For the past 10 years, Chris Bartlett has been writing, recording, and touring relentlessly. His passion for music and tireless work effort have sent him to over 70 countries, sharing the stage with acts like Sugar Ray, Wyclef Jean, and Velvet Revolver. He continues to work as a singer, songwriter and producer out of his studio based in Atlanta, GA and still plays 200 shows per year. We got to catch up and get to know Chris a bit better in the interview below – enjoy!
Entertwine: When did you get your start in music? Was it always something you really wanted to pursue?
Chris: My first pro gig was at a youth theater production when I was 15. I played guitar with a pianist at Theater Macon in my hometown. I played a few shows at local coffee shops and stuff throughout highschool but didn’t really start taking it seriously until I got to college. From then on it was a struggle with trying to find a job I didn’t hate to make a living. I did everything ñ managed restaurants, repo’d cars, sold insurance, I was even a prison guard for a couple of years. I always had a dream to play music, and I was doing it but just as a weekend warrior. It never crossed my mind that I could actually make a decent living playing songs for people. I’m glad I was wrong. I’ve been a full time pro since 2006, and I’ve never looked back and never had to worry about paying the bills.
ET: You have quite the ‘touring history,’ having travelled to over 70 countries and sharing the stage with such big acts! What was this experience like? Any particulars that were a favorite?
C: I never really traveled when I was young, so being on the road for so long was a HUGE learning experience for me ñ and it still is. I think that experiencing different cultures and seeing so much of the world has had a profound impact on my music and my point of view, and I am grateful for that. You can’t really explain what it feels like to tour with some of your heros ñ Gun’s N Roses and Stone Temple Pilots were both major influences on my music growing up, so to get a chance to work with those guys in VR was a once in a lifetime experience. Probably my favorite memory of them was when we played the 944 Magazine Superbowl XLII Party in Phoenix back in 2008. Our bass player Marshall Coats is an absolute monster of a musician and took this ridiculously complex extended solo during our opening set. When we stepped off stage we saw that Duff McKagan (bass player for VR and GnR) was standing sidestage. He looked at Marshall, smirked and gave him the middle finger. It was the most beautiful compliment he could have given, and Marshall beamed for the rest of the night.
ET: If you could describe your sound in a few words, what would those words be?†
C: Natural, a bit unrefined and honest. If I don’t believe in what I’m doing then nobody else will either. The sound? Imagine if Cat Stevens and Tracy Chapman had a baby together, taught it how to sing and play guitar and raised it in the rural south. That’s a weird image, but probably pretty accurate.
ET: What are you currently working on, and how do you plan to keep your music career going at its peak?
C: I always keep a lot of irons in the fire, but now I’m tweaking www.chrisbartlettmusic.com and making it easier to access all of my music and different projects. I’m writing, playing shows in the Central GA area and recording and producing as much as possible before heading out on another international run in late September. I don’t have an actual deadline, but I’m hoping to release another full length record this year. Dogs in the Water was solo acoustic, but I’m thinking about putting together another band before too long. My goal to keep the musical momentum is to take every gig I possibly can. I hate saying no to an opportunity to play or create, be it by myself or with others. I love my job, and I can think of nothing that would make me happier than to do it all of the time. If that keeps me successful in this business, then I’ll be grateful, but success or the lack thereof isn’t going to stop me from doing it either way. So to answer your question, every note I play keeps me at the peak.
ET: How has having a studio in Atlanta to record, produce and meet new artists really helped you along the way?
C: Having your own gear that you are familiar with and you know the ins and outs of is crucial to optimizing your creativity. When it’s time to sit down and write, I can create and produce on the fly, and great music productivity tools get created and improved upon constantly. It’s amazing the amount of work you can put out in a short amount of time now. I have it set up to my workflow – not in a way that’s conducive to taking on too many clients ñ it’s really streamlined. When I do work with other artists it’s usually a total package deal and done remotely ñ they wouldn’t be too impressed by doing a session on site because it’s in form it’s completely utilitarian. No leather chairs, lexan walls or water coolers. There’s nothing pretty about it other than the sound I can get out of it. I know the ins and outs, and keeping it to myself protects that in a way. It’s personal. What I’m really excited about is that with most recent upgrade, Dead Guy Studios is now mobile, and I can carry the most crucial working parts of it with me when I tour. Being able to create while on the road or abroad is going to open up a lot of possibilities and hopefully allow me to be even more productive in the future.