David Andrew Wiebe: This is David Andrew Wiebe Interviews and Music Business Podcast, episode number eight for February 23, 2010. Thanks for tuning in today. First of all, I’d like to thank Adam and Karl for being a part of the previous episode.
Before we get to the main feature today, I have a couple of announcements to make. There are several changes that are either about to take place or have already taken place, so I’d like to share some of that with you today.
First of all, an update concerning this podcast. As you may know, it was hosted on GCast, but as of February 1st, they are no longer accepting new signups or uploads. I don’t really know the reason behind this particular move, but of course, this meant that I’ve had to find another way to publish this podcast. I’ve managed to setup a podcast RSS feed, but this was a little trickier than expected. I’m still kind of new to the whole thing so I guess you could say that it’s in the experimental stage.
That said, you can go to my website, www.daw-music.com, and click on the podcast button up top to go to the podcast blog. To subscribe, you will need to grab the RSS feed. This process isn’t as easy as I would like it to be right now, but on the upside, you can listen to individual episodes of the podcast right from the blog page. To subscribe to the podcast using iTunes, you will need to enter the following URL: http://www.daw-music.com/daw-podcast/atom.xml. As I said, this is a little more complicated than I would like it to be so I’m going to be working on making this a little easier in the future.
I’m also thinking about making some changes to my mailing list. So far, I’ve been managing all of the subscriptions on my own. I realized that this is unfair to my readers because you have to email me personally to unsubscribe. I’d much rather have an automated system where people can subscribe and unsubscribe easily. I’m thinking of moving to a paid service to handle my list.
Additionally, I’ve been thinking about releasing more free downloads via the newsletter. So, it would probably make more sense to move over to something professional.
I’ve also been thinking of making some changes to my website. I’ve grown rather fond of the way that the Steve Bell website is set up and I just find that the design is simple, the user interface is well put together, and it’s also quite content rich. This may not be an immediate change, but I would definitely like to make some improvements to the current format.
As you probably know, I have a new recording project on the way and I’ve been giving some thought to crowdsourcing. Please let me know if you would be interested or wouldn’t be opposed to financing my new project via preorders or a service like Kickstarter.
Now, most of these things are still at the brainstorming stage and I would love to hear what your thoughts are concerning these matters. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the show notes at www.daw-music.com or www.dawinterviews.com [defunct].
Now, let’s get into the main feature for today. I had the chance to interview my friend Chris Naish for this podcast episode. Chris is someone that has been playing in the local scene for several years and has also received a fair bit of media attention. Because Chris couldn’t be here in person at the studio, I recorded our Skype conversation using a tool called PowerGramo. You may notice a degradation in the audio quality, as I was using a USB headset. It should still be listenable, but I thought I would warn you in advance. Without further delay, here is my interview with Chris Naish.
David: So for starters, talk about some of your musical influences.
Chris Naish: This one’s difficult. I’m the sort of person who is influenced by everything. It can be a bad thing. When I was first starting out, you never know what you’re good at so you have to try everything, you know. I would hear one song and I would write 50 songs like that. Then, I would hear another song that I like. I kind of have this idea in my head. You know how people say they have a muse?
Chris: I don’t think that muses actually exist, but if you pretend they exist, it makes more sense in my head. Let’s say that there are 100 different muses giving inspiration to people. I think that the thing for me is that I need to listen to music of people who have the same muse as I do. For example, I love listening to Enrique Iglesias. I’ll admit it. I really dig his music. But, I couldn’t do songs like that. It wouldn’t make any sense. He has a different source than I do. So I need to listen, when I want to be creative, I need to listen to people who come from the same source as I do. Those artists are huge influences, like Bob Dylan.
Some artists influence me musically, lyrically, and then others by just how they do stuff. The Beatles are a big influence, but not necessarily in how they make their songs. More in their generic, how they do stuff. If you look at the album, Revolver, Rolling Stone said that it was the third best album of all time. It has 14 songs in 33 minutes. Every song except for one is under three minutes. They’re experimenting and doing all these different things, but it’s still accessible, it’s still an under three minute pop song. That is so sweet. It’s kind of in your head that I definitely, no matter how crazy I get, I still have to make it eatable or edible for people’s ears.
