Friday, April 29, 2016

Interview with Cellist Christopher Bell

Cellist Christopher Bell's eight album, Rust, takes after its namesake; eschewing the pop sheen of his last two albums in favor of a dirtier, raw sound from his cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" to the Time Waits sounding "Sea of Women"

Apart from being a musician, bell is also a mastering engineer and runs the booking service He's been featured in on NPR, in The New York Times, New York Post, and on the CBS Evening News for using unique modes of transportation on tour.

So lets get started,

What is the name of your solo project?
Christopher Bell - Vocalist, cellist, other instruments when needed

Where are you from?
Chautauqua, NY

How old were you when you first got into the music scene? What got you started in music?
I was 10 yrs old, Asked for a drum set for christmas and before I even had it, I had put together a band. needless to say I was a bit driven.

What were your ambitions when you first started? 
I don't remember a ton, other than having a band and playing out a lot.

Where was your first gig? 
The auditorium of my high school.

Where was the latest gig?
Last gig was back in November.

What are your good and bad traits as an artist?
- My good traits i feel are my innovativeness with the cello, and lyrics. Bad traits would be a singing voice where Randy Newman could beat me in a singing contest.

What genre do you feel you are?
Cello Rock.

Why did you pick that particular style? Or what about that style called to you?
If a bunch of people start calling you something, after a while you realize they might be right.

Have you released any albums?
Ive released 8 albums and 7 EP's. Most can be found here

Do you have any clips on YouTube?

How old are you now?

How old were you when you first stood on a stage? How did it feel?
14 - I was so nervous, we had to be pushed on stage by the other band. Actually pushed. For fretted instruments we seemed to play incredibly out of tune, out of time, not move and look really scared while playing a Nickleback song. I think that counts for the below question as well as worst gig.

What was you Best/worst gig you've played?
The best gig was where I made a whole room of people cry from a sad story. I don't know if that sounds mean, but that was a cool moment, I should say, cry on purpose, not on accident. There's just a group of 10 or so really bad ones, having an asthma attack on stage, being told by someone they will pay me $50 to stop playing.

What places will you be playing in in the near future? Where would like to perform in the future?
I'm taking time off to go back to school, so all shows are on hold for now. It's a strange goal, but I've always wanted to be able to sit in with an orchestra at least once.

Which band is the best that you've seen live? What made their show so good?
Any show that makes me feel like the performer sees me, and we connect is good.

What has been your most promising gig so far?
- I'll let you know when it happens.

Any plans of touring?
not till after college.

How big was the biggest crowed you preformed for?
850 people at a theater.

What are the plans for the rest of the year music wise?
finish up college, doing a film soundtrack.

How do you typically get psyched up for a gig?
I down and energy drink and suckers bar 15 minutes before i get on stage, go pee at least a couple times, because no matter how many times i go, i have to go again. Pace around a lot like a tiger in a cage ready to be put out to show at the circus.

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern?
both, depends what I'm looking for. I've been digging into some old classic rock lately from my childhood. turns out AC/DC and T-Rex are as good as my 10 yr old self think.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Lately, I've been taking a jazz theory class, and some of these classmates have such a different view on music, its really inspiring,  to hear a completely different viewpoint, its helping me gain a perspective.

What's the first step when writing a new song?
If I'm writing, I'm writing. I sit down for 5-6 hours a day 5 days a week, writing a song a day for 10 weeks and then start rewriting. So its me, a piece of paper, piano, cello or guitar sitting in a room until music is made.

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums in today's digital world?
too deep to sum up in a short time. Its a double edged sword. But I will say, I can complain about how I think it should go, or just accept it and work within the new limitations.

Is your music available for free download anywhere?

What would be your dreams performance/venue?
I've always wanted to do the Win Peter Winters album(mentioned above) as it was originally intended, as a play, full ensemble, sets, etc. I know there is a girl in Texas doing one of the pieces for her dance project, which feels really cool.

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to?
Tons of jazz, been also studying Carnatic Music, which is classical music from Southern India.

Has stage fright ever been a problem for you? What advice can you give to aspiring musicians with this problem?
Yes, learn the rules, watch videos of good performers, even if you don't like their music, or stand up comedians, see what works, what doesn't, experiment. make eye contact, is scary, but so are all the good things.

Are you a part of any other musical projects?
I head up a neoclassical ensemble called Win Peter Winters.

Have you been in any other bands before this one?
tons, all small time. The only one worth mentioning was Hot Dance Club, just because that name is ridiculous.

Do you have a job other than your music career?
I own a company called Indie Booker, we are a booking service, helping bands book shows easier.

How often do you rehearse?
If its getting ready for a tour, i do 4 hour days 6 days a week for a month until the tour.

Where do you typically rehearse?
Depends where I'm living, but its been a lot of basements and attics.

Do you have any webpages?


What is your favorite instrument?
I just purchased a used Yamaha Silent Cello that I am really loving.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence?
Cello rock

Describe your show, visually and musically? How do you interact with the crowd?
Lots of crowd participation, looping, bad jokes. we have sing-a-longs, clap a longs, dancing.

Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there with less experience than you?
Study, challenge yourself artistically, learn all you can, If there is something you hate, i mean absolutely hate, listen to it until you know why,when you know why you can let it go, but any art that causes an emotion, any emotion, learn why.

What advice would you give less experienced band, that you wish someone had given you?
Take lessons, study music, its not going to wreck the magic, its going to help you express yourself so much better.

Thank for doing our interview.
Follow the links below to learn more about Chris Bell and to listen to his music!


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