It's A Fine Time for Chase Hamblin
It is the end of what many have said to be roughest year ever, and everyone is gathering for a night of release and drunken celebration. One more trip around the sun and there is a new hope, a new chance to start again, a clean slate, and a good reason to get a kiss from a complete stranger at midnight.
The mood all around is rebirth, there is a mass shedding of an old skin, because after today the oppressors will be gone and it will be a new era of whats up. We shall all see what comes next and how we will deal with it. This is a historic night because it marks the beginning of the end of the big W. Bush and his administration.
On this historic night I had the pleasure of chatting with local musician Chase Hamblin about his soon to be released EP ?A Fine Time? . The title of his EP seems completely appropriate for the days we live in, since it is a ?Fine Time? for some change. Change and hope are a big part of what Chase believes in. I have been a big fan of Chase for many years and have watched him play in many great and successful projects. It is a pleasure to see him finally put some of his own original music out there to share with everyone. This is how our conversation went.
TRP: For the record Chase, can you let us know some of the projects you've worked with in the past that people might be familiar with?
HAMBLIN: Sure. One of the first professional groups I was in was the Dreambreakers, doing 60's music with (band leader) Stephen Adams. It was really cool because I learned a lot about professional playing. I had written music, and knew theory and stuff, but I really learned the application of rock and roll through him. He is a real rock n roll guru, Stephen Adams. It really influenced my original music to do that cover project with him. And then I did some work with The Friends of Rock n Roll which was an original band I played with for a little bit. We were mainly in Portland (Oregon), we were here for a little bit so we did do a few shows here but then I left that group. Then I joined Penny Royal with the Dunivan brothers and I was playing with them for a year and a half or so before we decided to break up the band and pursue our solo projects, which is what I'm doing now. I've played with a few other bands here and there but those are the main projects I've worked with. As well as my solo stuff.
TRP: We're just starting with your basic interview questions here. So we want to know: When did you first start playing music and what were you listening to at the time?
HAMBLIN: I first started the saxophone in band in third or fourth grade; it was the instrument I started on. I took some piano lessons too. I didn't really know what I liked. I listened to whatever my parents listened to ...The Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, and stuff like that, which I love still. Then, I remember vividly, I saw the movie ?La Bamba,? I can't remember what year it came it came out. Remember ?La Bamba? about Ritchie Valens? After that I remember telling my parents I wanna play guitar and sing. They said, ?we've never heard you sing or anything? and I said, ?that?s what I wanna do.? I don't know what it was but it really moved me. It's weird. At that point I started playing guitar and then I got into the stuff I've been into for a long time. A lot of the classic stuff, The Doors were one of my favorite bands when I was 14 and really starting to get into music. I thought they were so unique and interesting. I was always into classics. I was always kinda ?retro? in my taste. In high school I listened to Bob Dylan and Zeppelin, probably like a lot of us. I started playing electric guitar at 12 but didn't really take it seriously until 14, 15. I started trying to write songs and trying to find my voice at that point. I started to develop my voice while listening to Jeff Buckley and early Radiohead. I realized that that was where my range was. And I could sing like that. I was raised on rock and roll, but then I realized the subtleties that I could use in rock and roll. I guess I was 18 when I first started listening to Jeff Buckley that was really influential on me learning to sing - like really sing. Roy Orbison is another one, a phenomenal singer, when I heard him I was like...wow this is good. It made me wanna sing. So then I studied some opera in college. When I was about 20 I was working with an opera singer to learn supporting of breath and other singing techniques. So that all went into me developing my voice. I even studied some vocal training in jazz.
TRP: So are you more into melodies and harmony than rhythm or do you find them equally as important?
HAMBLIN: I feel that they are equally important but I really love harmony music. That?s why I really like the sixties and seventies music. I like some modern stuff but I'm really drawn to human voices working together. I think that sounds just amazing. I also play drums so I know everything is important in making good music - rhythm, harmony, all of it. I feel like a lot of bands don't utilize harmony. That?s what I always liked about Ninevolt. They had cool songs that were melodic and then had that harmony in there to give it that extra impact. That?s what I like to do too.
