Interview - Rich Chambers


"Reminiscent of 50s and 60s garage band rock, but with a good dose of modern sensibility" is how one would describe the music Canadian artist Rich Chambers has been writing, recording, and performing for his entire 20+ year music career. Let's have a chat with him about his music.

- Hi Rich and welcome to this interview. Tell us about your latest release It's Christmas time (all over the world)
Thank you so much for having me!
So many of the recent Christmas releases seem to be rehashed versions of the same old standards. Most have ended up being fairly generic sounding and don’t really add anything new to the Christmas song canon. With “It’s Christmas Time (All Over the World)” I really wanted to write something that had a definite “Christmassy” feel to it yet was also very rock n’ roll and fresh sounding. It was also important to me to put some recognizable pop culture imagery into the song and to make sure I somehow interlaced the wonder that comes with the innocence of children into the fabric of the song. Essentially, I wanted it to resonate with every age group and demographic. I am very proud of this song and feel I was able to accomplish everything I set out to do when I wrote it.

- How would you describe your sound?
This is a great question and one that in some ways is both hard and easy to answer. I will illustrate why it is hard by highlighting the difficulty I have had getting my songs onto radio. I have approached many country stations that say I am too rock. I have approached rock stations that say I am too country. I’ve approached retro rock stations that say I am too modern and modern rock stations that say I am too retro for their playlists. I have also been told I am too blues or too punk by other stations, while the blues and punk stations will often say I am too rock. This sort of thing doesn’t happen all the time, but it has happened more than enough times to tell me that my sound and music sits right at the crossroads of so many different genres and styles, which I absolutely love, mind you! It makes a lot of sense though given the many different artists and styles of music I have loved and been influenced by, but it does make it hard when people want me to give a very finite and definitive description of my music.

On the other hand though, from another perspective, I actually find my music and sound very easy to define. I have always believed that rock n’ roll in its basic and raw form is made up of a little bit of every genre of music I have just described, so in keeping with this philosophy, when people ask me to define my music, I will simply say, with no qualifiers and/or preceding adjectives, “Rock n’ Roll.”

- What do you write about?
I love keeping my thoughts and mind open to just about any topic when it comes to writing a song. I firmly believe that you can have a song be about anything that you want. Many songs are about love lost and love gained. Heck, love is a pretty powerful and universal human experience, so it makes sense that a lot of music has this theme to it. I have my fair share of love related songs, but I also like to write about other aspects of the human experience. Hopes and dreams are huge topics for me. I also will create certain scenarios and/or situations and write about them as I look to create a commentary of a particular aspect of the human condition. At the same time, not all my songs have a socially conscious or deeper internal meaning to them. Sometimes I just simply enjoy writing a benign song that simply sounds good and is fun to play. Essentially, music can say or be anything you want it to be, and I absolutely love that mantra and completely embrace it in my songwriting!

- What do you listen to when you are home?
I go through phases when it comes to what I listen to at home and will get into a particular artist for a while and listen to a pile of their stuff and then move onto another artist. My go-tos as of late have been Bryan Adams and Chris Isaak. And, I have to say, as I write this we are moving into the Christmas season, so the Phil Spector Christmas album has come out and I am listening to it like crazy. It is definitely one of the best Christmas albums!!

- Your favourite live performance so far?
Tough one to answer. I have played so many gigs over the years, in so many different places. For pure rock n’ roll enjoyment, the most fun I have ever had playing live is a regular gig our band used to do at a university frat house. If you have ever seen the movie “Animal House” with John Belushi, that is pretty much the environment we played in. Way too much crazy fun! The most impactful gigs I have ever done were a series of Christmas concerts we did for many years at local children’s hospitals. Those were some pretty special moments!

- Tell us a funny story that happened in studio or on stage.
Well, I have to tell a story from the frat house. We always set up in their basement and played to about 120 people in a room that could only comfortably hold about half that number. Those were wild times! On one particular crazy night our band was really rocking. In front of us, on the dance floor, we were witnessing all kinds of crazy and fun stuff. 
One such scenario was this one guy who was continually asking this very good-looking young lady to dance. Myself and my bandmates watched as the guy tried time and time again to get this girl to dance. Eventually she finally gave in, and they were dancing together for a song. That one song turned into a second song and then finally a third song, which was a slow one and the last one in our set. When we finished to take our break, the room emptied out and our bass player called the guy over to ask him how everything went. 
He approached the band all smiles and said he got her phone number and held up his hand. Sure enough, she had written a phone number on his hand, and man, was he showing it off like it was an Olympic gold medal. The guy was all smiles! Our bass player was the only one who got a good look at the number though.
About fifteen minutes later we started into another set and the room quickly filled up beyond capacity. We noticed our phone number friend was in the crowd all smiles and laughing and joking with all of his friends. When we finished our song, the bass player yelled to all of us, “okay guys, let’s play Tommy Tutone.” We hadn’t played Tommy Tutone in a while, but we took our bass player’s lead and broke into their biggest hit. 
As I started singing the chorus “867 5 309” I noticed our phone number friend’s demeanor suddenly changed. He stopped dead in his tracks and started staring at his hand where the very good-looking young lady had written “her” phone number. As he started putting the pieces together, his face expression quickly changed. He instantly morphed from the happy jolly guy to looking like he had just been run over by a dump truck… and that dump truck backed up and ran over him again. I looked over at our bass player who was the only guy who saw the phone number close up. He had a devilish grin on his face and gave me a wink. Yep, it ended up being a rough night for our poor phone number friend! 

- Your favourite albums?
Holy cow, this is a super hard question to answer. I have so many, but here is a sample of some of my favourites. The Beatles Revolver and Abbey Road. Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA. The Knack Get the Knack. John Mellencamp Pink Houses. Elvis Costello and the Attractions Greatest Hits. Elvis Presley Elvis 30 number 1 Hits. I’ll stop there as I really could go on and on.

- A musician you would like to meet for a beer?
There are a few, but if I had to choose one, it would be Bruce Springsteen.

- What would you ask for backstage, if you were the most important band on earth?
I love this question!! More than anything I would ask for mutual kindness and respect from everyone there. I would also ask for everyone to be professional but to remember to have fun.

- What are your plans for the near future?
I am planning on releasing two more singles in early 2022, which will be followed up with a full album that will contain all the singles I have released over the last year as well as a few other songs. From there, I will start releasing singles from my second album every 8-10 weeks before I finally release the album itself. I will do this same routine with my third album. I currently have three albums worth of material written. I will be releasing all of my music methodically and steadily in order to create more of a buzz around me and to always keep my name active and at the forefront of all blogs, playlists, etc.

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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