Rock ‘n’ Roll with mixed vibes between vintage and modern to produce one of a kind music. The Canada-based artist, Rich Chambers, is here to rock! He has released numerous albums and successful singles throughout the years, with diversity as no track is like the other. His latest single, “I Wonder,” was released on November 29th, with light and upbeat vibes. We had the opportunity to chat with him and discuss his music.
● What are the parallels and contrasts between academic Rich Chambers and musician Rich Chambers in terms of the educational and musical life? Do you see a difference in your personality between the two phases?
I have never been asked this before. What an extremely interesting and thoughtful question. Thank you. I often see that there are two distinct sides to my personality. There is the “rough around the edges,” kind of crass and impulsive me, and then there is the analytical, thoughtful, and higher-level thinking me. But where it really becomes quite interesting is that upon first glance, one might automatically think the rougher me is all about the music and propels my songs forward, while the more sophisticated me is what drove me to attain a master’s degree and has me now working in academia. The wonderful truth is that both sides of me equally drive and influence all areas of my personality and their accompanying thoughts and motivations, and ultimately all aspects of who I am. So, to answer your question more directly, the parallels and contrasts of the two sides of me are essentially one in the same. I am so thankful for this as I believe it has helped to make me a much more rounded person, which has spilled over into my songs to help give me a certain depth to my songwriting that would not exist otherwise.
● Is music your full-time career or do you have a daily job?
Music is my full-time passion but my full-time job is at a local university where I write and edit government accountability and accreditation reports. But starting two years ago, when I had my personal epiphany to go all in with music, the music side of things has been slowly and steadily been growing into a full-time job as well. I have gotten so heavily into writing, recording, producing, marketing, and promoting my music that it has now gotten to the point where I essentially have two full-time jobs. My goal now is to keep pushing that music to the point where it starts bringing in enough money so that I can quit my day job. I am not there yet, but I know I will get there soon!
● How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
My music really does sit at a crossroads. I have been influenced by so many different genres of music and awesome musicians and bands that it becomes so hard to define me by one genre. A little bit of every musician I have ever listened to or loved seems to be a part of the musical casserole that makes up Rich Chambers. I have straight ahead rock in me, retro rock, rockabilly, classic rock, punk rock, heavy rock, and new wave. I also have huge chunks of country in me from Waylon Jennings, to Vince Gill, to old classic country crooners like Don Gibson. My blues influences are evident and so are bits and pieces of classic, easy listening vocalists such as Dean Martin. Having played in a jazz ensemble in college I became a big fan of various jazz and big band artists, so that is also thrown into the mix. The end result is a “hodge podge” of various styles all coming together to formulate who I am musically and what my music is. The term I have latched onto as being the best way to describe me is “Rock N’ Roll.” This term isn’t used that much anymore, but when it was first coined in the 1950s, it was describing a new form of music that had taken elements of other genres to form its own unique style. So, in keeping with this philosophy, I am dusting off this term and recoining and repurposing it to describe my music. Rich Chambers’ music is Rock N’ Roll for the 2020s.
● I loved how your singles have variety, as each one has a different theme and melody. How do you find the inspiration to write about a certain topic?
Thank you so much for the compliment. I really appreciate it!! Inspiration comes to me in many different forms. I sometimes get blasted with something that catches me in the moment and drives or compels me to write about it, while other times I will simply sit down and consciously decide to write about a certain topic.
Like many musicians, I will often sit down and write about a certain struggle or event I am personally going through to help me kind of make sense of it. Music can be very therapeutic and self-reflective. But I feel very blessed that I also have the ability to literally transport myself into a certain mood and/or mindset whenever I want in order to write about it, and what amazes me is the music that comes out of me when I do this, is no less meaningful and impactful than the songs that come from a deeply personal place. I am so fortunate to be able to recognize organic inspiration when it hits and to create moments of inspiration whenever I want.
● Do you find a topic and write the lyrics first? Or do you compose music and write what fits its sensations?
I almost always write the music first. The mood I am feeling or have put myself into comes out in the music first, which forms the backdrop, or skeleton, if you will, of the song. The way the music feels then determines the tone the lyrics will take on. But, on the odd occasion I have come up with a cool line first that a song formulates around. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the results are usually pretty darn good. My first original Christmas song was written this way. I was thinking to myself that if Santa Claus had a rock n’ roll band then Frosty would most definitely be the bassman, and then I figured that Rudolph would make a great drummer and that they would be the rhythm section to “Santa’s Rockin’ Band.” The lines and concept were too cool for me to ignore, so I found a melody that fit around those lines. But generally speaking, the music almost always comes first.
● Which one is more fun for you, the writing, or the recording process?
I love them both equally! I also want to add the mixing and mastering process into this question as well because I love it just as much as the other two. I am hugely fortunate to have been able to set myself up with a pretty good home studio. This has allowed me to sit down and do whichever of these three things I feel like doing on any given day.
Each song is like my own baby of sorts. The inspiration and creation of it is its birth, the recording of the song is its childhood, and the mixing and mastering is its transition into adulthood and heading off into the world on its own. Each stage, like that of one’s child, is absolutely amazing to experience, nurture, and partake in, and if you have done everything right, then when it hits adulthood, you take a step back and marvel in the moment as a proud parent.
● Your latest release, “I Wonder,” is enjoyable! I disagreed with you about describing it as a “Guilty Pleasure” as I found it meaningful somehow, but I get why, after listening to the rest ofthe singles. Even so, it’s still something, to spend some musical time with friends, so take us behind the scenes of the single’s creation.
