Game Dirt was my introduction to Chris Church, and a good one. I like the quiet noise, the rawness, and the grit. Darling Please, his new one, is much the same. While I do hear Neil Young here, he has other influences we talked about. Church was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
Andrea Weiss: What is the history of this album?
Chris Church: I recorded the album in 2011 as a sort of tribute to my late, great brother Mike Church, my drummer for most of my music up to that point, who had recently passed. It was mostly done in my basement studio but finished in an actual studio. I was unhappy with the mix at the time, and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I gave away a few CD copies after I’d printed up a small amount but didn’t have the heart to keep trying to push it. After failing to decide what to do to fix it, I just let it go. It pretty much just sat on the shelf for ten years. After considering whether to re-do the whole thing, take a song or two from it for other projects, or just leave it alone altogether, I decided to try and reclaim it last year. I was fortunate enough to have Lindsay Murray of Gretchen’s Wheel sing some added backing vocals, and with the added help of Nick Bertling remastering it, the album sounds and feels a lot better to me now. I asked Rex and Christina at Big Stir if they’d be interested in releasing it, and they agreed. I’m very happy to have this project out in the world.
AW: I know Neil Young is the primary influence here. Who are some others?
CC: I guess so. For this album, I remember being interested in combining the loud and raggedy guitar rock of what Neil and Crazy Horse do sometimes, and actually more directly, early Teenage Fanclub with the dreamy shoegaze noise of My Bloody Valentine to see what I could come up with. It sounds a million miles away, but there’s still some guts to it. I wanted to try to make it sound somehow simultaneously big, and yet intimate enough to put the messages of the songs across. The remastering helped reclaim a lot of the sonic aspects of what I was going for. As I told Rex Broome and Christina Bulbenko of Big Stir regarding one of the songs, I had an all encompassing desire to create something where ”…the hugeness is empty, and vice versa.”
AW: What would you say you took from Neil?
CC: Not really sure about that. I love him, and I take it as a big compliment to be compared to Neil Young, but I don’t want to say he’s my biggest influence on this or any album I’ve made. Maybe I end up sounding a little like him when I’m channeling Teenage Fanclub? You decide, I’m just me.
AW: What did everyone who helped make it bring to the album?
CC: Lindsay Murray’s lovely backing vocals and Nick Bertling’s great mastering job, both done in 2021 – ten years after I recorded the album - are the only aspects of the recording that weren’t done by me, other than the small amount of production and engineering that was done by the people at the other studio towards the end of the original project. No need to credit or discredit there. So yeah, there’s pretty much ultimately no one to blame but me for this.
AW: What would you like to tell us about the lyrics?
CC: I’m not really going to explain what I write. In this case in particular, it’s a lot to unpack. I was at a raw point emotionally, and then when the sonic plot got lost and the mix disappointed me, I pretty much closed the door on this chapter of my musical life for awhile. I don’t ever really know, but I would like to think that people would pay attention to the lyrics, because I certainly do when I write them. Though most of my lyrics tend to playfully obfuscate, there are actually a few songs on Darling Please that aren’t that hard to figure out.
AW: Will you be touring for this album?
CC: I don’t have any plans to tour.
AW: If you could go back 11 years to when this album was first made, what would you say to everyone that you’ve learned about it since?
CC: If you have a vision and you’re going to do something artistic yourself, do the whole thing. Finish it completely, and don’t let anything anyone says take you off your path. In my humble opinion, one of the biggest rewards an artist can have is knowing you did it your own way.