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A Dirty Dozen with CHRIS TAPP and BRIAN MULLINS from THE COLD STARES – August 2021

| 15 August 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “The Cold Stares are a band that weren’t meant to be a band, and at numerous points over their last eleven years, very nearly haven’t been a band. Despite all the bad luck that has been thrown their way, here they still are. The duo, originally from Western Kentucky, is guitarist-singer Chris Tapp and drummer Brian Mullins, who have a friendship that dates to their early twenties when they were in bands together. They went their separate ways then to only circle back a decade later. “A buddy of ours asked us to open the show for him. We ended up doing that, but we were so adamant that we weren’t going to be a band that we didn’t hire a bass player or anything else,” remembers Tapp. Since their debut album in 2014 A Cold Wet Night and a Howling Wind they followed up with three more releases; Head Bent (2017), Mountain (2018) and Ways (2019), with new album Heavy Shoes to be released on 13th August, their first for Mascot Records.” We get the duo to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

I’m not sure, this album is pretty straight forward lyrically although there are quite a few innuendos and parables I guess. It’s a tough album for a tough year, and perhaps a bit pissed off. I hope that at the end of the day the songs relate to the listener to let them know they’re not the only one dealing with these topics.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Chris: I don’t ever remember not playing music. I started piano at 4 and have always played and written. I think my earliest memory was a rerun of some Jerry Lee Lewis thing on TV my grandfather showed me. I was hooked right away.

Brian: My neighbors had a drum set and both father and son both played. The son would play along to The Police, Phil Collins, and other pop hits of the day. He had Cystic Fibrosis, and I think drums were his solace. Once I saw those drums, I was hooked. It was a big gold sparkle double bass kit. I’ve been eyeing a Gold Sparkle Gretsch kit that would be a nice homage to him.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Chris: No, I would say there was a group of artists. Early Delta blues singers, early gospel, and folk, mixed with the classic rock of the 60’s and 70’s.

Brian: Classic rock on FM radio was inescapable. You hear that stuff so much that it creeps into your DNA.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Chris: Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Free.

Brian: The Police, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, and Van Halen.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Chris: Jimmy Page. In my opinion he’s the greatest still alive.

Brian: Paul Carrack or Paul McCartney, Or John Paul Jones. As long as it’s a Paul in some way.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Heavy rock and blues with a focus on lyrical content and visual stories inside the songs. Ah, always the Black Keys or White Stripes. That’s like saying Cream and The Bee Gees were the same because they have the same number of members. Very lazy comparison.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Ha, well we are sober so no drinking. Brian is vegetarian so not much cooking, however if there is a guitar in the room it’s in my hands. We love to travel and explore when we are out on the road. We love geography and history, and just traveling in general so that’s usually the focus.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Chris: I don’t think I’ve ever been starstruck. We’ve gotten some messages from artists that we really have admired that have been kinda surreal.

Brian: My stepdaughter says I get to almost meet a lot of famous people. Meeting Don Brewer was really cool. The guy is still a beast.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Chris: The ability to create, share, feel like you are adding something to a legacy. If I wasn’t playing music, I would probably be producing and writing still.

Brian: Making records and having people enjoy them is the best. Dream job? Probably running an animal sanctuary.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Chris: Ask? What were we doing at Loch Ness summer of 2019 with Jimmy Page? Answer- Never tell. Tired of answering- “Do you guys have a bass player behind the stage? Do you play with tracks?” No, and no.

Brian: I’d like to be asked about occupational hazards. Ear protection is so important, that I will gladly talk openly about it in hopes of helping someone else. The duo comparisons grow tiring. Surely that can’t be the most interesting thing about us.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Probably plenty, but I would not allow us to go there. No gain in trying to relive the past.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Chris: Led Zeppelin IV. Just to be a fly on the wall and understand what Page was thinking. To me, it’s the greatest rock album ever recorded.

Brian: Joe’s Garage – Frank Zappa. There is just such an insanely talented personnel group on that album.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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