Episode 06 Transcript: Chris Whitehall from The Griswolds
Chris Whitehall from The Griswolds & Danny Carissimi From The Sugar High Podcast
Danny: So Chris right now is pouring shots.
Chris: Two shots.
Danny: Two shots.
Chris: One for me and one for my homeboy.
Danny: Chris, is tequila your favorite liquor, spirit?
Chris: Tequila is the drink when I know I want to have a blow out when I know I want to have a big night on the town. And I know that I just don't give a fuck, then I will, I would definitely start on the tequilas, but it always ends up unhappy, I'll give you that. All right. Here we go.
Danny: Here we go. All right. One shot. No chasers.
Chris: Oh, what shall we cheers to?
Danny: To Australia. To which you're headed back tomorrow.
Chris: I am headed back to Dallas.
Danny: I'm not going. I wish I was.
Chris: I wish you were too, brother. [...] I feel like you can give me any American state, and I would know, or if you give me any American city I would know.
Danny: I'm gonna quiz you right now.
Chris: What, you're going to quiz me right now? OK. OK.
Danny: Good. OK.
Chris: That was a hard one.
Chris: Oh, North Carolina.
Danny: Well obviously. Tulsa.
Chris: Oh damn. That as a difficult, difficult one.
Danny: Little Rock--we stopped in Little Rock, and oddly enough, we had sushi.
Chris: You know what, I'm going to say Little Rock is in Arkansas.
Danny: It is, fuck.
Chris: OH MY GOD.
Danny: I'm going to go with a harder one.
Chris: Do the hardest you’ve got.
Danny: You already said Portland, Oregon. Where's the second Portland? We’ve been there, and we had donuts with our old sound guy Devin.
Chris: There’s a second Portland?
Danny: Yeah we had those potato donuts.
Chris: Oh is it, is it Rhode Island?
Danny: It's near Rhode Islan.
Chris: Damn it.
Danny: It’s in Maine. Portland, Maine.
Chris: Rhode Island, Maine, same thing.
Danny: Can you tell me by the time that you join your fraternity?
Chris: Oh I would love to tell that story. This is my favorite story. I will be in the place was called Schenectady. Did I pronounce it correct?
Danny: To be honest with you I don’t know; I always say it's ske-nek-daddy, but I don't think that's actually how you pronounce it.
Chris: I think I could pronounce that correctly, seeing as I'm a frat boy in the city.
Danny: Yeah, well you're a member of the frat.
Chris: Schenectady in Pennsylvania.
Danny: No, it's in New York.
Danny: We flew there to play with Shaggy.
Chris: And Plain White T’s--”Hey There Delilah.” So yes, Shaggy. I mean, that was an exceptional experience.
Danny: But everyone else left, by the way. We got done playing early and everyone else was like, “Dude we're going.”
Chris: The rest of the band was like, “We’re going home to go watch movies.” I stayed in Schenectady because I met a couple of college students. I was skateboarding around. I just stole some--I feel like I just took some college kid’s skateboard and was like skating around the campus and then and then I became like, Tom Green and you know the cool, cool older college player. And I was skating around and these dudes were like, “Hey come hang out with us! You’re in the band? Come have some drinks with us.” And it was like is totally like, my crazy Almost Famous moment. And they took me back to their frat, which, I've never seen a frat because we don't have these in Australia like college campuses and things like that, those things are not a big deal in Australia or at all. So I went back to this frat house there's pinball and ping pong and dudes are like got tequila bottles hiding under their pillows. It's this whole crazy world. I'm literally like, in this crazy frat house I got no idea what's going on. I'm like, I'm like literally at this point God knows how many years older than these kids. They invite me into their frat party, and I get signed up into their frat which, I think is a Delta Kappa Epsilon. Did I do that correct?
Danny: I think. Yeah, I think that's what Matthew McConaughey is.
Chris: I've always felt like me and Matthew McConaughey had a strange connection.
