Recently I was able to sit down with Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music and Rumbleseat. During this short interview I was able to ask Chuck about his plans for the next couple of months, what his home life is like and the epic-ness of his beard.
You didn’t do the Revival Tour this year; the past two years you did it in the fall. Rumor has it that it isn’t being cancelled, just pushed to next spring. Can you shed more light on what’s going on with the Revival Tour?
We did do it this year; we just did a shorter run and brought it to Australia.
OK, so you just didn’t do it in the U.S. this year?
Exactly, pretty much what we’re doing is making it an annual and international event. At this point we haven’t nailed down a specific time or area that it will happen every year. It could change all the time. What we decided to do was move the run in the States to February and March, to be quite honest, because touring in the fall is tough. A lot of bands are out and it just becomes saturated. I think of the Average Joe who works a simple job and goes out to the local venue and there may be 5 or 6 shows that they want to see that week. When you’re steady working and getting by like we all are, how often can you buy a ticket, drinks or food, bring a friend, whatever. Its tough, it gets expensive and in the fall its been like that. In the fall its both good and bad. It’s great because there are tons of shows to choose from but from other perspectives it’s a tough place to be.
Gotcha, so then you’re going to try and hit as many countries and continents as possible.
Exactly, basically in 2011 we’ll start with the states. That’ll be in February and March. After that we’re working on the UK and the rest of Europe, then Canada and Australia. Repeat the cycle and keep it going.
Ok, while on the subject of touring who are some artists or bands that you would love to tour with that you haven’t yet, either on the Revival Tour or any tour to be honest?
Oh man, there’s a lot of people. I have yet to do a run with William Elliot Whitmore. I like him quite a bit. Billy Bragg.
That would be amazing
It would be amazing. The list is very very long. The one thing that’s crazy about hosting and organizing the revival tour is it’s been years since I’ve been this hungry for music, just constantly search for new music. My wife and I have just been looking for new artists, people we normally wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s just so exciting and it’s rekindled the old fire of finding music.
Who are some artists you’ve been into lately?
I’ve been into Ben Nichols of Lucero and his solo stuff. A while ago he put out a record called “ The Last Pale Light in the West.” To me it is one of the most gorgeous, beautiful pieces of work that I’ve ever heard any singer/songwriter do. It’s a concept album, extremely deep, very moving, yet when they recorded it they did it in a few hours. When I listen to it, knowing what it takes to make a record and thinking about how fast they recorded it makes it all that more special to me. Another group I’ve been getting into is called the Devil Makes Three from Davis, California. Jessica Lea Mayfield is another artist who has been blowing my mind; the Anderson Family Bluegrass band and Paige Anderson herself are others. I could go on and on.
You did a split with them a while back didn’t you?
I did. Speaking of Paige, she’s the oldest child in the Anderson family and she’s just started to write her own music and getting ready to put out a record.
Really, how old is she?
She just turned 16.
Wow. I thought she was younger. I thought she was 14.
Well when I met her she had just turned 13 years old.
Ok, well, what do you do when you aren’t on tour?
Well my wife and I have a 2-year-old chocolate lab so everything pretty much revolves around the dog. We also do a lot of hiking and walking and I try to fish as much as I can. Our dog is a hunting dog so we try and take her out to do that. Normally if we’re not with the dog we’re working on our house or getting ready for the next run. Even though we have time off between tours usually we spend time between tours preparing for the next one.
So I know your wife has been going on tour with you selling merch since the earlier tours. Is she still doing that?
Yeah, she’s here tonight actually.
Awesome, I haven’t seen you since last year’s revival tour in November. So I wasn’t sure if she was still did that. I’m glad to know she is.
Our dog is actually here. We had these southern California shows and decided to make it a little camping trip. We camped in Big Sur and stayed in Santa Barbara with some friends. After these next few shows we’re heading back north. Since we got our dog she doesn’t go on many of the longer runs.
I see, and with this tour it’s more of a vacation with lots of pit stops.
Well it’s trying to be but it’s been a lot of traffic so far.
Ok, well while we’re on the subject of touring where are some places you haven’t toured yet but want to?
I’ve never played in Hawaii or Alaska. I just went to Hawaii for the first time but I didn’t play. I played Japan years ago with Hot Water Music but I’d love to go back and do some solo stuff. Frank Turner just did the Revival Tour with us in Australia and we left him there so he went on to play New Zealand. Then he went to Asia and played Hong Kong and some other places and just came back raving about it telling me I have to go. So that’s next on the list.
Awesome. Well, what are some places that you have been you that you just really enjoy, touring or for fun?
Well Alaska has been one of my favorite places to go but like I said I’ve never played there. As a kid, my mom did a lot of work when she was entertaining on cruise lines and we would go up there often. Australia has always been one of our favorite places to tour by far. That place is just unreal, the people, the food, and the organization of the shows down there.
You put out a lot of music, either through Side One Dummy or your own label, so what I want to know is how much music do you normally write and how do you decide where it will end up?
Well I’m constantly writing and for me first and foremost I just feel like it’s a necessity. It a therapy for me, its constantly coming out in one form or the other and I’m always recording or laying it down. Sometimes I’ll finish it and sometimes I’ll leave it for a couple of months, years and I’ll find it down the road and it’ll make sense to me and I finish it. The writing process always changes and happens in a lot of different ways. Sometimes it’ll just be music first and I’ll lay it down and sometimes I’m just scribbling on paper. In terms of releasing it a lot of times it’ll just be friends coming up with a game plan. Someone will say “ I have a few songs” and then its just kind of seeing if it feels good and it feels finish then we’re getting it out there. Releasing things can happen a lot of different ways but a lot of times there’s no rhyme or reason. Pretty much just put out whatever’s finished.
Nice. So my last question is really more of a joke question but here it goes. A lot of people in the punk scene view your beard as the pinnacle of manliness. So my question is how do you feel about this and have fans ever approached you about your beard or even been disappointed when you show up clean shaved?
I don’t even know how to answer that. Well it’s the reason why I shaved tonight, because I knew you were going to ask this question. Well I’ve heard a few people ask “Where’s the beard?” when I shave but I’ve never thought too much about it. I probably shave 7 or 8 times a year and when I do I go all around.
There is even an image describing in detail how manly you are. It says you use gasoline as after-shave
It also says that when you go hunting you don’t have to shoot the animals. You just have to stare at them an they go to your freezer because “they know.”
That’s also true. There’s less blood that way.
To finish up the beard related questions, do you participate in beard-related month long holidays such as Novembeard or Decembeard?
I’ve never even heard of that.
You haven’t? Well it’s pretty basic you just don’t shave in either November of December whichever month you choose to participate in or both if you’re doing both. There is even March Mustache Madness where you try to grow the best mustache you can. There’s quite a few facial hair related holidays. There’s even Manuary.
It looks like I need to take more breaks then.
Well I want to thank you for doing the interview. It was an honor and a pleasure.
Well you’re very welcome.