Today’s Feature – June 4-5: Christopher Bell

June 6, 2008 at 12:57 am (Today's Feature)

The next time you see Christopher Bell on the road – by all means offer him a room! Often living out of his car while on tour, Bell considers himself experiencing a mild level of homelessness! Unfortunately, his funds have yet to match his dedication or his talent… but once it does, I’m confident he’ll remember the favor.

Bell, a native of Jamestown New York may not always have a roof over his head, but it doesn’t hinder his musical craft – he’s an artist that understands that some boundaries need to be crossed and that you can’t always catch the feel of a song unless you let it all out. And Bell lets it all out on a variety of subjects, with real life tunes about “small towns, families, and even of a few episodes of MASH.” Combining a rock sound with a folk and blues feel, Bell has now released “I’ll Be Home,” a new collection that contains more instrumentation than any other Christopher Bell work before it. What really allows this record to stand on its own however, is the fact it was made with patience more than anything. The songs on “I’ll Be Home” were allowed to grow on their own – more so than most songs you’ll find on the albums out there today. Its one thing to edit a melody… and another to let it mature.

Stop by a Christopher Bell performance for “random meandering stories which don’t always have a point, bad jokes and strange banter with whatever audience members are paying attention.” And remember to hook him up after the show (Hopefully, you’ll have gotten to know him a little better before then). He’ll be on and off touring for the rest of the year, as well as helping record a few albums. Whose albums? Read the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Christopher Bell

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Was music something that was always around you? What made you first decide to venture into the music business?

Christopher Bell (CB): In the form of the radio and records, it was always around me, but I cannot remember anyone in my childhood playing an instrument.

A Metallica music video first incited my childhood lust for music. An unhealthy obsession followed, with will strengthened by various live shows, and reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull at a young impressionable age.

PEV: What were your first live performances like? Nervous? Anxious? Excited?

CB: Always nervous, although the first solo show was 100 times worse than before as a drummer. It was at a high-school party opening for two metal bands. An odd affair, consisting of a lot of kids wearing black, many of them drunk, confused on why some kid with a guitar was getting up there by himself. I played 20-25 minutes, maybe opening my eyes once, thinking they would hate me and boo me off, but everyone was super supportive. I thus became the emo kid who played with the metal bands for a while.

PEV: Hailing from Jamestown, New York, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?

CB: Preteen – 90’s radio, I remember Billy Joel, REM, Nirvana, B52’s, I was really into the Monkees as a kid, I had 4 or 5 records. Teenage years – after a two year stint with heavy metal I got sucked into the world of emo and 90’s harcore with a bit of punk and ska which eventually evolved into stranger and more obscure bands as time went on.

PEV: From your earlier days to now, how has your styling and musicianship changed over the years?

CB: Compared to years past, I have developed closer ties into folk and blues, I used to sing falsetto a fair bit when I started, not so much anymore.

PEV: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to become more than just a hobby?

CB: I think I might have always known, but just had to convince the rest of me. I think members of various highschool bands always knew though.

PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?

CB: I get such small glimpses of each towns scene, its hard to say, that and I would prefer not to pick a favorite.

PEV: How has “life on the road” been for you? Good parts? Bad parts?

CB: I say I have a great job with horrible pay and a lousy commute, the best I can hope for is better pay. The rest is unchanging. Life on the road becomes more interesting as time progresses. a strange dichotomy exists. I travel alone 99% of the time and its a lot of time to oneself, out of social contact. I consider myself living a mild level of homelessness, living out of my car, depending on the kindness of strangers for places to stay, showers, etc. Its a strange, almost dirty feeling to know you are at the whim of people for housing as I cannot afford hotels. I joke about how I am becoming more and more feral, but there is a bit of truth to that. Always have to remember my manners and social graces. I find touring fairly stressful, as the only constant in touring is the instability. I just try to eat well, exercise, and keep some semblance of a personal life. Even with all of this time alone, there is an extreme lack of privacy. The only sum of it, being between my ears. For a while I developed a huge internal dialogue, but the books on tape have helped calm that down a bit. Its not all bad. I love meeting new people, I love their stories. I know many times I have annoyed people drilling them about details of their job or life. Its so interesting to me on how many different ideas and ways of life there are, but due to the short time I am there relationships tend to fall on the shallow side, a lack of intimacy. Its a spectators life. ALL of that being said, i dont think I could ever quit, I live for this. I love traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, playing music, jamming with other musicians, being able to help people out.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Christopher Bell performance?

CB: Random meandering stories which don’t always have a point, bad jokes and strange banter with whatever audience members are paying attention. Oh, and music.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist out right now that you think we should all be looking into?

CB: That is a dangerous question with me, I can name so many. But the one that intrigues me the most is Greg Slagle, a noise artistcomposer from Jamestown. His lives shows are always fairly intense and he has developed quite a following in jamestown, more than one would think from a noise artist. He is also the one person I would love to collaborate with. We talked of doing some sort of cd-r together in the early spring, but my busy schedule didnt permit the time, hopefully we will get the chance in the summer.

PEV: What can fans expect from your release, “I’ll Be Home”?

CB: I have fans? sweet!

PEV: How has your work “I’ll Be Home” differ from your previous works?

CB: I’ll be home contains far more instrumentation than any previous effort, I took longer on the songs too. For any of my previous EP’s songs were usually 2 months old at time of recording. The oldest song on I’ll Be Home is 2 years old, there was more time to cure and weather.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Christopher Bell?

CB: I was a gymnast for 6 years as a youth and could do a full split.

PEV: When you sit down to write, in what kind of environment do you surround yourself?

CB: Being so mobile, I have never felt the need to set up a specific environment to harbor creativity, i only need an empty house or apt or to know that no one can hear me. I cannot write when I know people are listening.

PEV: You said your music comes from “real life about small towns, families, and even of a few episodes of MASH.” MASH? Care to elaborate on that?

CB: In my previous years in college I was so busy with school I led a fairly uninteresting life. One night the last episode of MASH came on and i was watching it and tinkering with my banjo at the same time, at the end of the episode I felt compelled to write a song about it. Three other songs came after, the four total being : Oh, How We Danced, In Love and War, Tomorrow Brings Us Away, and Goodbye, Farewell, Amen.

PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

CB: I have no life. If I am not on tour I am always booking shows, with the occasional breaks to cook, read, bike, and watch whichever nerdy Sci Fi show I am into at the moment (right now would be Battlestar Galactica)

PEV: Before a show, are there any pre-show rituals you do or is just go out there and perform?

CB: I make sure I have water, have gone to the bathroom recently, my shoelaces are tied and that my hair is ok.

PEV: Any embarrassing or funny live performance stories?

CB: I play two songs written by my old roomate. Once in Savannah, GA after playing one of them, a girl came up to the stage with a phone and said “someone wants to talk to you”, turns out she was the apple of my old roomate’s eye. She had phoned him because she believed he lied about writing those songs.

PEV: In one word, describe Christopher Bell.

CB: Nerd

PEV: So, what is next for Christopher Bell?

CB: Well, I have a few things coming up. I am on tour til July 3rd, but at the end of May am taking a few days off to record a split 7″ with Potential Caskets, in July I am recording my friend Jacinta Whitcome’s new album, August I am doing a canoe tour and in the fall touring with my friend Emily Rose.

For more information on Christopher Bell, check out www.myspace.com/thechrisbell

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1 Comment

  1. weather instrument said,

    Thank for Nice story.Just bookmark now!

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