Thursday, March 22, 2018

PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: Chris Stills – “Daddy’s Little Girl”

Singer-songwriter Chris Stills is set to release his first album in over a decade; the long-awaited new album titled, Don’t Be Afraid, is out tomorrow.  It is his most personal album yet and features co-writes with Ryan Adams and David Saw.  Stills, the son of American rock musician Stephen Stills and French singer-songwriter Veronique Sanson, released his criminally-underrated debut album, 100 Year Thing twenty years ago in 1998 on Atlantic Records and an equally as great self-titled sophomore album in 2006.  His organic blues-drenched and folk-leaning style of pop-rock combined with his soaring voice had me hooked immediately.  In the time since, Stills took up acting, starring in the top-grossing French musical, Cleopatre-The Last Queen of Egypt and guest starring on Showtime’s Shameless.
In anticipation of the new album, I spoke with Chris Stills about the new album, his time away from recording and more. 
I am also lucky to premiere the new single, “Daddy’s Little Girl”.
Eight years passed between your first and second albums and now it has been over a decade since your last album, I know you have been busy acting and touring but as a fan I have to ask; why do you let so much time pass between albums?
Chris: Oy there! Come on was like 7.2 years between the first one and the last one. But seriously...I just wanna focus on the fact that I'm here now...I look forward to getting these songs and this record out there. Looking forward, not back. Plus, a bunch of what I went through is right there on this record.  
The new album is a little more eclectic this time around - there are bluesy rippers (“Blame Game”) next to cinematic piano-led ballads (“Lonely Nights”) – what inspired the new album?  Did the new songs come in a burst of creativity or were they written here and there over the last decade?    
Chris: I can't really stare at myself in the mirror and call “Blame Game” bluesy. It's more straight up rock with little punk in there. I digress...These songs came over time. A few things needed to happen for this to be put together. I mean, there are so many ingredients to this record I'd be here all day. But these songs tell a story, not in chronological order, of a guy whose life begins with a break-up. With every tragedy comes the opportunity for hope to shine and any bursts of creativity were followed by, well, life. And I'm cool with that... I'm not racing to make records. I don't want to put them out for the sake of doing so...they have to be right. I'm not interested in throw-aways...that's what EP's are for. Ha!
Standout track, “In Love Again” from the new album is both theatrical and very Queen-like with the big, choral-like vocals.  How did your experience in the theater influence the new album?  
Chris: Oh, I'm just a Queen fan really...I don't think my experience in theatre that particular time influenced that song. But that being said, at the time I was composing that song I was listening to a lot of classical music. I was into this song I'd found when I was on a medicinal shamanistic trip in Ibiza by Ravel called “Daphné & Chloe: daybreak”. Ravel's piece is literally about the world coming to life in the's a very dramatic piece with a big build leading up to the point where the sun actually breaks over the mountain top, etc.  You've heard it in various movies I'm sure; it’s great for visual effect.  Anyway, I think I had that in mind for the song as this guy had just had his heart ripped apart and had just put it back together again only to be put in the terrible position of having to risk it's well-being again. It's that moment when you realize you've got nothing to lose…it is win or lose it all. You're either on top of the mountain or you're in the that sentiment to me needed something dramatic, but I also love to rock. Queen does that so well!
For this album you co-wrote “Criminal Minds” with Ryan Adams and recorded in his Pax Am Studio.  The song really bears Adam’s signature with the jangly guitars, catchy sing-along chorus and especially the blazing guitar solo.  How did working with Ryan come about and how was that experience?     
Chris: I love Ryan, he makes me wanna quit writing. Really. What a mind on him. Anyway...we were jamming and having fun and playing pinball and recreating...something one does in our business...just so happened I was at PaxAm with Ryan...he's invited me and that's what we were doing, searching, exercising, playing around.  Nothing serious, getting the juices know, at one point Johnny Depp showed up and we jammed for a while. It was fun! I start playing a lick, everyone follows and you lead the band...that's what I was doing when that song found us. At some point Ryan took over and led us to the bridge and we followed. The song's structure was born.  And somewhere in there we were singing something about criminal mind or criminal high...that big rock thing though, I added later.
I’m sure you will tour heavily for this album after its release but what else do you have in store for the near future; more acting?
Chris: I'm currently working on saving the world through clean energy solutions using hydrogen. Also charity work.
Atlas and the Anchor are proud to premiere your tender and empowering single, “Daddy’s Little Girl” today.  Can you please give us some insight about the song?
Chris: I was sitting at home watching TV and this commercial about diamonds came on or something surrounding a wedding and a terrifying thought hit me - pretty hard I might say - that one day, and God-willing, on top of that, I will give my daughters away at their wedding to the love of their lives. If you’re a dad of little girls like me, you kind of loved the fact that if ever asked who they’re gonna marry one day, they say “daddy”, all loud and proud!  Although, my youngest wanted to marry Spider-Man for a minute there and I was devastated. She eventually came around and when she did, well, made me feel like Superman again. You know?  It’s something amazing to have your kids look up to you. No other feeling like it.  Anyway, the thought came - and I’m supposed to feel happy about it - but clearly I’m not. I feel like the Superman job is being taken away from me. Like I wasn’t gonna be the one to be there for them anymore. “Sniff”, right?  So, it’s not at all what you think...but I ran to the bathroom - that’s where you go to for better acoustics! And I basically cried my eyes out as this song came pouring out of me, I went back to the living room and wrote it down. It all happened in about 20 minutes. It’s the only song I have trouble singing sometimes because I get choked up.
PREMIERE: Stream “Daddy’s Little Girl”:


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