To answer the question, my influences, more musically less ideologically, would be T-Rex. He has a great groovy, glam-rock sound that I love. Bob Dylan, because he is often overlooked musically. Everyone goes that he always put words first, or whatever, which might be true, but if you look at the music, especially on his late ’60s albums, it’s like every little thing is thought of and it’s also improvisational. This guy did this because he felt like it. Then this came along because he felt like it. It’s just so loose and wild.
So, Bob Dylan, T-Rex, The Rolling Stones. I can always think of a million when I’m not having to think of them. That’s pretty much the big three. The White Stripes, too, huge, huge influence The White Stripes. Jack White can do no wrong. There’s more but I can’t think of them right now.
David: With the White Stripes, for example, they tend to play fairly simple music. Is that the idea that you go after as well?
Chris: Well, I’ve got this sort of thing figured out. They do music that’s really complex. There’s lots of different things. It changes tempos. To me, you do that perfect, then you’re done. It’s like, okay, we did that song, we nailed it, it’s perfect, and it’s done. To me, it’s cool. That’s impressive. I couldn’t do it. My brain doesn’t work that way. It’s cool, but it’s not the type of music I like.
The type of songs that I intentionally try to write are based on worship music at churches, which sounds weird. You go to any church, like any Protestant church or whatever, and they’ve got five random people. There’s one guy on the acoustic guitar, one guy on the electric, some girl playing keyboard, three people doing back up singing, a drummer, and a bass player. A very basic band, with a couple singers. It’s a very basic setup. The songs are all so simple that a beginner could play them and sound good, but an expert could play them and sound good because there is so much room for improvising. You take the same song and have anybody do it and you can do it in an infinite amount of ways because the song suits the artist.
If you had Jimi Hendrix doing some worship song, some four chord church song, it would sound amazing because he could put whatever he wanted into it. Then, have the guys from ZZ Top do it. It’d be so perfect. That’s what I try to do. I try to write songs that are bare bones, which are basic. Good songs, still of course. But songs that the artist, the performers, could make it into whatever they want.
Right now, I’m working with the band called, The Fever Beats, we’re backing the band slash I am in the band. You know, it’s weird. Chris Naish and The Feverbeats. But, whatever. Depending on which musicians we’ve got the songs take on different life forms. When I was playing with The Wasted Nights, we had this bass player named, Morgan. This dude could make a great bass line out of anything. Really good bass player. He had a very unique style, so it was kind of like Flee mixed with The Cure sort of Smith sound. He would play the melody lines. He would play the melody and the guitar would do more of the chugging rhythm. It was kind of reversed. He was really good, but like I say, you can have that type of bass playing with the song, you could have straight up rock bass playing in the song, you can have whatever you want. It’s sort of defined by who you’re playing with. I think that’s the most fun. You can get bored with playing a song if it has to be the same every night. If the song is allowed to be different every night, then it keeps it fresh. It keeps it exciting. I think that’s what I try to do.
David: And simpler songs can be easier to sing along to, as well.
Chris: Yeah, true, true. Some songs I try and get people to sing along to, but it’s not something that I’ve ever consciously tried to do. It’d be cool if people sing along and it is cool when some people sing-a-long because they’ve heard the song a bazillion times. That’s one thing I’ve never thought of. ‘Oh, it needs to be simple for them to sing along to.’ Normally it has to be simple for my one note voice to get.
David: Right. Earlier you made reference to ideologies. What would you say is the message and ideology of your music?
Chris: What I meant by ideology is sort of the guide of the band. What I meant was, the ideology of The Replacements, for example, was they would just get super drunk and have a great time playing whatever songs they wanted. Their set would be like 50 songs and they’d do like a million covers of whatever they felt like. That was sort of their, maybe ideology is the wrong word. But, if you want to know my ideology in terms of that or in terms of the message I want to send across. Which do you want to know?
