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Interview with Chris Thompson of Sovereign Council
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
- I have been involved in music in one form or another for as long as I can remember. From listening to music in the car and counting the beat as a small child to music lessons, elementary school music class, high school music class, guitar lessons, and eventually bands. Sovereign Council has been my first serious project and will likely be the only one I ever focus on. If I had not gotten into music I would likely have become a commercial pilot. At the time that Sovereign Council was formed, I was deciding whether to pursue a music career or go to flight school. I chose music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
- I enjoy painting miniatures, reading, gaming, and my day job. I would say that all of these things influence my music in some form or another because the music I create is usually inspired by events in my life.
How long has your band been around?
- Sovereign Council was formed in 2011 and has been around ever since. We took a brief hiatus during Covid but we are now back at it in full force.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
- We are based out of Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. We have an amazing local scene in Ontario and honestly, I am honored to be a part of it. Every band, every fan, and everyone in the community is extremely supportive and welcoming. We have made countless friends because of this and I wouldn’t change a thing. This has influenced the music by providing that support structure to keep working even when you may be feeling down about it.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
- Our name comes from the Sovereign Council, a governmental body established by France in April 1663 for administering New France, its colony centered in what is now the St. Lawrence Valley of Canada. I have a history degree and that’s where I first heard the name. I thought it sounded cool and represented some interesting Canadian history.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
- Some of my favourite shows have been opening for larger acts such as Sonata Arctica, Primal Fear, Amorphis, Alestorm, Unleash The Archers, and The Agonist to name a few. I also really enjoyed our Canadian tour in 2016.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
- My personal favourite venues so far would be The Opera House in Toronto and The Brass Monkey in Ottawa. Both have a great stage with great sound and our shows there have always been extremely enjoyable. My dream for me is to play at Wacken one day.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
- Devin Townsend and Gojira would be my personal choices.
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?
- Work hard. Treat it like a full-time job. Put in the hours, put in the work, and don’t be discouraged when things don’t work. Failing is part of growth, learn from it and benefit from it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
- Make lineup changes sooner. We had a hard time making those sorts of decisions because of fear of hurt feelings. At the end of the day, if you want to treat your project as a business, then you need to make smart business decisions.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
- That’s a really tough question to answer. I think it changes with my moods and whatever is going on in my life at the time. In light of the conflict in Ukraine right now I would say that “Of The Ashes” on our new EP is close to my heart. I’m a huge supporter of Ukraine and have been helping Ukrainian refugees in Kingston as much as I can.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
- My favourite song to perform right now is probably also Of The Ashes. The song that seems to get requested the most is The Human Condition from our last album Laniakea.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
- Typically someone will create a melody or guitar line and then share it with the group. We tend to then craft the rest of the song around that melody. We all contribute however Joe and Lisa were the primary writers for the World On Fire EP. Our inspiration stems from a mix of bands that we love to listen to as well as events and experiences in our own lives.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
- For our World On Fire EP our messages are mostly about overcoming adversity. All of us went through life-altering experiences in the last few years and we like to express the sentiment that it always gets better, you just have to pick yourself up and fight for what you want.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
-Of course! In the past, we used to just make Lisa do tequila shots until she agreed with us and got sick all over the backyard. Now that we’re a little older and slightly more mature we choose to fight to the death, survivors get their way. No seriously though, we usually weigh the pros and cons of any particular decision. Our goals are all aligned so it’s usually fairly easy to come to an agreement whether it’s business-related or composition related.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Our plans for the future are to continue to write and release new music and would love to have the opportunity to perform it live all around the world. Following the release of our new EP “World On Fire”, we will be preparing to record our next EP.
Music Video - World on Fire -