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Saturday October 25th 2014

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Music, Motion and the Great Migration

by Sarah K. McCartan

Nearly a decade after the disbandment of his band Twothirtyeight, guitarist, singer and songwriter Chris Staples has packed up his belongings and is headed out on the road again doing what he loves, making music. The art of constantly creating is something that is so familiar to Staples it has become almost as effortless as breathing. As someone who has been songwriting since grade school, the ebb and flow of Staples’ artistry is both motivating and fascinating.

During the time since his move from the Panhandle to the northwest several years back, Staples formed the band Discover America, has played and toured with the band Telekinesis and has managed to release two full-length solo albums. He has now decided there is no time like the present for a third. Kickstarter.com, a virtual funding platform for artists, has been his method of choice for getting this upcoming album off the ground, providing him with a unique way to connect with people and start a buzz.

As he was packing up his apartment and his bags in time to hit the road, the IN was able to catch up with Staples on life, his album in progress and the journey that is his musical migration. This leg of the journey is in the form of a two-week migration tour, alongside another northwesterly solo act Gardening, Not Architecture. Although the migration tour is taking him throughout the country, this tour is one that will ultimately land him right here back at home.

IN: How has living in a place like the northwest enhanced your creative process?
CS: I think the biggest thing has been the Seattle library card I got when I first moved here. They have this huge library downtown with a whole music floor. Their limit of what you can check out is literally 100 things at a time. I got really into early 1930s and 1940s swing. I think having access to all of this music was pretty eye opening for me. It expanded what I was listening to a lot. I don’t know if it’s expanded my writing, but I love listening to music as much as I do writing, playing or performing it.

IN: What have you found inspiring as of late?
CS: I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries. Wait, that sounds pretentious. Don’t put that in there. I do enjoy a lot of jazz. I like the spontaneity of it. I would never have thought I would be this in to it though. Also there is this guy Cornelius who makes music for video games who is also a producer. His stuff is really amazing and kinda spastic. He even records water drops and pitches them into melodies. It is novelty-awkward-funny music.

IN: Are you still enjoying doing the solo thing musically right now?
CS: Playing with a group is not a reality right now, but I really do love the collaborative aspect of making music with people and what you can do with three or four instruments. There was this time in Twothirtyeight when we were writing for our album “You Should Be Living” and practicing four to five days a week. Everything we were doing sounded like we were at a concert. I felt like it wasn’t even something I was doing. It went over the edge into something else. I don’t get that feeling from playing music by myself. I would definitely love to get to that point with other musicians again.

IN: What point are you at with this new album as far as writing goes?
CS: I have four songs finished. Sometimes I write and record at the same time and that will be it. Not sure if that’s normal at all or not. I have never written on the road but this time I am going to try and write everyday somehow. Basically my plan is to get to Florida, unwind and spend all my time working on finishing this album.

IN: And no label this time?
CS: No label at this time. I feel like labels are important and can do a lot for you, but there are so many resources available to independent artists currently. It’s a good time to be doing it alone.

Once Staples lands in Florida for the closing leg of his tour he will be playing a house show alongside additional local music acts. The show is to be reminiscent of a so-called songwriter’s circle that happened in Pace the last time Staples was here two Decembers ago. Staples will be here to stay well into the first of the new year, finishing writing and recording his new album, then hopefully setting back out on another tour. From there, we will have to wait and see where the migration takes him.

CHRIS STAPLES HOUSE SHOW
WHAT: Chris Staples and Gardening, Not Architecture, with Gio Lugo (Paloma), Heath Underwood (El Cantador) and more TBA
WHEN: 8p.m., Saturday Dec.10
WHERE: 9 E. Strong St.
COST: $5
DETAILS: tinyurl.com/themigrationtour or chrisstaplesmusic.com