Today’s Feature – July 18-19: The Low Stars

July 19, 2008 at 7:28 pm (Today's Feature)

Fortunately for all of us, Chris Seefried, Jeff Russo and Dave Gibbs of the LA-based Low Stars found each other naturally – nothing forced, nothing manufactured. Just a group of talented guitar-swinging vocalists who happened to know one another, and by chance blend together as wonderfully as legendary acts such as Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Eagles.

These guys are making melodies that borrow bits of the musical past that people want to remember. They’re not the only ones who miss the vocal harmonies and guitar rhythms of years ago – just look at their loyal following or inside any Starbucks – their album was released on Hear Music through Starbucks in February of 2007. Part of their formula that has led to so much success is the fact they capture the truth of the music within the studio. Chris Seefried states “When I make records, I try to get as much live performing on tape as possible. Guys playing in a room together as opposed to overdubbing everything, which has become commonplace because of the home studio and one man band concept. With Low Stars, we always track the vocals live, get a good take and then double it live around one mic� They really do give the recording a lot of magic and life.”

These guys are in constant collaboration with other artists, so you may find it tough to catch em’ all together on one stage. If you caught that Springsteen tribute at Carnegie Hall though, then you would have seen the trio (receiving a standing ovation). Keep and eye out for more work from The Low Stars, as well as side projects such as Seefrie’�s work with Jay Nash, Joey Ryan and Rosanne Cash as well as supporting his solo record, “Denim Blue.” Get into the XXQ�s to learn so much more.

XXQs: The Low Stars

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Having been involved in music for a very long time, how and when did you first get started playing music solo, and then into a band setting with The Low Stars?

The Low Stars � Chris Seefried (CS): I started playing in a band in 5th grade on Long Island where I grew up and played with some of the same guys all through high school, Gary DeRosa being one of them. We both moved into Manhattan and formed a duo. I’d play some solo gigs on Bleaker Street but mostly worked with Gary as a duo, with him playing keyboards and me playing guitar. The Duo got signed in England to Chrysalis Records and did two singles and one album that fortunately never came out!

After that I started the band, Gods Child, with Gary and got signed to Warner Brothers. The first record “Everybody” came out and we moved to LA to record the second album, �Aluminum.” Warner Brothers didn’t pick up our next album, so I started working on new music which became most of the songs on the first Joe 90 record called “Dream This,” which we released on Adam Duritz�s record label through Geffen.

We toured a lot with Counting Crows and the Dave Gibbs band, Gigolo Aunts, who were label mates of ours. This is how I got to know Dave.

I then started working on my first solo record. I was moving away from layered rock records and started writing and recording more organic singer/songwriter stuff. As I got close to completing “Denim Blue,” I started playing shows at Hotel Caf� in LA and Dave Gibbs. We got more into singing and playing together and started talking about doing an acoustic harmony type group around these songs. And that’s how Low Stars got it’s start.

PEV: Born and raised in New York, but now calling the west coast home, what kind of music where you listening to growing up?

CS: I started on a steady record buying diet of Beatle 45’s and albums as a kid and then got into FM radio, which was rock radio. There is a station on Long Island called WBAB that played a lot of East Coast artists, like Lou Reed, Patty Smith and BOC , that you never hear on the radio in LA. And artists like Bruce and Billy Joel are never not on the radio in NY!

PEV: When and where was your first live performance? How have you changed since that first one?

My first big shot was in the assembly hall of my elementary school. I wrote my first songs for this group and we played some cool covers. Our keyboard player was actually really accomplished for a 6th grader so we played “Light My Fire” by the Doors and let him solo for an hour. I remember I would fake the G to A chords because my hand would start to hurt. We had 3 guitar players and no bass player!

I’m basically the same guy, just taller.

PEV: Tell us about your latest work. What can fans expect from it?

I just produced Jay Nash’s new record “The Things You Think You Need,” which is fantastic! Jay has a great voice and is an all around good dude! David Immergluck and Charlie Gillingham of Counting Crows played on it along with me, Jeff Russo and Dave Gibbs of Low Stars. It’s got a real good vibe. I also just finished the Low Stars recording of “One Step Up,” the Bruce Springsteen song we performed ant Carnegie Hall last year for the Springsteen tribute. For the recording, Chris Hillman of The Byrds and Burrito Brothers came in and played beautiful mandolin.

