Chas Sandford Talks "Wag More Bark Less," Nashville, and More
Tue, 18 Jan 2011 07:44:41
Chas Sandford was always meant to be in the spotlight.
The Tennessee-based artist pens tunes that draw from rock, country, and pop, while existing in a sphere that's decidedly his own. The hooks are there, but there's a lot of heart hidden within each chord, verse, and lyric on Sandford's sophomore offering, Wag More Bark Less. The singer-songwriter's debut album, Parallax View, featured tunes that were covered by everyone from Sammy Hagar to Rick Springfield. His is the mind also behind Stevie Nicks' "Talk to Me" and Chicago's "What Kind of Man Would I Be". Plus, he's been behind the board for Rod Stewart, Roger Daltrey, Willie Nelson, and many other legends. Yet, there's nothing like hearing Chas sing and play his own material on Wag More Bark Less…
Chas Sandford sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about creating Wag More Bark Less, Nashville's influence, and so much more.
Did you have one cohesive vision for Wag More Bark Less?
I was recording songs I had written, and part of me was shopping them for other people to do. I wasn't getting any traction with that. I thought, "Well, I'm really an artist, and those are my most comfortable shoes. When I refocused on that, the songs came together with a theme." I had a lot of songs, and I whittled it down to the songs that fit together the best. It was definitely a conscious effort to make something that flowed. I like the old records when they used to have a flow from top to bottom. You sit down and you have an experience listening to the whole thing. You'd look at the artwork and read the liner notes. That’s' the way I loved to listen to music. It was a conscious effort for it to all fit together that way. They seemed to naturally fall into place and fit like they did. It felt good to me. That was even the first track order I picked! I never changed it because it worked.
What's the story behind "My Favorite Regret?"
All of the songs are carved out of my life and things that I've gone through. I've done a lot of shows with Jim Peterik [Survivor, .38 Special]. We were playing a big songwriter's show in Nashville. He said, "Man, we've got to write." Both of us were dead tired though. He goes, "I've got this one title I've been thinking about." He pulled that out, and it sort of encompassed something I was thinking about with a relationship. Everything just came out, and we recorded it right then. That was the demo. I did a couple of overdubs on it. The whole thing came together in that hour or two.
Do you usually record that quickly?
I try to record things as close to the moment of creation as possible because it has its own energy before you start over-thinking it. I really made a conscious effort to record something as soon as I write it. When you go back to it, it's never quite the same for some reason. So I try to get some kind of a version down. All of the songs on this record were done that way.
Is telling stories via the lyrics important for you?
Absolutely! That's one of the most important things. I started out as a musician, and lyrics were sort of secondary to me when I was a kid. I got into songs. The more I got into songs, I realized it's really an art to be able to paint a picture in four lines that would typically take a paragraph or two. It was always something I focused on. That's the reason I moved to Nashville. There are so many great writers here. When I was in L.A., I ran out of people to write with. I wanted somebody to give me a kick and take it up a few notches. I wasn't getting any better, so that was I went to Nashville. I started going out there for writing trips and thought, "This is the deep end of the pool out here." I wanted to keep raising the bar lyrically especially. It's all part of what makes a great song.
Did you know "It's Changing" would always be the closing track?
Well, the world's been in a lot of turmoil, and it seems like everybody is going through it nowadays. It seemed to be more of a positive note on the transition that we're all going through. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to leave on an up note instead of a downer.
Is there an inspiring creative spirit in Nashville?
It's a great town. There are so many killer musicians and players here. They're extremely humble too. They help each other, and they're so welcoming. Everybody turns each other on to things they like. Any night of the week, you can go out and hear great live music. I find that really inspirational.
Which artists really shaped you?
I was a huge fan of the blues, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles.
Do you read or watch movies while you're writing?
I used to read a lot. I was good in English when I was really young [Laughs]. It's just about paying attention to those things and honing the art. I do watch movies, but not that much. I try to write when inspiration hits me. I try to capture that moment and have it flow as much as possible. I try not to mess it up basically [Laughs]. I want to be the conduit essentially and keep myself out of the way.
Have you heard Chas Sandford yet?