There are few things less embarrassing than nervously interviewing one of your saviors of music, while throwing around corny jokes about trail mix and fumbling your words. However, despite my maybe apparent skittish demeanor, I learned a thing or two about Christopher Owens—aside from his snack choice at Whole Foods. While en route to Dallas to perform for his current tour, the virtuoso reveals why he downsized into a four-piece band, some places he hopes to visit, and his respect for The Beatles.
Christopher Owens has just released his third solo album, Chrissybaby Forever, a voluminous 16-track ensemble featuring notable songs like “Coffee And Tea,” “Selfish Feelings,” “Susanna,” and “I Love You Like I Do”—as beautiful as ever. He is also in the middle of a USA tour, with stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Although he remains busy with tons of written material in depot, Christopher tells me that the goal after tour is to go home, take some time off and see what he could record in the future, but will probably play some more soon. That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed a ton of downtime, however. “Writing happens on its own,” Owens says. “I never really block out time for writing. Writing could happen anytime, anywhere. I’m not too concerned with it because I have a lot of stuff I’ve already written, so it would be good to record in the future.” Love that Christopher Owens style, go with the flow and let it all unfold into lovely albums.
Last year in Brooklyn, I went to see Christopher Owens perform, ended up crying from the abundance of wonderment and fascination. He played all my favorite Girls’ songs (his previous band, broken up in 2012), along with his new alluring solo material. However, where I saw it as the end of Girls, it was actually just a progression of his music. When asked if Girls would always be part of his tour, he replied, “I don’t see why not. They are my songs, I don’t see it as Girls material.” There you have it, he’s forever the wizard behind the curtain.
Christopher had expressed that he put quite a bit of thought and effort into making a nice live band for this record, as he now plays with a four-piece. “Big bands are difficult to tour with, just on a technical level,” Owens explains. The new album was made pretty much by himself, with an engineer/producer/technical guy, according to Owens. “I picked the songs that I could do by myself, minimal—a little bit scrappy, or sassy, or whatever.”
The simpler band would make it easier for Owens to travel more. “I think something that would be interesting would be something I haven’t done… a more extensive tour of Japan or play in Eastern Europe.” In the future he hopes to explore, maybe even make it out to Hong Kong. And he sure does love to be on the road, live performances fueling him. “Getting on the road live and seeing everyone from teenagers to older adults, really enjoying the show, is very reassuring. … You can go for long periods of time without seeing people and not knowing what they think. I try not to tell online, I don’t like to feel the temperature of things online. It’s such a treacherous place.”
All tweets and status comments aside, what does Christopher Owens need reassuring for? “I am kind of just going with the flow, but hopefully things play out in such a way where I can continue to do this. I think people get from artists what they give to artists, you know? Some of these amazing bands, like The Beatles for example. They did those great records because they were allowed to by the public.” I spoke for all listeners, as I assured him recognition.
He’s surely in a happier place, with visions of The Children of God and a heroin addiction behind him. And as complex and brilliant of a human being Owens is, he’s still not a specimen to be examined. I loved the concentration of our interview on his evolution, not solely on an emotional level, but on his purpose for us on Earth. “I just hope I’m allowed in the future to do interesting things. You know, I don’t want to resort to making music for myself ONLY again. That’s kind of the only thing that I hope progresses.”
Christopher Owens will be performing on June 20 at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn and on June 21 at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan. By way of Turnstile Music, his newly released third solo album, Chrissybaby Forever, is available now. You can go to his website for more information at christopherowensonline.com.