris listens to, so I understood.
Do you remember whenever he played that riff for "Wounded," and you were like, "That's not what I was thinking at all." I was like, "Yeah, but it worked." I understood where he was coming from with that.
CP: Context for you — originally, that lead line was written by someone else, so it was very Midwest emo. And now we have what Chris wrote on it.
Ah, cool. That's helpful to know as people are listening to the new song. So let's talk about the new song! First, Chloie, I want to hear about the songwriting. I want the tea.
CP: You want the tea? Okay, so do I go to the beginning, like from birth (laughs)? So really, I was up in St. Louis visiting you and we were at dinner talking. I think we were honestly all having a hard time, but you guys didn't want to talk about your hard time anymore, so we talked about mine.
And while we were talking about some stuff, you were like, "Chloie, you're an Enneagram six because you were gaslit your whole life," and I had never realized that was happening to me. I knew what gaslighting was, but in that moment I was like, "Holy shit, you're right."
So of course I went home and wrote a song about it. I always thought this song would be something that was just for me that I wrote that I needed to write for myself. I thought it was a song that I would probably never ever release. And then we started practicing and our set was 10 minutes...
It was so short, we needed another song and the only song at the time that was done was "Gaslight." So I brought it to the boys, thinking this was going to be a throwaway song that we would cycle out first in the set once we wrote something else. I thought it would be the first one to go because it is so different. But the boys loved it. It's in the set. We vibed on it for a little bit. It was chill. And then we recorded it...
They were like, "Holy shit, Chloie, we're never not playing this song." (Laughs) I thought it was the throwaway song, and it's not.
That's how the song came to be currently. As far as lyrics, it is about being gaslit. I tried to use a little bit of car and driving imagery, but I didn't want to overdo it.
It was a really emotional song that I just wrote to process shit that happened to me, but in a way that other people could relate to that wasn't so specific to me that people would know exactly who it's about or what situations it's about.
And honestly, it's one of the only songs we have that doesn't have a silver lining. All of our songs are about depression and stuff like that because as a group, we aren't really happy people, but most of them have a silver lining. In "Haunted," at the end, there's the crowd chant, "We're not dead yet, that counts for something." It ends with a little bit of hope. "Gaslight" is the only one that doesn't end in that way. It ends just as fucking sad as it started.
My favorite record of all time, front-to-back (not my favorite band, I have to make that distinction) is No Closer to Heaven by The Wonder Years. That mood, that emotion of Soupy's voice, it's so good... that's a similar vibe.
"Once we started getting the other band members in, and we fleshed this song out together, I told Chloie that I want this song to be what The Scouts sounds like right now. We can capture this moment in time..."
So kind of shifting a little bit — Viktor, you and I talked before about how this is one of the most different songs that you've produced. What about it stands out to you from that angle?
VM: The other three songs we have out all kind of followed the same formula, as far as originating from the same mix template. We approached them the same way production-wise: me and Chloie hashing it out in here. Me and Chloie playing everything except the lead guitar, which is Chris.
When Chloie first played me this song, it was in here and it was just her and an acoustic guitar. And I remember at that moment, I knew that this one would have to be different. I told her that when she played it, it sounded like if Phoebe Bridgers fronted Alice In Chains because it was dirty and grungy and heavy, but not metal heavy. It just had weight to it. The lyrics were vulnerable and very straightforward.
CP: Best fucking compliment I've ever gotten in my life.
VM: So I knew to approach this song it would have to be different and once we started getting the other band members in, and we fleshed this song out together, I told Chloie I want this song to be what The Scouts sounds like right now. We can capture this moment in time. It doesn't mean that our next song is going to be like this. It doesn't mean this is how we're going to approach every song. But I wanted the song to be The Scouts right now.
So, in doing this song, I wanted it to be as organic as possible. I didn't want everything to have to line up on the grid perfectly. If there were squeaks and squeals in the guitars, let's leave them in. If all three guitars don't line up perfectly, it's okay. Whenever it came time to track guitars, I told everyone that we're all going to do it at the same time together. We're going to do it three times all the way through. And what you give me is going to be what ends up on the final.
I'm not saying everyone should do this (laughs). We can do it because we have really good guitar players in our band. I knew they would give me usable material.
Yeah. I have a question about that. So you guys have a punch to anything that you put out, whether it's a live show or a recording — and I'm not just saying that because you're my friends. I'm saying that because I've literally heard it. So, how do you think all of your backgrounds come into play with that? Is it purely just energy mixed with crazy good chops from all of you, or is it like specific styles within each of you?
