LINKS TO INTERVIEWS (CLICK ON NAME):


BANDS
AUGUST INFINITY (aka SHE SAID FIRE)
BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS
KALLING
MILITANTS
THERAPHOSA

SINGER-GUITARISTS
RAYMOND BALLY ..... (The Renegades)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1 of 2
SETH MAJKA Interview 2 of 2
SAM PARSONS
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles, Volunteers Grateful Dead tribute band)

GUITARISTS
J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog)
JAMES NICKERSON & SARAH NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1 of 2
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1 of 2
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

VOCALISTS
A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Graham Bonnet Band)
BRANDYN BURNETTE
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Work Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
LESLIE DINICOLA
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Diet Of Worms, Retribution, Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, Dod Incarnate Records)
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
SARAH NICKERSON & JAMES NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Standout, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1 of 2
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2 of 2

KEYBOARDISTS
SHAYFER JAMES
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
DOUG RAUSCH
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault)

BASSISTS
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Orchestra)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

DRUMMER
RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)

SONGWRITER
TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE ..... (Under The Gun Project)

MUSIC AUTHOR
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MUSIC MARKETING
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"A Kid In A Candy Store" An Interview With CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR


April 2012 (phone)

A former member of the Charlotte, N.C. based covers band Hair Nation, 22 year old 80's rock inspired guitarist Taylor got his entrance into the music scene fast when Hair Nation moved from a club band to opening for many 80's rock band. He'd later become one of the few regular faces of Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, performing with them in shows & festivals in the northeast including the televised M3 Festival & the Riverbend Festival. In fall 2012 plans include first rehearsals for a new band, to include Chris, led by Boston vocalist Tommy DeCarlo & managed by the father former Guns N' Roses's bassist Duff McKagan. He's also in a band called Sunset Strip, with singer Park Sipes, covering 80's rock.

I got an e-mail from a dad, Tim Taylor, about his guitar playing son following an interview I did on my Roman Midnight Music Podcast with guitarist Marty Paris of Permanent Reverse & New Jersey's Skulls Project. This young guitar player was gigging with a cover band & had been invited to play with legendary rock drummers Carmine (Rod Stewart, King Kobra, Vanilla Fudge, Beck Bogert & Appice, John Norum's Blue Murder, Mother's Army with Joe Lynn Turner) & Vinny (Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell, Dio, Rick Derringer) Appice. An ongoing e-mail conversation soon developed between me, dad & the rising star. After much delay I finally had the chance to talk to the young guitarist over the phone for broadcast on my show. A couple days before the show he called me again to tell me he'd been invited into the new band by the former singer of Boston. Chris Michael Taylor gained a supporter & defender after this interview. The one time he came to Manhattan to perform at the B.B. King Club I was unable to see him, but I await his next visit ... which I know won't be long.

Special thanks to mutual friend Sandy Serge of Serge Entertainment for her continued support of all involved in this interview.

* * * *

AJ: This is just an opportunity for you to just, you know, talk about your music. Which I know, is the most important thing in your life, right?

CHRIS: Absolutely, it is. It is.

AJ: Let's just jump right in. I gotta start with, probably for you, the most least interesting thing, but for my audience they're gonna want to know this. Will you please do me the honor of telling me - how old are you?

CHRIS: I'm 22 years old.

AJ: 22 years old & you're already a prolific guitar hound, is that right?

CHRIS: I try, man, I'm trying!

AJ: I know, you're dad has told me, you give all your time to playing guitar. Before we talk about your music, let me just hit up one more little thing. I've heard that you play guitar in a little bit ... not an nontraditional way, but you use the wrong hand.

CHRIS: I do, I do. I am completely & utterly left handed. Since I was little I've done everything left-handed, I mean, down to swinging a baseball bat. When it came time to play guitar there just was ... you know, you don't have a whole lot to choose from as far as left-handed people go. You can have it done, but it just wasn't there. When I walked into a guitar center, or wherever I was, there just wasn't much to choose from. So, I figured that I should probably try to attempt, at least, to do it the other way, so I would have more going on there. & it just kinda came in. It's just one of the only things that's worked out for me right-handed & it did & I made it work.

