By Ryan Donnelly
Not every singer with a guitar can pair those two worlds together properly, but for Chris Beyer on his upcoming new album Distances, he is here to prove that he can. Beautifully executed and recorded, the song writing on Distances is what great song writing is about, and if you are a fan of the poprock genre, then 2016 will be starting out well for you.
RYAN: Your upcoming album Distances is quite the album. Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process?
CHRIS: Well first, thank you so much Ryan for having me! My songwriting process consists of a few different methods. For the instrumental aspect of writing, my most common method is to just fiddle around on the guitar until I write a riff that I really dig. I have a loop pedal and pro tools at home, so I like to record a guitar riff and then if needed, write a lead over it. Then I’ll ask myself, is this an intro, verse, chorus or a bridge? I like to write unique guitar parts, but fit them into the simple modern pop format. My other favorite method is to jam to random drum loops. As for vocal melodies, I begin by singing random melodies while playing the guitar parts, until I find a melody that really fits the area of the song. I also tend to just finish the entire instrumental in a demo version, which I listen to in my car, or wherever. By listening to the instrumental, I can feel the vibe of the song, then start singing what I feel. After I figure out a melody and lyrics that I feel fit well, I jot down the lyrics and make final changes to them. I don’t prefer to write lyrics before I create the instrumentals because I need to be inspired by the sound to feel a certain way. I’m sure many other songwriters have different approaches, but this process suites me best.
RYAN: Most albums of note have a theme running through them, how would you describe the theme running through Distances?
CHRIS: Distance itself, is actually the main theme of the record. “ Sway” and “She’s On fire” have a common theme of distancing yourself from a purely lustful relationship. I’ve had enough symbolizes drawing the final line and cutting out a negative friend or significant other. Track 4 “ Bad Luck” is about a period in life where everything is just going wrong. I’m almost positive that everybody has had that moment where they have asked themselves, “Why do I have the most terrible luck?” This question has crossed my mind countless times. I would wake up everyday or stay up all night worrying about what could go wrong next. Because of this, I would be left with feelings of paranoia and depression. When you live life with such a pessimistic outlook, it can take a heavy toll on your self-esteem. When this song ends and transitions into “ I Hope So.” In this track, I am distancing myself from pessimism and crossing over into optimism. My constant fear of failing has always stood in the way of my music career and life. I have always hated this about myself. To make a positive change in my life, I needed to tell myself, if you don’t take risks in life to do what you love, then you will have too many “what ifs?” This song is about being a stronger person and musician and taking that plunge. The last track “Medicine” is about my current girlfriend. This final track embarks my new journey with the right person by my side. Overall, my record is about distancing yourself from the negative and taking on the journey to create a positive.
RYAN: How long have you been playing music?
CHRIS: I have been playing music since the 4th grade. In 4th grade, I played the trumpet in the school band, which I stuck with till my senior year of high school. I also played the tuba my sophomore year of high school. In the 7th grade I started playing the guitar. Growing up, I played mostly punk rock, pop punk, metal and hardcore music, which are all still genres that I love. I used to play rhythm guitar in a punk alternative band called For What It’s Worth. We put out a few records and I had many fun opportunities. Unfortunately, we all grew up and had responsibilities, which is the downfall of many young bands. I was not ready to quit music just yet. Besides heavier music, I grew a passion for the blues, jazz, classic rock and R&B. With these newer influences, I wanted to set out on a new journey as a musician. I wanted to write my own music that was fresh and something new. I wanted to write pop music that is appealing to all ages.
RYAN: The album has so many good songs that it was tough to choose a favorite to be honest. Do you have any personal favorites on the album? And what makes this song your favorite?
CHRIS: I feel the same way because they all are very different, but if I had to pick a favorite song it would be “Bad Luck.” I am passionate about this song because it has many twists and turns. I get to let out my bluesy R&B side, yet I get to rock out and get in touch with my hard rock roots.
RYAN: Everyone has influences, can you tell us a few of yours?
CHRIS: I am adie hard John Mayer fan. John Mayer is to my guitar playing how Stevie Ray
Vaughan was to his guitar playing. Some of my other biggest influences are Maroon 5, Ed
Sheeran, James Bay, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, BB King, Third Eye Blind, The Maine and
Acceptance. I am also a huge 80’s and 90’s pop guy. I like too much music! The list goes on…
RYAN: Your album comes out officially in January of 2016, was it an intended choice to skip the end of 2015 and start another year off with it instead, or is this more of a production issue?
CHRIS: I purposely wanted to wait until 2016 to release my record. Many artists make the mistake of rushing to put out new music. I decided to be patient, so I had more time to get my name out there and to build anticipation.
RYAN: Any current advice to offer the upcoming singer/songwriters out there?
CHRIS: Listen to a lot of music! Don’t be close minded and listen to one genre. Too many artists these days listen to one or two similar artists, rather than absorb the influence of thirty different artists. However, make sure you don’t lose your signature sound or identity during that process. Another important tip I have to upcoming artists is to keep trying your hardest, regardless of who tells you that being a “rockstar” or “popstar” is unrealistic. You only have one life to live. Most importantly, practice, practice, practice!
RYAN: Social Media is a major part of an artist success these days, how are you finding navigating those treacherous waters?
CHRIS: I find social media to be a very important key in promotion and keeping in touch with your fan base. It gets stressful at times to keep up with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, but you need to stay consistent, or else you will fall under the radar. Music listeners love an artist who stays in touch with and makes an effort to appreciate their followers. I also think it’s important to not be afraid of being annoying. Follow as many people as you can. The more chances of exposure, the better. Make gigs your priority though. Don’t just depend on social media.
RYAN: Can you tell us a bit about the players on the album, and if they are the same artists we can expect to see at the live shows as well?
CHRIS:Sure thing. I did all of the guitar and vocal work on the album. My good friend Michael Dilelloplayed drums on the record, who was in my previous band. Nick Zinnanti did all of the bass guitar parts. He is also is the one who engineered and produced my record at his studio called Zin Records. For live shows I currently play with Michael Dilello on drums, my brother Mike on bass and my other close friend Ryan O’Rourke on second guitar. All three of them were in my old band For What It’s Worth. My brother just started a full time career and Ryan has his new band Table Talk, so they are both incredibly busy. They are just helping me out until I find two people who can permanently fill the open spots.
RYAN: Lastly, and thank you for your time. Is there any news from the Chris Beyer camp that you want your fans to know?
CHRIS:It was my pleasure. Thanks again Ryan for having me! As for news for my fans, 2016 is going to be a year full of playing shows. I will also be starting to record covers at home for youtube and Instagram. Stay tuned!