TRP: So you finally have a chance to put your own stuff out there?
HAMBLIN: Yea this is my album, my original music. I've been trying to put out an album for what seems like eight years now, but I keep getting involved with other bands and other projects - which is good. I wanna get ahead, and learn, and there?s always the sense of, it's hard to do it on your own so if you can work with a group we could actually get somewhere. I've been wanting to do this forever and I know it's what I'm supposed to do. Now that Penny Royal has split up I've been freed to finally pursue it and finally get these songs recorded - just an EP we're working on. There are five songs on it but we've really done them up, full production, we're making them sound the way I want them to sound.
TRP: Who are you working with on this project?
HAMBLIN: Well I pretty much just have Derek Dunivan. He's my producer, arranger, and band. So he and I played everything. He played the drums, the bass, the piano, the organ, some additional guitar. I played most of the guitars: acoustic, electric, twelve string. Then I sang all the leads. He sang harmonies with me and we stacked our vocals together, which means we sang each harmony in unison so it gives the ?stacked harmony.? It's a really cool technique. Then, we do have one track that Derek wrote a string arrangement for so we hired a quartet from Rice (University) to come in and play that. Then for the title track ?Fine Time? Derek wrote a horn arrangement. The engineer I'm working with at Sugar Hill, Josh Applebee, recommended the horn players we used because he knew them to be studio aces. I tried to use people I knew that are good horn players, but I had schedule conflicts, so he recommended the guys we used because he said he knew they could knock it out. These guys were fantastic, guys who had been around and played every style of horn music. I wish I could remember all their names but I do remember a couple like this guy Eddie ?the Tiger? Lewis. The Tiger is his nick name because he make a growl sound come out of his trumpet that sounds just like a tiger. They were all really great musicians and they will be credited on the EP.
TRP: Do have a message or theme you are trying to give with your music?
HAMBLIN: I think there is a theme that runs through it. That?s why I picked ?A Fine Time? for the EP title. That song is about the disconnection of the modern world verses what I see as the idyllic, Atlantian, prehistoric, everyone living in peace type of thing I think that we can make happen. So a big theme in my music is the new age, not like ?New Age,? but the new age, where we can make a change in the world. I would say I'm really continuing on what was happening in the sixties. I just feel that that is the lineage I belong to. It's just what I do and I think that's what a lot of those bands were doing too. There is a basic message of ?what are we doing in this modern world?? The other theme, which is always super important, is love. There are not a lot of love songs on the EP, but I write a lot of songs based on love. Not of just one person but also of universal love. I'd say I'm trying to make uplifting, really good music. I'd say there?s a message in that.
TRP: Yea I think the world needs that right now.
HAMBLIN: I'm making a conscious effort to write songs that are not self centered but more universal. I like to put a lot of thought into it lyrically, which I know you do too, so that it can reach people.
TRP: Do you have a release date for you EP
HAMBLIN: I don't have a date yet. We are in the middle of mixing. It's New Years today, so I'm hoping maybe in two months. I know we're gonna be done mixing at the end of this month then send it off to be mastered in New York. I don't know how long that?s gonna take. Then there?s the art work and all that. Realistically, I'm thinking February or March or the very latest June or July. It's an EP so I just wanna get it out there. As soon as I have an actual date I will make that available.
TRP: We'll be sure and let everyone know when that happens. It's been nice Chase, thank you.
HAMBLIN: Yea it's been a pleasure Lucky.
After our meeting, Chase left me with a rough copy of the EP so that I could hear what he is doing. I have to say that it sounds like a classic. These are five tracks that may very well stay in your head till the day you move on, once you hear them. The harmonies are beautiful and the arrangements are very well put together. These tracks do not sound amateur in any way, and yes, they do remind me of all the classic bands I love. Everyone keep your eyes out for Chase's EP. We will keep you informed as to when it will be available. To hear a little sample of what Chase does go to ?