David: Talk about the message.
Chris: The message. Okay. The main thing about my music is that I want to do three things. Number one, is to entertain, because music is entertainment. The other one is to encourage. I went to a concert by Rancid. They’re an awesome punk band. After the concert, you felt uplifted because all the songs were about making it through struggles, supporting your friends, and really awesome stuff like that. You sort of felt like you could take on the world. That’s exactly what I want. In a perfect world, that’s what I’d love my listeners to walk away with. Going, ‘Wow, I feel like I could take on tomorrow.’ Oasis is really like that too. Songs like You And I We’re Going to Live Forever, Tonight I’m A Rock and Roll Star. Great sentences. Great phrases that really encourage you, like ‘Yeah, I can keep going, because, no, I am a rock and roll star.’ I think that’s the best thing about music.
Some people love to write those diss songs. They have their place, but I’d much rather write songs that make people feel like they can do anything. Kind of like a drug, or whatever. Then, thirdly, I want to, this is more of a pervasive one, or not pervasive, more subtle, and it’s to educate. The three E’s: entertain, encourage, and educate. By educate, I mean . . . I’m a Christian, that’s my faith. I think that, in our society, we assume anyone talking about a faith is trying to ram it down our throats.
When I was India you could go up to anyone on the street and be like ‘Hey, I’d like to talk about religion.’ And they’d be like, ‘Awesome!’ And then you could talk about your religion and they could talk about theirs and it would be a dialogue. The point would be just to learn more. You didn’t ever go, ‘Oh, you believe this is wrong and I believe this is right and people who believe that or The Bible is stupid or The Quran is dumb.’ You didn’t have any of that. It was just open communication. That’s what I try to encourage through the educational bits. This is my faith. This is what I believe and open a dialogue. What do you believe?
I’ve got a song called, You Did it Again. It’s about how we need to, as opposed to believe the exact same thing as us, and going like he doesn’t believe what I believe, we should not be friends, we should burn that bridge. I think you should do the opposite. And be like, I don’t agree with him and start a relationship based on that because we can find out more about each other. He thinks this. I think that. That could be the basis of friendship, trying to understand one another. The other thing I want to educate people about is depression. It’s something that I’ve struggled with for quite a while. I throw that into songs and I throw stuff about me and life and how I see life. I think it’s important, as an artist, to present your world view. That’s one of the things that I want to do through the education. That’s more subtle. It sort of shines through the tracks. It’s not something that I really sweat over.
David: Right. As artists, we tend to be kind of be hardest on ourselves. We tend to be our toughest critics. That can be a difficult thing when struggling with depression and stuff like that.
David: All right. Well, let’s talk about your 2008 release, Never Stop. What can you tell us about it?
Chris: Well, it’s the greatest album that ever came out.
Chris: [laughs] I was working at a summer camp in ’08 that I always work at and I hadn’t done much playing with the band, but I played a couple concerts at the camp for the older age groups. I had a guitarist named Blair Stretch and a drummer named Steve Murdock and that backing group was called The Kill Songs. It’s a Bible camp. There’s this very popular Bible music band called, Hill Songs United. I thought that was pretty clever calling the band The Kill Songs because ha ha ha. I am rife with cleverness. I was really digging the sounds we were coming up with. I hadn’t put out an album since ’06 December. It was released ’06/’07. When you’re independent your release dates aren’t as sticky as real stuff. I hadn’t recorded an album in a while and there was nothing that really expressed what I sounded like at this point because I’d made a lot of changes to my music style.
My job at the camp was audio visual so I’d do a video of the camp each week for the parents to see. I’d run the candy store and stuff like that. For the videos I would make original music on Garage Band. I had never used Garage Band before, but I loved it so much. It’s such a sweet program. So I just decided to record an entire album on it. There’s five songs. There’s two songs that are super loud, bluesy, stomp. Blues but with a little bit of hip-hop in them. Kind of White Stripes noisy. Then there’s two songs that are acoustic. One song that’s a ballad. That’s pretty much where my style was at. I did blues songs that were really groovy. I did acoustic songs and then I did ballads. It kind of represents everything that I did at that time.
