|from dirge to punk to pop...Chris has done it all!|
CH: When I was in high school my friend Jeff Farr started reading about this thing called punk. We then read (in the Newsreel) that some people were putting on punk shows at a bar called Tumbleweeds in Tucson. We were only 14 so we couldn’t get in but we went down anyway. We started hanging around outside and I think the people felt bad that these kids were outside on the sidewalk at night, so they let us come in if we didn’t drink. After that we started going down every weekend and became friends with Van Christian, Dan Stuart, Jack Waterson and Chris Cacavas (the Serfers). They took us under their wings, told us about Leonard Cohen and The Velvet Underground. Later we started our band the Seldoms and started playing Tumbleweeds ourselves.
SLIT: How many instruments to you play? Are you self taught?
CH: I am self taught. I started with drums in the Seldoms, except I didn’t use the bass drum. Just toms, snare and cymbals. The Seldoms recorded a 45 for Subterranean and I played drums on that record. Chris Cacavas taught me a few things on keyboards and I latter moved to keyboards in the Seldoms and then guitar in The River Roses. Of course I played bass with Jacket Weather along with the great Howie Salmon and in a band called The Vegas Kids. Right now I am teaching myself Pro Tools so I am still self taught.
SLIT: How would you characterize or describe the Seldoms music. What was it all about for you?
CH: The Seldoms were mostly about a High School friendship. Jeff Farr, Michael Donnely and I (along with Sean Murphy and Cheryl Graham) wanted to hang out and we wanted to express ourselves. What we found out along the way was no matter how primitive the music sounded we had a talent for writing songs. After the Seldoms I have spent the rest of my life writing music but I really learned I could do it there. The Seldoms music got compared to the English band The Fall a lot. I think we were Lo-Fi before it existed.
SLIT: What some milestones in your career as a songwriter/musician/performer?
CH: The Songwriter answer is what I am writing right now is the milestone of my career. Of course people have sentimental attachments to songs I wrote at different times in my life, but I think I have been improving as a song writer all along. I remember when we got the vinyl pressing from the first River Roses record and I played it that was cool. The River Roses played the Ford Amphitheater which was across from the Hollywood bowl opening for Camper Van Beethoven. Many of my fondest memories are from Wooden Ball shows, not me playing, but the whole experience. I have been doing the Wooden Ball for eighteen years so that show really follows my experiences as a musician.
SLIT: What inspires you?
CH: I love hearing new music, not because I copy it but because it gets me excited about writing my own songs. I also love finding a new chord progression or melody. The act of creation, bringing something out of the void, inspires me. I believe art’s major benefit is to bring some order out of chaos and when that form comes into shape it is very inspiring.
SLIT: Any favorite books? Movies? Bands? Songs?
CH: Favorite band: XTC Favorite Singer/Songwriter: Joni Mitchell Favorite Movie: Fabulous Baker Boys. Favorite Book: anything by Robert Graves (Google that, he is good)
SLIT: What's your favorite food? Do you drink a lot of soda?
CH: Drink a lot of soda. Anything with lots of salsa.
SLIT: What's your opinion of your CD "Sailor's Daughter"? What's your favorite part about it?
CH: I am very proud of that CD. Nick Luca (producer) and I spent about year and half recording song after song, because we were looking for recordings that felt emotionally real. I think I wrote at least 100 songs for that project and recorded maybe 50 of those. We settled on 12 songs and I think it is the closest I have come as a songwriter or singer to producing something greater than the sum of its parts. It is kind of a quiet CD very acoustic and a little sad, so it probably isn’t the most commercial thing I’ve done (if anything I’ve done is commercial) but I think it is very good. Of course having Tom Larkins, Joey Burns, Gene Ruley, Nick Luca and Neil Harry play on the CD didn’t hurt.
SLIT: Will there ever be a Seldoms reunion? How about Sin of Detachment?
CH: I don’t think a Seldoms reunion would be easy because after High School Jeff and Michael really stopped playing music (although Jeff played a little after High School as Jeff Colt). So I don’t think they really think they could just fall into it, but never say never. Sin of Detachment? Was I in that band?
SLIT: Do you prefer to perform indoors or outdoors? At night or in the daytime?
CH: I like to play outdoors in the evening, but mostly inside sounds better. Lately I have been getting into playing with just an acoustic guitar and my voice, which works better inside.
SLIT: In honor of Sesame Street, which chord would you like to dedicate this interview to?
CH: A minor (that’s where the pretty is)