There is no doubt that he is a metalhead at heart. His background includes such bands as The Torture Cell and Werhwolfe. So what does someone like that do when it comes time to bear your soul and write music about the darker side of life? You might think from his background that he has the perfect vehicle in the music that he performs. Not so, when Chris decided to do his self therapy, a band setting was not where it would happen. So was born The Reticent. This is Chris' alter ego that wants to purge the darkness in his life and in doing so, maybe help someone else along the line.
So with two albums by The Reticent under his belt, Chris talks about both discs (Hymns For The Dejected and Amor Mortem Mei Erit), his life and where he is going from here. Sea of Tranquility staff writer Scott Ward caught up with Chris as he was driving to meet family for the holidays. From talking with him, this is an artist that Scott admits "I'll want to see live and sit down and have a face to face with. He has a lot to say and there is much more to him and what he does than can be expressed in just one interview."
SoT: So where did The Reticent come from?
Chris: Well, I wrote these songs about what I was feeling. I never really, to tell the truth never really planned on sharing this stuff with anybody. Some of these songs, especially from the first album, I just was writing songs about things I was dealing with, people who were dying, relationships that were failed or losing family to disease, whatever, were written to make me feel better. Then a couple friends or colleagues got a hold of some of the home recordings I did and encouraged me a lot to put it out there and this is still what this project is about for me. I never write the songs with the idea of selling albums or playing a show in mind, it's far and beyond anything else I have ever done as far as being personal and kind of exposing myself to the world. People who listen to both CD's will realize that Hymns is about letting go and being sick of being in pain. It is a kind of moving on CD. Now the next album will still be recognizably me but conceptually it will be a story that I have been through but it will be a narrative. Each song will be something that I have been through.
SoT: Can you tell us a little bit about the new album?
Chris: It is a concept album; hopefully it will entice people with a story about love, loss and death. I have had to go through things so difficult I couldn't write about them. Now I have come to the point where I can write and talk about them.
SoT: So how is The Reticent being received?
Chris: As the label points out, the difficult thing about The Reticent is where to put it, because it is so personal, I never set out to write this type or that type of song. Most of the sales come from word of mouth. The fans that I have and the ones that find me are what encourage me. The people who do find it say "This is something like what I went through" or something like that. I think it is through these experiences that I end up connecting with the audience instead of just giving them a beat that they can beat their head to or something that they can sing in the car.
SoT: What would your message be to someone who has never heard The Reticent?
Chris: Both albums are taken as kind of downer CDs like My Dying Bride or something like that. This isn't the goal or the message I am trying to send out to people. I would like to think that this is a CD that will help somebody feel better. To me, this CD should be like…you have all this negativity out of you and you don't have to feel it like that anymore. I don't know if I would have a message beyond that. It would be presumptuous of me to tell people what to get out of it other than that. I have done enough metal shows where someone goes into the mosh pit and scream or groupies come to me afterwards and says that's cool, I am much more into having some say "I was moved" or "that got to me in some way" or "that made me think" and I made them do it. A few fans have written me and told me that I have got this or that out of the music. I think that is great. I hope these albums can help people to feel better, better about themselves.
SoT: How is the writing process for your music?
Chris: Typically when I'm writing a song I do the music first and the lyrics later. Like if I'm really upset I want to express that without words and that is the jumping off point for the music. This is what is most important to me. I feel an emotion before I come up with words. How can I make somebody truly understand if there are no lyrics? Then I look at what do I want to say with the music and then do I want to convey with the lyrics.
SoT: So how do you categorize your music?
Chris: To me that has been the hardest part. Club owners are not sure what to do with a guy who sings this deep dark music with just an acoustic guitar. The music has actual been best received by the metal audiences but even there they don't know what to do with a solo guy and his guitar. In the other bands I have been in we have been able to latch up with similar acts and that is how we got the message out there. It is so hard to find a way to get the music out there. So I have played here in the Carolinas and slowly expanding out.
SoT: It is almost like an unplugged version of heavy metal.
Chris: That works for me!
SoT: So Chris I want to thank you, is there anything you would like to tell the readers about The Reticent?
Chris: The Reticent is like no one you ever saw but wherever I go in life The Reticent will go. In some ways he is very dark and accepting of life's woes. It's not when I'm happy that I needed to express myself, I am going to have hardships, but the progression will be transcendent. Accept life's limitations and find a way t find freedom and refuge by confronting them instead of running away from them. If you look at a lot of the progressive metal bands they write a lot of stuff like The Reticent. The raw emotion, it is all about expressing something and that is what I want everyone to feel.
SoT: I want to thank you for your time Chris. I appreciate it.
Chris: Thank you for listening to me and my music!
The Reticent is really unclassifiable as a genre. The only thing I can say is that he elicits such raw emotion that you will feel something from listening to his music. It is like a freeing of all those inner demons and turmoil as you hear what he has to say. I have to say thank you to Chris for an album that is therapy for me in troubled times!
Click here for my review of Amor Mortem Mei Erit by The Reticent