The lead guitar on two of the songs was done by Blair Stretch. If you don’t like my voice, or whatever, or like ‘Oh, I don’t really want to hear it because I don’t like Chris Naish.’ You should buy it anyway to hear his guitar. We just recorded right into the computer, right into it. We just used the amp simulator on Garage Band, which some people might go, ‘Oh my gosh!’ But, whatever. He just plugged his guitar in and in two takes he just did it. These disastrously, murderous solos. I was just in awe. When I do the songs live, I still try to recreate those great solos he did. He was classically trained all of high school, or whatever, then decided, I don’t really know why, that he wanted to do rock music. So this guy can play immensely awesome classical then decides he’s going to play rock music. So he comes to rock with this head of classicalness. Doing gigs with him was such a blast. You could definitely do the trading off of licks, like I’ll do a lick, you do a lick. I really dug playing with him because he’s one of those guys, some musicians, it’s like in hockey, sometimes you know your other defense men or your winger, you know exactly what he’s going to do and when he’s going to do it so you’ve got this on immediately and you can play symbiotically. We had that. It was such an honor playing with him.
I definitely think that those songs on the album come off the strongest. I’m still playing a couple of them from the album. 2008 wasn’t that long ago. Then in ’09 we rereleased the album in physical form with a bonus track of a song called, Never Stop. It’s kind of weird that I put out an album called, Never Stop, then wrote a song called Never Stop that wasn’t on the album.
Chris: But now it’s on the album so now everything is right as rain.
David: Tell us a little bit about Dog in Bombay, as well.
Chris: Dog in Bombay was recorded on a program called Acoustica MP3 Audio Mixer. You can’t do anything with the audio. You can just put the audio in and you’re done. I really wanted to do an album because I had a whole bunch of songs. In my first year of doing music, I recorded nonstop. I still record nonstop, but I don’t put everything out. Dog in Bombay was my first official anything. My official EP. My official demo. I have no idea what you want to call it. It’s 8 songs in 25 minutes. So that’s pretty decent. The songs are all acoustic. There’s one electric one. Some of the songs are very weak. I started playing guitar in ’04 and it was recorded in ’06, so I hadn’t been playing guitar that long, but I had a lot passion to record. I just did it in my living room. My wife, Jen, took the cover picture. I’m still proud of it. I think it’s a really good album. I think, lyrically, it’s very good. Musically, it definitely needs room. You don’t need a critique of it. It’s a good little disk. Some of the songs on it, I still play to this day because I think they’re really great. I’m proud of them. I had my most success with that one.
When I put out Never Stop, I wasn’t as crazy about getting reviews. But, when I put out Dog in Bombay I was adamant that everyone in the world would review it. BeatRoute magazine reviewed it, and liked it, then chose it as one of the best roots albums of ’07. That was really cool. That was really, really cool actually, I was so flattered to be chosen in Route’s Roundup. It’s an album that I’m proud of. Once I put out my official full length album, I think it’d be sweet to have Dog in Bombay and Never Stop as a deluxe disk so you can sort of see where I came from. I’m proud of it. It’s good. You can get a couple of songs, they’re on my website still. The better ones…
David: You seem to have a fair bit of press recognition. We’ll get to that a bit later. First, I want to ask you if you have any new recording projects on the way.
Chris: Well, I write a lot of songs lately. I’ve kind of exhausted my interest in recording super, super lo-fi. The next album that I want to do, I would like to do it in a studio. I’m not sure what I’m feeling because the music industry, like everyone says, is going through quite interesting changes. Everyone has being saying that for ten years, but now things are actually starting to change. Digital downloads are ridonkulously [sic] expanding. A lot of artists are saying ‘We’re not even going to put albums out anymore, we’re just going to do singles.’ which is kind of exciting. It makes you feel like we’re in the ’50s again. I think when people just put out singles, there’s not as much filler. You’ve got to put out a good song, whereas you can put out a good album with 10-20 songs and there’s always filler, almost always. We’re in a band wars competition and if you win that you get recording time, which would be sweet.
