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Chris Staples – “Park Bench” video/Q&A

Chris Staples
photo by Kyle Johnson

Chris Staples returned this year with his latest solo album, Golden Age, on Barsuk. He’s on tour now with Rocky Votolato (who’s celebrating the 10th anniversary of Makers), and hitting NYC’s Mercury Lounge this Friday (9/16) (tickets). All remaining dates are listed below.

Chris also has a new video for “Park Bench,” which makes its premiere in this post. He also answered a few questions about that video, the new album, his old band Twothirtyeight and more. (Spoiler: Don’t expect Twothirtyeight to reunite again, but do expect an odd story involving Chris Carrabba and an engagement ring.) Watch the video and read on for that Q&A…

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We’re premiering the video for “Park Bench,” which takes place on a beach with you, your guitar, and a dancer. How’d the concept for the video come together?

My friend Ings produced the video. She’s a great songwriter based in Seattle and a generally very creative and funny person. The song is about the the unexpectedness of death. I thought it would be cool to film in a beautiful and surreal location. We went to the beach in Oregon which to me felt like a place halfway between earth and the afterlife. I’m in a white tux. I wanted to suggest that this guy maybe was driving home from a wedding and and died unexpectedly. Lorraine Lau is the dancer and a good friend of Ings. She’s a talented dancer and well respected in the Seattle dance community.

Did that guitar survive getting emerged underwater?

Yes, I had planned on smashing it after the shoot. But I really couldn’t bring myself to smash a guitar. Something about that feels wrong to me. I mean, this guitar could sit in the corner of someones living room and some kid might pick it up and play on it. I learned on an old guitar my parents had. That wouldn’t have happened if some dork smashed it. I put it out on the curb in front of my house and some lady took it within five minutes. Go inspire someone, little guitar.

On the title track, “Golden Age,” you sing, “Be honest with yourself, it wasn’t all that great.” What was inspiring you to critique the idea of a golden age?

I think it’s easy to idealize your own past in an unhealthy way. The good ole’ days or whatever. Our memories are selective, and the way we experience moments is so subjective. There is always a mixture of good and bad things happening. I think it’s easy to assign too much significance to things in your past. Nothing good or bad that’s happened to you was planned. You are not that important in the cosmic sense. Take yourself less seriously and life gets easier. This idealization of the past is seen in the “Make America Great Again” campaign which we all know to be bullshit.

You’re from Florida originally but you’ve been living in Seattle and recording for Seattle label Barsuk for a while now. The new album feels very much like a classic Barsuk/Pacific Northwest indie rock album — how much would you say the music is informed by that environment?

I would say there are some obvious Seattle bands to the people living outside of Seattle. There is actually a lot more music happening here under the surface. There is a big jazz scene here and it sort of creates a lot of really interesting hybrid bands. Thats been an exciting pocket of Seattle to explore. There is a lot of good folk, and electronic and prog music too. I’m not sure how it really has affected my writing. Many of my current influences are from other parts of the country so I would say not that much. Also there are probably ten solid venues booked every night of the week with touring bands. I would say living in Seattle opened me up to the music of the world rather than informing me in any sort of regional way.

In 2012 you briefly reunited Twothirtyeight. Do you ever consider reuniting again?

No, I’m not interested in doing that at all. I don’t want to make that music anymore, and we won’t make another record so there is no real point. It would be a pretty big detour from what I’m doing currently.

While we’re talking about Twothirtyeight, I know you guys had somewhat of a relationship with Further Seems Forever and Chris Carrabba back in the day. Are you still in touch? Any interesting stories of working with those guys before Chris blew up?

I have not talked to Chris in a long time. He hung out while we were recording the Regulate The Chemicals record and sang BGVs on a song or two. He was engaged at some point but it didn’t work out so he had this engagement ring he didn’t want. He gave it to Kevin Woerner (our guitar player) and Kevin used it to propose to his wife. I always though that story was sort of odd and memorable.

Chris Staples — 2016 Tour Dates
09.13.16 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe supporting Rocky Votolato
09.14.16 – Philadelphia, PA@ Johnny Brenda’s supporting Rocky Votolato
09.15.16 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott supporting Rocky Votolato
09.16.16 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge supporting Rocky Votolato
09.17.16 – Washington, DC @ DC9 supporting Rocky Votolato
09.19.16 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Local 662 supporting Rocky Votolato
09.20.16 – Orlando, FL @ The Backbooth supporting Rocky Votolato
09.22.16 – Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s supporting Rocky Votolato
09.23.16 – Ft. Worth, TX @ The Live Oak supporting Rocky Votolato
09.24.16 – Austin, TX @ The Parish supporting Rocky Votolato
09.27.16 – Albuquerque, NM @ Low Spirits supporting Rocky Votolato
09.28.16 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge supporting Rocky Votolato
09.29.16 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress supporting Rocky Votolato
09.30.16 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah supporting Rocky Votolato
10.01.16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater supporting Rocky Votolato
10.03.16 – San Luis Obispo, CA @ SLO Brew supporting Rocky Votolato
10.04.16 – Reno, NV @ The Holland Project supporting Rocky Votolato
10.05.16 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill supporting Rocky Votolato
10.07.16 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios supporting Rocky Votolato
10.08.16 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern supporting Rocky Votolato
10.22.16 – London, United Kingdom @ Sebright Arms
10.23.16 – Derby, United Kingdom @ The Hairy Dog
10.24.16 – Glasgow, United Kingdom @ The Hug and Pint
10.25.16 – Eccles, United Kingdom @ Eccles
10.26.16 – Brighton, United Kingdom @ The Greys
10.30.16 – Freiburg, Germany @ Swamp
10.31.16 – Augsburg, Germany @ Bedroomdisco
11.02.16 – Berlin, Germany @ Berghain Kantine
11.05.16 – Hannover, Germany @ Lister Turm
11.07.16 – Münster, Germany @ Pension Schmidt
11.08.16 – Gottingen, Germany @ Nörgelbuff
11.09.16 – Cologne, Germany @ Wohngemeinschaft
11.10.16 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Geyser
11.12.16 – Breda, Netherlands @ Mezz
11.13.16 – Apeldoorn, Netherlands @ Gigant

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