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A Dirty Dozen with CHRIS URRIOLA – August 2023

| 4 August 2023 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “The last three years saw plenty of uncertainty within the world and catalyzed a search for intention and creativity for artists worldwide. For Chris Urriola, it inspired a debut solo EP. The Hollis Brown bassist has always had a knack for “writing songs and finding melodies everywhere,” and has now allowed his songwriting to develop in this defining moment of his burgeoning solo career. The result is the Illustrator EP.  Given the collaborative compositional nature of Urriola’s songwriting, finding the right studio atmosphere was crucial. Enter Sean Walsh of The National Reserve, who captured the band’s energy as the recording engineer. The sessions took place over 7 unique tracking sessions in 2021.” We get Chris 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?

The Illustrator EP is quite an abstraction. It almost created itself through the songs presenting their attributes upon countless listens to the demos. Upon closer listening, I can share with the fans that you can hear Allison Jones of CITYGIRL playing a much darker brooding synth on “OH NO” than the other three performances on the EP. A hidden nugget on the album is found on “I MISS YOU,” the inspiration for the quiet intro came from a NIN intro off of The Downward Spiral.

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

I naturally gravitated towards music from having a musical environment growing up. An early memory is playing Sega Genesis in the basement in Queens at a party and hearing the sub-bass right above me go through my inner-being. I think that physical response to the audio has been my main attraction to bass guitar in general. Simply put, my friends, both players on the EP – Rob Giraldi (Gtr) & Ian Carroll (Dr) had chosen their instruments at age 11 and I certainly didn’t want to be the odd-man (kid?) out so I completed the trio and picked up the bass. We were always covering Jimi’s “Fire,” to family applause.

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

I can say that hearing the tape of KRISS KROSS “Jump” at age 5 or 6 definitely allowed elements of beat-making to exist in my musical psyche. Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane” was another track that I was obsessed with at a young age. By hearing these tunes outside of the Rock N’ Roll sphere, I found an ability to accept many other genres.

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

I would like to work with my old Berklee classmates who’ve studied Music Production & Engineering. I find that being a solo artist allows me the freedom to expand the sound and find individuals that can lend their own personal sound and expertise.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?

I have to admit, I am an avid e-gamer. I dig the game StarCraft II and log many hours a day practicing. It’s not like I’ll be pro or anything but there is a storied history and technique with that game that absolutely astonishes me. Once I feel that the physiological effects from playing present themselves, I know to take a break – get back on the guitar.

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?

I would say highly rhythmic with a clear pop approach. As a fan of Katy Perry, I found arranging the layout of a tune according to pop music “tricks” as a fun puzzle to solve. As a recent arrival to the solo artist realm, I have been fortunate to not face too many unsightly comments about the music. I am receptive to constructive criticism nonetheless.

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?

With Brian Cherchiglia and Evan Berg from my old band The Bottom Dollars as Guitar and Bass for the band, we had a history of always camping in conjunction with our national tours. That time was where you’d hear the sing-a-longs. Nowadays, the band approach I keep is quite professional. We arrive at practice prepared to play the set like a show. There may or not be 420 in the room at that time.

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

Tracking tunes at South First Sound and having a member of TV On The Radio enter by happenstance and take a listen was a real star-struck moment for me. That band is easily one of my all-time favorites.

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?

As an avid fan of X-MEN, I’ve been likening musical talent to that of having a super-power. Sometimes you feel like others are fellow mutants like yourself and you can instantly connect. Comics aside, I like that ability to communicate energy, intention and emotion with music without uttering a conversational word. Sometimes talking can be taxing for myself so music helps bridge the gap. A dream job would be an old-school animator like the 9 Old Men from Disney.

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?

A good question to ask is “What DAW do you prefer?” – I would say Ableton but I very much wish to get into ProTools. I don’t like subscription services though, (cough: Adobe).

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?

I think letting emotionality cloud my professional judgment could be a misstep. I remember getting dumped in a relationship on a tour as a support bassist and found my mood had soured to the point of poor communication & vibes. It’s like, I should’ve slowed down, breathed and let the enjoyment of the tour supersede the anger and resentment I was experiencing.

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?

I was thinking about this question for a while. After convening with Hollis Brown and recording a tribute to the album, Aftermath by The Rolling Stones (1965), I think going back in time to see that album being made in California would be fantastic. Witnessing the production and song-writing in action would be a sight to see. The record is not deeply in my psyche as a favorite but after really ingesting the music to pay tribute, it’s worth seeing the energy put forth.

CHRIS URRIOLA LINKS:

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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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