One of the reasons I love MFL is the extreme breadth of music that reaches me from all corners of the world. I do not know any of these folks and chances are, one of the only connections we may have, is our passion for music. However, that changed recently. I recieved an email from a fellow representing an artist named Chase McBride. I checked out the tunes and was sold so I requested an interview. After a quick Google search, I discovered Chase McBride grew up in Billings, Montana and I grew up a few hours away in Missoula, Montana. To date, I have never had the music of someone from my very own home state fall into my lap! Of course the Facebook search had to occur as well: nine mutual friends all of whom are friends of mine from ballet, high school and college. Music brings people together in the most wonderful way.
Anyway, I asked Chase about his new EP, how his Montana upbringing shaped his music and much more. Check out Chase’s answers to my questions below and enjoy his new EP, Cold Water, while you read.
MFL: What were you anticipating the most with the release of your new record, Cold Water?
Chase McBride (CM): That’s a great question, and one that has a somewhat messy answer. This project has taken over my life for the past year, and involved a dozen or so collaborators. It was hard sitting on an album that I felt so good about, and not be able to share it publicly. That being said, there was a lot of building excitement within the team that helped keep me focused on putting the pieces together for a successful release. So, the short answer is, I was most anticipating finally being able to share this collection of songs that the team and I worked so hard to create.
MFL: I read that you recorded the record in a small beach cabin. How did this backdrop influence the sound and mood of Cold Water?
CM: The album was recorded live, with the full band, at a small beach house in Bodega Bay, CA. There is a video for the single “On The Other Side” that showcases the recording process and the coastal setting. I think that backdrop was important for a few reasons. First, I’ve always sought out remote places to record because that change in perspective helps to clear out the mental channels needed to focus emotional energy into something as complex as a musical performance. Second, in the age of the internet, getting a group of people to avoid the distractions that come with cell phones, television, and internet is really hard. The cabin we recorded at didn’t have good internet, so it forced us all to put our phones away and maintain presence with each other and with ourselves. I think that communal focus comes across in the recordings.
MFL: Tell me about your connection with the French Cassettes and how Mackenzie Bunch and Scott Huerta came to produce the record?
CM: I met Scott back in 2009. We had a mutual friend, who had played me Scott’s music, and encouraged me to attend a show for his band, French Cassettes. I ended up watching a show of theirs, and I fell in love with the energy of the band. I kept a creative and personal friendship with Scott after that, and was introduced to Mackenzie, who is the band’s guitarist and does all the recording. They’ve developed a serious business in San Francisco producing albums for the local bands, and their reputation is stellar. When I was tossing around early ideas for this album, I knew that I wanted those two to be involved with the recording. Thankfully, schedules aligned and I was lucky enough to bring them on board. The quality of the recordings is a testament to their abilities.
MFL: This is often a tough question or a question without an answer…BUT, if you were to name your genre, using as many or as few words as you need to do so appropriately, what would you call it?
CM: I think the most appropriate genre would be ‘IndieFolk’ or ‘Folk’. I’ve been called many things, but I think the music I make and the way I make it lands somewhere within the traditions of folk music.
MFL: What were some of your biggest musical influences growing up and if so, how have they changed over time?
CM: I grew up in a very musical family. My grandpa was a well-known Dixieland Jazz trombonist and a charismatic band leader. Everyone in my extended family played an instrument and took piano lessons from a young age. As far as my influences go, my parents were always playing James Taylor, George Winston, and Joni Mitchell records around the house, so those moods and melodies certainly made an impression on me. As I’ve gotten older, I still have a lot of respect for those 60’s titans, specifically Dylan, but my tastes have expanded over the years. I listen to music from just about every genre. I have respect for any artist that I hear finding their own sound and working hard to offer up something original in the oversaturated musical world we live in. I’m currently playing a lot of Joep Beving, Kevin Morby, and Jessica Pratt.
MFL: I did some Googling and according to your Wikipedia page, you are from Billings, MT. Is this accurate? I’m from Missoula! If this is true, tell me what happened between Billings, MT and San Francisco!
CM: This is accurate! It’s a small world eh? I grew up in Billings, and left for California after finishing high school in 2007.
A whole lot happened. Initially, I moved to San Luis Obispo, California, where I studied graphic design at Cal Poly, and started my musical career. After that I toured the west coast and did studio guitar work for a few years before a short stint in Missoula, and a move to the east coast to study painting in graduate school outside Washington DC. In 2015, I packed up my car and moved my life across the country to San Francisco, where I’ve been ever since. I spend a lot of time traveling, but San Francisco is my home base. I love that city and the people that live there. Missoula is an oasis as well, I have very fond memories from that short period.
MFL: Additionally, how did a MT upbringing influence the music you make?
CM: I think the solitude that Montana offers has affected my music a lot. I enjoy being alone as much as I enjoy spending time with others. When I’m in a songwriting phase I’ll spend most of my waking hours alone and I use my experiences growing up as the muse for a lot of my work. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke talks a lot about the wellspring of inspiration that draws from your youth. I’m a firm believer in that idea.
MFL: How did the album release party shake out at Amnesia last week?
CM: It was incredible. The crowd was happy and attentive. We ended up selling the venue out, which felt good after all the promotional efforts my team contributed. I’m a completely independent artist, so big wins like that mean a lot.
MFL: Along that note, how was your SoFar Sounds show? I’ve heard fantastic things about that organization and have considered trying to start one up here in MT.
CM: That gig was terrific. The SoFar people are so nice and accommodating. I’m excited to see the video from that night. There were some notable Los Angeles musicians that came out to see us perform, which caused the band to dig in a little harder and really perform the songs well. I’m hoping to do another one in London when I’m there at the end of February.
MFL: Finally, how long before you start writing material for a new record?
CM: Great question! I’m always collecting little ideas here and there, so technically, I’ve already started working on the new material. I fly to London at the end of February for a few weeks with my girlfriend, who is a painter. We rented out a beautiful loft/studio space, and we’re planning on working on our respective projects alongside each other during that time. I’m shipping out my studio gear and I plan on giving myself some focused time in a new environment to start fleshing out what the new album will be. If you want to stay updated on my day-to-day life, follow my Instagram @chase.mcbride. That’s where I post the most! Thanks.
Thanks to Chase McBride for answering my questions and to Jake Goble from Merch Camp for connecting our Montana souls. You can find Cold Water and Chase’s other music on iTunes.