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The Cold Stares Interview: Guitarist Chris Tapp Speaks About the Album ‘Voices’

We catch up with The Cold Stares singer/guitarist Chris Tapp for a conversation about ‘Voices’ (Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records), ideal collaborations, the state of blues rock, and much more!



The Cold Stares, photo by Jim Arbogast

If you’re wondering if you’re hearing ‘Voices,’ you sure as hell will be in a couple of weeks upon the release of The Cold Stares’ brand new studio full-length. Titled Voices, this is a special offering for the revved-up rock act, not just because it’s their latest, but because it is the first Cold Stares record to be released as a trio. For a solid decade, singer and guitarist Chris Tapp (with whom we spoke in 2021) and drummer Brian Mullins have been going it alone, and it’s not like it wasn’t working; the duo successfully toured the United States and Europe, widely lauded for their fiery live presence, all powered by just a guitar and drums.

Now, a whole new era has begun for The Cold Stares as a trio, with the addition of bassist Bryce Klueh. The arrival of Klueh has enabled the band to do more with their songwriting and get a little more adventurous and experimental with their approach. Recorded almost entirely in just two days with producer Mark Needham (Taj Mahal, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Walk the Moon, Fleetwood Mac), Voices stands as likely the most evolved record the Stares have yet done, as they have sought after a raw, honest sound that feels both old school and modern. This is the power trio era for the band, as they have taken their mix of blues, southern rock, and hard rock to whole new levels.

We recently caught up with singer and guitarist Chris Tapp for a conversation about Voices, ideal collaborations, the state of blues rock, and much more.

Tell us about your most recent release: what was your experience of making it? What went on behind the scenes? Any notable moments that stand out?

Chris Tapp: “We made the album with Mark Needham in Nashville at Shannon Forrest’s studio. We had a great time, two days basically running the tracks live in a room. A few of the songs, ‘Ghost,’ ‘Throw That Stone,’ ‘Sorry I Was Late,’ were done at my studio in Indiana. We had a great time, smooth and easy. We’ve worked with Mark Needham before so had a great idea of how things would flow before we started.”

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

“I would love to play with any of the greats before they leave this earth. So many of our heroes have passed in the last couple years, Jeff Beck just recently. So any of the greats from the ’60s and ’70s, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, etc.”

What’s the best criticism you’ve ever received about your music or performance?

“A good friend I trust years ago told me that you have ‘go for it’ live. You can’t ever be happy with the performance if you didn’t give it your all.”

Artwork for the album ‘Voices’ by The Cold Stares

If you could change anything about the music industry what would it be?

“More income and percentages for the artists, and the artists to be treated the same as a plumber, or lawyer. For some reason, we’ve developed a mentality that music should be free.”

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows or on tour?

“We were playing a show in Nashville once, there was a bridal party there. I closed my eyes during the song and when I opened them there was a drunk bride in my face in front of the microphone just looking confused. We also got into a fight with a guy wielding an umbrella in Belgium last year. That was interesting as well.”

When you write, do you do so with the live setting in mind, or do you write a song just for the song’s sake?

“Just depends, I think I decide when writing the song from the start if it is something we will be performing live. Now with us being a three-piece I’m tending to write things that I know that we’ll get off on live.”

What do you think of the current state of blues rock genre?

“This is kind of a dangerous question to answer. I think the problem now is, the same problem for the last few decades. People in general are not trying to move the blues forward. They are either ripping off one of the greats like Stevie Ray, or they are literally playing the same 12-bar blues and just singing different lyrics over it. It’s sad, because it makes the whole genre look old and weak. It can be said, that it’s all been done before, and I agree with that. But, with a million bands out there what should make a band stand out is investing the energy into their art to be their own art and not just rehashing someone else’s thing.

You are not going to be Stevie, or Clapton, and for sure not Muddy. It’s funny that no one out there is really trying to be Bukka White or Robert Johnson, that’s too difficult, but these days it’s easy to YouTube Stevie’s licks and suddenly you are a blues act. I’m certainly a fan of bringing in your references and influences, we do that as do the artists I admire, but just don’t cop someone’s whole bag and say it’s yours.

Everything in the blues rock world has probably been done as well, but we are really invested in trying to put our spin on things and introduce something that would make our heroes smile, and not just steal their work. Luckily, I feel like there are some artists who are contemporaries of ours who are currently really doing their thing, and I feel like we might be seeing some re-defining of what the blues is, and can be.”

Do you have any rituals before you hit the stage? If so, what are they?

“We just usually are chilling, listening to some music, making calls back home, and checking in. Quick prayer and getting in the right headspace, and being thankful for the opportunity to play.”

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three CDs with you for eternity, (assuming there was a solar-powered CD player) what would they be?

Blind Willie Johnson, The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
Led Zeppelin, IV
Eric Clapton, Journeyman.”

Share one thing about the band that has never before been revealed.

“We love to get on those little electric scooters and ride around when we are in Europe exploring. We are usually in the tour bus, so if we have a day off we’ll jump on those things and just try to see as much of the history and surroundings as we can.”

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