Hi Chris, I just want to start out by saying thank you for being a part of SLAYED IN OREGON. We really appreciate your time and music!
Interview by Tim Burgess Writer, filmer, photographer
SLAYED IN OREGON
1. SLAYED IN OREGON: How different is the songwriting aspect in OWL vs. THE CULT and other past artists you’ve written with?
CHRIS WYSE: The main thing is that I tend to start what is written in OWL. When I work with other artists it usually they are looking for that missing element in their song that they started. Both sides creatively are fun for me.
2. SIO: Please tell us about the new OWL album, and do you ever worry about things like “Do I or should I worry about what’s expected of me and my music?” and “Is the stuff I’m writing relevant or “right” for people and/or the audience of today?”
WYSE: The new Owl album “The Right Thing” has got a mixture of some very catchy and edgy songs but also we made room for some really cool musical moments like solos and jamming. I think people do expect something different from Owl’s songs as well as me personally giving them something special on the bass. Track “Eleven” is a drum and bass solo with piano for example. We also have great heavy moody songs as well as some really pretty moments. I also dig bringing in the upright bass. In my book, it’s song writing and playing from the heart that really count. I think if you are worried about being valid while you are writing, you are loosing your heart a bit and getting off track. You can pick and choose what songs make the record later.
3. SIO: I know you’re a fan of Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)- Is he still an influence? Have you ever met him/played with Maiden?
WYSE: Steve Harris will always be a big influence on me. Even if I am playing upright bass with a bow. Hearing him and Iron Maiden play are the reasons I first picked up the bass. I recently saw Maiden in Vegas and they were amazing and played with tons of ferocity. It was very impressive and better than ever. I hung with Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith after the show and chatted about music and drank wine. I have had the good fortune to get to know him and have a jam band with him doing blues. I have only met Steve Harris briefly to shake his hand when he and Maiden were inducted for their hand prints at Guitar Center’s “Rock Walk” here in Hollywood, CA. It was a proper introduction through my friend Eric Bradley (who played some guitar on Owl’s debut album). Eric used to work at the Guitar Center and was also in Jerry Cantrell’s solo band with me. Jerry and I used to live together so the two of us decided to go having the chance to meet the man Steve Harris in his private room before the induction. Eric introduced us and I said “Pleasure to meet you Mr. Harris” and Jerry and I shook his hand and said hello. His family just arrived to see him right then and it was obvious we were in his space and we should go.
4. SIO: I’m sure You’ve met many of your personal hero’s and influences- could you relate a few of these? Were they awkward? Scary? Amazing? Horrible?
WYSE: I have had the good fortune of really fitting in well when I have been called upon. I loved every minute of playing with Ozzy Osbourne. I was super comfortable in the Metallica audition and was producer Bob Rock’s only suggestion to the band. Bob also introduced me to The Cult. I was asked to play bass on Ace Frehley’s Behind the Player and had a blast spending the whole day with him as his bassist while famous guest drummers and guitar players came in and out. I got to know Ace a bit more since and think he is one of the best ever!
5. SIO: What is your current songwriting method/style? Does it differ from how it was 5, 10, 15 years ago?
WYSE: My writing method starts in my head – a lot of times while in the car or on a plane. I hear melodies that I can’t get out of my head then I chase them down musically when I sit with my bass. I think as I have grown up writing it is more about the heart and honing great choruses and being to the point even though I like to leave spaces for spontaneity.
6. SIO: Could you give us a little detail on the dynamic when you were thrown into the first meetings/playing with THE CULT? That must have been intense!
WYSE: Producer Bob Rock and I have a long, great working history that first started when I was in Tal Bachman’s band. Bob called me up and said, “Hey what are you doing tomorrow? Can you come in and start working and bring all your gear?” I was like “Yes, sure. Who is it”? He said,” The Cult.” And we started the next day in pre-production. The idea was to seamlessly jump in the day after the other guy was out. Bob gave me lots of confidence because hell, he is super producer Bob Rock, and he called me! That is just as cool as it gets. I just jumped right in and do what I do. It is a natural thing for me to throw down 150 percent and be sensitive to the art and to the people around me.
7. SIO: What is your 3 absolute “take to the grave” favorite albums that you’ve been on or a part of?
“Under Cover” by Ozzy Osbourne
“Beyond Good and Evil” by The Cult
“The Right Thing” by Owl
8. SIO: With some of the huge names you’ve worked with OZZY, MICK JAGGER, THE CULT, etc], what’s some of the life lessons (if any) that you’ve picked up along the way? Perhaps some DO’S vs. some DO NOT DO’S!?
WYSE: I think these guys all work from the gut even though there is a lot of work that goes on becoming a great player or artist. Do the hard work of playing and writing but do it from the heart and dare to be different. That’s what makes them great. Ozzy, Kiss and Maiden for example scared people when they came out. Now Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber scare me. I’m not saying there is no talent these days, I just think young artists have lost the plot on what mystique is and artistry. That is the real ground breaking stuff.
9. SIO: Is there someone out there who you feel treated you badly that now, in your heart of hearts, feel that you could calmly say “Yep, I’m in Rolling Stone magazine, hung with Ozzy and Mick, and played all over the world….so how’s that job you got goin’ for ya?
WYSE: Not really, and thankfully so. There have been tons of people over the years that would say “You can’t write or play like that!” But that just made me want to take things farther. I received lots of criticism about my bass playing but I think it is important to be unique so F@#$ them! Be yourself, I say.
10. SIO: Do you enjoy the video making process? And how involved have you been with it?
WYSE: I had the basic idea for ” Pusher,” which was Owl’s first video. Owl drummer Dan Dinsmore, guitarist Jason Achilles Mezilis and I received the animation treatment by the one of the “Batman” artists as well as the introduction of OWL as a sort of mystical creature. It will hopefully grow into a full concept and story. I would really dig that. In our most recent videos for “The Right Thing” album, Dan and Jason and I got pretty involved and I got into that too. Dan pretty much led on “The Right Thing” video that was featured in Rolling Stone and “Destroyer” as well featured in “Noisecreep”.
11. SIO: What are your favorite CULT songs to play live, past or current? – The ones that you can’t wait to play, even after playing 100 times?
WYSE: I like to play “Rise,” “For the Animals” and “Honey from a Knife” from 2012’s “Choice of Weapon” album. “She Sells Sanctuary” is great every night live!
12. SIO: What do you think of the early CULT material- the SOUTHERN DEATH CULT and DEATH CULT days? Do you enjoy Goth/Post Punk music?
It seems that half the people out on the road love it and thrive on it, but for a large percentage, it is the part that they dread. Have you ever burned out on the rock n’ roll lifestyle to the point you have thought of giving it up? How do you avoid that, or do you think that it is just something fated in each person?
WYSE: I love the goth and tribal part of it all. That sort of thing keeps it interesting. Keeping it interesting and moving forward is the key. When you try different ways and things, then you’ll never tire or playing the same songs on the road. It is sort of built in but there is always plenty to learn.
13. SIO: How was it playing in the CARDBOARD VAMPIRES? Was it totally your style of music, and were any of the covers your suggestions?
(Cardboard Vampires was: Chris, john Corabi (ex-Motley Crue), Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Billy Duffy (the Cult), Eddie Livingston (too many to list!)
Please give us a few of the bands/artist’s/albums that are rocking your world lately?
WYSE: Cardboard Vampyres was a blast. We played all our hard rock favorites from Led Zeppelin to Black Sabbath.