Chris Tapp Talking Heavy Shoes - Lyrics and Superstition

Chris Tapp Talking Heavy Shoes – Lyrics and Superstition

Chris Tapp Talking Heavy Shoes - Lyrics and Superstition as The Cold Stares latest album is released on Friday 13th 2021

Liz over at Bluesdoodles Towers was delighted to chat with Chris from The Cold Stares, as the release date of their latest album Heavy Shoes approaches – Out Friday 13th.

Tom was delighted to review the album, he said ‘The Cold Stares gaze at their Heavy Shoes a wonderful album of heavy, varied and skilful blues-rock with sufficient deviations from the template to be always interesting’. Read full Bluesdoodles review HERE

The Cold Stares are a band that wasn’t meant to be a band, and at numerous points over their last eleven years, very nearly haven’t been a band. Despite all the bad luck that has been thrown their way, here they still are.
The duo, originally from Western Kentucky, is guitarist-singer Chris Tapp and drummer Brian Mullins, who have a friendship that dates to their early twenties when they were in bands together. They went their separate ways then to only circle back a decade later.   “A buddy of ours asked us to open the show for him. We ended up doing that, but we were so adamant that we weren’t going to be a band that we didn’t hire a bass player or anything else,” remembers Tapp.

BD: Good Morning or is it afternoon for you. Chris: Yes, yes, it’s just noon here. I think you guys are 8 hours ahead of the US 7 or 8 hours ahead. So how are you doing today? BD: I’m doing fine. Chris: It’s been really hot here. It’s been the last couple of days have been 95. Today’s another hot day. So other than that not too bad. BD: Well, I’m in the misty moist South Wales Valley so it’s been cool and wet today. Chris: Yeah, it sounds a little bit better than it’s dry, dry and hot here. BD: Now we are sorted out time and weather, thanks for taking some time out for us this afternoon. This evening, afternoon it’ll be afternoon for you, is it?

BD: Chris, the back story of Heavy Stares would be a multi-series drama. Even more challenging is the fact that these dramatic life-changing events have happened to a duo. How has this impacted the writing that makes up the thirteen tracks?
Chris: Well, I’m it’s very rare that I kind of pick a topic or pick something specifically that happens that right and then just write a topic you know, write something on it. Like I’ve never, you know, said, OK, I’m gonna write a story specifically about the divorce or going through cancer or some of the crap that we’ve been through, but I think it when you’re just really honest in your writing. I think it just kind of bleeds through a lot of times. I’ll write a song and I’ll go back, and I’ll say I look at it and 40 Dead Men, for example. It’s a story about a guy being at war and just trying to want to get back to his family. And I think somehow that that kind of relates to maybe what I was dealing with cancer and some other things so that they don’t always come out exactly like the story. But you can always find those elements in the story and later lot on, I’ll look at a song go. Oh shit well, that’s what that was about, you know. BD: The listener won’t often pick that up. But importantly they’ll relate that to something that’s happening in their lives. So in some ways, I think it’s a more powerful message than actually than saying here’s a song about divorce or broken love or whatever. Chris: I completely agree with that, and that’s the end. That’s the end goal is to write something that somebody else listens to and goes, yeah, well. I’ve been through that as well, or I feel that sentiment and it’s nice to know that somebody else is dealing with that kind of feeling, you know.

BD:  I think from listening to the album, before sending it out to Tom D for review.  The music has such an impact on the lyrics, they’re almost another lyric in themselves. A lot of them could be listened to as instrumentals. Is that deliberate as a duo? Because that’s quite a big sound you produce?
Chris: Thank you. Yeah, I think sometimes maybe. In the studio, especially, we’re trying to we have a really good big blob sound, so a lot of times in studio we’re trying to make sure that the album comes across as well as what the live set does, but I think when you have songs, you know some of the music is a little bit lighter. If you have a song like take this body from me, the subject material. It is a little bit lighter, and so the music, tends to be a little bit lighter, but I think when you have a song.  Whether it’s Strange Light or 40 Dead Men or Dust in my Hands, the music really should if you have an idea of what the songs about the music should tell the story as well, I think it’s very important to do that because if not, it’s kind of like watching a movie that you’re really into and the soundtrack just doesn’t fit the movie. You know it should. It should match up with that, so it’s always an effort on my end to try to make that happen. BD: Yeah, well, it’s certainly succeeded in my ears.

Chris Tapp Talking Heavy Shoes - Lyrics and Superstition

BD: With thirteen tracks on Heavy Shoes you are obviously not superstitious. The cover is gothic- day of the dead themed with a sense of humour does this reflect you’re approach to your music?

