00:00:01: For those who don’t know in a way you’re not totally new to the Bush family. You stepped in for the end of the Bush’s last tour when their original lead guitarist left the band. And now you’re embarking on what is really the next generation of Bush music. It’s been almost ten years since Bush has put out a new album. What kind of expectations do you have, if any, once this new tour starts and new album comes out? Would you be at all surprised if Bush becomes as massive as they were when Sixteen Stone or Razorblade Suitcase were out?
Chris: I have an idea in my head about how I want my guitar rig to sound, and what equipment I will use to chase that sound. Most guitar players will understand that we rarely, if ever, capture the sound we want. I have been chasing a sound all of my life.
My only other hope is that the fans are happy with the shows.
I would be very surprised if Bush had the break out success of 16 Stone, simply because the landscape for rock music is so different today than it was when that record came out.
00:00:01: What’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you?
Chris: You’re the best dad ever, I love you!
00:00:01: This will be your first official Bush album. You’ve played many Bush songs from all their past albums while finishing out the 2002 Bush tour as well as with Gavin Rossdale solo stint. So by now you’ve had a chance to really soak in their music and get a feel for the Bush sound and even put a bit of your own spin into that while on the road. How much influence would you say you contributed to the new album and perhaps really the updated sound? Listening to Afterlife I could tell that it really fits with today’s music fits with the now. At the same time it still well within the realm of Bush.
Chris: That’s an interesting question. I think I have a very unique perspective on the Bush timeline, having come from playing live with the original Bush lineup on the Golden State tour, as well as studio recordings with Gavin on different albums, television and movie soundtracks, culminating to the upcoming Everything Always Now release.
I think every Bush record has been sonically and stylistically different from the last. The engine that drives the band, and makes it Bush, is Gavin’s songwriting and singing. The ever expanding vocabulary and musical territory of the band has to do with Gavin’s over all vision as an artist. I really respect that fact that Gavin is driven to push forward and progress musically. I can’t tell you how many times people have suggested to him that he re-write 16 Stone. One of the pitfalls of a successful songwriter can be getting trapped by the popularity of their initial material and over time, either boring fans to death by writing the same song over and over again, or disappointing them with a new record that sounds very different from what they expect. I feel that Gavin has artfully navigated these areas and managed to create a really interesting and fresh sounding record that still sounds like Bush.
I think it’s impossible to tell exactly how much anyone’s presence in the studio influences the recording process. Everyone contributes to the vibe on some level and it’s probably true to say that we are all both more and less important than we think we are. I feel it is my job in this band to use my technical skill as a guitarist, and knowledge of effects and sonics to add to the sonic palate Gavin has to draw from. I am a guitar and gear junky, and I love to bring new toys into the studio for us to play with. I prefer to go into the recording studio devoid of any preconceived notions about what the tracks are, or what my parts should sound like. My goal as a guitarist is to have the technical ability to perform any idea I hear in my head effortlessly in tune, time and tone. Most of the time my initial “takes” are the ones that end up on the record, other times it’s a dialogue between my first instinct and something Gavin hears in it that could be different. I have been working with Gavin for so long that I can sense when he’s really digging something, or if I should move on to another idea. Left to my own devices I tend to lean in the direction of jagged and angular guitar ideas. Where I think this is most noticeable is in places like the chorus of “Afterlife” which is a major scale stacked in fourths, or the solo section of “Lay down your guns” which is a nod to “Scary Monsters” era Fripp/Bowie collaborations. I do listen to a lot of experimental and electronic music as well, and take pride in making guitar parts that sound “unlike” the way guitar traditionally sounds. I think a lot of the ambient work on Gavin’s solo record Wanderlust, and Everything Always Now is really cool, and I really appreciate that Gavin and Bob Rock let me tweak out on my pedals and create “ear candy” for certain sections of music on the new record. If you put on headphones and listen to the spiraling guitar noises in the second verse of Afterlife, or the “My Bloody Valentine” style effects on the middle eight section of “Into the blue”, you can hear some of that influence as well. Of course Gavin plays guitar as well, and since it’s his main instrument to write on, any guitar parts that I am creating usually have to be developed around his guitar parts. This can be challenging for both of us at times, like sharing a video game with only one controller, but we have managed to create space for each other and over time gravitate towards those spaces. Within this framework that is once again Bush, we have developed as artists and musicians.
00:00:01: What is your idea of heaven?
00:00:01: What do you bring most to a friendship?
Chris: Strength, laughter and good fashion sense.
00:00:01: Over the past eight years you’ve really gotten a taste of Bush experience and a taste of what the fans are like. The fans welcomed you almost immediately for the short portion you toured with Bush. And many Bush fans became Institute fans as you worked through that project and even onto Gavin’s solo works. How would you compare the fan base and fan interaction with that of other bands you’ve worked with eg. Helmet or Orange 9mm? Do you find Bush fans to be too intense at times?
Chris: Well, not everyone welcomed me immediately. I remember some pretty harsh and negative things being said about me on the Bush forum when I first joined. But that kind of friction has helped me grow as a person and a musician.
It’s true to say that overall the reception was warm and enthusiastic, and meeting people like you really helped me to find my own space within the Bush community. O9mm came out of the hardcore scene, so when I toured with them I would actually know a lot of people at the shows, stay at their houses and go to dinner with them when I was in town. I did a lot of couch surfing back then. Helmet has a small hardcore following and over the nearly ten years that I performed and recorded with them I got to know those fans fairly well and I still keep in touch and interact with some of them. I really love the passion of the Bush fans and I have yet to find any of them too intense. I strive to have a more direct and honest communication with the hardcore fans that have stuck with Gavin and I for almost a decade. I love to look out in the crowd and see someone like you, or Ace, or Heather and catch a smile or steal a moment with one another. Even thinking about it now makes me smile. We need each other, and I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the hardcore fans.
00:00:01: What is your all time favorite Bush song?
Chris: Zen and people is a close second. I am a big fan of Duane Allman and I love playing electric slide guitar loud and to big crowds; sometimes I pretend I am Duane while I play those songs.