5:00PM (PST)






CHRIS PIERCE had just ended his tour of the West Coast a few hours before doing this interview and it seemed as if the long hours on the road had not worn him out in the least. It's not the usual gripe that one reads or hears from people who are locked into a life on the road with four or five other people in a band. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the music getting promoted on the road and through his official website, is his own.

His debut CD STATIC TRAMPOLINE was released in September 2005 to glowing reviews and enthusiastic audiences. It's first single ARE YOU BEAUTIFUL? is a smooth track that has found its way onto the soundtrack for the movie CRASH (The film starring DON CHEADLE and SANDRA BULLOCK) The song has been used by BANANA REPUBLIC in recent ad campaign. The rest of the CD is a testament to the emotional highs and lows of life set to smooth vocals and a light reggae groove.

There is also another reason for why his enthusiasm for going on the road cannot be contained; He's been doing this thing all of his life. From a tender age he has been performing in Los Angeles nightclubs to receptive audiences and to the stunned amazement of one of CHRIS' idols, GRAMMY winning rock guitarist, JON BUTCHER.

Years later, CHRIS would meet another idol of his. At an industry party, he was invited to bring his guitar and sing when a man by the name of SEAL HENRY OLUSEGUN OLUMIDE ADELO SAMUEL (SEAL to all of you) walked in and witnessed the performance. Let's just say that thing's have taken off from there. His music has taken him all over the world and he's still thirsty for more.

ROCKWIRED had a phone conversation with CHRIS PIERCE at the tail end of his west coast tour. Here is how it went.

You were the opening act for SEAL. What was that like?
The best way to describe it would be dreaming while you're wide awake. I was playing at a house party, which I've done hundreds of time. I'm always getting asked by people “instead of bringing beer, why don't you bring your guitar.” This time I did and as I was playing, SEAL walks in. It was a trip playing for him in such a small setting. I've listened to him over and over again for years and I've really been inspired by his music. The next day following the party, I was offered to tour with him and the week after the party, I was in Europe in front of 10,000 people doing a solo acoustic set. Opening for SEAL was the most liberating experience. It was really incredible.

What kind of party was this? An industry party?
Yeah. It was for a woman who works in the television industry. I actually got invited through a friend that I knew from all the way back in high school believe tit or not. She called me up and said “Hey, you oughtta come up to this party. There are gonna be some people there and it might be good for them to hear you. Bring your guitar.” There were about 20 or 30 people there. I was jamming along and SEAL walks in wearing shorts and a t-shirt and I didn't recognize him. I was like “Wait a minute, that's SEAL!” The party was basically a mix of industry people and folks from the neighborhood.

How long ago was this? Was this his most recent tour?
I did about four runs with him. It started in April of 2005 in Europe and there, I was solo acoustic. I opened for him again on the west coast with my trio and this was in May 2005. In June, I toured with him on the east coast with my trio and for June and July, I opened for him acoustically once again.

We're coming up on a new year. What are you looking forward to in the next year?
It seems like a lot of the groundwork has been laid for people to be able to discover my music. There are a lot of different outlets out there now and I'm looking forward to the music reaching a lot more people. Hopefully I can look forward to showing up to more of these towns and seeing more people who have heard my music come out to the shows and see what I have to offer as far as a live show goes. STATIC TRAMPOLINE is a record about ups and downs and I'm hoping that after the 100 odd dates I've played this year, that more people will start coming out to the shows and that we can keep building on it and become a real touring machine.

What is it like having this CD out for the world to hear?
I haven't had much time to sit down and think about it. It's been a trip because all that it really is is my perspective on things that have happened to me. My way of communicating and my way place of refuge has always been through music since I was a kid. It's the safest place for me. The fact that I'm able to translate that to people is incredible. To be on this planet and be able to share my inner most feelings with people is incredible.

Where in Southern California did you grow up?
I was born in Pasadena . I moved to Claremont with my mom when I was about eight or nine. It's college town. A very multi-cultural town and I lived there until I was about 18 and that was when I went to college.