Danny: I thought so as well.
Chris: So, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and like they teach me their song, and they make me drink a shot out of like one of the college students buttcracks. And that was fun.
Danny: So like the shot glass was wedged into--
Chris: It was wedged into the very beautiful butt crack of this beautiful student. His name was Steve, and I took this shot and then they made me sing the song which, of course I don't remember. And officially I was signed, and I have a certificate and everything to say I was signed in Delta Kappa Epsilon.
Danny: Did you learn the handshake?
Chris: I learnt the handshake--apparently at this point, I mean, I don't remember it. I couldn't do it. But apparently if I did remember it, I could actually stay for free in most states in America. I could sleep for free. But I don’t know the handshake anymore, so it's irrelevant. And I believe I'm still in it to this day.
Danny: I think you’re a member for life.
Chris: This is one of the wildest, craziest nights, definitely of this year. And yeah these kids are crazy what they were hiding in there in their college beds. Actually I think I gave my AA pass to one kid and he jumped up on stage with Shaggy and started pretending to play a keyboard.
Danny: You're from Sydney. I know this.
Chris: Born and raised.
Danny: You're born and raised, but like are you from like central Sydney?
Chris: I grew up in the West, which in Sydney is pretty nice, it's cool. It's a cool place. It's just outside of the city, and it's beautiful, it's a suburbia goes. It was a pretty area to live.
Danny: Your parents were divorced.
Chris: Not at that stage, but later on.
Danny: Did you split time between your parents’ houses?
Chris: Not really. I mean, me and mum are like, golden. My mum is probably like, the most beautiful woman. She's honestly the most genuine, loving--I don't think I've ever say--I’ve never heard her say a horrible word about anyone, even if I can tell she's feeling it, she holds it back. I don't even think I've heard her swear.
Danny: Did you play music from an early age?
Chris: I had a drum kit that my parents bought my brother.
Danny: You played the drums in the original EP right?
Chris: Well at least I wrote them, and played some of them. We did have like a different drummer back then. But yeah, drumming was like my first instrument. My parents bought the drum kit and then I like to joke that like six months later the drum kit just vanished, and mum and dad were like “Oh yeah the drum kit vanished, I don't know what happened to it!” I was like as a kid I was like “Nooo!” And later in life I realized that they're just assholes and just stole it away. But I was much more raised by my older brothers, I think, like especially when music was involved. They were the ones that played guitar.
Danny: Older siblings can play that role, I think.
Chris: They play that role, and like, they're almost better parents than your parents; especially my parents, who were very heavily religious and only listen to Christian music. Like, that's all they ever listened to. So I thank God for my brothers.
Danny: When you say you mostly listened to Christian music, like, what kind of stuff is it? Like just like, Christian rock?
Chris: Sort of, not even really like--they just listen to church music, mostly. Like there's a very, very large church in Australia called Hillsong, which a lot of people probably have heard of through whatever means. They would love this. They would just put the shit on in our house like, constantly, and and it was all we grew up on like listening and I was like, oh God like, this is shit.
Danny: Was there a moment where like you remember one of your older brothers introducing you to some just some rock?
Chris: They woke me up. Yeah. My eldest brother just like handed me a bunch of albums and was like, you know, like, don't tell mom, hide this from Mom and Dad, listen to this, like when you can.
Danny: You had to hide them?
Chris: I had to hide them, yeah. They honestly like--I could if I could put it one way, my parents wouldn't let me listen to the fucking--sorry, wouldn't let me watch The Simpsons.
Danny: Was there any album in particular out likely be the ones your brother is giving you that like--
Chris: Oh for sure about that. Like oh Nevermind, by Nirvana. They blew my mind.
Danny: Same thing with me.
Chris: I fell in love with that album. It inspired me, and it made me want to play music. It made me want to put a guitar and my hands; it made me want to be the singer of a band.
Danny: When was the first time you did get a guitar in your hands?
