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INTERVIEW: Portland, OR-based singer-songwriter Chuck Westmoreland

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

I’ve been great! Busy but great.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Sharp Rocks”?

It’s a song about a couple and one of the people in the relationship is a drug addict.  They roll around on this hot beach fighting with each other during the song.

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

Not any one event.  Most people I know have had some sort of issues with drugs and alcohol in their lives.

A lot of times I’ll write a song about something I’m afraid of.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

My buddy Kevin is a professional videographer and has all the cameras, drones, and other equipment.  He’s also got an amazing eye and everything he shoots looks beautiful. It was all pretty fluid, the three of us got in Steph’s car and shot all the footage while driving out to the rodeo grounds where the video takes place. It took me a while to track down the owner and ask about letting us shoot the video there.  When I got him on the phone he was like “OOOOOOOh shit son, we’ve got cattle everywhere up here, it’s a fucking mess, an absolute shitshow….Of course you can shoot your video up here!” Really nice guy.

The single comes off your new album Long Winter Rodeo – what’s the story behind the title?

The title comes from the Tygh Ridge rodeo grounds that I drive by all the time when I’m fishing out on the other side of the Cascades.  In the morning covered in fog it looks desolate and miserable but later in the day when the fog burns off you can see every mountain in Oregon standing in the arena.  It’s the same rodeo grounds from the video.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was different this time around because I had a baby in the house. A lot of these songs were written in a whisper. I also wrote out in a duck blind near my house. When we recorded the last record the band only rehearsed together a few times and I didn’t really know what to expect.  With the new record I was fully aware of just how talented the folks I’m playing with are and was able to write with that in mind. We recorded vocals, guitars, bass, and drums live and did the organ and piano overdubs all in four days on tape with Danny O’Hanlan here in Portland. I did the background vocals and guitar overdubs at my house and then took everything back to Danny’s studio to mix.

What role does Portland play in your music?

Portland, like a lot of places, has changed dramatically over the past 10, or even 5, years, and a lot of what I loved about it is gone or buried beneath five story multi-use new construction. This town has been really good to me but I miss old Portland and I think that comes out a bit.  There are a lot of songs on this record about having to leave somewhere you love or being trapped in a place you can’t get out of.

Are you taking a different approach to the one you went with on your previous musical projects?

Not really, I feel like I’ve always been telling stories and creating characters.  Whether there’s a synthesizer or a steel guitar I think it has always been about the song for me.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

All around.  Sometimes I overhear people talking in my bar and will kind of continue their conversation in my mind and create some tiny world based on them.  Other times I’ll be in a place and try to imagine what happened there before I came. Other times I’ll write about things that scare me to try and diminish the fear and let go of it.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, I’m going out on a small tour in the south and midwest in the middle of June. I’m also planning on being back out on the road late summer/early fall.

What else is happening next in Chuck Westmoreland’s world?

Hard to say.  I’m in that weird space right before a record comes out.  Anything can happen.

Watch here

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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