Chris Staples is about to release his latest album, ‘American Soft,’ on vinyl and tour the country by himself. Until then, he is quietly residing in Fort Walton and contemplating getting a dog. IN met up with Staples at a coffee shop and we discussed the album.
“I have other vinyl releases and they sell really well,” Staples said. “We’ve had a lot of people asking for the new record on vinyl, too.”
Vinyl has been steadily creeping back into people’s lives over the past few years and has again become a relevant part of how people are buying music. Staple’s record will be pressed at Pirate Press, an independent company out of San Francisco.
“I think it’s more substantial, it’s more collectable,” Staples said. “Everything is a MP3 now and I think people are nostalgic for a time when that didn’t exist. Maybe one day CDs will be cool again.”
The vinyl pressing of ‘American Soft’ will be made available around April 1.
“We don’t have an exact date yet,” Stapes said. And then added, “There’s no music at all—April Fool’s!”
The album, which was released last year and funded by Kickstarter, will feature two bonus tracks in addition to the current track listing.
When asked about the Kickstarter experience, Staples said, “It was terrifying. It’s public and there’s a goal, and if you don’t make the goal, it’s a public failure.”
Luckily Staples met his goal.
To support this new pressing, Staples will be touring across the country, starting with a home-base show in Pensacola at the Handlebar on March 1. Local band Paloma, as well as five-piece psych rock band The Grenadines will be playing.
“This is the first time I’ve ever toured by myself,” Staples said. “I’ll be driving out to Seattle and camping along the way. I kind of want to get a dog before the tour, but I think I might just wait until I get back so it isn’t unfair to the dog.”
I agree, although some dogs seem to love a good road trip.
At this point, Staples and I decide to meander around Fort Walton in Staple’s large white Astro van and discuss some landmarks of the small town in which so much music has been made and seen. Staples has had two large coffees at this point and I’m slightly worried he may want to take the van off-roading. It’s an idea that never comes up, at least while I’m in tow.
The first stop is a shop, in a row of shops along Highway 98’s downtown section. It has a neon lit sign that reads “Tattoos Forever” in bright pink and blue. It used to be the Java Pit.
“I remember seeing a lot of great bands come through here when I was younger,” Staples said. “The Dismemberment Plan, Crooked Fingers, Drive-By Truckers. I think At the Drive In was supposed to play but something happened.”
Now it’s a place where 13-year-olds can get their bellybuttons pierced.
The next stop in the miniature tour of the great Ft. Walton Beach is The Foundation. Which actually doesn’t even have a foundation left at all. “It used to be an old skate park,” Staples said. “I met some great skaters there. Ray Barbee, Jeremy Wray. I met Tony Hawk, too. I was probably 15 at the time and I was stoked.”
The last stop of note is the infamous Early Bird Tavern. It’s a low roofed, white, stained cinderblock building with metal bars over each tiny window with the name “Early Bird” painted in block lettering on the sides. Rust streaks drip down from the bars and vines are slowly trying to retake what was once a thriving biker bar. There’s even a song about the Early Bird on ‘American Soft.’
“I never went inside,” Staples said. “I always wanted to though. The song is about that show ‘Cheers,’ where everybody knows your name—at least that’s what I imagine it to be like in there.”
Our tour of the town comes to an end just as the last bit of daylight slips away and Staples said, “I have a pretty quiet life here. It’s pretty sweet.”
WHAT: Chris Staples with Paloma and The Grenadines
WHEN: 9 p.m. Friday, March 1
WHERE: The Handlebar, 301 N. Tarragona St.