Chris: Eleven years old. And it would have been my brother's guitar, for sure.
Danny: Did your brother teach you?
Chris: No, I just pick it up, like, stole his guitar when he wasn't watching.
Danny: And how are you learning at the time?
Chris: We just listening to records. I was listening to music and like, just putting my fingers on the guitar. I like, as a kid, like this is like, putting in translating through my ears and just going, “Cool, I think this is how it sounds on the guitar,” and just learning like, note by note at a time. It was it was a slow process. I guess it was a beautiful way to learn in the end. It's a more natural organic kind of style of learning.
Danny: How often would you play?
Chris: I was obsessed with it. Like, was obsessed with music as a kid. And I think that literally came from just like this obsession like, because my brother was so much older or both of my brothers both being like, musicians and they were so much older than me, I think I was just obsessed with wanting to be them. For me, like, to be them was basically to be accepted into this like, club, this music club that they are in. But both of them were like seven and six years older than me, so I had to be good to even like match up to them. So I pushed myself.
Danny: What kind of kid were you in high school?
Danny: Is there like a translation for ratbag American English?
Chris: A smartass.
Danny: You'd play in a band at church, right?
Chris: I went to a very Christian, like a private Christian school in Sydney. So it was actually like, kind of mandatory. I mean, it wasn't like, it wasn't optional, but like if you played in the band, you could miss like four periods of class. Which was pretty cool. It's like, you could actually like are cool I've got to go to chapel and like, you know, play.
Danny: You weren't really singing at the time right? You were just playing guitar?
Chris: Not really, I didn’t have the confidence to sing back then.
Danny: Did you know you could sing?
Chris: I knew I could sing better than most people, but I didn't have the confidence to like, I mean, I guess some people are kind of born with like some people born with confidence and no talent. Some people who are born with a whole bunch of talent, no confidence. I don't know at all is probably somewhere in between there. But like, yeah there were definitely people at school that were like, “the singers,” like that would always get picked to be the singers and everything else. I would happily just be in the shadows just playing guitar or bass.
Danny: When you graduated from high school, did you know that you wanted to pursue music as your profession?
Chris: Absolutely. There was no question in my mind. I was very, very smart about the way that I did it. When I left high school, I got a job knowing full well that every single dollar would go back into building my passion.
Danny: In America, mostly we don't really go to trade schools. We mostly just go to like a four year university; in Australia it's quite common to go to a trade school, right?
Chris: Yeah trades are pretty huge.
Danny: And what did you study at trade school?
Chris: I became what is called a cabinetmaker; I don’t know what you would call it here. But how to make it basically it's similar to a carpenter but we build everything on the inside of a house as opposed to actually building the house. So it's like we built the kitchen, the wardrobes, the bars.
Danny: It's funny, when you initially told me that you had said cabinetmaking, I thought you only made cabinets.
Chris: So, it's like basically the entire interior of the house. Anything you can think of, any kind of furniture, or anything you can think of that is in your house. I think that's what a cabinetmaker builds; beds, tables anything
Danny: Jack White for example, I think did upholstery. I've read interviews with him where he's very much like learning a trade is like one of the best things you could do as a musician. Right? Because you kind of you are always employable.
Chris: Yeah I mean, I think that's what I kind of thought of when I was a kid. And, I mean I guess at this point I was 18, leaving school, and like what do I do what do I do with my life from here? And I was like, I wanted to music, and do a band. But I don't want to be an idiot either. Like, I don't want to be that guy that's got no money, and can't do anything ,and and it became the best thing. Being a cabinetmaker and doing my trade got me got me good jobs, and got me into places where I could actually earn some decent money. And then when we decided to start this band, both myself and Dan, we were both so loaded up with cash at this point that like, we could start the band in a good spot.
Danny: But there's a long gap between you starting like from 18, because this band started almost a decade later right? No? Less? Like, six years? So during that time, you really just like, started like, trying a bunch of different bands?