AJ: Do you ever play left-handed?

CHRIS: No, no, I cannot. I couldn't even tell you how to hold a chord left-handed.

AJ: Yeah, you're right. For guitar players, when it comes to left-handed guitars, you are incredibly limited & you're probably going to be charged more.

CHRIS: Right, absolutely.

AJ: But, like I said, this isn't something anyone is going to know looking at you. I just had a little bird tell me that you did this ... or maybe an older bird, would be a better phrase.

CHRIS: That's the truth.

AJ: I had your name first come to my attention last year because I interviewed someone that you worked with - [guitarist] Marty Paris of PERMANENT REVERSE & THE SKULLS PROJECT up here in New York.

CHRIS: Absolutely.

AJ: I know you've worked with Marty & I think you've met [vocalist] Maxx Mann [of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, 12/24, PERMANENT REVERSE, THE KINGS OF CHRISTMAS]?

CHRIS: I have, I have.

AJ: Can you tell me a little bit about that connection?

CHRIS: Honestly, through some family ties around here. I live in a little town, about 45 minutes outside of Charlotte, called Lincolnville, N.C. ... & he's actually around here a good bit. He lives here. Through some family connections he heard about me, or something like that, & then he got in touch with my dad or something to that nature, I'm not real sure. Anyway, he came over one night & just sort of sat in & listened to the local band I was in at that time practice. From there I just sort of established a little bit of relationship with him & just kinda things of that nature.

AJ: Did he instruct you any or help you out or did he just support you?

CHRIS: He supported big time. I've used some of his recording equipment at different times. Actually, the ProTools system that I do some of my backtrack recording & stuff & idea recording here at home I actually bought from him. So, he's just been there & been a help.

AJ: Yeah, he's cool. I actually lived in Charlotte for 6 years, so I know the area.

CHRIS: Okay, yeah.

AJ: How long have you been playing, Chris?

CHRIS: Let's see, I've been playing since I was 10 years old, 11 years old. So, about 11 or 12 years.

AJ: What got you started playing guitar? & don't tell me you wanted to get girls.

CHRIS: No, no, no, man, it is nothing further from that, just to be honest with you. When I was about ... I'll just tell you the story. When I was about 5 years old my dad worked for a railroad company in Charlotte. Some days I would ride to work with him. He was the one that really kinda brought me into the classic rock thing. I would ride to work with him & in the side console of this little blue truck that he drove he had the first VAN HALEN album. I saw Eddie Van Halen for the first time when I was about 5. I listened to that album, every word, every note. I had it memorized. After seeing him & the very first video I saw him playing was the "Hot For Teacher" video on MTV, from then on, man, I knew what I wanted to do, you know? Didn't know how to get there or how to go about it or anything of that nature, but I knew that was what I wanted to do. That was my first big 'wow' moment. So, it kinda began there. I didn't actually, like I said, start playing until I was 10 or so, but I got real involved in music. I loved to just sit & just research things & just listen for things nobody seems to hear, that kind of thing. Just really critique it. I just got all into that before I actually even picked up a guitar. So, that's kinda how it all started or whatever.

AJ: Now I know you have a ... or how should I say, that VAN HALEN moment has had an effect on you, because you've got a big repertoire of 80's rock behind your playing.

CHRIS: Right.

AJ: Because you're in a band called HAIR NATION, an 80's tribute band. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

CHRIS: Well, actually, I'm not with that band anymore.

AJ: Oh, you're not? Okay. Well, how about you tell me about the band & then we'll get updated.

CHRIS: Okay. I was with those guys for about a year. We just did ... it started out as just a little club thing around the Charlotte area & then it kinda got a little bigger. It was a really cool thing for about a year. I was in the band exactly a year. We did a lot of cool shows. I did a lot of opening for some of my favorite bands. We opened up for DOKKEN in Charlotte, we opened up for CINDERELLA. Let's see, Eddie Money, JEFFERSON STARSHIP ... Even down to the sleazy hair metal guys like the BULLET BOYS, FASTER PUSSYCAT, SLAUGHTER. Just a big, you know, school of guys that we had the privilege of opening up for & that was a lot of fun ... I did that with that band, but it was, more or less, just a cover band to do clubs & stuff kinda got a little bigger & we just kinda rode it out as it was there. But, yeah, I left the band about the first of January, actually.

