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Led by acclaimed drummer Brad Elvis and vocalist Chloe F. Orwell, Chicago’s The Handcuffs explore broad sonic territory while believing in the power of a great radio hook. Bold, sexy songs deliver memorable melodies & unexpected twists. Inhabiting some of the same musical frontiers that have delivered the Ting Tings & Duffy to the top of the charts, The Handcuffs layer sultry pop vocals over a rock/pop-hop backing track. Their songs have seen feature placement in “Gossip Girl,” “The Hills,” “The City,” "Roadtrip Nation," "Free Radio," "Jersey Shore" and dozens of other television shows and films on networks such as MTV, VH1, the CW, Showtime, A&E, E!, PBS and more. They also provided the soundtrack for the Sundance and SXSW award-winning documentary “The Education of Shelby Knox,” which aired on the prestigious P.O.V. series on PBS. Songs from their first two CDs, “Model for a Revolution” and “Electroluv” have received airplay on college, community, satellite and commercial radio stations worldwide, including KROQ (Los Angeles), Q101 (Chicago), M3 Radio (New York City), WXPN (Philadelphia), KOPN (Columbia, MO) and InterFM 76.1 (Tokyo).Read More...
The Handcuffs embody the spirit of rock music's uninhibited, sexy and overbearing appeal. A perfect blend of style and energy. They do not sound like anyone else, but at the same time they seem very familiar. They are influenced, by everything good that sells and anything good that doesn't.
Chloe F. Orwell, the designated blonde, is the lead singer whose stage presence and vocal stylings ooze sex and scorch and rock and roll. She can slide from a corduroy growl to a shimmering silky sigh in a Detroit second.
Brad Elvis is a black-haired, four-handed drummer whose manic-panic style paints a 747 jet rhythm to every song. Brad is also the chief songwriter, although Chloe is known to have a song or two stashed in her boots.
The Chicago-based pair originally teamed up when Brad recruited Chloe as lead vocalist and contributing song-writer for his band Big Hello, which released three critically acclaimed CDs and played hundreds of shows all over the country. The Handcuffs continues that tradition of wowing audiences near and far.
Their potent creative chemistry paved the way for an unstoppable partnership and earned the duo praise from fans and critics alike for their musicianship and showmanship, plus worldwide acclaim in the mainstream and alternative press, including the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Columbus Dispatch, The Big Takeover, Amplifier, Sound Affects (Sweden), Jem (Japan), Mojo (U.K), and countless others.
The Handcuffs evolved from Brad and Chloe's desire to explore a broader sonic territory, while still believing in the power of a great melody. Their songs are fresh yet timeless; edgy yet accessible. Their influences range from Bowie to Garbage, Sparks to the Pixies, the White Album to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with some Franz Ferdinand and Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.
And their bond goes far beyond musical compatibility, having helped each other through a series of devastating life events within a period of several years that some people never experience in a lifetime (cancer, divorce and financial ruin, just to name a few). "It sounds cliche," says Orwell, "but it really did make us stronger - and maybe a bit wiser."
The duo started out making boom box demos with Chloe on guitar or bass and primary songwriter Brad often singing lead and keeping time on a cardboard box or whatever was handy. Proper studio sessions - with the help of guest instrumentalists and an ear for experimentation - followed, and The Handcuffs recorded more than three albums worth of material (and the writing and recording is ongoing). Then, almost unexpectedly came an abundance of song placement in television and film.
"With The Handcuffs we've gone against the traditional 'let's start a band model,' says Elvis. We've been doing things kind of backwards and unorthodox but it feels logical to us."
"Not only did our musical vision change, but so did the way we went about creating and presenting the whole package," adds Orwell. "There's a lot of unconventional thinking and a lot of trying things that, at first, seem ridiculous or impossible. Turns out, they're not impossible."
One example: Discovering iconic 60s fashion model Peggy Moffitt in a coffee table book (purchased at an eclectic yard sale in their north side Chicago neighborhood); which led to writing a song about Peggy; which led to a long-distance friendship with Peggy and her husband (world renowned photographer William Claxton); which led to dinner together in Los Angeles; which led to vintage Peggy gracing the cover of The Handcuffs' debut CD.
With the release of that CD imminent, they finally decided to put a live band together. From the fertile grounds of the Chicago music scene, the duo recruited bassist Emily Togni and keyboardist/guitarist Ellis Clark, who both shared a musical open-mindedness and weren't afraid to "make show."
The Handcuffs debut 12-song CD, "Model for a Revolution," and follow-up "Electroluv" was recorded and mixed with Mike Hagler (Wilco, the Pulsars, Neko Case, the Mekons, etc.) at Kingsize Sound in Chicago. The CD has received kudos from Blondie drummer and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Clem Burke, Late Night with David Letterman/CBS Orchestra bassist Will Lee, comedians Wendy Liebman and Margaret Cho, actress/choreographer Maureen Van Zandt, and legendary groupie and sculptor Cynthia Plaster Caster, among others.
More than 20 of their songs (and counting) have been placed in a variety of films and television shows, including the Sundance and SXSW award winning documentary The Education of Shelby Knox, which also aired on the prestigious P.O.V. documentary series on PBS. They have also received radio airplay on KROQ (Los Angeles), WKQX-Q101 (Chicago), WLUW (Chicago), WFMU (Hoboken), KSYM (San Antonio), CHOQ (Montreal) as well as satellite (most notably, on the New York based Underground Garage network) and internet radio. The London-based Merc Clothing Company is now spotlighting The Handcuffs, among an exclusive roster of bands, on their corporate website. The band is currently in production for their sophomore record, to be released later this year.
Their goals for the future: keep writing, keep recording,
Top SongsTotal plays on Last.fm over the last 6 months
- Baby Boombox - 6,234 plays
- I Just Wanna' Be Free, Man - 5,057 plays
- All Shine On - 1,755 plays
- Car Crash - 639 plays
- Sex and Violins - 489 plays
- Peggy Moffitt - 449 plays
- Miss You On Tuesday - 517 plays
- I Just Wanna Be Free - 1,164 plays
- Jet Baby - 393 plays
- I'm Not Laughing - 444 plays