Chris: Well I mean I was, yeah, I was just in bands doing music, and in that time I mean so much happened so much happened musically for me so I was just I was working but at that point, I learnt to play many more instruments in that time. Like I immersed myself in music but like one of the major things I learnt was like, recording music, like actually like, recording demos and recording instruments and how to actually make music like, on my laptop.
Danny: Because you would like, produce people's records, like friends’ records and stuff.
Chris: I would, yeah. I would just like, anyone that needed any. Any friend of mine that had written a song, I'd be like, yeah come to mine, and let's lay it down, like, let's do the whole thing from start to finish; drums, bass, guitars, synths, keyboards, whatever you want.
Danny: Because it didn't happen at least, like, even like, the first three years after you graduated high school, and I say “it” like you're in a band where that becomes your job. Did you ever have any sort of self-doubt?
Chris: Absolutely. Oh god that was--OK. There was a point, there was literally a really big point in my life, actually, like, because had I'd been playing in a band right through high school as well. I’d been playing in a band from probably 15 years old. These guys actually kicked me out of their band. They gave me the boot, saying “Hey you can't sing.” True story. “You can't sing like that.” It was like, it wasn't just like, “we kicked you out,” like, “we kicked you out and replaced you.” Like, “we have a new singer now; we have a new singer, you're not in the band anymore the band is continuing without you in it.”
Danny: Blow to your ego. I mean, it's a blow to anyone’s ego.
Chris: I mean,it wasn't even a blow to the ego; it was like, at this point like, there wasn't no ego. I already had confidence issues about being a singer at all. Like, I didn't feel like I could be a singer at this point at all, but i just was the singer because there was no one else to sing. And then after three years of doing this band and playing around Sydney, it was like, “Hey we just found someone who actually can sing, and you're out here. You're done for.”
Danny: It was kind of like back at ground zero.
Chris: Back to ground zero. But yeah, from like, 18 to 20, was like--I mean, I never stopped doing music ever. Like, I kept I kept going, but I knew at this point at that age I was like, “I'm never going to sing again,” at that point in my life I was like, “I'll never sing again.” I will--I'm a good guitarist; I'm a really good guitarist. I will play guitar happily in a band. Like, I never cared about anything; I was just like, I just want to do music and play live music so I will. So I’ll just get even better at guitar. I played guitar in like two or three bands like from like age 20 to 22.
Danny: Were those bands popular at all?
Chris: Not at all. No, they never did anything. And then from there again I moved to bass. I played bass in a band for a year.
Danny: Because was it basically just like “Oh, you’re a band, you need a bassist. I’ll play bass.”
Chris: To me, it was like, I was more about the fun and the experience of playing music. I was just like, whatever I can do to be on a stage and play music and be having fun with some friends, I'll do that. So, I moved into playing bass because there was an offer on the table that came with this band, and they were like, “We need a bass player,” and I was like, “Oh,I’ll do it.”
Danny: And all the while got a 9 to 5 the whole time.
Chris: All the while had a job, the whole time.
Danny: Do you think it's important when people are pursuing an artistic endeavor, to have a stable job?
Chris: I think it's good to have roots. I think it's good to know where you came from and know that you worked hard. You “started from the bottom now you’re here.” But no, it's very good. It's good to have that understanding with yourself that you worked for everything that you want. I think for me that's really important to remember that, back at that age, like, I had a job and I was working not having I not only like a nine to five but like literally, some days just to just to make ends meet, I would I would work from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. that night. I would literally do--I would do two jobs like in a day. It was crazy time. Like, as a kid but all this I did all this knowing I had the passion to do music. I knew that to do music, like, if I wanted to record an EP or record or anything like that, you needed money. If I wanted to do anything, basically, like, you needed money; you need to save money to do it. It's like, you can't just go to someone and be like, “Hey I've got this great song, you want to hear it? Do you want to record it and pay for it?” That's not going to happen. So I knew full well what I was doing and I was so I worked even harder and to the point where I was at times working seventeen hour days.
