INTERVIEW: CHRIS TRAPPER

Singer/Songwriter Chris Trapper has been building quite an audience with his rock and roll sensibilities over the years across the nation and the pond. Even though he does not fit the average folk singer mold, he definitely illustrates his free willing to touch on any genre and make it sound appealing. He survived the storm in the music industry—from the newest technologies to the lame and just bland music that is forced fed to us and now has readied a very personal record called Technicolor. It’s a colorful ode to his mother, the way Chris remembered her—“She was like Technicolor to my black and white world,” says Trapper fondly about his mother.

Trapper brings the music of Technicolor to Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on Saturday May 31.

Why did you name your new album Technicolor? What is the inspiration behind the album, itself?

My mother passed about a year and a half ago, and when I was thinking about all the things she had seen in her lifetime I realized that she saw photos, movies and television go from black and white to color, which nowadays may seem trivial, but back then was miraculous. And her persona was very colorful. She was my number one supporter in music, had six kids, smoked two and a half packs a day, drank six to eight beers a night, and just lived life to the fullest until she was 80 years old. I never saw her get old. She lived until she dropped, and to me, she was like Technicolor to my black and white world. The record was meant to honor her, in a joyful way.

This album has a very relaxed vibe to it. Did you intend it to be that way? Where did you record it?

I recorded it in Boston with a producer named Brad Young, who’s recorded a bunch of my solo records. Honestly, all I knew about the recording going into it consisted of who the players would be, and what the studio was. Aside from that, you never know what you’re going to get, because you’re always creating your own recipe when you’re recording original material. There’s no blueprint for how it will sound. Usually the recording tries to suit the vibe of the songwriting, and the songwriting is an extension of the vibe of the songwriter. The only thing I really try to achieve in the studio is to create something that sounds beautiful. There are enough artists who are good at creating art that is turbulent, angry and caustic. My job is to try to create beauty.

How was recording this album experience different from the last?

Well, on the “Few and Far between”  I had recorded with my old bandmates, the Push Stars, as my backing band, and Dan McLoughlin, our bassist/keyboard player as the producer, so that was very comfortable for me. In fact it was all I knew from 1994 two 2004. I also had Rob Thomas and Colin Hay as guest vocalists on that album.

“Technicolor” is just me. It’s personal. I was trying to bare my soul, with a few guys who live in my neighborhood as the backing musicians. Also, when I record in Boston, there’s a feeling like I’m going to the office. Because I’m sleeping in my own bed at night, so that probably helps to create more of a relaxed feel.

How are you enjoying the touring experience this time around?

I would say that I am the exception to the rule. Usually, as artists mature on the road, they begin to like their job less and less, because it starts out a dream and winds up a reality. As for me, I’ve been enjoying it more and more. Partly because I’m selling more tickets in more places, and also partly because I know what to do, and what not to do. Touring with a rock band can be taxing to the liver and kidneys, and our band was no stranger to indulgence. Now when I tour, I stay in nice hotels, and the wildest I’ll get after the show might be a solo bubble bath. But overall, I feel like I’m living a fantasy when I get paid to sing. I even love driving, meeting new people, and most of all being up there on stage trying to connect with people who might need a connection at any given time.

Your music is crafted ever so well. Would you consider yourself a “folk” singer these days?

I don’t really believe so much in categorizing music. Folk has all kinds of implications and parameters that I’m not sure I fit into, although I wouldn’t mind if I did. I write rock ‘n roll, jazz, country, samba, folk, and other in-between styles. I feel that is the greatest part of being a singer/songwriter, that you can really move through the genres without anybody blinking an eye. There is a lot of leeway. I do consider myself a troubador though, only because I love the word troubador.

Are you satisfied with where you are in your career at this point or are you aiming for Miley Cyrus status?

Ultimately, I feel like I survived the sinking of the Titanic, in that I’m  able to make a living as a songwriter long after my immersion in the traditional music business game has passed. Are there days when I get frustrated when I hear subpar music being mass marketed, and absorbed, by people who don’t know any better? Of course. But when I look at all the cars behind me in the traffic jam, I feel pretty good about myself. I can now show up pretty much everywhere and draw a crowd that is somehow willing to pay to hear me sing. And I think I’ve outlasted many one-hit wonders to the credit of my stubbornness, disillusionment, and perseverance.

If you had told me when I was a teenager, that someday I would be the person I’ve become today, that people would ask for my autograph, or pictures with me, I would’ve thought you were insane. And to me it’s all a lark, a lucky break, and I don’t take one day of it for granted.

Listen to Chris Trapper’s Music here

Words: Robert Frezza