Chris was born in San Francisco in 1972 and moved to San Diego ten years later. He began playing the piano at age four, the cello at age seven and drums at age ten. Growing up, he spent most of his time surfing in the La Jolla area, skateboarding, practicing drums and guitar and writing music. Chris played in several bands during high school, and joined his first professional group in 1990 right before graduation. That band, Fishwife, began touring 1991 and kicked off Chris' career as a professional musician. He went on to play in several notable San Diego bands, including Tanner, Hemlock, Rocket From the Crypt, and No Knife. In between tours, Chris began giving drum lessons at a local music shop, as well as going to college, eventually graduating with honors from U.C.S.D. with a bachelors degree in Jazz Studies/Percussion. Currently, Chris is the touring drummer for the San Diego band Pinback, and plays guitar in his own band, The Jade Shader. Chris lives in Encinitas, CA with his wife and daughter and has another child on the way (Congrats Chris!). Baja Bound caught up with Chris at the tail end of a European tour with Pinback.
BB: How is the European tour going so far?
CP: The tour is great. We've had a little time off in Brugge, Belgium and it's a great town to sight see in. Also, this part of Europe has nice, short drives so we don't have to spend all day in a cramped van looking out the window.
BB: Is there any particular city you have enjoyed the most?
CP: I'd have to say Brugge, since we had extra time there. I am sure there were so many other things to see but there's never time with the fast pace of the tours.
BB: What is a typical day like on tour?
CP: Well in Europe it's different from the states but here's a breakdown of a usual day. Up in the morning in time for the free hotel breakfast. They have them at virtually every European hotel. It's pretty good and a great way to save money too since the dollar is so weak against the Euro these days. Eating many meals out can really dent your wallet on tour! Then we jump in the van and rush off to the next city. Often, if we arrive early (short drive days) we go the city center and look around or go to the hotel and explore that area. Then we'll load into the clubs in the afternoon. At this point we'll set up and troubleshoot any gear problems (there are almost always some technical snags) and get our monitor mixes set up. Then we'll finish sound check and grab some food. Another unique thing about Europe is that they'll often prepare meals for the bands and it's usually pretty great stuff. In the US you are mostly on your own and are subject to the food that is in walking distance from the club. At this point we'll check out the opening band and keep our fingers crossed that it's something interesting. Then we'll play our set and meet with the audience after the show. After packing up we may head out for drinks at a local pub or just crash at the hotel. Then we are up and repeat the activities the next day.
BB: What is the best/worst thing about constantly being on the road?
CP: For me the best thing is being able to play music everyday. The shows with Pinback are usually pretty good and I can appreciate that after 18 years of struggling to get 100 people at your shows. It's nice to have big crowds there to listen to the music that we make. I definitely don't take it for granted. The worst thing is missing my family. I have a 2 year old daughter and she is hard to leave. When kids are that age there are so many changes, so being gone for 6 weeks feels like an eternity.
BB: After being in numerous bands, logging thousands of miles on the road and playing hundreds and hundreds of shows, what keeps you motivated to create and play music?
CP: I can't really say for sure. Music is just what I do and have always done so I don't really know any other way to live. New experiences are a big one I suppose. After 10 times visiting the same city you start looking for new things to keep it interesting or else it may start feeling like a job. Traveling to new places is a huge perk for this sort of work. Japan is amazing and I really enjoy Europe. I'd love to make it to South America someday too.
BB: After the European tour, Pinback is doing a full U.S. tour that have you out on the road until the beginning of October. What do you have planned after that tour wraps up?
CP: After that I suppose I'll finish some recording projects that are not completed and continue with my teaching. It is a little hard to keep leaving my students when they get bummed out that I am only around half the time. A little consistency can go a long way when you are teaching. My wife is also having another baby in November so we'll be busy with that for sure!
BB: Any other fun or interesting tour stories to share?
CP: There are so many that come to mind. I could go on and on about it but I'll spare you. The early days were pretty crazy for sure. Touring as a 36 year-old is a lot different from touring as a 19 year old. We still enjoy ourselves but are a bit more toned down. Less partying and more sightseeing. Or maybe I should say less partying and more sleep! I see this as an opportunity play music, travel the world and make a little money too. It's important to be professional and play your best. I know there are a bunch of people who would jump at the chance to do this so I have to remember that and continue to be the right guy for the job. If partying gets in the way of professionalism then the right balance is not being achieved.