Though some memories are better left unmentioned, locked away in a crypt of lost photos and VHS tapes, Choir Boy’s hazy spark of origin draws back to a middle school punk band in Cleveland, Ohio. He was eventually kicked out of the band, but midst sleep-over fueled home movies and sloppy Ramones and Dropkick Murphys covers, songwriter Adam Klopp made his first attempt at playing in a band. Choir Boy. The name itself was possibly intended to be an insult, just a snarky blogger in the Ohio DIY/Punk scene tossing out a lazy jibe to describe Adam’s style and vocal technique. But for Adam, who was raised in a Mormon household and was very practiced in the form of church choirs, the name felt fair enough. “I wasn’t really offended, I just thought, I guess it’s true. My parents make me sing in choir. Oh well.”
“It seemed funny to me as sort of a comical reclamation of the mocking title I received from “punk” peers as a teen. While serving as a weird reflection of my childhood and musical heritage.”
After high school Adam headed to Utah to attend the Mormon university, BYU. But a life of orthodoxy wasn’t in the cards, and as is often the case, the plurality of the world came crashing in. He left the church, but opted to stay in Provo, where a growing scene of DIY kids and punk misfits were taking root in a town that, until recently, was best know as being one of Irwin Fletch Fletcher’s favorite words (along with “Marvin” and “Velma”).
The music on Choir Boy’s debut album, Passive With Desire (TL-98), is deeply rooted in postpunk pop and articulate productions that take their queues from the likes of Bryan Ferry, Kate Bush, OMD and Fleetwood Mac.
“I always loved bands like The Magnetic Fields that do genre bending albums and embrace infinite production possibilities of multi-tracking and home recording, so I committed early on to let the sound’s palate wander if the ideas felt right.”
Something that really separates Choir Boy from a lot of contemporary bedroom pop efforts is the devotion of full band arrangements, live instrumentation and meticulous do’s and don’ts when it comes to production decisions. The subtle transition into a chorus brought on by a Roland TR roll, the strings that come in to guide a song to its close, and the penetrating vocal harmonies that are prevalent across the album all serve to create the beautiful pop moments that elevate this record.
Thematically, the album touches on several of the topics that we all can empathize with; mental health, relationships, rebirth, matters that Adam refers to as, “pretty standard for pop music.”
“When I started writing songs I was watching a lot of science fiction TV, Buffy and The X-Files. As a formerly religious person, I think I’m especially drawn to the idea of accepting books and television stories as relatable modern mythology that fill the void.” The loss of faith can be a powerful creative force, and in Adam’s case, it could be said that his secular epiphany was channeled directly into his songwriting. “I really loved that I was using vampire imagery and alien abduction to discuss my feeling about existing,” he says. And in the song Two Lips, when he sings, “Tulips of the spring should grow as I decompose,” the theme of rebirth becomes clear.
Choir Boy consists of Adam Klopp (vocal, synths, guitar, piano, percussion and sequencing), Katrina Marie Rick Peterson (vocals), Bret Meisenbach (guitar), Jacob Hall (drums), Kyle Hooper (keys) and Chaz Costello (bass), with strings by Alyssa Pyper. The album was recorded Studio Studio Dada in Provo Utah.
Passive With Desire was released on Team Love Records on October 28, 2016 on Tape and Digital, with an LP edition of the album following in early 2017, and 2nd and 3rd pressings in Spring 2018.