St. Christopher – interviewed by Phil Newall
I manage to hook up with Saint Christopher AKA Chris Webster a couple of days before the official launch of ”ËCountry/Blues’ his second solo outing away from fronting the Mother Fuckin Saints ”â Maybe it goes with the musical territory, but he’s ensconced in a bar in his home town of Lincoln, Nebraska. But don’t let that fool you, Webster has clearly cleaned up his act since releasing ”ËChasing Down Hell’ in 2008; that was, by Webster’s own admission “a brutal record”Â however his new release demonstrates a much more measured approach.
Chris agrees stating that “it’s a privilege to play music”Â, so he spent a significant amount of time crafting his songs, and drafted in a whole raft of local musicians including previous collaborator Aaron McCoy; the result is an equally impactive sound but one that Webster manages to retain control over.
”ËCountry/Blues ”â Stories Of Love Loss & The American Hwy’ is neither country or blues ”â it has elements of both, and clearly draws further influence from Webster spending his teenage years listening to Slayer, Metallica and The Dead Kennedy’s; the influence isn’t limited to just the music but extends to some extent lyrics.
”ËCountry/Blues’ is him exerting his “sense of identity”Â but at the same time he claims the album as “a tribute to the great American songwriters”Â and in particular to Johnny Cash’s later work with Rick Rubin.
He spoke of coming through a bout of drug and alcohol abuse that subsequently led to divorce, and him recording ”ËChasing Down Hell’ ”â Webster is continuing on that journey; he is now clean, has secured work, he even goes to the gym!! It’s this new attitude that allowed him expand his musical sound, the new album features cello on ”ËLost, Weak & Alone’ – that’s not to suggest Chris has mellowed this is still an aggressive sound propelled by Webster’s blistering guitar riffs, what Webster and his collaborators have done is discover and convey a richness that draws the listener in. Songs range from the ominous, “Stomp & Shout” to the energetic and punk tinged “Throw You Away” ”â Webster’s subject matter remains deeply personal “Don’t Come Looking For Redemption”Â which deals with a family member and a perceived lack of loyalty.
This is an entirely self funded release, Webster beg stole and borrowed the cash to allow him to record the album, he even sold off one of his guitars; ”ËCountry/Blues’ comes out on Webster’s newly formed Saints Records which at this point is without a UK distribution deal ”â what drove Webster on to complete the album was his own belief in the project “it was the hardest album I have ever done, but its by far the best thing I’ve ever done ”â I hope people get to listen it”Â
That shouldn’t be an issue; for a limited time the entire album is available as a free download. When I asked why he felt it was appropriate to literally give his work away, Webster’s response is simple “it needs to be heard ”â but if you download it, spread it around, give it friends”Â Webster is confident that people will then go to a gig, maybe buy a T-shirt.
At this stage there aren’t any UK gigs booked, but plans are afoot for Saint Christopher to head to the UK in December 2011, there is already talk of festival appearances beyond that date. Webster isn’t in any rush; he describes ”ËCountry/Blues’ as “the record that I’ve been trying to write all my life. I’m 30 now, and I’ve been trying to write songs since I was 10.”
Prior to that Webster has a two week tour of the US Midwest “I’ll play anywhere someone wants me ”â there’s no agent, no company PR; it’s just me, my guitar and a box of tricks”Â Webster’s shows are in effect punk rock, its DIY, it’s raw and above all it’s honest.
It’s that honesty that allows Webster to describe himself as “a hillbilly; a product of a miserable Republican education system”Â ”â When I challenged this Webster insists that such self depravation is both accurate and what defines his identity “I am what I am ”â and I’ve drawn from my influences. I’m here for the long run, this is who I am, and it’s what I do”Â
On the evidence offered up on ”ËCounty/Blues’ Webster both does it well, and deserves success beyond the confines of Nebraska.
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