Interview with HIGH SPIRITS
The Band: High Spirits
Country: United States
Answers by: Chris Black (all instruments, vocals)
If you are a passionate fan of classic heavy metal, good melodies and stellar solos, then “Motivator”, the new album from Chris Black’s High Spirits is something you cannot miss. It sounds as the classical catchy album from the 80s that you could not stop listening to, once and once again. Moreover, High Spirits will fly around the globe in a very extensive tour, read on…
Hello Chris! High Spirits was formed in 2009. Let’s talk about the line up. Chris Black is the mastermind behind the name of the band, so can we talk about a one man band or there is an estable line up with more members in it?
Chris: Hi, well, it is both. High Spirits on album is a one-man band, but on stage we are a five-piece band with two guitars, bass, drums, and I am the singer. That may be unusual, but for us it is normal, because this has always been our situation.
Seven years of career and several demos, singles and 3 albums, this is productivity, isn’t it?
Chris: Yes, that’s probably too much already!
But not all is quantity, the quality is so much important or more and High Spirits’ albums have received very good reviews. What is your favorite album?
Chris: I like the new album a lot! You’re right, quality is all that matters. We don’t care about originality at all, which maybe is an original idea in itself? Hahaha!
This year we get your third chapter, “Motivator”. How do you see it regarding your previous works?
Chris: I think both the songwriting and the production are building on the previous albums. Working by myself, I have learned so much, and so my process is very refined. And there was much less stress this time, compared to the previous album.
“Motivator” by High Spirits is going to be catalogue number 500 on High Roller Records. Did the guys in HRR celebrated it in any special way with you?
Chris: We are always celebrating our work together. I am very happy we can be number 500 on the fantastic roster of High Roller Records! It has been a great cooperation for many years now. Together we are working hard.
How long did you work in this new album?
Chris: The songwriting and demos process was approximately one year. I began recording the album versions in April of 2015, I believe, and then completed throughout that summer. It takes some time to get things right, so it’s always best to work without any deadlines, and only when I’m in the right mood.
Some people points out that High Spirits is the heavy metal band to lead the future of the genre. How do you feel about this kind of statements?
Chris: That’s a bold idea, and a nice compliment, even if I don’t completely understand. People may say whatever they want about our band, but on the inside, we have a very practical view. I think heavy metal is led not by its bands but by its fans.
A wise statement. After listening to “Motivator” I would say its most important asset is that you make very easy what is difficult. Songs with not a especially complex structure but with so much feeling that they get under your skin from the very first moment…
Chris: Thank you, that is quite a cool comment. You’re right, most of our songs follow a basic structure without a lot of parts. I believe our music should have a familiar sound and be welcoming. So in most cases this means we take a more basic approach to the music and also the lyrics. It takes practice. Sometimes it is hard to be honest with yourself and say: I need to throw away 75% of this song and try again. But it happens!
I would underline the brilliant melodies and the awesome guitar solos. Where do you get the inspiration to do that? Or it is just a question of hours and hours of rehearsals?
Chris: Hours and hours! I have a very unnatural relationship with the guitar. I cannot “play” in the normal sense of playing guitar. With the solos, I write a few bars at a time, play it over and over until it’s right, record it, and move on to the next phrase. Then, once I have a complete solo, I start experimenting with variations. I record everything and listen to many versions. Of course sometimes I’ll return a week later and make more changes. This happens often. But, it generally takes me an entire evening just to make a “first draft” guitar solo for one song.
Well, it’s not a bad a ratio. The vocals are also great, what element is more significant in your approach: guitars or vocals?
Chris: Thank you again very much. It’s really the guitars and vocals together that do the work. Not so much the riff guitars, those are more of a foundation. But the melody and solo guitars are filling in the gaps between the vocals, keeping the musical “story” going.
“Motivator” sounds as pure melodic and classic heavy metal. What bands have influenced your sound?
Chris: We are influenced by all hard rock and heavy metal music! It really is that simple.
High Spirits is a band located in Chicago, but I guess your music can work so well or even better in the European market, and the Japanese, of course. What do you think?
Chris: You’re right, the European fans, especially in Germany, have been very good to us. I think we have some fans in Japan also, but we haven’t been there for any gigs yet.
What do the lyrics talk about? A positive message I believe, right?
Chris: Of course it changes from song to song, but yes, certain songs have a very positive tone. However there is often a streak of sadness in those songs, just as our more melancholy stuff likewise will have a few points of light shining through. So, it’s a blend of emotions. But the momentum is always forward.
What is your favorite song in the album?
Chris: “This is the Night”.
I like the album cover, and I think it fits perfectly with the spirit of your melodic heavy metal
Chris: Yeah, Alex did a great job! He insisted that he would have the music as early as possible, so it could be projected directly onto the album cover. I have to say his approach was brilliant.
Yes, indeed. Can we expect a long and world wide tour of High Spirits?
Chris: We are doing a four-part tour over the next year. Two parts USA, two parts Europe. It will be about 40 shows in total. Flying high!
Oh yeah! Houston there we go! What are your plans for the future?
Chris: Right now we are focused on rehearsing for the first part of the tour, which begins on October 1. I have plenty of new ideas for songs, even some basic demos recorded already.
Thank you very much and congratulations for your fantastic work, Chris!
Chris: Thank you too! This was a very fun album to create, and I am very happy to have your feedback and support now that it is finally ready to blast off. Cheers!