Recently I had the opportunity to interview Chris Alvy, who released one of the best power pop EPs I’ve heard so far this year (see my review of “Anything Goes” here). Read on to learn more about Alvy’s musical influences and huge record collection, his times with big name artists (from Sister Hazel to Warrant), and what is next for his band, a group of guys he is proud to call brothers.
Bill: First I have to say once again how much I loved your EP [Anything Goes]. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so immediately captivated by a record. I characterized your sound as “Cheap Trick or Boston performing songs written for ABBA” – did I happen to hit any of your influences with that description?
Chris: Well, CHEAP TRICK yes. ABBA, though I like them, I've never been a big fan......my daughter is - she plays MAMMA MIA SOUNDTRACK non-stop in our house. CHRIS ALVY BAND actually opened up for BOSTON and I do like their work, so yes you were pretty close. My main influences have always been melodic pop rock, obviously THE BEATLES, BEACH BOYS etc......rock music with lots of melody and harmonies.
Bill: I understand you were born in Cuba and raised in Spain as well as the US. How have these transitions impacted your music and songwriting?
Chris: I do have some Latin influences that I am sure come from my background, but I usually incorporate them in the Spanish material I write for Latin artists. I have been working with SONY ATV MUSIC here in MIAMI for about a year and a half and they pitch my Spanish tunes to their artist and others. They also administer my publishing company aptly named POP TRASH PUBLISHING [LOL]. My American stuff has never shown traces of Latin music, and I don't foresee me incorporating any in the near future. I am a rock and roll guy even though my roots are Latin.
Bill: One of my favorite cuts off the EP is “The Fall” – could you tell us some more about what inspired this song?
Chris: THE FALL is a song about realizing that it's really not about your failures or dreams that may have not come true - whichever those may be. But it's really about the experiences and lessons you learn along the way trying to pursue those goals/dreams. It was inspired by our own personal experiences as a band. My guys and I have been together many years performing and have been through some great, amazing times, but also very heavy times. Three guys have always been the core of this unit and it's Todd Taulbee, Darrell Killingsworth, and myself. We are literally almost like brothers and that is something I am very proud of. The song is like the chorus says "think about the fall, the meaning of it all, who answers to the call, when your back's against the wall....don't refuse to see, it's all within, it's never been at all about the fall”. The song in simple terms is about realizing and digesting the important things in life and don't dwell on the things that might or might've been.....It’s about the journey....one of my favorite songs that I've written and very fun to perform. Another way of putting it would be like the famous saying "it's not how hard you fall, it's about how quick you get up" or something along those lines [LOL]…it’s really all about enjoying your journey and experiences and learning from them.
Bill: What type of bands might we find in your music collection?
Chris: ALL GOOD STUFF [LOL]. Well here's a quick little list that comes to mind: JELLYFISH, JASON FALKNER, THE BEACH BOYS, THE BEATLES, HENDRIX, DAVID BOWIE, E.L.O., THE ROLLING STONES, JETHRO TULL, GILBERT O'SULLIVAN, RANDY NEWMAN, HARRY NILSSON, THE WHO, ELTON JOHN, BILLY JOEL, CREAM, THE BYRDS, BOB DYLAN, FOCUS, YES, EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER, CHICAGO, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS, JIM CROCE, JAMES TAYLOR, CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG....the list is never ending.
Bill: Are you a digital music kind of guy or old school with a library of LPs?
Chris: I am old school BIG TIME...not to say I don't have CDs, but I am proud to say I own over 5,000 VINYL RECORDS…last time I counted it was that, I know I have more now. Yes, old school till the end - not into the new stuff too much - rarely do I find something that catches my eye. When I do, I get very excited.
Bill: Among many others, you’ve collaborated and performed with Alto Reed, who founded Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Tell us more about those experiences.
