Saturday, August 15, 2015

Q and A with *AUDRA* of Chaser Eight

Photo: Phil Hovey of Find Your Lights
Edits: Alberto Torres
Chaser Eight is a rock band. But the Connecticut quintet is so much more than that. With the release of their eponymously titled first full length record, Chaser Eight runs a quite impressive gamut of styles, moods, textures and emotions.

The album Chaser Eight will take you on a musical journey with many twists and turns, ups and downs but all with the common thread of good musicians making good songs.

Chaser Eight is made up of frontwoman/lead vocalist/guitarist *AUDRA*, lead guitarist Pat Walsh, bassist Billy Wang, keyboardist/guitarist Aaron Tagliamonte and drummer Pete Giannini. While *AUDRA* and Pat are the songwriters for the band, the full group is what makes it all come together and sound like Chaser Eight.

I recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q and A with *AUDRA*.

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to do this.

Thank you for wanting to hear from us and taking the time to write out questions. Very cool.

Chaser Eight. That’s an interesting name for a band. Can you tell how that name came about?

It’s the craziest story EVER! No, not really. What’s in a name? You tell me. It’s about the music. Not the name. We didn’t want a name that pigeonholed us into any particular style or brand. So we came up with one that means nothing…or everything depending on how you look at it. How it came about? Me. Pat. Guitars. And lots of beer.

You refer to yourselves as a rock band. I would not disagree. But rock is a pretty generic, broad-brush term. In listening to the album Chaser Eight, I hear elements of punk, country, prog rock, classic rock, arena rock, Americana and pop. It’s fairly eclectic, which is one of the things I like about it. So who are biggest musical influences?

Yeah, I guess you can say this last album had a mix of a bunch of different styles. There were definitely some heavier influences on there and that’s the direction we have taken now, but there are still some pop styles woven in. I can’t speak for Pat, but I just write from my heart and whatever comes out, comes out. Pop, classic, arena, it doesn’t matter really. I just want to get the point across. I grew up listening to The Beatles a lot and they always experimented with different styles and sounds. Maybe that’s where it comes from.

You and Pat write all of the songs. Do you write collaboratively, or do you each bring in songs independent of each other?

Mostly it’s independent of each other. We will sit down and flesh out some ideas together to make them stronger, but the bare bones of the song has already been written. We both have very alone processes. I don’t like writing in front of people. It’s a very vulnerable time for me.

When the songs are brought in for the full band, are they finished pieces or are they skeletons waiting to be filled out? And once the songs are brought in, how much influence do the other members have in how the final product sounds?

For my songs, it’s chords and lyrics and the guys come up with the rest. Pat comes up with his lead lines and musical hooks and the rest of the guys fill in around us. For Pat, he usually has the whole song mapped out down to the drums and bass, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change. Everyone is allowed to put their own spin and our songs. All ideas are welcome. Some are taken, some aren’t. So the guys could go from having a ton of influence to none from one song to another.

I grew up when there were two ways to hear music: listening to the radio or purchasing physical copies. Now everything is digital and downloadable. It’s easier to get music out there, but harder to get it noticed. As an independent band, what, in your opinion, are your biggest obstacles?

Well, like you said, it’s getting noticed. It’s hard not to get lost in the sea of other independent DIY musicians out there. Also, you find yourself competing with subpar recordings all the time because every kid with a Mac and ProTools is a producer now. It’s kind of throwing it in the face of the kids, like us, that spend thousands on recording songs in the studio and then having it mixed and mastered properly.

You’ve built a pretty good and loyal following locally and regionally. With social media and the internet there may be random people around the country and around the world who have found you. Do you have a strategy for growing your audience or do you just do what you can and let it happen organically?

Well it’s a mix of letting it happen organically and strategy. The organic part is just our social media reach and how much influence we can have that way. We have a PR company as well that gets us placements all over the place so it continues to spread our name. You yourself are an organic find so to speak. And the strategy was, and still is, to continue to grow our fan base in the Northeast as we continue to push out into the entire Eastern seaboard and then the WORLD, muhahaha. But seriously, we keep growing in Connecticut and are now venturing out to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Philly. Just keep pushing, have the music be on point, and have merch so people remember our names.