Danny: What’s that saying like, “if you want something done, give it to a busy person?” I think that too much time, especially if you’re recording something or whatever, can be a detriment.
Chris: I feel like the most passionate people are normally people that like, have something to work towards because they're trying to break free of something. But when I was working a full time job, like, if I worked even just like a 10 hour day, I would come home from that 10 hour day, and I'd be like, “Cool, I've got four hours before I go to sleep. And then I'm going to go sleep and go to work.” But for that four hours, I need to give that four hours my everything.
Danny: But if music had never become your job, do you think you would have been an unhappy person?
Chris: No, I don’t think I would have been an unhappy person. Like, I wasn't an unhappy person back then. I think how you see success is such an interesting thing, because like, success for me was the chance to create music of my own. So if I had a 9:00 to 5:00, and got to go home, record my friends’ demos, if I got to go home the next day and record my own demos and write some music before I go to bed, if I got to do that, and still work a normal job, like, that for me was happiness. Like I never saw success as like, “I want to travel around the world and be like, a band that gets to travel around the world and tour America.” Like, obviously I saw that as a huge dream. Like, that was that was definitely like, a dream on the cards. But like, I actually never thought it possible, from being a simple Sydney guy, a Sydney kid growing up in the Sydney music scene, like, the biggest dream you could have would be this to get a get played on radio in Australia. Like, that was my dream. I never dreamed of leaving Australia, or doing any of that.
Danny: Did it almost just seemed unattainable at the time?
Chris: Absolutely. It just seemed like it was just a dream. It was like, I don't know, when I was a kid, and I would like watch a Jim Carrey movie or something, and I'd be like, “Oh my god, I want to be The Mask one day,” or an astronaut. You know, like, kids dream these crazy dreams. Like, to me, that was just as unattainable as that. It was just like, being a musician, playing music, and playing your own music, especially in front of a worldwide audience, to me, that was not--it just was not going to happen.
Danny: When people talk about like, parents, or whatever, people always talk about “luck” when it comes to bands and, where the luck comes in, in my opinion, is with the right combination of people, at least initially. And I know that like, you and Dan, for example, had both been in bands, but when you guys started, and things started to really click, was when you met each other.
Chris: It’s actually really funny because like, I thought I thought Claire, his wife, was his sister for one. Like, I thought they were like brother and sister for some weird reason, because they had the same last name. They look similar.
Danny: They also have a dark brown hair.
Chris: They look similar! And actually, I became closer friends with Claire first, and we kept in touch. But like, I'd heard of Dan, just because we'd had mutual friends in the music scene, again because Sydney is small. But yeah, I became much closer friends with Claire first which is really, really funny. But yeah, me and Dan kept hanging out. Then one day it was like, “Hey I hate my band,” and I was like “Yeah, me too. You want to start a new band where we actually love what we're doing?” Like, “Hell yeah dude, I haven't had that since I was 16.”
Danny: But initially, you weren’t the singer of The Griswolds.
Chris:I was not the singer of The Griswolds.
Danny: You were just writing the demos.
Chris: Our plan was to both be guitarists in the band. So we were going to be a five piece band, with two guitarists, a bassist, drummer and we were yet to employ the singer, the bassist and the drummer. But me and Dan were both writing the demos together, and we were like, “Cool, we both can write songs, so let's write songs together. Let's write songs that we love, let's write songs and have fun with it. Let's write songs, and not give a shit about whether the Australian radio is going to play it. Let's not give a shit about trying to be successful. Let's just have fun, write, and create music.” And we did that, and we had the most fun.
Danny: You guys were having fun, but I also know that like, you were really calculated in the way that you approached it. You wrote the EP, and you didn't just start releasing it, you really planned things out.