Chris: I met Alto Reed performing at a south beach event a few years back. He was also performing solo doing a jazz thing he does. He saw me sing and play and came up to me and asked me to sit in with him on his last set and I did. I sang some Seger tunes and we did some cool blues and the place went nuts. So he gave me his info and we've been doing shows here and there ever since. I just came off a gig I did with him in the BAHAMASa few months ago. We spent 4 days performing at the NORWEGGIAN CRUISE LINE ship and it was awesome. I was very happy to have been involved in that gig - we had a blast and let me tell you, he's a heck of a sax player and a great show. He truly is a character and I thank him for the various opportunities he's given me to perform with him. So yeah, Alto and I are cool [LOL].
Bill: You’ve also shared the stage with acts as diverse as Sister Hazel to Warrant. I’d love to hear more about that and whether there is someone else out there that you’d love to jam with.
Chris: We have gotten over the years many opening slots, among them those you mentioned also some other notable acts such as AMERICA, GRAND FUNK, BOSTON, HUMBLE PIE, LIVING COLOUR, FOGHAT...and maybe others I forgot. I'd love to jam with the guys from JELLYFISH, just off the top of my head...always been a big fan. One quick note, one of my Spanish songs that I placed with an international artist CHAYANNE (this guy sells tons of records and is one of the top 3 guys along with RICKY MARTIN, MARK ANTHONY etc…I found out that ROGER MANNING PLAYED ON MY TUNE! I totally was overwhelmed...so I have to say, it has been one of my proudest moments as a professional musician to have ROGER MANNING play on one of my songs. So, yes, JELLYFISH and CHRIS ALVY BAND would be a rockin' event [LOL].
Bill: How did you get hooked up with Fernando Perdomo's Forward Motion Records?
Chris: Well I knew Fernando was opening up or at the time already had his label up and running, so I gave him some rough mixes of the stuff the band was working on. Funny thing is that I never heard back from him till like a couple of months later. He had placed my demo CD on his guitar case and had forgotten about it till he found it one day. He called me and immediately said, "Let's release this". I actually thought he had heard it and hated it, so I did not want to follow up on it. Anyway, we were very excited to be a part of such a cool, happening label here in Miami. I firmly believe that Fernando has slowly but surely put Miami back on the map and has done what has been lacking here for many years...create a whole new scene. As you know, it's a slow, process but I have already seen huge results and the label has been around for less than a year. All the artist that are signed are great quality and great productions so myself and my band are very proud to represent the label in anything we do. I think great times are just ahead for FORWARD MOTION RECORDS.
Bill: If you could describe your band’s sound with just one word, what would it be?
Chris: COOL. It is the word that has kept coming back to us from friends and fans - your music is SOOOO cool, very CALIFORNIA, very high energy. I think we're just a true ROCK & ROLL BAND, but heck that's like 4 words isn't it? So I guess just COOL.
Bill: What is next for Chris Alvy and the band? I hope a full-length release is in the works.
Chris: Well, we are currently promoting through live shows and internet "ANYTHING GOES" our 6 song EP. We have already done two videos "INSIDE JOB" and "YOUR SMILE SHINES A LIGHT" and we are planning on doing videos for all 6 songs. We also started compiling and shooting footage for a DVD titled CHRIS ALVY BAND "ANYTHING GOES" THE DVD which we will hopefully release by the end of summer or the fall. And yes, we will be releasing another batch of songs (6 songs) as a continuation of ANYTHING GOES. We may just press all 12 into one package to sell along with DVD. We're still thinking about how we will market the whole thing. So definitely, new EP, new DVD, and videos for everything we put out is our plan. I also want to expand a bit and start hitting towns all over Florida - that will be coming soon. Lots of crap goes into running a band [LOL], but we have great fun and we are a band of brothers. We enjoy playing and hanging together - that is a priceless commodity in a band - I am a lucky guy.
Bill: On behalf of BMF, thanks again for your time and best of luck with the new release!
Chris: The CHRIS ALVY BAND thanks you for giving us this time to speak a little about what we truly breathe and live every day. Long live true rock & roll...
Chris Alvy Band - MySpace.