An Intimate Homecoming
By Savannah Evanoff
Chris Staples remembers when the album title hit him.
It’s hard to forget subzero temperatures. The singer-songwriter who is currently based out of Richmond, Va., made a pit stop at a gas station in Montana between gigs.
“It was negative 40 degrees outside, and this lady was cleaning the windows outside, and I was like, ‘What are you doing? You can’t just wait for the weather to warm up,’” Staples said. “And she was like, ‘Holy moly, it’s cold out there.’ It just made me laugh. I felt like holy moly is what I’ve been saying a lot lately with everything happening in the world. It’s what you say when you’re struck with a sense of disbelief.”
Staples released the 10-track album “Holy Moly” this year—but only after writing 65 songs (give or take) over the course of a year from his garage studio. Everyone needs options, right?
“It was the longest I’ve spent making a record, so that was kind of interesting and maddening a little bit,” Staples said.
The songwriting might seem grueling, but he’s been at it for a cool minute.
Staples started a band in Fort Walton Beach at age 16.
“It was kind of a cool place to grow up, because there wasn’t very much to do, so it was a creative place where you’re always trying to figure out how to have fun and what to do,” Staples said. “I worked on the beach growing up, worked at the Hilton Hotel and on boats and stuff.”
When Staples planned an intimate living room tour for “Holy Moly,” he had to stop in Pensacola—where he once played gigs with his band Twothirtyeight at The Nite Owl, The Handlebar and the original Sluggo’s. He still has family in the Northwest Florida area.
Staples launched his professional music career with Twothirtyeight and has played with J. Tillman and Telekinesis. He’s been releasing more chill solo material for a decade.
Amid churning out his own music, Staples has seen success selling it commercially.
Some songs were recently featured on Showtime’s “The Affair.”
“It’s pretty trippy actually,” Staples said. “I’ve definitely heard it when I wasn’t expecting it before. I had a couple songs used on the ‘Bates Motel’ TV show. I really like that show. Sometimes I know they’re going to use some stuff, but I don’t follow up and see where it’s played exactly. I randomly heard my own song on that show.”
“Holy Moly,” no doubt, has a song or two worthy of a soundtrack.
“Running Out of Time” is one of Staples’ favorites to perform.
“I’ve never written a song like it, but it’s like a teen fiction paperback,” Staples said. “It’s an apocalyptic teenage love story kind of song. It’s got a lot of really dark lyrics in it.”
Lyrics aren’t just an afterthought to Staples. He’s a true songwriter, through and through.
The song “Horse and Saddle” is about having a job in the arts.
“It’s really a roller coaster experience, because you have these great nights and great weeks where things are going really well,” Staples said. “Then you have times that are very challenging and you question what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It’s a song about perseverance and following through on your choices in life rather than bailing on something that’s difficult.”
It might seem out of place, but it’s his favorite song title, too.
“It’s just talking about following through, and you can bet that I’ll do what I say I’m gonna do, and you can bet the horse and the saddle, too,” Staples said, quoting his lyrics. “It sounds like the title of a country song.”
Staples shot a music video for “Old Friend” in Venice Beach, Calif. He thought it was fun they hired a stunt double for him— although they almost couldn’t find one.
“Everyone was too expensive,” Staples said. “We found this guy three days before we were gonna shoot it. He’s my height. He doesn’t look like me in the face, but he has a similar build. It was a really fun long day of shooting. It’s ridiculous at the beginning of the video, you kinda might think, ‘Is this Chris actually doing this?’ Then it becomes apparent that obviously not.”
The album cover came to Staples as organically as its title. He found the image while skimming through photos on Flickr—one of his favorite things to do.
“I found this guy from Italy, and he just documents all these Italian vintage bikes that are kinda rare,” Staples said. “I’m not really into bicycling; they just looked so cool. They have the U.S. flag colors, so they kind of look American. That was kind of the idea.”
WHAT: Chris Staples with Stijl Calhoun
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5
WHERE: Odd Colony Brewing Co., 260 N. Palafox