Cory Chisel on belief, Brendan Benson, and the joy of performance
The Midwest native spoke with Gimme Noise about the stories behind the album, Brendan Benson, and what to expect at to his show at the Turf Club this Thursday.
Old Believer \ Ōld bǝ-l ēvǝr\ n 1 : one who has been through a lot in their life and hasn't lost hope 2 : one who doesn't feel cynical and still feels connected to the world that we're living in but is wise enough to know a thing or two about it 3 : OLD SOUL
Coming across the phrase "old believers" in a book he was reading, Cory weighed the name and found it to his liking. The whole meaning of old believers came from an orthodox group of Russians that rejected modern church. Adopting the phrase, Cory started using it to describe people that have a certain set of beliefs that he connected to. He shares, "As you travel the country, you gather pockets of people that share the same commonalities and philosophies as you. The whole 'wandering son' idea is really about a collective of a type of thought process."
Regarding the gap in between records:
"If I was a smart business man, I would be putting out a record every single year, but the reason I have is I have a certain quality of work that I need to feel I'm achieving. Sometimes I have to sit with songs for a while for a while and see if I really like them. If you've made a record very well, it's rejuvenating. It's like forging any great path. There's the struggle, there's the vision, then you get to put your feet up and live inside the piece of art that you've made -- especially if you've done a good job -- it's such a rewarding feeling. But for some reason, if you've missed the mark, you will feel like shit until you make another record."
The singer looks at each album as a mini-chapter where he collect stories that pass in his life, the lives of his friends, and society as it's seen. "At some point, you draw a line. That's a good place to pick your pen for a bit, and when you're done with that, you call it a record."
The new album's production credit goes to Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs) who came in halfway through the making of Death, where Cory feels they had only started to know what they were capable of when working together. During the three years since, they friendship really deepened to a point where the two practically became family. Chisel says, "It's hard to find people you can communicate with on a deep intuitive level. We could look at the other's record collections and bookshelves, and I think we were on the same path. When you find those kind of friends, it's great -- even better to mix your work up with that."
On the writing process:
"When I'm writing music, I'm not writing it as much as hearing it and trying to transcribe it. Sometimes there's a disconnect between this beautiful music you hear in your head and what you're trying to capture."
Chisel was able to capture a wide emotional spectrum on the new album, coming up with songs that he would gravitate towards, depending on his mood. On "Old Love," Cory had been listening to a lot of George Harrison records around the time the song was created, while "Laura" was written for a friend that came to him looking for advice. "I'm not good with advice, but I can write a song. It's a plain song, but I didn't want it to be corny. With this one, I let it be sweet; I'm proud of that. Anytime you're nervous you might say shit, and you do, that's usually a good thing."
After crafting his album for so long, Cory and the Wandering Sons are able to bring it on the road. He concludes, "Live shows are one of my favorite things to experience, and Minneapolis is one of my favorite places to work in. During a show, we try to be very honest. I think that's really fun for people because it's truly live music, and I think that's what you buy a ticket for. If you know how a movie is going to end, why are you going to go to it? The way you approach a song emotionally, if you can keep if honest and spontaneous, that's when every hair on your body stands up."
Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons will be performing at the Turf Club with Farewell Milwaukee on Thursday, June 28, 2012.
21+, $14, 8 pm
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