Meet: Chris Tapp of the Cold Stares Answers Our Questions

Alex Morgan

With the band having just released their finest album to date with Heavy shoes, (read our review here). We managed to get a little time with guitarist and singer Chris Tapp, to find out how they have coped with the pandemic, life as a duo and how a track develops within the band.

First off. How are you guys doing during this current situation? How has the pandemic affected the band? Any messages for your fans? 

 We are great, very happy to finally be playing shows again and to see the release of “Heavy Shoes” finally coming. Like everyone else I think the pandemic just threw us for a loop. 2020 was slated to be a huge year for us, and the rug got pulled out from beneath our feet. Having said that, if you don’t learn to pivot and adapt, you’ll never be successful and we have a pretty good history of overcoming obstacles. 2021 has been fantastic, and 2022 will be even better for us. 

For people who may not be familiar with the band. Can you introduce us to the band and tell us a little about how you formed and why you chose the style that you play?

 We’ve been playing close to ten years now. We play rock and roll with a blues influence, and an emphasis on story telling. We played in a band prior to this one together that had some success but never felt like home, and I think we were catering to the record company. When we started this band, we both agreed to only play what is the most natural to us. We didn’t choose to play this style, or write this style of songs, it’s just who we are if we are being ourselves. My songwriting influences have always ranged from Son House to Sabbath. 

How do you find peoples reaction to you guys being a duo? What was the reason for keeping it just the two of you and not having a bigger band? Was it just a national progression?

It’s funny most of the time if it’s a crowd that doesn’t know us, or hasn’t heard us live. I think the expectation is always low when you see just two guys walk on stage. Early on I think people might think we are gonna do some folky thing, but when the set comes on and we sound massive that certainly worked to our advantage. Nowadays, more people have heard of us and have an expectation from reading a review or whatever that we sound big live. And that’s cool too, trying to build some mystique that two guys on stage can sound like 4 without loops and tracks etc., and still be a live performance. We never intended to be a two piece, or really even a band, it just happened. Once I figured it out sonically, it also provided a unique template to write songs in, and it defined and nurtured who we’ve become.  

When it comes to writing and recording, have you found it restrictive or does it give you more freedom with having just the two of you? 

Live it’s restrictive of course, because there are always limitations if it’s truly going to be a live performance. We are committed to not using tracks and gimmicks. In the studio we never limit ourselves. I want to make the absolute best album I can make and apply whatever instrumentation it takes to get there. Sometimes obviously you can reproduce the organ or percussion live, so it forces us to be creative and rewrite sections. We are two different animals from in the studio to live, but I like that- and I would like that from a band I followed. I don’t want to see some band performing their album exactly how it was recorded in perfect cd quality, I already have that. I want to see a band take me on a trip of turns and surprises that are outside what I’ve already paid for. We try to do that, and it’s fun because we have two different avenues to explore creatively. 

How does a track develop between you two? Where do you get your inspirations from? How do you set about exploring various emotions and themes? Do they come up naturally or do you make a plan? 

 I usually bring a song in these days fairly completed and then Brian writes drum parts, and we arrange it together and add or subtract things. Sometimes we just jam, and a section forms that I go home and write lyrics over, but 99% of the music these days I’m writing and we then work it out together live. I think by playing together as long as we have, I already know what Brian will probably play which is helpful when writing. Also, we work very well together if we want to go outside what we’ve already done and explore something different which we did on this album on tracks like “In The Night Time” and “Dust in My Hands” for example. 

How do you feel about the consumption of music being so heavily on the side of streaming rather than physical? Do you feel you have had better exposure because of it? 

I don’t love the artist streaming royalties, that’s tough to swallow and I’m hopeful that those numbers change in favor of the artists. It’s nothing new, and always been a battle to get those making the art the percentage they deserve. However, without streaming we would not be big in Brazil, or Sweden. So it’s a give and take. We go into a city across the world from us that we’ve never played before and people come up and say “we found you on this Apple playlist”, or “You were suggested to us on Spotify”. So it’s works both ways. We just did a sold out tour run through Sweden and Denmark and sold a crazy amount of Vinyl every night. So it’s great that physical still sells, and the challenge for bands is how to use streaming and the reach it provides to turn the physical things you sell into enough profit to make up the streaming deficit. Again, pivot and innovate or you become a dinosaur.  

Outside of the music, what do you guys like to do? What keeps you busy? 

We both have kids, and we both teach music as well. We both love film and the arts, Brian loves Jeeps, traveling and camping outdoor stuff, I’m into history, photography, motorcycles and cars. 

Are there any bands past or present you would love to have played with or even been part of? Is there a particular band that got you into music?

So many for both of us. Brian loves jazz and progressive music, my passion is early blues and folk music. I would have loved to have worked with Jimmy Page or been a fly on the wall in early turn of the century rural Mississippi to hear some of my heroes perform. Brian would be more likely to be side stage watching some of the jazz greats or in the studio watching Steely Dan track. 

Difficult to talk about future plans, but what does the future look like?

Tour and work our asses off to support the new album. We’ve put a ton of work into the album, the artwork, and we really want it to be heard. Midwest tour in the states in August. Aftershock festival in October supporting Metallica, European tour in October following. More states touring and then back to Europe in the spring to tour and record the following album. 

Lastly what music are you digging right now? Any bands or artists you think deserve a little more recognition?

We are friends with so many artists now I’m hesitant to mention any for fears of leaving some out. There’s so much good music coming out right now if you doing a little work looking. I’m very happy and excited that we are seeing the return of more traditional rock and blues with a new energy and spin, and hoping that our contribution to the movement helps for the next generation to continue as well. 

Check out the bands track 40 Dead Men, below:

Find out more via the bands Website or Facebook

Order the album here

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