The main thing that I’d like to do right now is lay low this year, recording wise. Just focus on getting very tight with the band and doing all that stuff. Write some really great songs. Then in December, do a digital download for a Christmas release and really go bananas promoting it. That’s what I’d really like to do.
David: Do you have any tips for building a fan base?
Chris: No, but if anyone out there does they can send me them.
Chris: There’s lots of ways for building a fan base. When I first started playing music, I really thought I sucked and I didn’t really want a fan base because I was scared. I was like, ‘My music’s not good. People coming to see me.’ So I didn’t have any confidence. You do need confidence when you start building a fan base.
There’s a couple things. You can try to build a fan base through MySpace, getting in the newspapers, getting on TV. That’s not really going to change things. You can have 2,000 fans on MySpace, you can be in the newspaper every year, but it’s not going to bring people out to the shows. What’s going to bring people out to the shows is good music and being a good human being. It’s kind of weird when you’re spending all your time focusing on, ‘I’ve got to get fans, I’ve got to get fans.’ You’re just desperate. You’re like the guy who’s looking for a girlfriend, ‘I want a girlfriend, I want a girlfriend.’ Never gets a girlfriend. But, the guy who is a cool dude, has a girlfriend already, all the girls want him. You know what I mean.
If you want to get fans, all you just have to be good to your friends. You’ve got ten people who always come to your shows. Make sure you play gigs that are good. Sometimes you’ll get offered to play gigs, but it’s $20 a ticket, far, far away, rough neighborhood, and you say ‘Sure I’ll take it. I never turn down a gig.’ Then you’ve got those ten friends who come out to that, they’ve paid $20 each, they want to support you, but you don’t any of the money, so they’re not supporting you, they’re not able to support you, they’re far away. Then, you only get to do an opening set. When you do stuff like that, it’s kind of like when you have a baby in your stomach, like a woman. When you’re pregnant, I guess the term is. When you’re pregnant, you’re eating for two. That’s like my fans aren’t my babies, which would be weird. That would be a good quote. ‘Chris Naish admits fans are babies’.
Fans are kind of like, when make decisions, you’re making a decision for you and everyone who likes your concert. If you’re doing shows in great neighborhoods and you’re not making any money, but your fans are loving to come to those shows, then you’ve got to say, that’s a good show. But, if you’re charging lots of money, fans are coming out, and they’re not having a great time, you’re going to lose those fans because you’re not treating them right. So you need to make your decisions based on that. That’s one huge way that you could build your fan base.
When you do good shows for them and you do nice things for them and you appreciate them and you send them text messages. You personally invite them. When you’re playing a lot of gigs locally, you can become friends with all of your fans. You just chill and become part of the environment, the fish are going to swim up to you. In the music scene, don’t be splashing around. You gotta stand out but don’t make an ass out of yourself trying to convert everyone into a fan. Become part of the environment. Help out.
David: You just heard my interview with Chris Naish. Originally I was going to split the interview up into two parts, but unfortunately, most of the audio was corrupted and unusable. I had to trim it down considerable. I’ve never had any problems with PowerGramo before so I think the reason this happened is because of my laptop. My laptop has been running really slow and has been overheating quite easily, as well, as of late. That’s probably why some of the audio got corrupted. In any case, I hope you enjoyed this interview. Perhaps I can convince Chris to come by the studio sometime and interview him again. Podcasting is definitely a learning experience for me and the only way you can learn sometimes is by making mistakes. So hopefully as I record more episodes, the process will go smoother.
As you may already know, the podcast doesn’t bring in any income on its own so I’ve set up a few ways in which you could support future episodes of the podcast. One, you can purchase an album or any of the merchandise on the website located at www.daw-music.com. Two, you can make donations of any amount on my website by clicking on the PayPal donate button. Three, if you enjoyed this podcast episode, you can help spread the word by sending it to your friends.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. We hope you enjoyed this episode.
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