INTERVIEW: Charlie Christmas

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

I’m sipping a nice cold cup of yesterday’s coffee and the ibuprofen is kicking in so life is good.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “(The Band Can’t Play Your) Wedding Song”?

I wanted to write something that did a bit of comical storytelling and I wanted to come up with an old-school rock’n’roll doubled guitar riff. That song took care of both of those goals.

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

Absolutely. I play drums in a cover band—The Doublewide Kings—and a couple years ago we got the gig to play a ritzy wedding in Southern California wine country. We were hired to play the reception but they asked our guitarist and singer if they would play some acoustic stuff for the service. We thought we were being nice by saying ‘Yes’ without jacking up the fee. The processional music— Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” —went just fine but there were a couple awkward moments during the service when the guys were cued to play “The Springsteen song” and then “the Pete Townshend song.” Their response was “Huh?” These were a couple of lawyers getting married, and we hadn’t read the fine print of their contract with us. Their wedding planner hadn’t said anything about it either. The bride ended up in tears and our guys looked traumatized. But we played a hell of a reception and ended up with the bride’s father—the guy paying us—up on stage jamming with us. Not sure if the couple’s still together, but the band is.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I put up a little clip art placeholder video just to sketch out a concept, but I’d love to do something more substantial.

The single comes off your new album Weird Old Man – what’s the story behind the title?

If it was “Pretty Young Thing” it’d be false advertising. I figured it was best to lower expectations about how I present in public.

How was the recording and writing process?

A couple songs have been around for a while, but the album really happened over a few months of activity and inspiration last year. It was my first time jumping in fully to computer-based recording, so I could do everything except live drums in my home studio.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?

Definitely. I get really excited when a musical friend has a great idea they need help developing. It’s like the gift of an idea you didn’t have to think of yourself. On the other hand, when I have a very clear idea of what I want to do, like with the “Weird Old Man” stuff, I generally want to follow through on it myself.

Does your journalistic background influences your music in any way?

For a while I was writing for every music magazine that would have me, so I had a chance to listen to a lot of music with a critical ear. I think that definitely helped develop the ability to listen to my own stuff with an extremely critical ear.

How did you go on balancing all your different and weird influences together?

I really like to think in terms of serving the song first. If the song seems to be telling me it can handle a dash of Butthole Surfers and a sprinkle of Monkees, I’ll give it what it wants.

What role does LA play in your music?

I love the odd history of the place, especially in terms of the music scenes that have grown here. Despite all the sunshine, there’s a lot of darkness and strangeness to explore.

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

I sort of count on these lightning strikes where I hear something or think of something that sounds like it has to be a song title or the main line of a chorus, and build the song out from there.

Any plans to hit the road?

Right now I’m a one-man studio band, so it wouldn’t be much of a show. But I am very interested in pulling a band together so this stuff can exist in live settings.

What else is happening next in Charlie Christmas’ world?

I’m teaching myself banjo, keeping the dog well-fed, and trying to keep the rent paid on time. Thanks for asking.

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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