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LAist Interview: Chris Crisci of Old Canes
Chris Crisci I Photo courtesy of Cobra Camanda Publicity
In 2001 The Appleseed Cast found themselves in a sticky situation in Germany. Their booking agent had told some promoters at a record store that the band would do an acoustic set. Lead singer, Chris Crisci explains, "Prior even going over to Europe we had had this discussion with our agent. He wanted us to do an acoustic show. We said no. He asked again. We said no. So we get to this record store in Germany, and they were like "So you're playing this acoustic thing?" I was so pissed. How much more clear could we be? But it turns out that people really liked what we were playing." Crisci decided to try out some of the new material he had been writing on the side, and it went really well. So well, he decided to form his own folk side project, Old Canes.Old Canes released their much anticipated (seriously, it took three and a half years for this sucker to be released) sophomore disk, Feral Harmonic, this fall, and believe me it was well worth the wait. Filled with an exuberant energy the album is filled with loud bright folk that expands upon the initial energy from his first album, Early Morning Hymns, and explodes in your eardrums. We caught up with Crisci before his show on Sunday. Here is some of what was said.
Old Canes - Little Bird Courage
What made you pick up an instrument? How old were you?
God, I don't even know. My dad had guitars all over the house. I used to bang on those things all the time, but the first thing I played with any kind of training was the clarinet, which I played up until junior high. Then in high school I played the trumpet and the trombone.
Why did you switch to the trumpet?
My older brother played trumpet pretty much from second grade on, and I think I wanted to play because of him. I never liked clarinet that much anyway. Then in high school I was in a jazz ensemble class that needed a trombone, so I switched over to trombone. Then at sixteen I decided I wanted to play guitar.
So when did you decide to take on Old Canes as a side project?
Well, that was the first time that I had played it for an actual audience and people really dug it and were encouraging me to record it. So when Appleseed went on hiatus I started recording the first record. Old Canes was kind of be a an outlet for me to do whatever I wanted it to. There were definitely much appreciated contributions that my friends made but 95%of it was mine.
Why was there a three and a half year gap between your first album and this one?
Well, I wrote a song when I had time. It's not like I was huddled in my basement for three years, working tirelessly. Every weekend I would put in a couple hours until a year ago when I actually start getting everyone over and recording parts. I would say for the first three years, I worked on it about a month's worth a time a year.
Where did you record it?
In my basement on some cheap recording equipment. It sprung from having a budget. A really small recording budget. It was slightly bigger than last time, though. The last time the deal I had with the record company was, "Buy me an eight track tape machine. If you don't like what I give you then you can resell it. No risk to you." (laughs) So that's where it stemmed from. I really enjoy recording in my basement. I also enjoy not paying $500- $700 dollars a day for a studio. It's nice to be able to tinker around and not have to worry about achieving a vision in a week.
What lessons did you learn recording the first record that you applied to the second?
Well, I've been recording since I was fifteen, but it was the first time that I had really produced a record. It was nice to record a record just for itself and not because I was trying to achieve something.
Where did you get the name the Old Canes?
There is a band called Ten Grand and this guy named Bob, who's in that band, named it. I was pretty far along in recording the four song demo and I didn't have a name yet, so I was asking everyone what would they call their folky side project. I got a lot of really stupid names, but Bob came up with Old Canes. I made sure he was cool with me taking the name...twice and he said yes.
Chris Crisci I Photo courtesy of Cobra Camanda Publicity
How did you end up at Saddle Creek?
About a year and a half ago, I decided that I wanted a new label. Not because I don't love Second Nature as a label, but I owed him money for the first record. We were kind of at an impasse. He had bailed me out on the road and he couldn't afford to print CDs. I wasn't going to tour without CDs, so I started shopping around for a new label who could take on the debt and the compensation. He'd still make money off the CDs too it would just also be attached to someone else. The first label that I asked was Saddle Creek. They're just such a wonderful label, and I was really lucky and they agreed to do it. What inspired "Little Bird Courage"?
I wrote it in my basement. There is a cute little story that's going around in a few different reviews that says that I was singing it to my wife when I wrote it. Which is adorable, but completely untrue. It is a lot about her, but it's not like I was singing to her as she was standing in the corner. She's on it, though.
She's singing in that song?
Yeah, she hates when I tell people that. She doesn't like the attention. She told me when I was writing the credits, "Don't put my name in there." But I was like, "You have to be in there. You're a singer. You deserve props for what you did."
"Trust" is a very dark song about how you can't trust anyone including your own family. Who did you write that about? What sort of day were you having?
I have a son. He just turned one last month and and I was writing the first few lines with him in mind. It's just kind of a warning. It shouldn't be taken too seriously. The song kind of took a very paranoid point of view. It's written by someone who is so paranoid that they missing out from the positive things in life. The song is a warning about not letting fear control your life. You've also got to understand that my songs are written with heavy dose of fiction.
What was the worst show you ever played?
That's easy. Baltimore, 2004 right when the album was coming out we played at this place called Autobar. The two other bands that played didn't promote the show at all. They didn't bring anybody and they were local! There's no excuse for that. So I got very drunk and it was just me and Junior playing drums. At one point Junior threw a stick at me because I wouldn't shut up.
What were you saying?
I told everyone to turn around and play pool. I got really surly for no good reason. It was ugly.
What is the weirdest thing you ever seen in the audience?
Does the shows I've played with Appleseed count?
We played a show in Utah. It was pretty early on in our touring days. We had just finished playing and there was this kid that collapsed on the floor screaming. Apparently his girl had just left him and he was so distraught that he lay on the floor and starts screaming. So we stop playing, because we thought he was injured. He was making the most bloodcurdling noise you've ever heard and writhing on the floor. It was horrible.
Jesus. No wonder she left him. Do you have a favorite local band at the moment?
Muscle Worship. They sound somewhere between Polvo and Braidand surf rock.
Okay final question, if you were going to book a gig in Heaven and in Hell who would you have headline?
For Hell I would have Glenn Beck headline, just because I want him there. Him and his whole crew. They can do whatever they want down there. And for Heaven? My family can play that...and everyone else. Fuck it. Everyone else in the world can come to that gig minus Glenn.
Fair enough. Well thank you for talking with us.
Be sure to catch Old Canes at the Viper Room. Tickets are $12.
Boom Boom Satellites at 12am
Old Canesat 11pm
I Will Never Be The Same at 10pm
Sol Giant at 9pm
The Salutation at 8pm
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