The blog on your website has fascinating insight into what you are thinking. In one of your posts a little over a year ago you wrote this:

“Rock is dead. I didn't want to believe it, but it is. True rock that is and especially if you're a woman. The days of Janis Joplin, No Doubt, Garbage, Hole, etc., are over. And that's much to my dismay and sadness. Mostly because girl rockers rule. Seriously.”

With the success of bands like Halestorm, In This Moment and The Pretty Reckless has your stance changed in the last year?

I think it’s still a struggle for women to really make a mark in the rock world. Just the other day I was talking to my parents about Ronda Rousey because I love her and think she’s great. But they are the old school, conservative types and they “don’t like seeing women fight.” Direct quote. Nothing against them. I love my parents, but I feel like it is the same for women rockers. People don’t want to see women on stage spitting, swearing, and slinging a guitar. If a woman is on stage she should be barely dressed and oozing sex. The Joan Jett type rocker, like myself, is either dead or still not widely accepted. It sucks.

Another takeaway from the blog is the idea of gig swapping. I love this idea. Have you been able to take advantage of that at all?

Yes! We love gig swapping. It’s the best thing to do and we are taking more and more advantage of it now. That’s how we want to travel out of state from now on. We want to make sure we are hooking up with other locals with a big following and getting on a great bill. And of course, invite them to a great bill in our area. We are all in this together and with that attitude everyone can help everyone else get to the next level.

You have self-identified as a unicorn chaser. Is it possible to chase your unicorn while also doing other things or is it an all or nothing proposition?

You can do other things. You have to eat somehow! But it should be your main focus and always be on your mind. I have a couple part-time jobs, but music is always on my brain and I’m always thinking about the next move I’m going to make. I chase my unicorn everyday, but unfortunately I still have bills.

How important is social media to you?

It’s most important in this day and age. You have to be compelling enough that people want to know who you are and then want to check out your music. You have to be fun and funny first though. It’s the only way to get a message or a song or a video out to people anymore. It’s hard to get people off the couch to come to a show and the people that can’t physically make it still get to enjoy you. If you’re not doing social media and you’re not doing it right, you’re not serious about your music career.

You released your first full length record in February. What is next for Chaser Eight?

It was our first length and our sixth release altogether if you count the first EPs and singles. What’s next? More music of course! We are releasing three singles at the end of this year and a new music video. Content, content, content. It’s king! Oh yeah and on top of that we are playing tons of shows and continuing with our mini tour. It’s a very busy time for us.

I like to end things on a lighter note, if you’ll indulge me for five questions.
Why the blue hair?

Why not? I started dying my hair weird colors in crazy positions years ago. Like literally years ago, before everyone else started doing it. It’s an expression of self.

Deserted island. Three albums. Go.

The Dark Side of the Moon. Rumours. Queen Greatest Hits.

How much snow does there have to be for you to just look out the window and say “Screw it, I’m going back to bed.”?

In a gig sense? There’s never too much. Our first album release party, now aptly named the Chaser Eight “Snow”ball, there was basically a blizzard. We played. And over 100 people still came out. Which was insane of us and insane of them, but it was fun. In a work sense, half an inch.

Can we just pretend that the Nixon scandal happened on the set of "Sharknado" and not the Watergate hotel and start ending all scandals with “nado” instead of “gate”?

I’d vote to pass that through Congress. Like the Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson Boobgate is now Boobnado!

Wolverines or badgers? And why?

Wolverine, duh. Have you seen how hot he looks with his shirt off?! Oh you mean the animals. Still a wolverine. More badass.

Thank you so much for your time. Any parting thoughts?

Thank you for the awesome questions! These were fun. Yes! To all reading please pick up our new album Chaser Eight on iTunes here and make sure you check out Chaser Eight: Naked being released 8.28.15!

Chaser Eight links:

And the music, oh yeah, the music because that's what it's really all about. Here is "8 AM" from the album Chaser Eight.

And here is the official video for "I Wanna Die", also from the album Chaser Eight.

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