I'm currently co-creating a reality tv competition that I'll have more news on later. It's a very cool idea that I think will have its niche, if we can get it picked up. Who knows if that will ever happen, but we'll be pitching to networks within the next couple of months.
I'm also currently co-writing a couple of screenplays that I'm hoping to finish while I'm out on the road.
February 4, 2008
Every year, the Hanson guys bring out several songwriters varying from popular indie artists to established mainstream artists to up and comers. For 5 days, they split the singers up into groups of 2 or 3 and they write songs together. The songs then can go on the artists' records or can be used to pitch directly to film/tv or can be pitched to other artists. It's a very cool concept that happens to work extremely well.
I got to Tulsa on Wednesday night. Because of my schedule I could only work out going for 2 full days of the 6 (they started on Monday). I got picked up by Hanson's assistant Rebecca. We had a nice trip out into "the boonies" as Rebecca referred to it, talking about how she got a ticket driving out there the night before. We finally got to the house/studio and the guys were working on recording the songs they wrote that day. Hanson has a 2 studio recording complex that is part of a ranch-style house. They have room A and room B. Room A is an actual studio, Room B is really part of the house, but they have converted in nicely into a very nice live room.
When I walked in, the studios were in a frenzy because both of their engineers had falled down with the flu. So, no pros recording, and some of the audio setups within Pro Tools are pretty complex, so everyone was doing acoustic demos. The songs that I heard seem to lend themselves to acoustic demos anyway. I walked into studio B where Jason Mraz and Pat McGee were working on recording 2 songs they wrote that day. Jason sat down and played and sang the song in one take. It was amazing. The song was great and Jason sang every freaking note in tune. Amazing. Then Pat sang some bgv's and threw down another guitar part.
Several other songs were recorded, but the first night was a blur. I was just meeting everyone and trying to process everyone's name. Kate Voegel who is an artist on myspace records was there on Wednesday but left Thursday morning bright and early, so my time meeting her was short-lived. People kept on working until about 1am when I finally headed up to my bedroom and got some sleep.
I woke up the next morning about 10am and went down, got some breakfast and started working on a couple of ideas I had on my own (everyone else was either not up yet or eating breakfast. Then they broke us up into groups and I was put with Pat McGee and a guy named Kai Kennedy from a band called Locksley. I'll give more info on everybody later. We got to working and worked through 3-4 different ideas before settling on a Counting Crows-like alt-country song. It took us a long time to perfect it, but it turned out very good. It's called "Wait for Me"...the basic premise is a guy who's going out on the road and he and his woman are struggling in their relationship, so as he leaves to hit the road, he says, "I wouldn't wait for me...I'm done making promises I know I can't keep...I wouldn't wait for me...but for once I'm hoping that you don't agree." It was a nice little lyrical turnaround.
When we finished the song, we headed over to the studio,but someone was already working on their song, so I went over to Studio A where Isaac Hanson, Jason Mraz and a guy named Zac Malloy were recording the song they wrote. It was a song called "The Story of Your Life"...cheesy title (but I don't know that another title would work) but seriously one of the most genius songs I've heard in a long time.
This is a little side note...I've never really bought into the whole idea that certain great songwriters are on higher level than other great songwriters. I think once you reach a certain level as a songwriter, it's tough to be consistently better...you know, you might throw out the occasional "incredible" song - we all do at some point - but it's touch to be consistently better. Well, with Jason Mraz I saw my first instance of a writer being incredibly greater than me on a consistent basis. It's so fluid for him. Not to take away from the guys writing with him because Isaac and Zac are incredible in their own right, but I heard 5 songs that he wrote and all of them were "next level" songs, especially from a lyrical standpoint. Incredible.
Another side note is this: people are stupid who diss the Hansons. Seriously these guys are some of the smartest, savviest, most incredible musicians I've met. They are serious about their craft and they have serious skills. Don't diss Hanson.
Anyway, we laid down our song. Pat played some acoustic guitar and tambourine, Kai played electric and bass and Zac Hanson played drums. And then I sang the song. It ended up really cool.
We all hung out talking and listening to each other's songs...it was this great communal atmosphere of just everyone cheering each other on.
Finally, about 1:30am I went to bed. I again woke up about 10 and ate some breakfast. Apparently several people were up till 4:30 so we didn't get started until about noon. This day, I got to write with Isaac Hanson and Jesse Laz-Hirsch, the lead singer of the band Locksley (Kai was the guitar player for the band). Isaac had taken Jason to the airport and crashed back at his house, so he was a bit late, so Jesse and I started working on a song. It started off with me just playing a wurly and it slowly morphed into a Justin Timberlake-type song. We wrote the song really quickly. By the time Isaac got there, the song was basically complete, as far as form and basic lyric content. So, we headed down to record.