PEV: How is your work as a solo artist and with The Low Stars different from other music out today?

CS: When I make records, I try to get as much live performing on tape as possible. Guys playing in a room together as opposed to over-dubbing everything, which has become commonplace because of the home studio and one man band concept. With Low Stars, we always track the vocals live, get a good take and then double it live around one mic. This is what David Crosby called air mixes. They really do give the recording a lot of magic and life.

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

CS: I always write in a quiet place, usually in my studio in the back of my house in LA. Writing comes from experience, so you gotta live to write. Songs will come from the band I just saw, the person I just met, the movie I just watched , the book I read, the conversation I just had with my wife, my daughters opening salvo in the morning, anything can trigger it. You see all these screen-writers in LA sitting in coffee shops with their lap tops, so much of what is written down comes from what people say as they come and go. I do this too, transcribing. People say and do the most outrageous things, you can’t make this shit up!

PEV: What is your take on the current mainstream music scene today?

CS: I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream music but I like that MySpace and other social networks have evened the playing field for a lot of good artists. There is always an underground scene and that’s always where the real shit is.

PEV: How has your musical styling changed since your first years in music or over the years?

CS: I’ve always been a singer who plays guitar, that’s my identity. I started with The Beatles, then got into the Stones and found out about Elvis and country and blues through these artists. Growing up, our house keeper used to play the NY oldies station (1950’s music) and she would bring me all these great do-op records, 45’s , so I got deep into singing harmony, listening to these records. Around college I got into mining Motown and Philly soul, and Stax. In NYC, I got into garage bands, punk and psychedelic music and then got into hip hop and making collage records. I had a studio in the Westbeth building in the west village but the room was small, so we’d cut loops. This was around “Paul’s Boutique,” so I was trying to do that with rock records. That led to the first “Gods Child” record, “Everybody.” In LA I got inspired by singer/songwriter stuff and California country while studying English and American folk music at the same time which lead me to bluegrass and playing live with Rosanne Cash. So I’m always changing my thing but all the influences are always in the room. Music is such an enjoyable endless study.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio. What was going through your head?

CS: I live here.

PEV: What is “road life” like for you? What are the best and worst parts?

CS: The shows are the best part obviously, that’s why we’re out there. But on the last “Low Stars” tour, I remember being in the bus, in the jump seat, late afternoon as the sun turned orange and purple. Gibbs was DJ-ing and filling my glass with outrageously good Pinot noir that he’d brought from home and we were talking about our favorite records… That was pretty good.

PEV: In all your travels and having lived overseas, which city (International or US) do you think offers the best music scene?

CS: I don’t know, but NY is still the best city on Earth.

PEV: Who is currently in your CD player right now?

CS: I just saw “Shine A light,” which amazed me. Mick Jagger is Muhammad Ali! Keith was always my stone and Brian, but Mick really has no rival at the front man position. Great singer, still, great writer, tireless, unreal performer, he’s the best. It made me go back and get into the Stones, so today I had “Aftermath” on in the house. The car is usually filled with stuff I’m working on.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band that you think we should all be listening to?

CS: Jay Nash.

PEV: Having played with several elite artists in the business, who would you wish to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

CS: David Crosby.

PEV: What do your friends and family think about your musical career?

CS: Well, my friends have their music careers to think about!! My family digs it. My father has an artist’s sensibility, he has good taste and can really hear music. My mother has a writer’s heart. My sister is a designer and has collaborated with me on art work they always encouraged me growing up and still does.

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far? Why?

CS: Playing Carnegie was awesome. We roomed with Bruce and my family was in the audience. We also got a standing ovation, freaky.

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

CS: Hmmmm…

PEV: Where do you think you and the band will be in 20 years?

CS: I’ll be making music as long as I’m here. If I’m gone, I hope someone is listening to it mom.

PEV: What one word best describes Chris Seefried?

CS: Blue, no green.

PEV: So, what is next for you?

Playing solo dates with Jay Nash and Joey Ryan. I’ll play mostly stuff from my just released solo record, “Deninm Blue,” on novatunes.com Artist Directory – NovaTunes Also finishing a new record’s worth of songs, so I’ll be recording them, too. Producing other artists if and when they’ll have me, playing live if and when they’ll have me and playing with my daughter, if and when she’ll have me. Raise a glass!

For more information on The Low Stars, check out www.LowStars.com.

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