Chimp Spanner: An interview with Paul Antonio Ortiz

Chimpspanner, on stage, Islington Academy, January 2013

One of metal’s most creative minds of the 21st Century, Paul Antonio Ortiz is better known to many as the brains behind Chimp Spanner, the one man tech metal project (though many do not know that Paul writes all the music and plays all the instruments himself solo). Having turned Chimp Spanner into a full band for live performances in recent years, Chimpspanner opened up for Sylosis at the Islington Academy in London last week on a cold January evening. We sent Jamie along for a chat with Chimp Spanner’s main man where they discussed Colchester, Paul’s upcoming plans and renaming the band amongst many things. Read on for the details…

Jamie: I saw unfortunately your plans for a warmup gig slightly out the window…

Paul: Yeah..the guy who owned the venue forgot that he had a gig on that night and he sold the venue!
Jamie: *laughs*
Paul: So that’s a pretty good reason not to play the show I guess.
Jamie: I’ve not heard that one before..
Paul: Me either, I mean the day we were supposed to be playing, it was being refurbished for completely different purposes. So that kinda sucks, but that’s Colchester for you. We were going to try and get it moved, there is another venue in Colchester called The Twist but it’s only just reopened and they’re trying to get their rep back up again now after the last ownership so we didn’t really want to risk going there and having nobody turn up.
Jamie: Fair enough.
Paul: I will manage to do a hometown gig one of these days!

Jamie: Are you looking forward to this evening’s show? (with Sylosis and Devil Sold His Soul)

Paul: Yeah it’s gonna be good man. I was put onto Devil Sold His Soul by a friend of mine back home and I’m really looking forward to watching them. It’s kinda cool that we’re on first because we can get it over with and then chill out and watch a really cool gig with Devil Sold His Soul and Sylosis. I really enjoy Sylosis as well, we played with them in Reading.
Jamie: Was that their show just before Christmas?
Paul: Yeah that was the one, in Oxford I think…no, it was in Reading, what am I on about?! It was very good though.

Jamie: Awesome, and you’re playing another show tomorrow?

Paul: Yeah, we’re going to Alton tomorrow. Basically we were just going to Sandwich this gig in-between the two others just to cover our expenses really, that hasn’t happened *laughs*.

Jamie: Have you got any definitive touring plans lined up for after this week?

Paul: No nothing in concrete. My plan this year is that I’ve got to finish the new album, and I’m also putting a lot of energy into the writing and composition side of the business, trying to get licensing deals or games soundtracks, trailers, ads, stuff like that.
Jamie: That was going to be my next question actually, if you’ve got non Chimp Spanner stuff in the pipeline.
Paul: For awhile I was trying to divide my time between the two. But it’s weird, even in a year when you don’t do that much, last year was quite quiet for us, but the things we did have always seemed to come at the time when I felt ready to start working on other stuff, and it broke my flow a bit. So I’ve given myself some time to work on the (Chimp Spanner) album. I mean if any really good show offers come up, either shows where we happen to like the bands or the money is good then we’ll come out and do it.

I also think doing it that way helps keep it more what Chimp was always going to be, not so much like a metal van…metal van?! Metal band in a van, just touring all the time. Because that isn’t how I envisaged it. It keeps it a little bit more special I guess.

Jamie: So you have no plans to change the way you operate as far as Chimp Spanner is concerned, it will continue to just be yourself on the writing and the production and the band when you go out and do the shows?

Paul: Yeah, I mean I’ve been doing it that way for, well with Chimpspanner for coming up to ten years now and overall since I started writing the best part of twenty years. It is difficult to consider letting other people into that process, especially when you have your ways set out and the way you do things. I guess I just don’t work well with others *laughs*. I do but Chimp Spanner is a very personal thing. Also because of the non Chimp side of things, I like to keep things nice and distinct because if I write something that then it turns out it should be a Chimp thing or then it’s decided to be a library or production thing I don’t want to get into situations where that’s part written here or co-written there.
Jamie: Credits all over the place..
Paul: Yeah, it works well as it is. We do change things up a little bit live sometimes, we’ll do things a bit different but the writing will be done the way it has been done before.

Jamie: You’ve been with Basick Records for a few years now, what would you say about your relationship with Basick?

Paul: It’s good, it’s been very good. They’ve been very supportive, especially with what I was just talking about with how I want Chimp Spanner to come across and how I want to proceed with it. There’s no pressure in regards to what the music should be like or anything, they’re just ready for it. They’re good guys, and girl.

Jamie: We’ve had a few people send in questions for you, and I imagine the first one you must get every time you do an interview, why the name Chimpspanner?

Paul: I really need to come up with a cool story for this actually! *laughs* When I was about fifteen or sixteen there used to be a website called Sound Click which was kinda a precursor to SoundCloud, a free hosting thing. I was like right I need to make a user name and I was listening to Foo Fighters’ Monkey Wrench at the time, and I thought it doesn’t matter, because who’s gonna care? And that backfired spectacularly!
Jamie: And now you’re stuck with it.
Paul: Now I have to answer that question for the rest of time. But it’s memorable, I don’t take myself too seriously. I could change it to something a bit more sciency, people like sciency names…

Jamie: Funnily enough, one of the other questions was if the band ever got bigger would you consider changing the name to Kongspanner?

Paul: Kongspanner….actually that sounds pretty cool! It’s kinda like an evolution, Pokemon style. Actually that’s not a bad idea. I did sort of mess around with changing the name five or six years back and everyone was like “change it back, don’t like it”. They were all used to it and it’s what they referred to it as.
Jamie: I think it’s a cool name.
Paul: It’s memorable! So yeah, i’ll be sticking with that.

Jamie: One final question which we ask everybody, are you a Simpsons fan?

Paul: I am!
Jamie: Who is your favourite character?
Paul: Hmmmm my favourite character in The Simpsons…I actually quite like Moe Syzlak. Because he’s so tragic! I like the fact he’ll occasionally break down..
Jamie: He’s quite woe is me.
Paul: Yeah, the woe is me I’m so ugly and lonely and stuff, it’s really dark, I like it.

Jamie: Excellent, thank you very much Paul!
Paul: No problem.

Chimp Spanner’s most recent release the All Roads Lead Here E.P is out now on Basick Records. Please keep checking back with for the latest & greatest interviews with metal’s finest artists.


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