Owl’s Chris Wyse Talks ‘The Right Thing’ Album, Band Camaraderie + Kinks Love
Chris Wyse has built his reputation playing bass for The Cult, but he’s expanded upon his musical passion over the last few years by launching his own group Owl. The veteran musician, playing alongside drummer Dan Dinsmore and guitarist Jason Achilles Mezilis, is now in anticipation mode, recently finishing his second disc with Owl called ‘The Right Thing’ and waiting for its April 9 release.
Loudwire had a chance to talk with Wyse about Owl’s forthcoming album and he also opened up about the band’s love for the Kinks, how the group has hit their stride on their sophomore set and a very familiar guest making a cameo on the album. The interview with the frontman/bassist can be read below:
Owl has come into its own with ‘The Right Thing’ and you can also just feel the energy on this disc. Did you have an idea of the direction you wanted to take going into this record or did it just kind of come together during studio/recording sessions?
That’s great you mention that you can feel the energy on this record. ‘The Right Thing’ was guided by that sort of primal energy and spontaneity. We had more to write on this second record, which was also the fun.
Dan talks in the bio about the honesty that comes with being in the moment. That’s certainly evident in a lot of these tracks. Can you talk about the connection that the band has at this point after having that first album and tour cycle under your belt?
Honesty is a good thing. Dan, Jason and I wanted the best performances. I also kept the lyrical content to real life experiences I think everyone can relate to. It is emotion and mood based music. I was very much into big melodies and strong choruses, but not have the rest so sometimes the jamming would help create the other parts. We know each other very well and much didn’t have to be said. We have a great communication when we play.
‘Destroyer’ that leads off this album. Wow! Love that Kinks song and you guys did such a great job covering it. Who’s the big Kinks fan in the band and what was it like trying to put your own stamp on that song?
Dan is the big Kinks fan. At first Jason and I were just going along with it because Dan wanted to record it, but we didn’t think it would fly. Once we jammed it though, we were all smiles, like, “Man I think he’s right! This is awesome and it just fit great. It feels like an Owl song.”
‘Rover’ gives us a bit of your Irish background and lays out a story for us, not to mention some wicked guitar playing. Who’s playing bagpipes on that track? Also could you tell us a little bit about the background with your family and friends and their support of your career?
‘Rover’ tells the story of a trip to Ireland I had when I was only 11 with my Aunt Tina. Visiting Ireland that young gave me a sense of Independence and trust at a young age. Rover is the sheep dog that ran on my grandparents’ farm in Mayo, Ireland. My dad is from Waterford, Ireland and I got to see both sides of the family. I helped bailing hay and doing stuff on the farm. My gramps would go out after a hard day’s work and have a pint with his friends. The song reflects traditions and is really fun-spirited. The bagpipe player, Aaron Shaw, was just amazing and gelled in with the track right away knowing when to be expressive. It was so fun to record. The outro bass riff is a fast workout and I usually break a sweat. I’m lucky to have come up with supportive parents and family in general. They just wanted me to go for what I wanted, which is pretty cool!
‘All Day’ is another standout on this record. Two things — Is it any different playing with John Tempesta for Owl than it is when you’ve worked together in the Cult? And also, you speak about needing more than a year to get past someone in the song. Can you talk about where that came from?
‘All Day’ was lots of fun too. That chorus wouldn’t leave my head and I think all us can relate to relationships taking longer than we ever imagine to get over. We thought it would be a great idea to invite Johnny Tempesta of The Cult to play on the tribal jam. He is a great drummer and can really kill the drum kit. Dan has his own distinct style and so does Johnny — two of my favorite drummers on a crazy jam. I love it.
Bassists are often unsung within what we hear in music, so it’s great when that low end is a little more prominent. Chris, there’s some stellar work on this record. Any particular song or part that you’re most proud of how it turned out on this disc?
Thanks for the kind words. It’s great to just be creative and let the music fly. I write on bass and sing so it’s natural for the bass to have a string part. The instrumental song ‘Eleven’ on the record is very different and has some pretty interesting techniques on bass guitar. I like the two-hand-tapping bit in the intro of ‘Give’ and ‘Perfect.’ The bow on the intro of ‘Signs of Life’ is really expressive. At the end of the day I’m most proud of these songs.
As far as playing live, what songs are you most anxious to see what kind of response it’ll get from an audience?
I think ‘Rover’ is going to be really fun to play live. It is so different and I can’t wait to sing the lyrics “I’m having a pint and drinking with my friends. I love my friends!!”
Owl’s ‘The Right Thing’ arrives April 9 and the video for the title track can currently be seen at Rolling Stone’s website.