AJ: Alright, I'm not so out of date. What was that experience like? Here you are doing these songs or learning them ... & you know, every band in the rehearsal studio throws out covers that you just jam on ... but to suddenly go from that to now you're playing with the guys whose albums you're picking apart ... what's that experience like? & you're just a young guy, too, you're basically starting out.

CHRIS: Right. It's an unbelievable experience, man. I can't even really express that. For example, with Carmine & Vinny Appice, I've been a DIO fan since I was little, a little kid. Then to sit there & play the song & the guy who was on the album to be there jamming away, that's a really really cool thing. With Carmine you've got Bark At The Moon & all this cool stuff. It's really surreal. It's a lot of fun & just makes you a kid in a candy store.

AJ: Did you learn anything watching these guys from offstage or hanging out with them?

CHRIS: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Just kinda learn how to carry yourself to some degree & how to deal with ... interviews, such as this, & just things ... people coming up to you. Just a lot of experience there that I just sit there & learn from.

AJ: Well, can I ask why your part in the band came to an end?

CHRIS: As far as HAIR NATION? ... Just differences in opinion, man, honestly. Obviously they were older than me. They were in their 30's or so & here I am 22 ... I just ... I can't say a whole lot about that.

AJ: That's fine.

CHRIS: It was just time to move on, let's just say that.

AJ: Well, you got a good run out of it & also increased your profile a little bit.

CHRIS: Absolutely. It was a very awesome experience & it gave me a lot of stage experience, you know you can never get enough of that.

AJ: & playing for all those guys is now on your resume. You got to open for these bands. You can't trade that. You can't ... get that. That's just like ... a great thing.

CHRIS: Right. You can't trade experience for anything.

AJ: Well, you just mentioned something - Carmine. I know you almost had an opportunity to play with him & his brother Vinny on their DRUM WARS, but nature was against you. Can you tell me about what almost happened?

CHRIS: Well, first of all, what happened is I got called to play. I got in touch with Carmine or I was put in touch with Carmine last June or so. I ended up doing 3 shows with those guys. One was in Warwick, R.I., the other was in Long Island, N.Y. & the other was in the B.B. King Blues Club in N.Y.C. & then after that we did just a 3 day deal there. We were coming back to Charlotte & Carmine gave me a call & was asking about if I'd be interested in doing a Japan tour with them. I said 'absolutely.' Then we were set to leave in, I think, it was around September or October. Then the area where we were going they were having some weather problems, typhoons & stuff. It just didn't work out.

AJ: Well, you did get 3 shows with them. That's right. I remember you were in N.Y.C. & I wasn't able to make that. For those that aren't familiar with the DRUM WARS set-up, can you just tell how that ... when you go & see these 2 drummers what's the set-up? What's the show like? What are we seeing & how are you, you know ... whose on stage?

CHRIS: It's an awesome experience. Anyone should see this. If you love drums, if you love rock music, you should see this. What it is, they're both just legends. So, what they do, it literally is a drum battle. They face each other on the stage, both drum kits & then the band will be offstage & they will start the show with a drum solo. & then each member, for example Carmine, will bring the band up to play songs from his career. Then we'll go onstage & then Vinny will do another set of songs from his career. Then they'll do battles between each other in between there. So, its just really fun & entertaining. It keeps moving, you know.

AJ: Is there a bass player or a singer? I mean, obviously, we've got the 2 drummers & you on guitar. Is there anyone else?

CHRIS: Yeah, there's always a band of some sort. In the 3 gigs that I've played with them last year there was 2 different bands. Sometimes they'll just pull ... they have like a contest where people from that area can play with them if they won the contest. Like a vocalist or bass player. Or sometimes they'll just hire a band or have a band come out or whatever. Like, for example, on both shows I flew up & I played guitar all 3 nights & they had one different band with me that night & then another the last 2. So it can change, but there's always a band.