You know, you are not the first to disagree with me on the impact and meaning of “I Wonder.” I guess because myself and my bandmates were all about having fun the day we wrote the song, I tend to kind of downplay the meaningful impact the lyrics that we came up with that day have. But the more I look at the song, and the feedback I receive, I am beginning to rethink my perspective on it. Perhaps we were onto something more than we realized that day. It just goes to show that sometimes a song can become more than what the writer initially conceived. Anyway, here is a quick snapshot of the genesis of the song.
“I Wonder,” is a song that is very special to me because it comes from a wonderful place. It is the result of a joint writing effort with myself and my previous band, Half-Hour Late, which was made up of some of my closest friends on the planet, Todd Foxcroft, Jeff Warren, Sean Gemmill, and Jim Gemmill. We were rehearsing one night, and in between songs we started chatting about all things and everything, as was always the case amongst the five of us, and for whatever reason, I started into the basic chord progression that constitutes the song. There was nothing flashy about it. It was and is a very basic three-chord progression, but there was something about the way I was playing it and the sound that I had going that inspired our bass player Todd to just declare “I Wonder.” From there Sean, Jim, and I started a gang singalong of that same phrase. Jeff kicked the drums in and Todd started screaming lyrics to answer the rest of us gang singing the phrase “I Wonder.” A minute or two later, Sean broke into the descending guitar riff that is featured predominantly throughout the song and we then knew we had ourselves something pretty cool. We then dedicated the next while to finishing the song construct and the lyrics. It all happened very quickly and organically. It was a very cool moment!
● “Those who know me, know that I often talk about how personal songwriting is or how I am often trying to reflect upon some aspect of the human condition and/or experience in a song.” You said. Which single would you consider the most personal as you poured your heart out into it?
This is a great question, and I do have to remind myself to limit the answer to my current singles, none of which actually constitute my most personal moments of songwriting. Those songs will be coming later. But having said that, there are still some very personal and personally meaningful elements of the singles I have released so far. Of my current releases, “High School Can’t Last Forever” is definitely my most personal.
“High School Can’t Last Forever” is a song that literally percolated within me for more than 25 years before I actually completed it. I came up with the basic melody and chorus in my 20s. The premise behind the song has always been the notion that innocence is really in the mind of each individual, and that one’s approach toward life and their own personal perspective is what truly matters and not their actual age. I had it right in my 20s, but it wasn’t until just recently that I could truly understand what I was starting to say then. Only now, at this point in my life, with more years behind me than in front of me, and an attitude and perspective that is still as young and optimistic as ever, can I truly say, with conviction, that innocence is just a state of mind.
● What do you like most about live performances? And is there any amusing incident that occurred on or off the stage?
Live performing is so much fun! I haven’t done much of it in a few years now (Covid definitely did not help), but I am looking to get back into it. I am currently in talks regarding some live shows in Washington and Oregon state this summer, so that will be a lot of fun. Playing live is very different than recording though. Live is more about the moment and the show whereas recording is more about precision and accuracy. I definitely love them both but I also approach them each very differently.
Holy cow, I could go on and on with fun events that have happened throughout my years of performing live, many of which probably aren’t printable, mind you! Lol! But I do recall one particular evening our band was playing at a university frat house and we started to notice one guy who was trying particularly hard to gain the favor of one young, very attractive lady. He kept trying to ask her to dance and she kept shutting him down. Eventually, after I don’t know how many attempts, she finally said yes. I am not sure if she felt sorry for him or was just so fed up with his attentions that she finally agreed to dance with him. Regardless, he didn’t care. He was simply beyond happy to be dancing with this beautiful young lady.
When we finished the song, we expected them to part ways, but they didn’t, and instead, remained on the dance floor together for the next dance, which was the last song of our set and a slow one at that. This surprised all of us. We were even more surprised when, at the end of our set, she took out a pen and scribbled something on his hand. Our bass player called him over and asked him what had just happened. He proudly showed this woman’s phone number to our bass player and walked off feeling on top of the world. We were all shocked that such a quick turnaround in her resolve had just taken place, but there it was!
About twenty minutes later we started up our next set. A couple of songs in, I noticed our “phone number” friend proudly displaying his prize from the attractive lady to all of his friends. He was pretty much feeling on top of the world from what I could see. Our bass player noticed him as well, and at the end of the song, we had been playing decided to go off our regular setlist and told us that we needed to break into Tommy Tutone. Tommy Tutone? That call surprised the rest of us, but we rolled with it and followed our bass player. I was singing lead for that song and when I hit the chorus I saw our “phone number” friend stop dead in his tracks. His face dropped as he looked at the scribbling on his hand and then up at me. He paused for a moment, and then when I sang the chorus one more time, “867 5309,” the realization of what had just happened to him truly hit home. To this day, I still feel sorry for the “phone number” guy, but it sure as heck makes for one helluva funny story!
● We would like to know more about your plans for the foreseeable future.
I am very excited about what I have happening for the rest of 2022. My next release, coming out at the beginning of April, is my version of the Beatles classic, “I Saw Her Standing There.” This is going to be followed every 8-12 weeks with new singles and videos throughout the year. I also will be putting together my first full non-Christmas album sometime this year, which is also quite exciting. I will be starting to perform at various shows and festivals this summer. I will be also ramping up marketing and promotion campaigns for all of my music this year. One huge goal that I am determined to reach this year is to perform live on a late-night show such as Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon. I have more than three albums worth of original material that is written and ready to be recorded and released. I am excited for the future, to say the least!
● Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude for your time. Care to give the last word?
Huge thanks for the opportunity to talk with you! I really appreciated it! As for the last word, I would like to leave with a note of encouragement. I am huge on following one’s passions and committing to doing something that is important to you, so I would encourage everyone to listen to their hearts and follow those dreams and passions. Life is too short not to!
Follow Rich Chambers on