I played a wurly loop and then Isaac went over and recorded a drum loop with live drums. We basically found a couple of measures that worked for the loop and them looped it over and over again. Jesse had a very clear vision of where he wanted the song to go, so he kind of drove the boat on the production side of things. I laid down a guide vocal. After that, we began working on recording the instruments. I wasn't feeling well - I think everyone out there was fighting off the flu - so I took about an hour nap. When I woke up I felt much better and went back down to the studio where the song was almost done. It sounded great! Isaac did some cool guitar stuff and Jesse had layered acoustic and bass and piano on top of the track, as well as some bgv's. To end up, I laid down the final vocal as well as some bgv's. It really turned out cool...just a vibey, jammy track that starts off kind of Timberlake-y but ends up kind of funky pop/rock.
After we finished I again went to check out other guy's stuff. Zac Mallow, Taylor Hanson and Andrew Finn wrote this great song that was somewhere between Gavin DeGraw (it's a rhodes-based song) and Marc Broussard. They worked on that for a long while and it sounded great! In the other studio, Pat was working on the song he wrote with Stephen Kellogg and Keaton Simons. Another great song...very Counting Crows-like. Very cool.
While they were working on that, I went down to one of the writer's room and heard Zac Hanson messing around. I went in and we just jammed for a little bit and then really started writing a song. We took this idea of a train ride being a metaphor for love and wrote this beautiful, hooky song based on the idea. It ended up being my favorite song from the week. We finished the song about 12:45am and waited a while to see if we could record it. Finally at 1:30, I decided that sleep was vital, and Zac said he would get some of the guys to help him record the song the next day.
I woke up at 4:30am to head to the airport. Stephen Kellogg and Pat both had 7am flights. The studio is about 40 minutes from the airport, so it wouldn't make sense for someone to have to drive me separate for a flight an hour and a half later. So, I just bit the bullet and got to the airport 3 hours before my flight left. Unfortunately Southwest didn't open up till 7, so I had a good hour and a half to waste, so I went up and got some Starbucks (venti White Chocolate mocha). And I listened to music for an hour and a half...it was nice.
I am in the midst of creating a reality tv show that I'll be pitching to the networks very soon. So, I spent some time when I got to Kansas City (a 2 hour layover) to really work out some of the finer points of the treatment, how the competition will work, how the shows work, etc. I can't give more details right now just because it is in development, but I've shown the idea to several people in the industry and everyone thinks that it's a viable idea that could get picked up pretty easily, with the right people attached. So, we'll see.
Here were the people involved at Fool's Banquet:
Isaac Hanson - the oldest Hanson (the guitar player/singer)
Taylor Hanson - the middle Hanson (he's the guy who's voice you know)
Zac Hanson - the youngest (the drummer and singer)
Pat McGee - Pat's a solo artist with a band. He was signed for a while, but now does the indie thing. He is an incredible writer/singer. You need to check him out. myspace.com/patmcgeeband
Keaton Simons - this dude is the real deal. He is an incredible musician, an incredible singer and an incredible writer. He has an album coming out in May and has played with Josh Kelley, Gnarls Barkley and several others. You will want to buy the album. Check out his music at myspace.com/keatonsimons or keatonsimons.com
Jesse Laz-Hirsch/Kai Kennedy - lead singer and guitarist of Locksley, a very popular indie band. They've been featured in Rolling Stone, Blender, etc. and are one of myspace's top bands. Their music is kind of like the Beatles meet Nirvana. Very cool stuff. myspace.com/locksley
Stephen Kellogg - a singer songwriter who was signed for a while to Universal but recently went indie to work with a label attached to Red Light Management. Very talented, quirky guy. He was my roomie for the two days. Check out stephenkellogg.com
Zac Malloy - he came a day after I did, so I didn't get to know him that well. He was in a band called the Nixons and is now a producer. Great writer, though.
Jason Mraz - of course, you must know who he is. Chris Rich sang his song "Geek in the Pink" on the show. He is a remarkable singer/songwriter. Check out his myspace (myspace.com/jasonmraz)
Andrew Ripp - Andrew has a cool story. He was working and decided he wanted to be a musician so he wrote some songs that fell into the hands of Joe Simpson (yes, Jessica's dad) who had Ryan Cabrera record a couple of them. From that, Andrew has moved into music fulltime and has an album coming out late-spring or early summer. I'm not sure of a website for him. By the way, this dude has one of the best voices I've heard in a long time.
January 28, 2008
I'll have more info later, but I just got asked to be a part of a songwriting summit with some of today's biggest songwriters! They are flying about 10 of us out to write and record for 3 days and they picked me to be a part of it. In the past, this writing conference has had Adam Schlessinger (Fountains of Wayne), Gavin DeGraw, Jason Mraz, Hanson and many others. I am not sure who all is coming this year, but just being included is a huge honor. I leave Wednesday and will be back Sunday, so I'll give more info later.