AJ: So, what was that like? You walk into a gig & you have a brand new face the second night of a show.

CHRIS: We have a rehearsal, normally the day of. We'll get there, set up, then rehearse. It's just kinda real fast. Real lickety-split there trying to get everything organized & what songs are going to be done, just map it up. But, it always turns out fun & the guys can always play. It's always good musicians. So, it works out.

AJ: Well, both Vinny & Carmine have resumes that go on & on & on.

CHRIS: Absolutely.

AJ: Carmine is actually the one responsible for creating the drum clinic & Vinny was touring with BLACK SABBATH & HEAVEN & HELL that a lot of people got to see before Dio died. What was it like playing with these 2 drum legends?

CHRIS: You can't put into words, man, honestly. It's the coolest experience ever. Like I said before, I've been huge fans of the guys way way before I met them, since when I was a little kid. So, to get to do that with them is just unreal. You got to remember to play & do your job & entertain the audience, but you want to just drop what you're doing & just watch them.

AJ: Obviously, you're this, don't take this the wrong way, you're like this punk kid coming in & playing with these 2 old guys who've been around for like 40 years.

CHRIS: Right.

AJ: Obviously you're not just going to stand up there like a Steve Vai & start playing whatever you want. They're gonna be pushing you & going 'hey, Chris, do this or do that.' How did they work with you? Because people are expecting a really great show & talent, when you go & see these guys.

CHRIS: Right, right. Honestly, I've learned, for the most part, just to be ready for anything. Carmine likes to just throw a song out that he'd like to do that night. Like, for example, when I did the last 3 I had a song list that I had ready. & he just decided that he wanted to do "Bark At The Moon" on the second night, you know, when he was with Ozzy. Luckily, I knew most of the song, but I had to learn it that night in the hotel somewhat & ended up having to teach the band that. But, he just decided that he wanted to do that, so we did it & pulled it off & had a blast. You just kinda gotta be on your toes, but it's a lot of fun.

AJ: If you've been with HAIR NATION & others you've got a lot of these songs under your belt, I'm sure.

CHRIS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

AJ: You've been playing them in some form or another for awhile, right?

CHRIS: Right, absolutely.

AJ: Now, I've seen a few versions you've done of some covers. You have on youtube, Chris, I know "Round & Round" by RATT, "Dr. Feelgood" by MOTLEY CRUE & DIO's "Holy Diver", that you've dropped all the guitars for. You basically re-recorded the song sans the vocals. I think I told your dad, I said in an e-mail when he forwarded them to me, I wrote "Wow, he's gotta be careful, because with the vocals these sound exactly like the band." Maybe I told that to you too. Because, it's a little too close for comfort. You're doing all of "Dr. Feelgood", which is like 16 guitars or some horrible number of overdubs. You've laid it down in your little home recording equipment. These little experiments you've shared with the public, can you tell us a little bit about what you've been doing with this & your playing around with these cover tunes?

CHRIS: Honestly, the reason that I did those was, 1) is to try to get my name out a little more, & then 2) it's just fun. Who doesn't like to do that classic stuff? But, what was mainly the main reason, why I did them that way, which would be the best way to put it, was I really like to research the songs & try & get them as close as I can to the way it went. In my opinion, a lot of guys I'll see guys up on stage with big bands I've loved forever & they'll be playing, you know, you've got this classic guitar solo coming up & they just decide to change it completely. You don't know where it came from & it's not the original guy's thing. I can't stand that. So, what I tried to do on these ... you're never going to sound like the guy that was on the record. You're gonna sound like you no matter what. What I try to do is just research the song the best I can & try & make it sound like the original thing, which I can't always do. I just find it's just like a challenging thing I like to try to do, honestly.

AJ: What's the biggest challenge involved in reconstructing these songs.