Chris: Right, well I knew the record was kind of heavy themed a lot with the lyrics and when we Corey Booth is the guy that did the cover, and he is the guy that does the Rick and Morty cartoon. He was a fan, and we had talked about doing the cover and I told him I said, you know, I’d really like to do something that has a tone of death in it because there’s quite a bit of heaviness on the record, but I want to make sure that we do it somewhat light-heartedly because at the end I want the listener to be able to relate that you know, it’s not just not a sad story. This is a story of dealing with things and overcoming them, so we wanted to do something. Kind of fun with the cover and we tried in the day of the dead with kind of a Sargent Peppers type theme, but you know the theme the record looking at the album is kind of us showing up at an event of the day of the dead that we shouldn’t be at, you know. So they kind of put us on guard with the guns and stuff. As far as the album having 13 tracks and you know we’re releasing it this Friday, which is the 13th? The superstitious stuff doesn’t bother me at all. Rather, I like it, you know, because I think it’s almost felt like after 2020, so many things that happened that were shit that it’s like there are some hard times. It’s just like, OK, nothing else can go wrong, so just bring it all. Just I’ll bet on 13 because everything else is going wrong so I might as well just jump on the bandwagon.

BD: You recorded the album largely in Sam Phillips Studio in Memphis What made this the right place to record your heaviest album to date? (Though I have to admit I had to go back and check your back recordings because I’ve not heard of you before Mascot sent me the album for review.)  Chris: We did the last record we did at Sam Phillips as well. The ways record and we just felt really comfortable in that studio. We wanted to do. I wanted to. If you’re going to make a record and go through the work in trouble it’s what I think you should for me anyway. I like to record somewhere that’s historical that has some back story. I mean there are bullet holes in the wall and there were Jerry Lee Lewis shot holes and there’s a chair upstairs that Elvis sat in and I got to use Alan Wolf’s microphone on a couple of songs so. I think that adds to the element of having some vibe to the record. It certainly puts you in the mood when you’re in their recording and you think about all the great recordings it’s that’s came out of there. So we really enjoyed being there. We like Memphis in general. The vibe of the city is very gritty and dirty and mean and but also a city of people that are kind of fighting out of poverty and I, I think also for art to have some kind of struggle involved, also helps the artwork so or the art in general. But and we really liked the engineer there, the guy that we worked with, Wesley was a really nice guy on their last record we used him again on this one and it felt it felt natural to us to do it there. BD: Does all that back story, fuel your own creativity because you feel that it almost seeps out of the walls in a way and impacts upon you and makes reach your full potential. Chris: I think so. I think being in a room and going OK some of the songs that I admire and love and cherish were recorded here and if I’m in here recording the song if I’m not giving it my best. That’s, uh, you know, all my heroes like that are all passed on, but I feel them in the room and feel the pressure of wanting to please the people that I idolised that recorded there. So I’m definitely trying to do my best it does I. I just think the environment does, you know? We recorded some of it at home because we couldn’t get back over there. I have a studio here in my home and it’s just much different recording outside of here because you know dinner could be ready in a couple of hours. The kids need something the dogs need to be let out when you’re in the studio, especially a studio like that. You know the whole time you’re there, it’s nothing going on except for the album. So that helps. BD: Yeah, I can relate to that. I’ve got a little summer house at the bottom garden if I need to go to write and think away from the washing machine beeping and the distraction of the internet.  In a way, the space means I’m absent from reality. Chris: Yes, yes, sometimes you need that. As you know, sometimes you need that. It’s creative, yeah.

BD: Your friendship with your music partner Brian Mullins stretches back over many years and different bands. How do you collaborate, disagree and stay together making music? Is it more difficult when there are only the two of you because there are always tensions in a relationship?
Chris: Well, I think if you can find somebody that you can work with, it works much better as a two-piece than it does, say a four. What we both had issues with and found before bands that we were in before we had the bass player had an issue with his wife, she would show up and she was drunk and when we have a guy that’s struggling with addiction or you have a guy that has three jobs and he can’t show up so we both had dealt with that a little bit and then us working together. It’s a very clear separation of what the expectation is of each one of us, so he doesn’t try to write songs he’s very comfortable with me being the songwriter and in turn because he allows me to just do what I do. I’m very comfortable with his input on everything, so I’ll write the song and we come in and we arrange it. Together and if he says hey man, we should try this here or we maybe we should do this faster or slower or we should do this part I’m quite OK with that and there’s not a lot. A lot of argument back and forth. Because we both kind of know our roles. The other thing is, is that when we’re not on tour, we’re not playing. We don’t talk 24 hours a day. I think we have a friendship inside the band and I think when the band stops will be maybe closer friends, but as of now, we allow each other to have our personal time and so you know. I think you have to have boundaries when you play in a band this long as with any anything or a marriage, any kind of relationship. You know you have to have some kind of arrangement that makes it that makes it work. We are very different on politics. We’re very different. He’s vegan and I love meat. We are very different on a lot of things. The things that we agree on, we agree strongly on and one of those things is how to make this band work, and we’ve done very well so far, you know.