Chris: We weren't dumb about it. Like, we took every contact that we had, that was anyone, and we like--I think most people like are really scared of that “no.” Everyone's like, a lot of people are really scared of going, “But what if they say no.” And we just went, “Let's just not give a shit about that. Let's take--I've got a friend who works at this label, I got a friend who works at this management company, and I get a friend who works with this agency, this press company, whatever. Let's just take him out to dinner.” So we like we were literally just taking people out to dinner like, left, right, center, going, “Hey we want to talk to you, get your advice. We want to show you our music and everything like that and that we just kept doing that for a long time why we were creating the music.” So it was very calculated at same time, and again bringing it back to the fact that we both had actually had good jobs, because we'd worked our asses off at that as well. We had money to put into this band, because we'd worked for it. And we really only dropped everything, like, we dropped whatever money we had. I think when we first started the band, and we had to film a film clip, we had to record the EP and then we had to like promote that EP to like America, Europe and Australia.And we dropped 24 grand between the two of us. So, I mean, like, in some places, that's a home loan.
Danny: That's a lot of money.
Chris: So between the two of us, so that was like 12,000 each, like, out of our money. We just went, “We're going to put this right down,” and it was everything we had. That wasn't like, a tenth of our wage, that was everything we had.
Danny: It's no different than if you just start a business. If you were starting a business, you're going to put a lot of money into it, and in the promotion and stuff. Now, I don't think that a lot of Americans understand that “breaking” in Australia or whatever, is quite different. And you know the difference at this point, but, kind of explain what Triple J is and like how integral it is to--
Chris: So in terms of radio in America, there's so much radio. I think there's 64 alternative radio stations in America, like America-wide. In Australia, there's basically--there's one. There's one that kind of monopolizes the entire Australian industry, and it's called Triple J. And for a band, for a band starting out, if you get your song on Triple J, like the feeling of that is like, you've made it.
Danny: You basically make an account online, and you upload your songs.
Chris: Yeah. So Triple J has like, there’s like, Triple J radio, and then like, Triple J Unearthed, for those bands that are trying to birth themselves. And so we did that, and we birthed ourselves on Triple J Unearthed, and then the radio station fell in love with the song, and basically put it on high rotation, and within a few months, we were Australia-wide known, because of that radio station.
Danny: See that's so crazy, because that really doesn't happen here. I mean, I feel that like maybe back in the day, with like Pitchfork, you know, that would make it so that you could start to tour, but it's not to that extent. Triple J is indie, and it is alternative. It is, but it's still a major radio station. Like when I was there just driving around--
Chris: It’s the biggest radio station in Australia, I feel. I mean, there are obviously like, commercial radio stations that you know, probably more people listen to, maybe, like, I don't really know. But Triple J basically is a radio station that everybody has heard; everybody listens to at some stage, and they are the connection between people and finding new music.
Danny: Cut Copy, Tame Impala, Flume, Safya; all of the big Australian bands that we know, or are starting to know, pretty much all had their start on there.
Chris: If you if you've heard of an Australian band, if you're anywhere in the world and you've heard of an Australian band, they came through Triple J. They had their start through Triple J.
Danny: But it's also kind of a double-edged sword, right? Because it's like, if you don't make it on Triple J…
Chris: Well, it's tough. If you don't make the Triple J cut, yeah, it can definitely be tough for a band, but I guess it forces you to drive harder. I mean, for myself and Dan, when we started The Griswolds, we didn't really we didn't look at ourselves like, “Hey let's get on Triple J.” That that was also unattainable. We, again like, I come back to the fact that we just decided to write songs that we wanted to have fun with. And then in the end, because of that--I feel like because of that passion that we put into the songwriting and the fact that we weren't writing for anyone else, we decided to write a fun EP for us, like the stuff that we believed in and loved, like, I feel like Triple J, well not only Triple J, but like, a lot of people who just believed it in the end like, they saw the love that we put into it. It was like, “Cool. I can feel that, I feel like there's a cool energy behind this.”