CHRIS: The biggest challenge is just taking the time to sit & listen to everything & trying to recreate the sound, the tone of the guitar & just the things that they're doing. You know some things ... if you're trying to do Van Halen that can be extremely difficult if you don't play like that. Eddie Van Halen, obviously, everybody knows that's his own thing & its just out of this world. It really just depends on how the guy plays. I like trying to recreate that in my own way.

AJ: Now, I gotta ask, obviously the vocals on these recordings you've done are the original vocals, its not you, right?

CHRIS: Yeah, its the original guy.

AJ: You getting the vocals away from the rest of the song, where are you getting those tracks?

CHRIS: I'm finding the tracks online, just kinda for fun. Then I'm moving them over to a Pro-Tools system, my in-home Pro-Tools system that I record ideas on. I will just upload it through that & actually try to mix the vocals & the back track, which is the vocals, drum & bass, & try to mix it the best I can with the guitar where it actually sounds like its in the song. Really, just kinda play it by ear & just seeing how close I can get it, honestly.

AJ: It's certainly like you've taken the songs & just redid them in the studio with the singer, or I should say, it's like the singer came over to your house one night.

CHRIS: Well, thank you. That's what I was going for.

AJ: Like I said, it's a little scary, Chris, because some of these ... I think the first one I heard is either "Round & Round" or "Holy Diver" ... & I was like 'are you sure this is him?' & your dad e-mails me & he goes "I saw him do it. I can verify this is my son."

CHRIS: Yeah, sometimes my dad seems to be my spokesperson or manager, if you will, just kinda out of nowhere. I'm not always sure who he's talking to or what he's doing, but he always means well.

AJ: Well, he's currently your promoter who doesn't get paid.

CHRIS: Oh, absolutely, he promotes out of control. He words for Fed-Ex & he delivers packages all day. Anybody that he delivers a package to as viewed me on youtube or he's made a friend to some degree. They know what I'm doing. That's a cool thing.

AJ: Here we are talking about you imitating other people, but do you think you have a style?

CHRIS: I am a blues based guitar player. I love blues. You know a lot of times some of those ... the reason I like that classic rock guitar thing is they revolve a lot of things around just kind of a blues guitar kind of thing. So, in my original stuff I'm really far out the other end of just the typical thing. I don't try to emulate anybody when I'm doing that. I always kinda come across as an Eddie Van Halen type 80's rock, just because that's what I like. That's what comes into my fingers ... But, I guess that's what I'm trying to sound like.

AJ: That hard rock, heavy metal, 80's hair metal, whatever, its all blues based anyways, so once you've got the grasp on the blues you're almost there in many cases.

CHRIS: Right. The big thing is I love melody. I love anything that's melodic. I can't get into a lot of new rock & different things like that, because in my opinion it doesn't have a whole lot of melody. I like melodic & I like talent. For some reason that era of music was just jammed full of talent. All the way from the vocalist to the guitar player. That's just always been a passion of mine.

AJ: I agree. That's my favorite music, too, or that's my era to go back to. I'm actually old enough so when I was in high school grunge was the thing. Kurt Cobain was my John Lennon, you could say. But, I have that affinity for the 80's, having seen it end or get destroyed by grunge, which is really the case. Are you self taught or did you take lessons or did you just learn by trial & error?

CHRIS: I'm completely self-taught. I tried a couple lessons. Maybe went to 3 & I was just learning how to read music & this & that. After a little while I just realized just sitting in my room on a Saturday night & playing to VAN HALEN songs on my stereo I could learn better. I found I could listen & emulate it better & just transfer it that way. But, that's what I always did. I'm completely self-taught. I just do everything by ear & hopefully that works.

AJ: Well, as you said, that's the most important thing. That's how you get it. You just listen to it.

CHRIS: Right, you gotta listen.

AJ: Obviously it's paid off if Carmine & these other bands are honing in on your skills.

CHRIS: Well, I hope so. I hope it continues more & more.

AJ: Since you're out of HAIR NATION now, what are you up to now?

CHRIS: Well, I'm doing some more stuff with Carmine & Vinny as of like 3 days ago. I've been invited up to the M3 festival in Columbia, M.D., which is really cool. It's just a ... I don't know if you know what that is?

