Solo Musician Interview – Chris Jones

Chris Jones Photo

Chris Jones is a singer/songwriter from Kilmarnock, who was previously the singer for an alternative rock band called ‘Weather Forcats‘ but has now gone solo and has recently released his debut EP ‘A story of human limitations’. If you want to have a read at that then click here

Where are you from?
From Kilmarnock, Scotland but now living in St Albans in the south east of England. But missing home.

How long have you been playing your respective instrument(s)?
I’ve been playing guitar since the age of 17 so about 11 years now. Entirely self-taught which is what I put my bad habits down to but I get by (just about). I can also play bass but found the Phil Lynott combination of bass and guitar more challenging than the classic guitar and vocals combo. Also learning keys to give my solo shows a bit more diversity.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
This is always the toughest question. There are elements of folk, indie and blues in my solo music which is acoustically based. In the EP when I have a full band sound I also stray into prog rock and alternative rock with the song Burn. I think writing songs on an acoustic guitar makes them quite versatile when you add other instruments and musicians into the mix.

If I had to pigeonhole it I would probably say my music was in the acoustic indie rock with elements of folk, blues and americana  if that’s a genre. Usually with a Scottish accent.

What are your influences?
Like most songwriters, my own recent life experiences. I am quite political as well but I haven’t really cracked making a political song sound non-trite or non-preachy (with the exception, I hope, of ‘How many times’ on my EP) so almost exclusively my songs are influenced by personal, usually painful emotional experiences.

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
I usually don’t do covers but on occasion, particularly when playing in a busy pub where the patrons are not necessarily there to see me I will. Go to’s would be Tom Petty – Free Fallin’ and Stealers Wheel – Stuck in the middle with you.

Do you have a process for writing your songs?
Idea for a theme for the song is usually there and that inspires you to play. Then the music comes first, then vocal melody, then lyrics. Usually.

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
I remember when playing in the band, one of the busiest gigs we played, our lead guitarists knee gave way on stage and he collapsed. One second he was there and next he wasn’t – but he dutifully continued to play lying on the floor. I seem to remember our drummer was kicked out of the same venue that evening. That is the danger of doing sound check so early in the day and then sitting in a pub for hours waiting to go on – and having no discipline. Changed days now of course…

What song do you remember most from your childhood?
Whisky in the Jar and Maggie May. My dad had a ‘best of the 70s’ CD that we used to listen to in the car on the way down south on holidays and those were the favourites.

Thin Lizzy became a favourite band. Rod Stewart not so much but that songs still brings back those memories.

What has been your biggest challenge as a performer? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so then how?
I used to suffer with a lack of confidence in my guitar playing as I am self-taught. I used to overcome this by putting a lot of distortion on my guitar…later I learned this was not the way to the light.

It helped going solo because then I was in complete control over what I played and therefore couldn’t really go wrong. My guitar playing has improved over the years but I am still limited. Now however, I am completely comfortable with that as it is more than adequate for the music I play. Although I do harbour ambitions to become a much more accomplished guitar player.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
I have a Bandcamp set up for the release of my EP but you can also find my music on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify…you name it.

I also have a Facebook where you can keep up to date on gigs, new releases etc.

Have you released anything yet/if you have then how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
My first EP ‘A story of human limitations’ was released in August. It’s a 5 song EP. Feedback so far has been really positive and, although it turned out quite different from how I set out, I am pretty proud of it. I am working on another mini EP that will be truer to the acoustic and minimalist tracks that I started out with.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
I’ve played in most pubs and venues in Glasgow and now many in the south east of England including London.

Two of my favourite gigs were 1) a back-garden gig in the Netherlands and 2) a gig in a bar in Amsterdam. Both the settings and the attitudes of the gig organisers and punters made these great occasions. Often the other acts playing make the night and on both these occasions there was a great air of mutual supportiveness and real embracing of independent and new music. That’s also been the case in some venues in the UK and I used to love playing at Broadcast, Sauchiehall Street Glasgow and have played a few times at the Harrison pub in London – a small venue but with great character. Least favourite is any venue where you can hear the music from the bar next door while you’re playing or where there is no segregation between the main bar and the area where music is being performed so you get the talkers and the cacklers.

Do you have any upcoming shows?
My EP launch is at the Classic Grand in Glasgow on 21st September. I’m also doing a London based launch at The Harrison on the 30th September. I hope to be gigging a lot more in the remainder of the year and hope to also play some gigs in my home town Kilmarnock, which I haven’t done so much over the years.

What do you think about downloading music online?
It’s the way things are and as long as you are doing it legally, fine. You should always pay for it if there is an option to. I have never illegally downloaded music and feel like there should always be payment made for purchasing an artist’s music but these days more often you need to give it away free before anyone is willing to part with their money.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
I don’t claim to have a great deal of insight into the record industry per say but I know that it if it is anything like how it is portrayed on shows like the X-Factor then I believe it to be as broken as the majority of ‘mainstream’ music would have you believe – both morally and artistically. However, there are lots of established bands and artists still making great music on their own labels and small independent acts also producing and releasing music on their own or through small labels. To think that ‘music’ today is any less vibrant or varied than in the past would be silly – good music is just not usually found in the places most people think to look now.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Living – Ricky Gervais. I just can’t stop listening to his podcasts. I can’t fall asleep without listening to them so maybe meeting him would get that out of my system.

Dead – it would be great to meet the great rock icons of Hendrix, Jim Morrison or even Elvis. Not sure how interesting they would be at a dinner as compared to a night out or seeing them on stage – not sure they would enjoy such a formal setting or having dinner with a nobody like me. Not sure it would bring the best out of them to be honest!

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