Another cool thing is that it is being filmed for a big series on A&E this summer...so being involved really is a huge opportunity.
I'll try to blog every day to let you guys in on who all is involved and what is happening.
By the way, the final mastered version of Empty Me is up on myspace. It will begin to be heard on radio very soon...the official add date is now February 22, but some stations will be adding it on the 15th.
January 15, 2008
The first single is officially Empty Me. It hits radio on February 22, though some stations will be adding it beforehand.
Also, the official release date of the album is now May 6.
January 6, 2008
Or if you can't get it here then...
January 5, 2008
Well, after a while of thinking it through and trying to figure out if I had the resources to pull it off, I finally decided to start my production company. Obviously, I've self-produced my stuff for a long time and from time to time have done other artists (3 so far to be exact). As I've worked on my records I have watched and learned from pros and I finally feel confident with my body of work to be able to offer good production skills to others.
So, if you know bands looking to make an album or an EP or a solo artist looking to put something together, then have them check out my new myspace - myspace.com/chrisslighproductions. I have 6 songs or demos I've produced. I also will be putting up several songwriting demos and other things I've produced as I go along.
Obviously, as an artist I don't have a ton of time to devote, but any off-time I have I am hoping to be in the studio with other artists. In fact, I'm looking to fill up some time during the summer in between weekend gigs. So, send people over there.
November 25, 2007
So part of what I've been doing over the last couple of months, along with writing for my album, obviously, is writing with the purpose of getting cuts on others people's records. A few weeks ago, I wrote a song with 2 guys, Tony Wood and Chris Rodriguez called Within These Walls that we are in the midst of pitching for a country cut and it looks pretty good for that one.
All in all, I have about 60 songs that we're going to be pitching once I sign my publishing deal.
However, this post is about a specific song that I'm very excited about. I wrote a song called "Can Do Man" with a new friend of mine name Clint Lagerberg. Clint and I hit it off at a writing session a coupla weeks ago (and re-wrote "Empty Me") and have gotten back together twice now, and in our 2nd & 3rd sessions, we wrote "Can Do Man" and recorded the demo.
The demo is just finished. And I thought you guys might enjoy hearing some of the other stuff I'm writing.
Click HERE and click on Can Do Man.
November 11, 2007
Well, last night I played a show with 2 other bands (The Lasting and the Josh Campbell band) at Rocketown. It was my first performance time since the AI tour and the first time since April performing my own material, so it was a nice beginning to my official solo career.
We thought about bringing my band up, but it was a small industry show, with several record label and publishing execs there, and since both of the artists playing with me on the bill were bands, my management and I thought it might be fun to do an acoustic show.
I was the headliner of the show, which I'm not sure how that worked out, since they added me to the show last week...but hey that's cool. I got there for soundcheck to find everything running behind, so Mitch and his family and Sarah and I went and grabbed food from a place downtown.
We got back in time to catch both acts and I have to say that the Josh Campbell band was incredible. Really good songs and a tight 3 piece...Josh is a very good guitar player, too. The Lasting was incredibly tight...you don't see a lot of bands with this good of chemistry. So, both bands were very, very good.
After all the rocking out I'd seen, I felt a little weird getting up and just strumming an acoustic, but that is what management thought would be great.
Now, I haven't played an acoustic show in probably 4-5 years. I'm a band guy. But now that I'm a solo band guy my management may want to send me out on acoustic tours, just because it's easier to make a profit if you don't have to pay 4-5 other people in a band. I was obviously kind of nervous about that just because it's been so long since I've done the acoustic thing. So, this show was a kind of test for Mitch to see if my acoustic show sucked or if I should do more of it.
I performed a 7 song set (30 minutes) and just played acoustic versions of the songs - nothing special. In between songs, I just kind of bantereed with the crowd and told stories...I just basically had fun on stage. And I think it went really well. Mitch came up afterwards and said that he thinks we'll do a lot more acoustic stuff just because it worked well. So, though my guitar playing is nothing to write home about, I guess it's good enough to carry at least a short acoustic show.
So, the 1st show is out of the way. Many, many more to come.
October 24, 2007
Well, the last 3 days have been great.
Monday, we met with my agent at CAA L.A. and talked about where we wanted to take the career on the acting side of things. We came up with a game plan, and she in return set up meetings with several casting directors. I was encouraged because of her excitement as she realized that I had the energy and excitement to pursue both music and acting. We're working on getting me into guest spots on existing tv shows, once the strike gets figured out, we're going to be putting me into auditions for new shows, and we also are going to work on the film side...thus, the meetings with casting directors.
Yesterday, I met with 2 casting directors for major studios. That went incredibly well. I seriously could not be more excited that I will at least have the opportunity to audition and be considered for movie roles. Both of the casting directors commented on my look being quite unique and that, in this case, unique was good. In fact, there are films I'm already being considered for. That, to me, is exciting.
