"My musical roots truly reside on the Anglo side" We chat with Chris Stills
Ten plus years into his career, Chris Stills is cementing his sound with his new record, Don't Be Afraid. Written and record with pals like Ryan Adams and Natalie Bedingfield it was time for a chat about the record, touring, and what Chris does with his weekends off.
Hey Chris, how’s your day going so far?
Great. Almost done with it. And it, me.
What have you been up to today?
Started with some Earl Grey. Then BBC Radio London with Robert Elms. Then a pint at a pub. Soon... spa then dinner.
In case anyone doesn’t know you, introduce yourself to our lovely readers.
Hello you lovely lot!!! I am Chris Stills. My friends call me Stillsy. My dad is Dave Grohl.
So, you’re in the middle of your tour, how's it going so far?
Lemme see... so far this tour since Nov. 2: Washington DC, Pittsburg, Philly, New York, Louisville, Nashville, Lexington, then Barcelona, Pamplona, Madrid, then Glasgow... loved them all. Now on Nov. 23rd all I have left are London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Amsterdam. Can’t wait. Each had, and will have, it’s own ups and downs. Either way... we rock and we roll. The most exciting dates I have to say have been through Spain, only because it’s the first time that I ever toured that country. Had the feeling like I was breaking in. Plus, there were fans that came to the shows with all my records to sign... that was crazy to me and felt pretty good too. Spain reminds me of what it was like in California in the 70s. Super laid back and they have good taste and feel for music.
What’s the main thing you enjoy about being on the road?
I enjoy the sights... the sounds... heading off to exotic places, meeting new people and killing them... with good vibes and great music.
And the biggest pain in the butt?
My manager. Airports. Charging my phone. 12% bat seems to be the average power level at any given time.
Tell us about your recent record, Don’t Be Afraid.
Well... I can tell you that every day I think I should have called it "Be Afraid”... Probably the record I’m most proud of... in the last 10 years. I was in France for a few years and got a bit too caught up with the French. Not that I don’t love them, but my musical roots truly reside on the Anglo side. So I really leaned into my early influences: Elton John, Leon Russell, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty etc. I borrowed from them with impunity.
What does the songwriting “process” look like for you?
Starts with coffee or tea... an instrument of some sort... then a line... a written one silly... then fear... then doubt... truth... then perseverance... then tweaking... more tweaking... then a break... not too long... don’t get distracted you fool... get rid of all extra fat... till you can’t... then tweak some more... then three Hail Marys and press record. Hopefully all in about 30 min.
Really loving ‘The Weekend’, what can you tell us about that song?
It’s about the weekend. That one everyone’s had. Was fun to write. Did it with my friends David Saw and Natasha Bedingfield over some cocktails and a lotta laughs.
And what’s your favourite thing to do when you have a weekend off?
Somewhere between building legos with my kids, hanging with my kids... being present with my kids. If I don’t have my kids.. going to the desert.
I love the guitars on ‘Blame Game’, and the track itself has a great old fashioned rock ‘n roll feel to it. How satisfying is it to knock out riffs and melodies like those?
Uh... the best... Duh! Nothing quite like acting professionally whilst feeling like a 14-year-old.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of seeing women being treated differently the industry?
I have two daughters. I think it’s absolutely disgusting and insane that they might make 70 cents on the dollar. I am a fervent supporter of equality on all levels.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
I just recently and shamefully only the other day discovered a Harry Nilsson record that was produced by John Lennon called Pussycats. Ahhhhmazing.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
How do you feel about the study of frequency to treat emotional trauma?
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
You can find out more about Chris on his website, or by following him on Twitter, liking him on Facebook, or checking out his Instagram.