Danny: It's also a fucking solid EP. But like I felt a theme on this on this podcast, is trying to get something out of what you're making creatively generally doesn't work; sometimes, of course, it does.
Chris: No, you you can't you can't think of it like, trying to write for like, the fans, or trying to write for a radio station to pick you up, or trying to write for a Pitchfork. Like, that's not why people like music. That's not why fans connect with music. That's not why blogs connect with music. That's not why you or I connect with music. It's when you connect with the band. Like, when you like it--I would say 90 percent of the time, it's because the band is just being completely real. They’re just being completely honest in the way that they wrote their music. They literally put their own loves and influences and their own passionate lyrics into a song. And you like it, and connect with it as a fan of that. That's what I feel music is. And I feel--well I mean without sounding like a wanker-- that's what art is, really, at the end of the day. An artist does what they do as an expression of themselves and as a fan you go, “Cool. I like what they did.” Or you don't like what they did. That's basically what art is, and music's no different.
Danny: How long was it after you'd released the songs and you started to do well in Australia before Wind Up, your former label, got involved?
Chris: The space was about six months. So, we released our first song in Australia and started playing shows, and that was about March 2012. And we didn't know it at the time, because no one told us, but but Wind Up had basically started talking to our team six months later, and there was no point for our managers to tell us, because you know, you don't want to get us excited at that point. Actually, about six U.S. labels and two Australian labels put interest into us about six months after that song came about, which is, I mean, which was a crazy feeling for us. Both myself and Dan, who had both played in, you know, like eight bands each from this from the stage, and you know, none of them have really worked out, and then all of a sudden, to release just one song and to have all these labels flying about, like, “Oh we're interested; we're interested. Hey, you guys got something.” It was like like, “Cool. OK. All right, this is a crazy time.”
Danny: When you like, signed the record deal and got out to America, on a level of one to ten, how big was the “fuck yes.”
Chris: I'm going to say 12. It's like, it was my first time in America, ever. And that was that was--as a band that started in 2012, to have being flown out to America like not even a year later, and to the fly in and look at the city and like, see the whole thing as you're flying in--and anyone that's flown into New York City, you know you know what I'm talking about. It's just a big, gigantic, beautiful city. And it was magical. And from someone who's never been to America before, I was just like, “Wow, this is out of this world.”
Danny: Did you kind of have to slap yourself to be like, “Yes, it’s really happening.”
Chris: Yeah, it was crazy like, I mean, I remember having conversations with my mom before I left, and going, “Mom, I think everything is different from here on forward.” Not like, I was trying to say anything is different between me and her, but--
Danny: “Mom, I’m not your son anymore.”
C I was like, “Mom, I think I think my life's about to go on like, a whirlwind change.”
Danny: Did you quit your job, like right at that time?
Chris: No, I didn't quit my job straightaway. I kept working after the first trip to America. We did our first trip, and then I actually kept the job for a year later after that, and kept working and working and working because, I mean, there was just more and more things that required the band to play, the band put their own investment into. And we were so 100 percent solid on doing that, like, we were we weren't afraid of investing into this band at this point. It was like, cool, it’s working.
Danny: My friend was in town recently, and he makes movies and he was talking about how a lot of people that he knows, a lot of people that are like, in the film industry let's say in Los Angeles, he was like, people make it about like, “making the deal.” And they're kind of like, they feel that sense of accomplishment once they've just made the deal. But he was like, what they forget is that like, you have to make the thing after that. Like, you have to actually do it from there. And then that's where I came on, and nd then that's when--I'm going to say like, we really slogged it out.
Chris: Yeah man, and I would say, I'd say we were starving and driving in a shitty, broken down van; and to the point where, I think, I remember stealing food off of a plate outside a hotel room.
Danny: That's fucked up.
