I had the pleasure of sitting down with solo, acoustic artist, Chase Huglin outside of The Masquerade in Atlanta this past Friday. Chase is currently on tour with The Spill Canvas in support of the ten year anniversary of their album, No Really, I’m Fine. Read further to find out why playing drums was the only option left, how he wasn’t even allowed to sing in his first band, how Avenged Sevenfold became a symbol of rock and how he threw out half of his first album. After meeting Chase, I don’t think I’ll ever leave my 4th grader with a babysitter ever, but then again, it just so happened to change his life.
Shockwave Magazine: Were you familiar with The Spill Canvas before joining in on the 10 year anniversary tour?
Chase Huglin: Yes, the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar was actually “All Over You” a song on this record that they are doing the 10 year anniversary. I played in 2014 as part of the Nick Thomas (frontman) solo tour, so I met him, been friends ever since. A full circle moment being asked to join this tour. There is a running joke that he (Nick) doesn’t remember me, I think that he does. I’ve been friends with his manager, so whether Nick remembers me or not, it is because of that. (Chase laughs.)
I want to take you back in time for a little bit. What is your first memory that is really tethered to music? The first moment you really connected with music, it wasn’t just something you were hearing on the radio.
I would probably say there are two separate music moments in my life that I can think of that cemented me wanting to do this for a living. The first moment was when I was in 4th grade. I’m from Fort Wayne, which is a small town in Indiana. I had a babysitter, well, more like a house sitter that was there while I was there, to make sure I didn’t burn the house down. She was 17 or 18 at the time and my parents were out of town and they left their car. My babysitter had just gotten her license. There was a show going on not too far from the house. Where I’m from is where The Ready Set is from, Jordan (artist) use to be in this band called Bride and Groom and they were playing at a record store. I had a badass babysitter, she took my mom’s car, with me in it and we went to go see Bride and Groom. I was very young, nine or ten, when I went to my first local show. I just remember thinking that was very cool. I only hear legend stories of how cool the music scene in Indiana use to be but, there was a ton of people there and it was pretty cool to see everyone singing along. At that point, I had never really picked up an instrument. I liked music, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It wasn’t until later when I found myself in a friend group in middle school and we would all get together and listen to Avenged Sevenfold, which was collectively our favorite band. Everyone’s like ‘Oh I’m gonna play guitar…I’m gonna play bass…I’m gonna sing” and the last instrument left was drums. Because of that and the previous year, seeing live music, chose drums/percussion in the 5th grade band. I wasn’t very good, so instead of playing the snare drum, they put me on keyboard. I had to learn to play the bells and xylophone, which then transferred over into being able to play the piano. Fast forward to like 9th grade and I joined my first band. I played keyboard, wasn’t very good. I wasn’t allowed to sing, which is the funny part now because, I’m a singer. They wouldn’t even let me near the microphone, seriously. Puberty must have changed things for me. (Went on to learn bass) Then I learned how to play guitar, thought ‘Alright, this clicks better than any other instrument I’ve tried to learn.’
We‘ve got this acoustic, indie rock guy and you were led here by Avenged Sevenfold which is obviously, not on that spectrum.
It was moreso a social thing. All my other friends loved them and I was younger than them, it was moreso a me catching up with them sort of thing. That’s what they listened to even though I would secretly listen to Switchfoot and stuff. Heavy music was never really my thing, I’m more of a melody guy. The media treated them like a boy band at the time. It was so easy to feel personally connected to each member of the band. It was pretty important for sure. I would see these guys go up on stage and they’re playing in front of ten-thousand people every night. They’re not a boy band but were still personable enough that as a kid who wanted to be a drummer, it was an easy character to look up to. I’m glad I found them when I did.
I want to talk about the song “Folded Hands” for a second. The closing line “Six feet under the ground and you’re still the best part of this Earth, it hurts.” Music doesn’t get more vulnerable and raw than that, the song being in special regards to your mother. Are you hoping that it will reach listeners that have gone through the same kind of loss and maybe help them through it?
Yes and no. You Deserve an Island came in two versions. The first version I wrote before my mom passed. Every song was probably about a relationship. My mom passed and I really wasn’t in love with the first version of the record. It was okay, I didn’t love it. I just had this sky opening moment where there was so much more to write about than just writing about a relationship. So I met with the label, management, everyone and was like “I just had a life changing moment happen and I don’t want my first record that’s going to go down in history as my first record, ever, I don’t want it to be something meaningless. I really think I need to rewrite this record.” So I trashed about half of the songs and wrote new songs. “Folded Hands” by far is my favorite song I’ve ever written. That line specifically, is probably my favorite line I’ve ever written. Fun note, that line, I had nothing written. I originally had this friend that is a spoken word artist (it was just going to be spoken word at the end) but, stuff fell through and I ended up having to write. I remember I didn’t have the melody for it. I had an idea of the six feet under the ground part but it wasn’t super concrete. I didn’t even have it physically written down. But I go into the studio, into the vocal both and was like, lets just try this out. We just kinda hit it and I sang that line, the first time I spoke it, the first time I said it aloud was the final version of it. It wasn’t touched up at all, it was completely vulnerable. I think that song just kinda created the whole vibe of what I wanted You Deserve an Island to be, that song would never have happened if the first version of the record came out. I write my music so people can relate but at the same time, I never wanted to glamourize the loss of a parent. I didn’t want to be known as the artist who only writes about death, which was a scary thing and definitely something I thought about going into the second record that I just finished recording. I write so people can relate to it. Its been really cool but at the same time challenging and hard because people have been, when it comes to people relating to it, reaching out to you for advice and its so hard to give people advice when I’m still dealing with it. They’re like “How did you deal with it?” I’m still dealing with it. I feel like sometimes people thought I had the answers. I can help you, I can be an ear for you always but I can’t make you feel better. It was, and still is, a lot of pressure. Writing the second record, there were moments where I mentioned it but it was more about the aftermath of dealing with the loss.
How did the record label (InVogue) feel when you came to them wanting to re-do the album? Were they understanding?
Oh yeah, they were totally understanding. There was a moment where they were nervous about it. I think I sold it well, I told them “Look, my life just flipped. Everything I know is done differently. The first version of the record, is good, but I know I can do better.” And they got it, for sure. They understood, they supported me before that, they supported me through that.
You mentioned a second album, are we going to get a taste of that tonight?
Yes, I’ve been playing a few new songs. It wasn’t really planned that I was going to play new songs. More like I literally left the studio and a day later started this tour. It was more out of necessity, of forgetting to practice my older music. For two weeks straight I was writing the new record so I was obsessing it. The crowd is newer so not a lot of people haven’t heard of me before so there isn’t much demand for me to play my older music. Like always, if somebody asks me to play a song, I’ll do it.
*Ahem* Can you play “Niagara” tonight?
Oh, its the last one. You think I drove all this way to not play “Niagara?!”
Photo Cred: Jessica Wallace (Captress of Rock)