This is the first installment of a new series of posts where we get to know the folks that work at Leading Tone. We’ll ask them a series of questions on a particular topic with some random ones thrown in just for fun. First up is Chris:
Chris is the shipping/receiving, amp/pedal modding, anything-else-around-the-shop-that-needs-to-get-done guy here at Leading Tone. He’s also the shop rockabilly and country fan (as well as a closet metal-head). He got his first guitar when he was twelve or thirteen and after not being interested in it for a time in junior high and high school, he’s been keeping up his chops for the last eight or nine years. He’s done Bob Dylan covers and rockabilly church music as well as playing rhythm guitar for a short time in the local hillbilly rock and roll band The Hilltones.
Let’s begin with the interview!
What was your first musical instrument?
My first guitar was given to me by my dad when I was twelve or thirteen. It was an all laminate 3/4 size classical style guitar. I took that thing to high school nearly everyday for a while. I put steel strings on it at one point, which caused it to start falling apart. The back was lifting near the heel, so I taped it together with masking tape. I also put a giant American flag sticker on the back at one point and later decided I didn’t want it on there anymore and tried to peel it off. Now there is just a bunch of sticker residue and half an American flag left.
Eventually, I stopped playing it and brought it to my first gig playing Bob Dylan covers at a cafe. I had everyone who was there, whether I knew them or not, sign it. It’s now a piece of my history that I can look back on and the musical journey I’ve taken in my life.
Tell us about an album that has influenced you a lot.
The album that influenced me the most was probably Bringing it All Back Home by Bob Dylan. That was the first Bob Dylan album I got and it was the beginning of a long obsession. From that moment, I went more than six months listening to nothing but Bob Dylan. I now own nearly every album Bob Dylan has ever put out. I think my obsession came from a mixture of Bob Dylan’s music being relatively simple to learn on a guitar as well as the so-specific-it’s-ambiguous nature of his lyrics.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite song, but I love the beginning of “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream,” when the band missed it’s cue and Bob Dylan breaks into laughter. But as soon as he starts again the band is on top of it and come in swinging. You can just hear Bob Dylan having a good time with a bunch of friends in the studio, but when it’s go time they can bring all the skill needed.
Of course, I can’t talk about influential albums without mentioning The Amazing Crowns’ (Formerly The Amazing Royal Crowns) self titled debut album, which was the first rockabilly album I got.
What album are you listening to on repeat these days?
The album I have on repeat right now is With Oden On Our Side by Amon Amarth. Amon Amarth is a Swedish death metal band that gets their name from J.R.R. Tolkien lore and writes songs about viking legends. I love the guitar parts (tuned down to B standard, of course) and the overall heavyness of the music. The thing I like about this album in particular is that there are no moments of finger-tapping wankiness. The guitar parts are played extremely skillfully but they are kept relatively simple, which I appreciate.
What album do you think more people should listen to?
The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake. So few people know about this band, which is a shame. They are amazing and deserve as much recognition as they can get.
What is your preferred format (vinyl, CD, mp3, etc.)?
I tend to listen to music almost exclusively in my iPhone these days, but I do appreciate the way vinyl sounds. I have a small collection of vinyl that I break out when I want to have a music listening experience.
How do you discover new albums?
Often times through friends’ recommendations. I try to stay away from services like Pandora even though I have found some good stuff there. I sometimes do research online on types of music, and I found a lot of my rockabilly music collection that way.
What’s the best flavor of ice cream?
Extreme Moose Tracks. Mmmm…. chocolate.
Finally, give us your top ten albums of all time.
In no particular order:
- Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
- Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
- At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
- Small Change, Tom Waits
- The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, Brand New
- Dictionary of Soul, Otis Redding
- The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album, Eddie Cochran
- 5th Gear, Brad Paisley
- The Blue Album, Weezer
- Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em, Reverend Horton Heat