THE RANCHHANDS : Chris TEDESCO's Interview
Your new CD "DRIVEN"
was launched in May 2007 in France ; how would you describe it ? What does
"driven" mean ?
Chris : I guess the new CD can be best described as a step forward both in music and in production.
I'm very proud of our first two CDs, but I think that we have matured and grown as a band and as individuals, and hopefully our fans will appreciate that.
The word "Driven" has several meanings (as do so many English/American words!).
Primarily, it means to be motivated, pushed, and passionate. We work very hard at what we do,
and this CD is a great example of a lot of work by a lot of people involved.
Chris, You married about two
years ago. How do you feel that it has influenced your music and songs ?
Chris : Most of the songs on Back Home and the first Ranchhands CD were written from personal experiences. Driven was written from most other peoples perspectives. When I was single, I feel like I had more things to write about from my own experiences. Now, I feel that I get ideas for songs from many sources. I don't know if it's directly related to being married to a great woman, or if it's the natural progression of a writer. Probably a little of both.
You are most of the time on the road. Isn't difficult to combine long tours and personal life ?
Chris : Of course I'd love to be home more often, but that is not the life of a musician. My wife comes and visits as often as possible. I hope it can work out someday for her to come to Europe, but she is also quite busy as an actress in New York and also sometimes on tour!
How does the process of writing
a song work for you? Can you sit down and jot a song, or do you have to pamper
it a long time ?
Chris : The process is never exactly the same. For example, Mary's Northway Diner was written (music and lyrics) in about 3 hours total. I stopped at this diner for lunch, and knew within 5 minutes of being there that I had a song ready to be written. I wrote down a bunch of ideas on my napkin while I was eating, and then continued to write words and phrases when I got back in my car. The song was finished later that night. Other songs like Back Porch State of Mind and Waiting On Forever took 2 - 3 months to fully complete. I think it's good to take a second, third and even fourth look at a song, even when I think it might be finished. In country music, all of the lyrics have to make sense and tell a story that can be understood and that people can relate to in their own lives. It's a big challenge, but I love it.
A frequent question is : do
you write first words and then music, how does it come ?
Chris : it's never the same, sometimes both come at the same time.
I really love your new song
"When Everything Changed". Every time I hear it, I get goose bumps,
the words are so strong and Mickey's voice is so shaking. That's a very personal
song, is it the reason why you don't play it in live ?
Chris : Someday we might play that song live. It's a very emotional song as you mentioned, and I do not feel that it is a good song to have in every concert.
Where did you get the inspiration
to write such a great song as "Back Porch State of mind" ?
Chris : ahh, the back porch the back porch is an attachment to the back of a house (usually in rural or suburban neighborhoods) that offers privacy and the ability to be outside. It's the place you can be relaxed and alone. The inspiration came from conversations with people who have office jobs, and would rather be somewhere, anywhere else.
Of all the songs you have written,
which one are you most proud of and why?
Chris : Hard to say, I'd rather that question be answered by individual fans.
Well, Chris, you are a complete
artist. Songwriter and bandleader, you play fiddle, acoustic guitar and do
vocals. Do you think you could add other skills ? Are you also a good western
Chris : I don't claim to be much of a dancer, that's Mickey's department!
You are so wicked awesome on
stage, where do you get all that energy?
Chris : From fine French cuisine of course!
What's the best token of support or the best compliment
a fan has ever given you?
Chris : Every time a fan decides to pay money for a ticket and come to our concert is the ultimate compliment
Chris, Let's talk about your
fiddle. How did it come into your hands?
Chris : It came from a good friend of our family, not related. The short history of the instrument is, it was crafted by a violin/viola making family from the Bavarian part of Germany in the mid 1800's (approx. 1865). We are not sure how it made it to the US, but we do know that it was played during the early 1900's in the New York Philharmonic. I have a photo of the violin and the man that owned it at the time, and it is dated 1926. We know that the instrument was stored in an attic (top floor storage of a house) in northern Minnesota, was found, fixed up and given to my sister when she was 12. She eventually passed it along to me when I was 11, and it has been my main violin since then.
I own two others as back up instruments, but chose to always play my main fiddle. By the way, fiddle and violin are the same thing, there is no difference. We refer to it as one or the other depending on the style of music. I have played my instrument with symphonies, rock bands, country bands, and jazz groups.
Did you know that:
Clint Black was born in New Jersey
Martina McBride is from Kansas
Dierks Bentley is from Arizona
Keith Urban is from Australia
Jo Dee Messina is from Massachusetts (actually, she grew up 7 miles from where my wife grew up!)
Terri Clark, Emerson Drive, Shania Twain are all from Canada
Josh Gracin is from Michigan
Aaron Tippin is from Florida
Gretchen Wilson is from Illinois
We had just as much country music on the radio as we
did pop and classical music when I was growing up.
I didn't really think about what kind of music I liked when I was young, I just liked good songs I guess, and that turned out to be from multiple genres.
About 10 years ago, I played with a band that opened for Alan Jackson at a big arena in New York. When Alan Jackson introduced his band, I was amazed to find out that half of them were from Long Island NY, and Connecticut! It's actually kind of rare to meet musicians in Nashville who are actually "from" Nashville.
Both Nashville and New York are very inspiring
places because there are such great players and so much talent that you are
constantly surrounded by.
You first played classical
music and you grew up far from Nashville; how did you turn to country music?
Chris : Country music is far from just a Nashville thing, it's nationwide. Nashville is the center of the business of country music, and therefore many country music artists reside in or around Nashville. The history of the opry and the ryman are the cornerstones of American country music. But, country music as a culture and way of life, is normal throughout the entire US.
The actual birthplace of country music is usually traced back to Bristol Virginia/ Tennessee (a town that lies right on the border of northeast TN and southwest VA) as the first recordings of this genre were done there, and the first groups came from that region. Jimme Rodgers and the Carter Family were the first recorded country musicians, and the man that went to Bristol to record them was actually from New York City !
Nashville is certainly and without question the center of the country music industry, but the artists, musicians, and music business people are from all over. I get asked often the question of "you are from New York and you play country music, why? How??"
Last summer was a very special
tour in the USA : you have been back to Harbour Bay, Maine, where you came
last year to write the new CD. And then you played very close to where you
grew up, in Endwell. How did you felt being and playing there?
Chris : 100% awesome! I almost cant believe that we played in Boothbay, it was a good feeling to return so soon, and with a finished CD that we are proud of. It was a great process during those months when I was writing, very intense and very rewarding. I'm proud of that time period, and I'm proud of the product that we produced.
It was the first time the band has played near my hometown, and it was everything I thought it would be. Filled with friends and family, and our French tour manager saw it all with her own eyes !
And last but not least, Chris, as an Italian food
reference : you have eaten in so much pizzeria all over the USA and Europe,
can you please give us your best address?
Chris : oooh, that's a secret!
Thanks a lot for this interview,