VM: I think it's a mixture of a couple things. It's working it out on the front end, because I have a vision of how I want these songs to sound by the time I'm done with them, but I want to get it right on the front end. So whenever we're in rehearsal, and I'll give a note or something, it's because in my mind, I have an idea of what is going to make the song hit as hard as it can. And we just work it out.
And I mean, we all know that we want the song to hit hard, so we play in a way that will allow the song to hit. If you listen to brutal death metal, you're just blasting constantly, so it loses that brutality to it. The heaviest music, in my opinion, whether it's metal or whether it's emotionally heavy, or just sonically heavy, it has dynamic in it. So if we're gonna get quiet, we're gonna get real quiet. And then when we get loud, we're gonna get really loud, but in a way so that that climb to get to the loud and to get to the heavy hits you as hard as it possibly can.
It's knowing where you're going from the very beginning. That's the pre-production.
How was working with this band in the studio different than working with other bands that you work with, like, as a producer?
VM: Having this band in the studio is a lot different because everyone in this band has a background in recording. We all have a background in playing music. And, I know it's gonna sound really cliché, but there's no ego. The best idea wins, whether it's yours or not, and everyone is here to serve the song.
Musicians are very protective of their ideas because it's your baby. I understand that, but whenever you hire a producer, you've heard the work that I've done, so therefore, that's why you hired me — to do my thing. I just want to make your song as good as it can be. I've tried stuff in The Scouts, and then we do it and it's ass (laughs). So, then it's like, "No, you know what Chloie? Your idea's better. Let's stick with that." And I've tried things and it works and no one is hurt over it.
I think it's just working with people who have experience being in projects where someone has an ego or someone gets hurt. We talk a lot about how this is a band where we don't have "the guy." If one of us is out of town, the other people can still do rehearsal and it'll be okay. There's not one person holding it all together or one person driving the rehearsals or one person driving the arrangement. If one person misses, okay, we can still carry on. The whole band isn't dependent on me the producer or dependent on Chloie fronting the band. We all bring our own thing to the table.
CP: I'm not even the best musician or vocalist in this band. So if I had to miss a show, Chris or Viktor could easily play and sing the set without me if they had to. I know I'm the songwriter, but mainly what I bring is a skeleton. I'm just lucky enough these people that are way better than me let me front it and sing it.
VM: But what's great about that as well is every one of us in The Scouts is capable of, in some capacity, writing, recording, and releasing our own music. Everyone in The Scouts has done that outside of The Scouts to some capacity. But everyone has their strengths and that's what we bring to the table. Mine is my sense of humor.
"Being in the studio with Viktor feels a lot like playing a show or being at practice. We just do it in here."
And Chloie, I know you're a live music musician — versus a studio musician. So, how has Viktor being in the band, not just producing, impacted your experience in both settings? I've seen you in the studio with him and it's very different than anything else...
CP: Again, I have no ego in this, so I am also willing to take notes from him. But also, I genuinely hated the studio before we did The Scouts. For one, I hated my singing voice for a long time, so I just hated doing anything in the studio. Now I hate my speaking voice more. But he's the biggest hype man.
I remember the day I met you when we were at college. You were the first person I ever recorded with and I played you this shitty song, and you just got it. You knew the vision, you saw all of the possibilities of what it could be. You were so hyped on it when I thought it was shit. And you do that with everyone you work with.
VM: Music is fun, dude.
CP: Yeah. So, being in the studio with Viktor feels a lot like playing a show or being at a practice. We just do it in here. If I get too in my head or too silly, he just says some dumb shit to me to make me laugh and we laugh for 30 minutes and I'm crying and then we go again.
I don't know, we just make the studio feel like practice. I guess it also helps that, you know, we're not paying 1000s of dollars an hour for studio space.
Can we expect an EP?
CP: We're gonna stick to singles right now. And we're working on some stripped stuff that we'll release all together. It won't be a full EP. It's only going to be three songs.
VM: I also think singles are the way the industry is moving. Rather than drop a boulder in a pond and make one big splash, drop a couple of little rocks and make them ripples or whatever...however the fuck that saying goes...
CP: We're still figuring stuff out and our sound as the five of us, versus just me and what I have in my head when I write this stuff on acoustic. I think if we do an EP or record, I don't want it to feel like a bunch of singles slapped on a compilation. I want it to feel like one cohesive piece of art, like a No Closer to Heaven, or like There's a Hell [by Bring Me the Horizon], where you listen to every song, or there's something in production, or something musical that ties all those songs together.
VM: That's even how we're approaching our live show. There's not a moment of silence in our show. We figured out that whoever needs to tune can do that and someone else will play something, We understand that, as a new band, people may not be there to see us, but want to play to the point where people remember us.