I mentioned this in a former post, but I'll re-interate and expand. Most actors and musicians who never quite "make it" never put the blame on their talent, but usually put it on the fact that they never got the chance to prove their talent. I'm in a very unique position that it looks like I will get the chances in both arenas. It's all going to come down to my talent. At least at the end of the day, if I never make it in acting, it will not be because I didn't get the chance but because I just didnt have it. I can live with that. When I'm old, I'll be able to say I gave it my all and got the chances.
On another note: it looks like the winds are finally dying down out here Cali. For the first time, where I am staying I see some ash in the air, but I don't see any smoke. So, I don't know where it's coming from. But all reports I see on the news show that the fires seem to be closer to being controlled. So that is exciting and hopeful.
September 5, 2007
s of today, I've officially signed with my management company, Blanton, Harrell, Cooke and Corzine.
Michael Blanton and Dan Harrell are two of Christian Music's pioneers. They were the dreamers of the early days of what we call Christian Contemporary Music. They were two of the main men who pushed CCM to become better art, enhancing production values, bringing the "show" to Christian concerts, and encouraging artists to not only reach out to the church, but make music that could be accepted as art in the mainstream while presenting truth.
Michael Blanton and Dan Harrell have managed both Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith since the beginning of thier careers. The management firm now includes Jennifer Cooke & Chazz Corzine, who act as the personal managers to Amy & Smitty respectively. The firm now manages Point of Grace, Bebo Norman and Aaron Shust as well as some newer artists that will be announced shortly.
Basically, these guys are some of the most powerful men and women in CCM, but they also have proved themselves on the mainstream side of things. So, it's with great excitement that I look forward to learning and working with this company. I think that this is the first step in a lot of really, really great things to come.
September 5, 2008
In the 90's there was a popular Christian band called DCTalk. If you remember, the last week of the semi-finals, I sang "Wanna Be Loved" from DCTalk's album "Supernatural". Anyway, the band was made up of TobyMac, Michael Tait and Kevin Max.
In April, I got to meet Kevin at GMA week and he asked me to be a part of his new album "The Blood". Kevin had decided to make a personal record on his own, with no label, just distribution, that would be an album of Sprituals, Black Gospel and such. He asked me to be a part of the song "God's Gonna Cut You Down". Johnny Cash did a version of the song on one of his American Albums and the Blind Boys of Alabama did it also. And for you AI nuts, Sean Michel did it this season for his original audition in Memphis.
Anyway, the version that we did is an upbeat, almost fun version of the song, which is interesting since, lyrically, the song is anything but fun.
I recently went into the studio and recorded the song with Kevin and just got the master back...guys, I am so excited about this. I went in early in the morning and was worried how it would turn out, but I think I did some of the best singing I've ever done. The part of the song I sang afforded me the chance to really just sing, so that was a lot of fun.
Anyway, the album comes out in January, and it looks like, at this point, that my song is going to be the 2nd single (the 1st single is the first DCTalk reuinion since like 1999 or something like that).
How cool is it that I got to record with one of my "idols"? And it might be a single?
It's pretty cool.
September 4, 2007
If you remember, back in May, I mentioned something that was huge that I couldn't talk about. Well, the day has come to let you know:
Some may know, some may not know that Dreamworks Pictures is taking Shrek to broadway. It is going to be absolutely huge.
I was asked to be Shrek. I auditioned for the director and casting director, then I met with those guys again, with the composer and lyricist, as well as Jeffrey Katzenberg. They asked me to be Shrek and management and my agent tried to work the schedules out, but too many schedules would've had to change for one. It would've been great for the role to work out, but unfortunately the cast went into reading at the end of August, and I was, of course, on tour with American Idol. I would've loved for it to be worked out, but the timing just wasn't quite right. Everything happens for a reason...but I can take pride in the fact that I was asked to do something so substantial so early in my career.
Anyway, much more career news to come soon.
And I hope you're like me: looking forward to seeing Shrek on Broadway.
June 12, 2007
Last night, we had a get-together of friends from church, my band, and some of my closest friends in the world (who don't go to our church). It was fantastic to remind myself of why all of this dream-making means so much - the friends back home supporting us. The people who I knew and loved before all this are still loved, and they love Sarah and I no differently than before...that means a lot.
It was a great night, as we said goodbye for a while, some till September, some for longer (our friends Will and Alison Gray are moving Scotland 5 days before I get back). But we'll keep in touch.
Today, though, I'm off to La La land.
Then it's off to the tour.
Life is good.
March 30, 2007
Just wanted to say thank you for helping put Half Past Forever's album up to #22 on Amazon yesterday. Please spread the word. I wrote these songs and long for many, many to hear them. You guys can act as my street team.
Once again, thank you for all the support you've give me over my time on the show. I am undeserving.