INTERVIEW: Christopher Hawley

Hi Christopher, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. I’ve been super busy finishing up the new album, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “9 Tattoos”?

It’s really a throwback to old rockers from the 50’s and 60’s which were written simply to be fun. However, within that was also an element where social boundaries and politeness were pushed a little bit, albeit in an innocent way. That’s kind of where we are coming from with this song— a version of an old rock’n’roll tune.

Musically there’s a little 70’s in the groove which is always fun. I tried to keep my guitar playing sparse and let the rhythm section do the heavy lifting. That keeps it from venturing into jam-band-territory and brings it back to pop-rock. In the context of this album it’s great to have one or two songs that are pure absurdist fun.

Randy, the co writer and producer, loves sketching out the flow of an album with something serious here, something introspective there. Then we decide where to go next to balance it out. 9 Tattoos was part of that balance.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

No, the song is purely fictitious, written in about 20 minutes. There are others on the record that have a deeper meaning and are inspired by real life events.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We shot in Venice recently. It was a totally spontaneous DIY production, with just my friend Travis Shivers, a camera, and me. We walked out to the boardwalk to see what we could find and immediately met a couple of Russian girls, whom we brought to a tattoo shop on the corner. Then I went couchsurfing. The conditions were a little flat and windy, but not too crowded for Venice Beach.

Next we decided to get a bird’s eye view of such a beautiful afternoon. We headed to the rooftop of a local hotel had a look around. We finished the shoot within about 50 minutes back down on the boardwalk with footage of at least nine tattoos on some of the lovely passersby. It’s being edited as we speak.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was about as easy as you can imagine. We recorded it soon after with Eric Holden on bass and Craig MacIntyre on drums at Civil Defense Music studio in Santa Monica. The vocals and guitar solo were finished at Magic Gadget in Culver City. Will Sandalls, who’s engineered most of my records, worked on this one as well.

Would you call this new solo career a total departure to your previous musical projects?

It’s a lot different than Mucis, the Boulder jamband I was in during the late 90s, although having roots in that music scene, I’m open to having a jam section in just about any song that I write.

You don’t “work” music, you “play” music, and my philosophy of play is rooted in spontaneous fun. It’s liberating to be able to compose in the moment, and improvising is truly one of my favorite aspects of playing music.

The songs on this album are somewhat of a departure because most were written as mini character studies, and often the music reflects introspection. Another new development after Mucis broke up was my becoming the frontman and touring under my own name. That band had been a diverse group of songwriters, each taking turns sharing the spotlight on our respective tunes.

Once I moved to LA, in order to acknowledge that there were others involved, I called it the Christopher Hawley Rollers when it was more than just me. Our most recent release is a live set featuring some extended versions of our standard original repertoire from a rowdy, jammy local show on my birthday in Venice Beach, where I’m based. The new record, Stories, is completely different, in that it’s more of a singer songwriter album with tight full band arrangements, so I decided to put it out simply as Christopher Hawley.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?

 Yes the new single is one of eleven songs from the new record. I’ve been working on it for a few years with a good friend here in Venice, Randy Wooten. We met years ago when I was helping my friend Candi move within the neighborhood. She and I picked up some furniture that Randy was clearing out of a garage so he could make room for a home studio, in which I subsequently recorded three albums several years later. Randy and I have been writing songs together for years, and one day we decided to make an album of our collaborations, that he would produce. It’s been a joy to work on these songs, and I’ve certainly grown as a musician, because I wouldn’t have written them on my own.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

The album is called Stories. It will be released June 23, with an album release party in Venice at the Townhouse Del Monte Speakeasy June 26th.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ve been touring a lot this year already, playing mostly in Utah, Bali, and Uvita, Costa Rica, with LA shows in between. Now that I’m home for a while I’ll put the record out and play locally until late July when the Rollers will embark on a CD Release Tour in California, starting on the Central Coast, and hitting Tahoe, Yosemite, and the Bay Area.

What else is happening next in Christopher Hawley’s world?

My world has orbited into Festival Season! I’ve combined a few of my favorite things and stumbled into becoming a festival producer. Now in its second year, the Folk-n-Soak Music/Hot Springs/Yoga/Camping Festival is happening May 12-14 at Franklin Hot Springs in Paso Robles, CA. We did three events last year, and will probably do the same this year. It’s kind of a wellness festival disguised as a pool party. The actual venue is a huge swimming pool of 100 degree mineral water from an aquifer deep inside of the earth. Singer songwriters and bands perform at one end of the pool all day in into the evening starting Friday at 4pm and going until Sunday at noon. Yoga is offered each morning, and people can camp on site. The audience and artists are all super stoked, and the hot springs really elevate the whole vibe, enhancing the healing powers of music. It’s been a lot of work to put it together and a labor of love.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for the interview. Really appreciate your help getting the word out about the new record!

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