AJ: I don't. Explain.

CHRIS: Okay, M3 is a festival right in between Baltimore, Maryland & Washington, D.C.. It's a 2 day festival of just pure classic 80's rock bands. You're gonna have NIGHT RANGER, KIX, ENUFF Z'NUFF, RATT, QUEENSRYCHE, SKID ROW, all these good guys. Carmine & Vinny are going to be performing on the 12th, the second day, & I've been invited up to do that. I don't know exactly what I'm going to be playing or when I'm going to be playing, but I've been invited up for it, so it should be good either way. Then I'm doing, I think it's called, the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with them on June 15th. That should be cool & I'll get to do a little thing with them. Other than that I'm just trying to hang out & figure out what I can get involved with this year. I'm not in a band or anything. I'm really just looking.

AJ: Just chillin', doing your own thing, putting your name out there when you can, right?

CHRIS: Yup, looking for the next thing, the next opportunity.

AJ: When you meet someone like Carmine, or maybe whoever whatever the band is, & you've been doing their songs, or let's say, when you were with HAIR NATION ... did you ever get embarrassed, having the person who composed the song, like, 6 feet away?

CHRIS: It can be pretty nerve-racking. Because you know they're standing there watching you, somebody that you've loved your entire life & you're excited to play the song. It can be nerve-racking, but also kinda cool, because you can tell in their faces, as they're watching you, if you're meeting their approval or not, if you will. It's a cool experience, either way. It makes me nervous, but it's also a good experience.

AJ: Don't name names, but has there been a time when you did something & you went 'I don't think they liked it'?

CHRIS: Yeah, probably.

AJ: You just weren't looking at them at the time.

CHRIS: & that makes it even more nervous & more nervous & bang you start messing up like crazy. But, it's good. I like the challenge.

AJ: So, what would you ultimately like to do with your music? Where do you want to take it?

CHRIS: Honestly, my dream is to ... is to bring forth a new band. I don't know how long it'll be before I can find this band, you know get a band myself or whatever I can get involved with. My big thing is I want to, not necessarily bring 80's rock back, but I wanna bring back ... you know, talented melodic rock'n'roll that is happy & you have a good time. It's not down & miserable, just death & all this. I wanna bring back the melody, to be honest with you, I want to bring back melody. That's what I'm going for.

AJ: It's funny you mention melody, you mentioned that earlier. I was listening to some heavy metal band earlier today & one thing I find, as so many CDs come across my desk, that a lot of bands are like 'yeah, we're melodic.' But, it's like, 3 or 4 notes that aren't really melodic. They're just disguised under distortion.

CHRIS: Right.

AJ: It's almost like new bands today are trying to redefine what melody means. There is no melody but they say there is.

CHRIS: It's seems like there's just no idea, it seems like all the bands are cut out of the same thing. They all do the same. It all sounds the same. & the lack of tone in the instruments, its just beyond me. I just can't get into it.

AJ: Do you pay any attention to some of the bands that are bringing back the retro 80's sound, like AIRBOURNE or STEEL PANTHER, you know what I mean?

CHRIS: I will say that I love STEEL PANTHER. I watch them all the time. Not only are they absolutely hilarious, you know, but they're also extremely talented. The cover songs that they do, as well as their album, they can be very crude & vulgar, but at the same time they've got that sound, that 80's sound, & its happy & fun & they're good. So I enjoy listening to that.

AJ: There is a thing, though, with a lot of these bands which try to bring back the 80's. I see a lot of them they're taking a comedic approach to it, like 'hey, it's 80's rock, we're supposed to wear spandex & big wigs.' For me, it turns me off.

CHRIS: Yeah, that's definitely true. I don't know what that is. It's almost like they're trying to bring humor to it because they don't want to sound like they're actually being serious. I don't know about bringing back the spandex or the leather pants or all that either, man, I don't know. All I'm about is just the music & just being happy & enjoying music & enjoying performing. That's really the thing.

AJ: Do you compose any?

