Interview with Chris Antonik
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
As a parent of two young children, my priority is always being the best parent I can and maximizing quality time with my kids. That’s a round-the-clock thing! My family and life experiences have greatly influenced my creativity in recent years. However, meditation and reading good literature/poetry also fuel my creativity.
How long has your band been around?
Until I released my first solo album in 2010, I was mainly a Toronto session player and blues sideman. Since then, I have been performing under my own name, both across Canada and abroad.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Living in Toronto has influenced my music in the sense that there are so many creative people around to collaborate with.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
My mom named me! lol
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
This is crazy! My band and I were on tour in England in the summer of 2016, headlining the Upton Blues Festival. We were pulling into town a bit late due to some unforeseen circumstances and needed to get to the stage quite quickly. The second-last act was nearing the end of their set and there were about 2000 people in the dense crowd. For some reason, I still don’t know why, the stage manager decided to have us drive slowly through the crowd, parting it like Moses and the Red Sea. It was unreal! People were not happy though, and neither was the band that was performing. It was so embarrassing, and I felt really bad for the band performing. But the crowd quickly got in on it and had fun with it. My tour van driver was yelling out the window “pizza is here! pizza is here!”. I had to work extra hard on stage to win the crowd back over, but I think we did!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I miss the old Hugh’s Room in Toronto.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Wow! Be nice to open for one of my heroes, like Clapton or Santana, or a contemporary blues rock juggernaut like Gary Clark Jr. or Tedeschi Trucks Band!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Focus on original music and homing a good stage show. Collaborate with other song writers; leave your ego at the door. There is little money in royalties unless you’re huge. All that matters is the sum of the parts and the ultimate song that is created. Have another job on the side to fund your art and build a creative body of work over time, until you can bring more music income into your life.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I would have started writing my own songs earlier than I did.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
There is a song on my new album called “In Our Home,” which I co-sing with my partner, Alison Young. It’s about the power home.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Currently, I am focused on the songs form the new album ‘Morningstar,’ out in August. They are fresh and fun to play, but also more challenging than some of my older stuff. An older tune from 2010 called ‘The King of Infidelity’ still gets a fair number of requests.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I co-write a lot with others and believe that the sum of the parts in always greater. I rarely finish whole songs on my own and love to involve others, so the song becomes even stronger. The song is paramount. It’s all about the songs, not the guitar solos. The solos can be the focus when you play a few blues standards at a festival, or if we’re at a jam band festival, but for my original music, it’s always song first, solos on top and as extra.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
With this new record, my fourth studio album, I am telling a cohesive story of my experiences as I enter mid-life. The last few years’ worth of life, love, loss, and growth are synthesized into a collection of songs about new beginnings, building community, mindfulness, self-compassion, my sobriety, and the power of home.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Of course. We try to act professionally, kindly, empathically and listen to each other, like any team should. But, as the act is under my name, I need to set the broader direction and vision, and rely on the help of amazing advisors who are more skilled or know more about certain things, such as my musical director and drummer Riley O’Connor.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are on in the US in August and September, and then the UK in November. The new record ‘Morningstar’ comes out August 5th.