martedì 28 marzo 2017

An interview with Chris Weaver

An Italian translation is available here.

Chris Weaver, who fronts his namesake band, is american rock singer from Tennessee who started his career in 2010 with his first album Standing In Line, second album American Dreamer followed three years after. Recently Chris Weaver started a project with Brazilian musician Sorocaba and thanks to his South American experience he recently published a new live record called Live in Brazil. Weaver accepted our proposal for an interview to discuss this and other topics about his music.

We would like to thank Chris Weaver for his kindness and availability.

125esima Strada: Dear Chris, first of all thanks for the time you are giving us. Let's talk about your music first. How did you have the idea of mixing southern rock, soul, and country blues?

Chris Weaver: This was all due to a box of records. The cool part about growing up in the early 80's was, when snooping around your parents house you found records among all the tapes. My first record was an old Fats Domino record, I’m Going to be a Wheel Someday I believe it was. From there it was Dueling Banjos to Steely Dan, Bob Seger and Sam & Dave just to name a few. That I would have to say would be the beginning of the beginning of what ever i am today.

125esima Strada: Your new record mixes southern rock with Brazilian music, how did you have the idea to do so?

Chris Weaver: Well, it wasn’t my idea so much as it was Sorocaba’s, who is the guy from Brazil that we are working with. He was on vacation in Nashville two years ago and saw my band perform and decided to bring me down to Brazil to see what he does and talk about what we had in mind and it kind of started from there. We were down there for almost two weeks and during that time I would go to his shows with him which are obviously very large and there is a lot of people and he would bring me out to the stage and have me sing a couple of songs and it went so well we decided to put a project together.

This past May we made a lot of concerts in Brazil, we had a mix of their stuff and my stuff and cover stuff and that’s what is in my new record.

125esima Strada: Some parts of these songs are sung in Portuguese which is a very different language from English. How do you rate Portuguese as a language for singing?

Chris Weaver: Portuguese as a language is very hard to learn. I went to Brazil in February 2016 and worked with a very good writer of South American songs from Brazil too, took some of Sorocaba’s biggest hits songs and tried to translate them into English but what we ended up having as an issue is that words don’t translate the same. So we ended up taking the idea of the song and translate the idea of the song into English. Sorocaba also translated some of my songs into Portuguese, so we had English translated into Portuguese and Portuguese translated into English.

Overall I still have a hard time learning the songs in Portuguese, I listen to them a lot and try to understand how the words flow. Because I have to learn the words and what they say, it’s not like learning Feliz Navidad or La Bamba in which you learn the words and you don’t know what you are saying. I try to learn the words and what I’m saying at same time. But Portuguese is a language that is definitely tough.

I hope we can create some traction in Brazil with our music there and their music eventually here. Our goal is to bring this here to America and then to Europe and any other place. Sorocaba and Fernando were here last year and we played on a stage downtown, where Sorocaba saw me playing the year before, and they sung a song they wrote called Madrid, no one knew what they were saying but the song was so good that you don’t even have to know what the words are because the music transcends it. We are trying to make that happen for him up here and for me down there.

125esima Strada: What do you think about Latin American music in general? Do you think it can be mixed with rock and made popular in western countries also?

Chris Weaver: Yes, to a certain extent. Mexico has a little bit more of a pulse hand in hand with Brazil, Sorocaba had a couple of hits that were translated into Spanish in Mexico. But even in Argentina, Peru or Colombia nobody knows who Sorocaba is. Sorocaba and Brazil as a whole are really taking roots to American rock, pop and country and are trying to change their music towards that sound. Reason why Sorocaba really wants to start working with English speaking artists is because of this. They are writing songs that instrumentally can be well accepted here if they were sung in English. So reason why he wants to work with me is he wants to have some influence on what I’m doing and make an integration to the Unites States or Europe and promote his music there.

So, coming to your question, yes I think it’s possible; I think it’s being done and I think there will be other Latin artists trying to do this in the future absolutely.

125esima Strada: Do you consider yourself as southern rock?

Chris Weaver: Well, my sound is southern rock, americana and country. The issue behind that is that there is no genre for people like me anymore except for the outskirt of country or americana. At the end of the day americana is a very small niche of a market and it’s hard to make a living in that market. There are not many places to play, when you say americana people think folk or maybe even bluegrass, but americana is taking on its southern rock sounds. But country rock is also very southern rock. Country is disguising itself into seven kinds of music nowadays. Country singers can do whatever they want, they can scream lyrics like Yoko Ono and call themselves country if they want to. That’s why you see many rock artists and pop artists trying to get into the country market: you can basically do whatever you want and someone is going to buy it.

125esima Strada: You mention among the artists that influenced you most Tom Petty, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp and Joe Cocker who are very different from each other. How do you explain that?

Chris Weaver: The funny thing is when you look at the time period that these guys were coming up in it was very much the same time. I truly believe that we will never see another period like this at any time for sure in our life. I mean Bob was living with Don Henley while Glenn Frey was living in the same complex as Jackson Brown, while Linda Ronstadt was writing with Tom Petty begging to sing with the Eagles. My true biggest influence was really the Beatles which is even more comical due to the fact that it was one of Joe Cocker’s as well.

125esima Strada: You were born in West Virginia which is usually not connected to southern rock. Where did this passion of your start then?

Chris Weaver: West Virginia identifies with the south as much or more than the north. Growing up near Morgantown was really great for that reason because, you had the influences from the northern rock states as well as the country and southern rock from the south.

125esima Strada: One of your most striking videos is Standing In Line. How did you have the idea of playing close to airplanes?

Chris Weaver: That actually was the idea of the group we had make the video, it was a place they had been wanting to use and thought it would be a great place for the song. The fire crackers was really the hardest part of that day considering it was 102 degrees.

125esima Strada: What are, in your opinion, the main differences between your first and your second album as far as music is concerned?

Chris Weaver: Really the main differences was that the first record were songs I wrote when I was young and when I moved to Nashville I re-wrote with some pretty great song writers, mainly Harley Allen. Standing In Line was on my dime and didn't have the perks the second record did, but in some ways I think it made it cooler. American Dreamer had the big producer, studio and players and it showed. The sound was amazing to listen to while it was being recorded and we really had access to anything we needed. It was a really pleasure meeting and watching the big time studio guys work and how they get things done so streamlined.

125esima Strada: Besides those we already mentioned who are your favorite musicians of all time?

Chris Weaver: This would have to be the Beatles. They were my true first influences and I loved everything about them from the music to the movies and all of the paraphernalia. I really appreciated how they evolved as a band at the same time changed the landscape of music so much in such a short amount of time. It really amazes me how in history when you can look back, you can see all the stars that had to align to make certain things happen, this was definitely one of those times when you have to just say thanks for that, at least for me anyways.

125esima Strada: Who are you favorite musicians of today's music scene?

Chris Weaver: I always used to say if it happened after 82 I didn't know much about it as far in depth but, looking at it i guess that’s not really true. When the 90's came I really became a huge fan of the Counting Crows which led to Toad, Cherry Blossoms and the like. I didn't realize how much this music influenced me until i started really listening to my records after they were recorded. I can't really say that i am to hip on to many artist in today’s world. I love Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and John Mayer because they (at least to me) are making a record that is not just based on singles, but in reality its hard to get into anyone when most only have one or two songs.

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