CHRIS: I do, I do. I have quite a few songs, but I don't really have anything out there. But, I have quite a few original songs. I've recorded different things & demos & things, trying to figure out a way to get them out there, as far as a band goes or whatever.

AJ: If you put them out there tomorrow, what type of sound would they have? Is it bluesy or 80's rock or are they something completely different?

CHRIS: It would be pretty much dead in the middle of the two. It would be very bluesy. I've got some ballad stuff. Very blues oriented & then fun 80's rock kinda sound, even though its coming from a younger thing.

AJ: You did HAIR NATION, which was cover tunes. With Carmine & Vinny you're doing cover tunes. Is this an accident that you've found yourself doing covers or is this just, sort of, the gig was there so you took it?

CHRIS: It was a cool opportunity that I definitely wanted to do. A lot of people they always say 'get your original out there, la la, do this.' That's ultimately my goal, but I love to play covers. I mean I love that 80's stuff, especially with the guys that were on the record. So to me, that's almost like not even doing the quote/unquote cover thing. It's just fun. But, I do want to get my original stuff out eventually, but being in one of those bands or with those guys or stuff like that, I don't mind that a bit either. I want to do both. So, I could always do cover stuff. I can see myself always doing that as well, just on the side, because its just fun.

AJ: I couldn't tell you ... as I said I lived in Charlotte, N.C. for 6 years, but that was, I don't know, I left in '91 ... so I don't know anything about the city now. I'm totally oblivious to anything south of NY. But, as a young man playing around, how is it for you finding people to play with, like you were in HAIR NATION with folks who were older. How's the scene for you, wanting to get involved & wanting to take things to a serious level?

CHRIS: I guess the word for that would be - it's difficult. It's extremely difficult. There's not, especially in my hometown here in Charlotte, there's just not a whole lot of music scene there. It can be difficult, so I spend a lot of my time just recording things here & trying to get out of here. I think every time I play its out of Charlotte, sometimes out of the state of N.C. Like I said, HAIR NATION was more of a club thing. We did a club circuit in Charlotte. There are a few clubs around that like that kind of thing & still have people that come to those places. A lot of big bands will come through occasionally, too. But, as far as being young & trying to put together a band with my generation ... anyway, it can be a difficult thing. That's why I tried to ... stay away from that. I tried that before & it just didn't work out. I've tried to get involved with people that I know that can help me along, that I can actually learn from & move on that way.

AJ: Yeah, that's something a lot of musicians say - getting that perfect click. If you can get the right members, maybe you're not in the right location.

CHRIS: Right.

AJ: Or, maybe you're in a good location but you don't have anyone to play with.

CHRIS: Yeah, that would be it too.

AJ: Or, you're in a band that's not doing the music you want to do.

CHRIS: That's true.

AJ: Chris, I'm watching the clock here & see how much time we have. Is there anything you want to talk about that we've missed or I haven't asked you about that you'd like to share? Now's the opportunity. Anything that's on your mind.

CHRIS: Let's see ... not really. We've covered quite a bit of things. I guess, just other than that, that I'm definitely looking for more opportunities. I'm open to any type of band or any kind of opportunity that I can get involved with. Outside of what I'm already doing I'd love that. But, that's about it. We've covered quite a good bit of stuff. Yeah, it's been fun. I really appreciate it.

AJ: I want to ask you a question. You're at home now, right?

CHRIS: Yeah, I am.

AJ: Is your dad around?

CHRIS: He's around somewhere. He just got in from work.

AJ: Okay. Tell him I say "hello." Your father is, without a doubt, your biggest supporter.

CHRIS: He is, man, absolutely. Both of my parents, my entire family, support me 100%.

AJ: Which is good & bad. Because, when your young, or even at my age, you really don't want to be like having your dad in the front row shaking his fist rocking out. You really don't want your parents to rock out to your music.

CHRIS: Right. You know it's always a different thing to see them at a show, just kinda jamming along with the stuff. But, man, he was the one that just got me into that, so its a blast. I wouldn't trade a minute of it.

AJ: Are either of them musical? Do you have any siblings that are musical?