Chris: Yeah that’s fucked up, totally. So I like, I remember on like, the first big tour in America, like, I would go to dinner with everyone, and I'd wait for like, the headline band. I'd wait for them to finish their meal, and see if they left anything.
Danny: Did part of you at that time just think like, “Maybe this isn't worth it. This is a fucked up lifestyle.”
Chris: One of the biggest things that I remember thinking is like, as soon as, you know, as soon as you sign the deal, or like, as an Australian band, if you come to America, it's not--that doesn't mean “you've made it.” You know, like, that's like you just said, this is the start of the road. This is the start. This is actually the real starting point; this is where you put the real yards in. I think that was one of the biggest surprises for me, like--
Danny: You have the opportunity to make it.
Chris: You have the opportunity to make it, and now it just means you have to work even harder again; like, success is such a strange thing, because success is only relevant to what you set out to do. And at that point in time, we didn't--we only set out to be an Australian band and get on Triple J. And all of a sudden, we're in America, touring around America, going, “Cool, now we’ve got to like, mentally, we're going to catch up to like, what's going on here. This is all like, a really strange feeling and a really strange thing that's happening, and definitely like, like us mentally couldn't catch up, but we physically couldn't catch up either. I still think to this day, we're still trying to catch up to the things that are going on in the band.
Danny: And you keep talking about this thing “making it,” in quotes.
Chris: Because it's like, a bullshit ideal that people think, I feel, like “making it.”
Danny: What do you mean by that?
Chris: I think that most people feel like there is a point, like goal post that, as soon as you kick the ball through it, you're done. And I think, what I feel is like, that goal post doesn't exist, because it doesn't mean--you can achieve your goals, but in terms of “making it,” as like, and I bring this back to a conversation we're having earlier--like, all we wanted as an Australian band was to get played on Triple J. That, for us, was making it. Then all of a sudden we had a U.S. label, and then all of a sudden there's 64 alternative radio stations, and if they play you, then maybe you're “making it.” And then if you've done that, then you moved to a commercial radio, and like, get on all like the big pop radio stations, and then maybe you're “making it.”
Danny: It's like a football field, where it goes like, not like, you keep kicking it, like, but the goal just keeps going back.
Chris: Exactly; but it should. And that's, I think, that's what I'm trying to say, is like, the goal should keep moving back. Like, for you, like, for anyone listening, is like, you should. You should never have like, a goalpost and feel like that once you've kicked the ball through that goalpost, that's it, you're done.
Danny: Could you ever go back to normal job at this point?
Chris: If this band ever broke up, and I needed to start a new band, if I needed to go get a job to earn some money to make that thing happen, yeah I would do it. I would do whatever it takes for me to be able to create music.
Danny: WHen it comes to the new record, the one thing that I will ask is, it does sound different from what you've released before. Are you nervous about it?
Chris: It's a really good question you ask, but like, I'm not scared of the record. The record is fantastic. I love it. I'm stupidly proud of it. If I was the only person that heard this album, I would still be the most proudest parent of this music. And I'm proud as punch of this record. I think it's a beautiful birthing place for The Griswolds of like, many more beautiful albums to come. This album, I'm so fucking proud of it. I listen to it even just for fun sometimes. I don't know if that sounds arrogant, but I feel--I listen to this album for fucking fun.
Danny: I mean, we're in Chris's house, and he's got--there's a painting of himself, and below that there's a record, and then and then there's--no, no, none of that is true. But Chris, I just want to say I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.
Chris: I appreciate hanging out with you.
Danny: I love you. You're one of the best friends I've ever made. And you know, I feel like you're going to die after this or something.
Chris: I'm healthier than I've ever been.
Danny: He's healthier than he’s ever been. But anyway. Thank you so much for your time.
Chris: Thank you for having me, Senor Carissimi.
Danny: And you know, we should go buy more tequila.
Chris: I think we should go do more shots of tequila, and celebrate my departure to Australia tomorrow.