How did it all begin for you. Music I mean.
It came from experiencing my parents love for music. When I was little they had this room in our house which was basically this library of records. They were into all kinds of different music. As a child experiencing their love for music day after day kind of rubbed off on me. I grew to realize that this is something that really moves people. It's always been a safe place for me. I can pick up a guitar or sit behind the piano or sit down and sing or write something and it feels like a safe place. There is something about music that takes you back to a warm place and for me it's the feeling of being in a house; of being in a happy home with my parents. It all started like that for me and then it went on to me getting into the church choir when I was really little and basically, it took off from there.

Your biography states that you wrote songs when you were five.

Really? Any titles that stand out from that moment in time?
My first song was called CRAZY. My parents tell me that I ripped it off from THE ROLLING STONES and their album BEGGARS BANQUET. I'd sing this song over and over again and my parents never wanted to break it to me that I had ripped off THE STONES.

You gigged around at various clubs in Los Angeles before you could even drive. What's that like for a kid and how did the audiences receive you?
It was great! I actually started really young doing Mother's Days and Father's Days at comedy clubs. They'd have live comedy and then special acts. I'd come out for a Mother's Day show and sing ISN'T SHE LOVELY to all of the ladies. It was great. It was building chops. Learning to play and sing in front of people at 15. Mom would give me rides out to these clubs and I got a chance to meet JON BUTCHER and his band BAREFOOT SERVANTS. He became like a big brother to me and I got to do some touring with them. I even recorded with them as well. It's always been chop building. Just learning, learning and learning. Getting out there and playing live is the best school that I can recommend.

And you did this all through high school?

I'll bet dating wasn't a problem.
(Laughs) I've done okay. I'm still single and uh, I'm still having a good time.

Was touring with SONIA DADA at 19 your first touring experience?
Actually it was my second. I did some work with JON BUTCHER singing background and playing harmonica and percussion. I was about 17 or 18 when SONIA DADA saw me at SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST at this club called the STEAMBOAT. SONIA DADA was looking for a fill in for one of their guys. They tracked me down at my girlfriends mom's house to see if I could do the tour. It was when I was supposed to do my first semester of college, so I went to my folks and said “Hey, this is what's happening...” and they said, “Hey, take the first semester off and go learn on the road.” and thats what I did. I got on the bus and toured around the United States. It was an amazing experience. They had a pretty big song at the time called YOU DON'T TREAT ME NO GOOD and we played some really big venues.

You were also in Moscow. What was that for?
That was actually with JON BUTCHER. He got invited to do a tribute show for a Russian protest writer named BULAT OKUDJAVA.

What was that experience like?
Amazing! JON invited me out and he got to play two songs with this Russian orchestra. I got to get on stage with him and play one of them. It was just he and I on stage with our acoustic guitars and a 50 piece Russian orchestra behind us. It was televised, so when it was over I went out onto the streets of Moscow and all of these people were mobbing and congratulating me. It was the only thing to watch on TV that night. It gave me evidence , first hand of the power that music has and how it can affect people emotionally. It was a very, very, very important trip for me both spiritually and emotionally.

You've shared stages with the likes of CHRIS ISAAC, BARRY WHITE, MACY GRAY and GEORGE CLINTON. Is there anyone that you haven't shared a stage with but would like to?
Yeah. I'd really like to open up for STING. I'd like to share a stage with him. It would also be great to play with SADE. I'm not sure what she's doing these days. She's someone I've always admired. I'd love to open for AL GREEN. It would be great to do some dates with NORAH JONES as well.

Listening to STATIC TRAMPOLINE, it's hard not to hear a strong JIMMY CLIFF/BILL WITHERS influence. What artists really got to you and laid the foundation for the music that you're making now?
BILL WITHERS is definitely an influence. He was the first album I owned that my parents got for me. It was THE BEST OF BILL WITHERS and I listened to it over and over again. From there I moved on to listening to artists that I felt that I could relate to. I listened to a lot of PRINCE, old jazz like BILLIE HOLIDAY and ELLA FITZGERALD. My parents had a lot of BEATLES around the house and also the solo albums by JOHN LENNON and PAUL MCCARTNEY. OTIS REDDING'S voice always does something to me every time I hear it. When I hear him sing it makes me want to sing. It inspires me. As far as songwriting goes, CAROL KING has always been a big one. Who hasn't listened to Carol King. A lot of people have listened to her music and don't even know it.