BD: Do you have a favourite track that you feel encapsulates the whole essence of the album?
Chris: I like ‘Strange Light’. There’s a few of them, some days I liked a specific track more than another, but I think ‘Strange Light’ kind of fits in the middle. It’s it has the heavy element, but it has some of the other elements to it and that’s that one’s kind of my favourite. I like the vocal on that one too, so that helps. BD: Surely, you like all the vocals, as you write the words. Chris: Well, sometimes you can be a little self-conscious of stuff and you always go well. I wish I had gone back not to sound over cocky, but I don’t put the lyrics out on the song until I’m happy with them and I’m sure you’re the same writing you don’t want to put it out until you go I’m OK with that. I’m very thought out on how I want the lyrics to be. But going back and listen to it every now and then you go. I wish I could sing that a little bit differently. Or you know, so that’s a little bit of it.

BD: What are you planning? Obviously, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the music industry with the whole creative industry really, do you feel everyone going to be dashing back out to venues and buying music again? Or do you think the habit of staying indoors and streaming is sucking some people to stay at home rather than go out?
Chris: I think it may suck in a very small number. What I’ve seen so far has been the opposite of that, we just did a tour in Sweden and Denmark. We had 10 sold-out shows and we had 350 people in Falkenberg waited 3 hours out in the rain for us for a couple of hours, so what we’ve seen so far has been quite the opposite. I think we when we went over to Europe, we were at the right point of our band picking up momentum again and then also people not seeing a lot of music for two years because they the crowds were very electric. Even a couple of venues you had to sit for the show, and you could just see people want to jump out of their chairs.  I don’t know that there will be ever anything that really replaces live music. You know, to me anyway, so I feel, and my hope is that now that we are starting to play again, that maybe people at least for the short term, will not take it for granted again, what it’s like to see live music.
We had two shows in the UK that were supposed to be part of that tour and it was as UK was supposed to unlock on the 25th and right before we left it was postponed till July 14th or whatever it was so we lost those dates. BD: Are you planning to come back to the UK? Chris: Yeah, we come back to Europe on October 15th for two or three weeks. But we play France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Holland and we don’t do the UK this round. We do the UK in the spring of 2022. The reason that we did that we really want to get to the UK and play some shows. But it was just two shows, this time and we opted to take a couple of gigs in Spain instead because it’s a €250 tax per person to come into the UK right now. It’s horrible right now they have to do something for musicians and artists to travel in and out of the UK. They need some kind of pass or something where that’s not an issue because what it does is it’s going to cost us about €1000, which is $1300 just to get into the UK to play those shows with our team. I mean, and so if we only play two shows, we really you know we it hits the profits too much. You know we might end up losing money, so I think if that tax stays and they don’t figure out anything around that, then what we’ll do is when we come in the spring of 22 will actually play maybe seven or eight cities in the UK and stay there for a while so that we can make up that tax. You know, make it back up. What is happening at the moment is stifling. Then you have to make adjustments. You know you have. You have to. There’s still so many great musicians in the UK you can’t. You can’t burden them with that. So that’s my opinion. A lot of times things sound good an idea, but the practicality of it doesn’t function well. So I think if you if you make a change like what you do over there, what they did over there, then you at least have to be on the back end of it to go. OK. Well, we made this change, but we can make these changes as well and concessions.
BD: Yes I hope sense prevails and bands can tour easily between UK and Europe.

BD: Lastly the impossible question. Can you tell our readers of the musician(s) or albums that have influenced you?
Chris: Yeah, I get asked this question a lot and that’s why I really had to think about it in the last couple of months, I grew up I had my godparents, lived behind us literally 50 yards behind my home, was their home and their son was probably 18 or 19 and I was four or five. He grew up in the 80s, but he was listening to 70s music, so when my friends were listening to grunge, I was going over and hanging out with him in the 90s and listening to Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. The first album that he played for me that really sounded magical was Led Zeppelin 4 and I remember seeing the artwork inside and I was a big fan. I had read the Lord of the Rings and I saw the hermit you know with and it looked very much like Tolkien stuff, so it seemed magical Then I was on a church trip I went into the basement. It was very late at night at this church, and it was dark and these kids were over in the corner in front of a record player and they were hiding and they had found Black Sabbath Paranoid and they were listening to that. So, it’s quite ironic. I was on a church trip, but that was the first time I heard some of that record and it was kind of the same thing, just like oh, what is this, you know? So those two records, and then I really got into Delta Blues because in my 20s and it’s still a fascination of mine. The early Delta Blues singers Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Son House, Skip James and I really, really like those guys as songwriters. It’s probably the biggest influence on my songwriting, even though I write more rock and roll in general.  But I liked the albums because they would have a gospel song and then they would have a song about killing somebody and they’d have a song about drinking and it was very human. It didn’t seem like they were preaching. It seemed like that they were just sharing songs about the human experience. We’re quite fond of that and try to emulate that in our music too, so.

BD: Chris, thank you for your time and insights into Heavy Shoes and we hope to see you live in the UK in 2022

Heavy Shoes, which will be released via Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group on 13th August.

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