CHRIS: My dad plays a little guitar. He just does a couple strumming of some chords on acoustic guitar, but other than that, & he sings a little bit. But, I don't know where it came from, honestly. My family is somewhat musical going back to some degree, but nothing of any ... just kinda local stuff or maybe even southern gospel. So, not really.

AJ: Has your dad embarrassed you any by saying 'you know, Chris, this is great, worry about getting a day job & doing something that will pay the bills.'

CHRIS: That's one of the biggest things right there. You just nailed it. You hear a lot of kids, especially my age, that just want to have fun. So do I. Who doesn't want to have fun? But, all is saying you need to be doing this, & I actually went to college for about 2 years & I hated it, hated it. Since a while back, I was always playing around & stuff & they didn't really know what was going on, but they actually heard me play for the first time when I was about 17. Since then they've just been complete support, other than, you know, the typical parent thing. They've completely supported me & I love that. I appreciate it.

AJ: So, they're not too bad in going 'alright, you're gonna mess your life up by trying to be a musician.'

CHRIS: They're still parents, don't get me wrong. They're still pushing me to do something, even when I'm already trying to. They're still parents, but they completely support me in doing this & chasing the dream, if you will, & trying to get there. & they believe in me, so that's a cool thing.

AJ: Well, I've got a 53 year old who I work with. We're walking down the block a couple weeks ago & his brother calls. & all of a sudden he goes 'yeah, yeah, I got money in the bank & don't worry about it. We've got to get the album out, though.' & I said to him afterwards, 'That was one of those motherly phone calls.' & he goes, 'Well, my mom is dead.' & I said, 'I know, your brother is taking up the slack. He's making sure you have the day gig.'

CHRIS: Yeah, there's always somebody that's gonna tell ya, oh yeah.

AJ: Well, let me ask ... you said, just now, "chasing the dream". I don't mean to sound like a devil's advocate here, but when I was growing up, obviously, BON JOVI could make a million dollars in a year & artists zoomed to the top. The music industry has changed so much today. Do you feel its possible to still chase the dream & be a musician & be where your peers were or are?

CHRIS: Honestly, man, chasing the dream, for me, doesn't really have any ... everybody's got to have money, but it has nothing to do with money for me. Chasing the dream will just be, my dream is to just be able to support myself & play music for the rest of my life. That's really the dream for me. I've always felt like maybe I was supposed to do that, then I'm meant to do that. So, that's really the wording there of the dream, is to just be able to play for the rest of my life & not have to just do that on the side here & there & work at a job that I hate all the time. Just to play, to be a musician, honestly, is the dream.

AJ: Well, it's possible. & one of the things that I see with musicians, the ones who you may not know immediately, but they're making a living on it, is the ones that don't limit themselves. One of my favorite guitar players, Al Pitrelli of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA & SAVATAGE & who played with Maxx Mann, when he was younger he was a session guy & he's on record as going 'I don't care if the music is good or bad. I just want to play music'. & that's what gave him an income.

CHRIS: Right, exactly, he just wants to play.

AJ: Where there's a lot of musicians who may be better than him or worse than him, or whatever, in the same scene, but they only wanted to do hard rock, they only wanted to do metal. Today, they had that hit on MTV & then they faded away, because they were so focused on doing what they wanted, they had it & then it died. You know what I mean?

CHRIS: Oh yeah, absolutely.

AJ: I see that with a lot of musicians who you may not even know. They do these session things, they do what they can, because they just want to play. I think maybe Carmine & Vinny might be similiar to that. I mean, if you look at Carmine's gone from Rod Stewart to Jeff Beck to whoever. He's just playing. He's just making a living playing & hopefully having fun most of the time.

CHRIS: They do. They are the busiest guys. You just look at their schedule. They're doing everything, all over the place. Just trying to keep it going. It would be a huge blessing if I could be that age & still doing that, man.

AJ: Alright. Well, Chris, I appreciate you taking a little bit of time out with me tonight.

CHRIS: Oh, thank you, thank you very much. I really appreciate the opportunity, Aaron.

No comments:

Post a Comment