You came back to Southern California to pursue your degree in Jazz Studies at USC. Is that something you're still working on or have you finished everything?
I've completed everything except my senior recital. I need to go back for a semester and complete it. I started a band the year I was supposed to graduate and the band all o fa sudden got a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things so I've put school off. But I am using what I've learned , in the community. I'm working with kids and teaching some music classes with some community organizations. Non-profit organizations like after school programs. I feel like I've learned just about everything that I can from my BA but I just don't have the degree.

The song ARE YOU BEAUTIFUL? is kind of the stand out track from STATIC TRAMPOLINE. What inspired it?
It was my first writing session with a friend of mine named MARVIN ETZIONI. We had just met so we sat down and started talking about living in Los Angeles and how people in general tend to dwell on the disposable aspects of people like cars, and how much money they have and who they know. We wanted to write a song that dealt with love that could reach an international audience 'cause it was something we had both gone through with people over and over again out here and we felt that it was a very important message to get out there and to ask that question. Are you beautiful on the outside. So after about 20 minutes, we wrote the song

Did you think that the song would ever find its way onto a motion picture soundtrack or an ad campaign?
I didn't but a lot of people who have heard the song have always said that it would be great in a movie because the song just paints a picture. When the CRASH thing happened I wasn't completely surprised. But when it was used for a BANANA REPUBLIC commercial I was like “Okay, we're doing a song about inner beauty and here is a clothing company that wants to use this song.” I really had to think about that one and so did MARVIN but we went for it and it turned out to be a really beautiful commercial. I think the song was able to reach a lot of people internally because there was no dialogue. It was just my song and two people in love.

The songs on the CD are so damn personal. You produced the CD and you wrote all the songs on it. Is it hard to put everything on the table like this for everyone to see and hear or do you have this songwriting thing done so cold that it's not even funny?
I think I'm still learning. I still think that I have long way to go in terms of getting to the core of my personality and my experiences. I think that STATIC TRAMPOLINE is a good start and I love the music and i love process of writing songs nd getting the stuff out. I can't imagine life without it really.

What all goes into writing a song. Is it inspiration, do you keep a journal or is it something that you're always working at?
It's something that I'm always working at. I've got boxes and boxes and napkins that have been written and stacks and stacks of journals and once in a while I'll get inspired. I'll take ideas from my own mind and put them together. Sometimes it just comes out but I'm always working at it and constantly writing. I don't think I'll ever have a kept house just because I've got too much writing around. But it's comfortable for me. I like having inspiration around.

Are there any other songs from this CD that stand out for you in particular?
They all do. They're all so personal. I look at them like like kids. They're all different but at the same time, they're all the same. They all have that certain special spark about them.

Any plans for a video?
Yeah. We're actually talking to PRANA ENTERTAINMENT and we'd like to do one early in the year. I'm not sure what song yet but whatever it is I'm sure it'll be an interesting process. I've never done anything like this before.

Your touring of the west coast just ended yesterday in San Diego.
I got home at 5:30 this morning. We rocked it down there and drove back and unloaded the van. We had a great time. We toured with CHARLOTTE MARTIN and we all shared the van together which was a lot of fun. I got the tour sponsored by, no just my label but this great clothing company called HORNY TOAD who hooked me up with a bunch of their clothes and a banner and made it a really cool tour. I was able to give some stuff away to some people and sell a few CD's. We did San Diego all the way up to Seattle and back. It was a lot of driving and a lot of fun. I can't wait until the next one.

When is the next one?
I'm hoping by the end of January, I'll be on another leg. I know my agent is working around the clock to find a good slot that I can open for.

How has the response been to these shows?
The shows are all fun to me and different from one another. The responses have been great and I've been playing for a variety of different people. There are those who saw me when I opened for SEAL,and the ones who know the song from the BANANA REPUBLIC Advertisement and there are people who know me from myspace.com who go to my space there and read the blogs. So, the word gets out there. That's my thing. I love playing live.

What do you want the listener to walk away with after hearing your CD or seeing you live?
I want the listener to walk away with my honest perspective on my experiences in life. And I want them to walk away with my love for music. Through my love for music hopefully they'll open their hearts to feeling something as well or getting something from my perspective.