We’ve all got baggage but, while some of us can let go of said stuff, for others the weight is like a stone around their necks. Heavy Shoes, the new album from Canadian rock duo The Cold Stares, explores such a subject so we caught up with Chris Tapp from the group to find out about how tackling the subject helped him deal with his own personal problems.
Thanks for your time; how is life treating you at the moment?
Chris Tapp: “Very well. Happy to have dates on the books and be playing out again, and to finally have our album released.”
The new single is out. Lyrically, it’s a very emotional song, is it written from personal experience?
“All my songwriting is in one way or another personal. I don’t think you can write honestly without opening yourself up to that. However, not every story is a story of my life, a lot of times it’s a sentiment told in a relatable story.”
You’ve talked about honesty and the title being a metaphor for something weighing you down, is this a constant theme that runs throughout the album?
“Yes, after I had written the first track “Heavy Shoes”, I thought it was significant enough to kind of run a theme through the album of things that connect as such. The album deals with a lot of things that could weigh you down I guess.”
From a personal perspective, what do you get from opening up and writing about those subject matters?
“Hmmm, not sure? I’m not sure it makes me feel better but perhaps if I stopped writing and exorcising those demons it would be harder for me. I don’t really put an immense amount of thought into the writing, I usually just open up the antenna and write what naturally comes out.”
What would you hope someone who is going through difficult or challenging times takes away from listening to the album?
“That we are all in this human experience together. That we all face these challenges and no one is exempt. I think that has always helped me listening to the music I love and grew up on, and hopefully, our fans get the same. The quicker we can sort that out, the quicker we can have empathy for each other and come together.”
On that note, the last fifteen months have been challenging for a lot of people on a personal level. How has it been for you?
“Very difficult, and I hope we don’t see something like this again in our lifetime. The lockdowns crushed a lot of us artists destroyed small businesses, and of course, a lot of folks lost loved ones. But I think even more than that, a lot of us that cherish freedom have lost a bit of that too. You have to learn to pivot and adapt if you want to hang around this business, and we did some of that. So happy to come out the other side, but any further talks of lockdowns and masks makes me insane. More people are killed in the states every day from homicides than covid, and while we are shutting down businesses and masking everyone up we are doing nothing about the violence epidemic. All common sense in the US has gone.”
Music is a good place to go to get away from daily life. What are your go-to albums when you need that break?
“Always changing and evolving, but mainstays are Led Zeppelin’s catalog, Blind Willie Johnson, Darlahood’s Big Fine Thing, early Black Sabbath, Free, Muddy Waters…”
The album is out now, how does that feel given the frustrations of the last eighteen months?
“Feels like a nice cool bath after a walk through the desert. It feels like peace and harmony have come home.”
Back in 2009, you were diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, how much of a life-changing experience was that for you and what did you learn about yourself from going through those experiences?
“That could be a book into itself. Of course, it was life-changing because I thought I was going to die and had to come to grips with that. Once you do that seriously, I don’t think you ever look at life and death the same again. I should have ALWAYS lived like I might die. It changes everything, and your respect for love and others dramatically reshapes too. Life is very short, I have to remind myself of that every day. I take nothing for granted, and I try not to be wasteful with any moment I have on this earth.”
You wrote and recorded in your home studio, how much of a help was having that space during the last eighteen months?
“It was very helpful, but more than anything it forced me to learn the gear and give myself the ability to create and record properly at home. Still, nothing replaces the vibe and mojo of tracking in a special studio and being in the moment. Being at home allows you to wait for the moment of creativity though, and then step in the studio and hit it then.”
Do you think it helped to give you the breathing space to spend a bit more time nailing what you wanted to get down with this record?
“Yeah, maybe a little at least on vocals and some guitar solos. It allowed me to really think through some things. But that was just icing on the cake, we had already tracked all the main parts within 2 days at Sam Phillips. Home was just refinements.”
And given that life is now returning to a new normal, what does the rest of 2021 hold in store for you?
“Aftershock Festival with Metallica on Oct 10th, run of West Coast shows, and then back to Europe for three weeks in October/November. In December we will start writing the next album.”
Thanks again for your time and good luck for the rest of the year. Over to you to wrap things up…
“Thanks so much!”