He'll celebrate the release of his sophomore album "Bells and Whistles" on Friday at Vino's.
In advance of Chase Pagan's CD release party at Vino's on Friday, Rock Candy contributor Stacy Bowers talked to the Wynne native about multi-instrumentalism, his fake blog, multi-tasking while watching 'Tyra' and Chris Denny's "old woman" voice.
Stylistically, “Bells and Whistles” sounds like a departure for you from previous work. It’s sunny, jaunty even. Is that a reflection of some change in life, or simply you wanting to switch it up musically?
You know, I didn’t really think of it as much of a change. Some of the songs I’ve had before the songs on my last album. Actually, I guess one is off a record I did before the last one. And some of them are just songs that I’ve been playing around with for a while. I figured one of the major differences is me deciding to do the bulk of the instruments and playing it kind of the way I would play everything, but a lot of it is just allowing myself to put songs on and not really think about it. Basically put on what I write.
You alluded to the fact that you play accordion, banjo, bass, drums, guitar and piano — the vast majority of the instruments — on the new album. Are you self-taught?
Mostly. I’ve done little lessons here and there, but mostly after learning it on my own. I couldn’t ever really stick with lessons, you know? I tried to take drum lessons after I’d already been playing drums for like three or four years. I tried to take voice lessons after I’d already been singing for a couple of years just to try to check and make sure there wasn’t anything I was doing completely wrong. After the Vino’s show on Friday, do you have a broader tour scheduled to promote the new album?
I’m just doing kind of a couple of CD release shows around Arkansas, and then sporadic June tour dates. And then in July I’ll do like a full East Coast tour, and then in August head out west. So I guess the long touring starts in July. According to your blog, “Hunting,” you’re an avid hunter and self proclaimed “red neck.” Most people would find that very unusual for a man who also refers to himself as an “indie southern soul.” What got you so passionate about hunting?
(Laughs) Not to burst anybody’s bubble here but that’s not really a hunting blog. It’s just kind of a joke, and the pictures are my face cropped out on other people’s bodies. I never went hunting ever. A lot of people think it’s real though. I figured that a lot of people thought it was fake. It’s not real.
Can you talk about the inspiration for the track “John and Betty” on your new CD (hear it here). And what made you decide to collaborate with Chris Denny? He’s singing the “girl” part of the song. Was that a tough sell? Did you write the song with him in mind?
I wrote that song really, really quick, and I played the piano riff when I was like visiting my parents’ house. And then I left and kind of wrote the words on my head. And then I got to sit back down and play it all and I really liked it. But I guess Chris Denny came along with that because, well, I like Chris Denny a lot. Originally, I thought a girl might sing that part, but we got in there and Chris was singing inside the studio, and I thought he’d be perfect to play that part. Most people think he’s an old woman anyway when they hear him sing. You’ve said before "my music is a fantasy that I live in."
At this point I don’t’ know if "fantasy" would be the exact thing to describe it, but I guess because I’m always playing music and I’m always writing music, and it’s always running through my head. So a lot of times when I’m sitting around watching the Tyra Banks show or something I’m really writing music. I know that “Bells and Whistles” isn’t quite out, but are you working on anything new yet? What’s next?
I already have a lot of new songs, but the next step I’m not positive about. I’ve thought about kind of leaning towards a band and not having to do everything myself. I think that would be more fun, but we’ll have to see when I get there, I guess. It’s hard to find people that you can trust and count on to play music with, or to be friends with really. That’s kind of why I’ve always ended up doing it by myself. I can’t really find people I enjoy playing music with on a constant level. I’m kind of looking for that.