Chris Connelly has a wife, two small children, a demanding job managing Reckless Records in Bucktown, and, at any given moment, seemingly half a dozen artistic projects underway. This month alone, he released an ambitious solo album (his 12th), How This Ends, the debut from his new band The High Confessions, Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions, and his first novel, Ed Royal. Itâ€™s an impressive feat, especially considering the adventurousness of the results. The experimental How This Ends is divided into two half-hour tracks that eschew traditional songwriting conventions. The High Confessionsâ€”featuring Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Sanford Parker of Minsk, and engineer Jeremy Lemosâ€”follow a similarly cavalier muse, improvising their debut, with three of the five songs stretching beyond the 10-minute mark. (The band has already recorded a second album.) Perhaps strangest of all of Connellyâ€™s projects is Ed Royal, simply because it plays the straightest: a psychological thriller that draws heavily from his experiences growing up in Edinburgh. The A.V. Club went over all of it one night at Connellyâ€™s home in Rogers Park.
The A.V. Club: In the press sheet for How This Ends, you said your focus is more on words now and less on music. What does that mean in practice when you make an album?
Chris Connelly: It means, in the case of How This Ends and [2008 solo album] Forgiveness And Exile, I wrote the words before I had the music, which is really unusual for me. I usually do them in tandem, or I do the music first and the words come later. Sometimes itâ€™s hard to do. Sometimes the words take a long time to come, sometimes they come really quickly. How This Ends started, and by the way [so did] Forgiveness And Exile, as did The High Confessions, for me on the CTA. I write on the train. What I always say is that itâ€™s my time to write.
hate July! Chris has been a busy, busy bee and the fruits of those labors will be available in a month!
Chris Connelly (solo) — How This Ends
Available on July 13 from Lens Records. pre-order!
The High Confessions — Turning Lead Into Gold
Available on July 20 from Relapse Records. pre-order!
Chris Connelly — Ed Royal
Chris’s first novel! Available in July from Shipwrecked Industries. more info
The Confessions are (left to right): Sanford Parker (Minsk, Buried at Sea), Jeremy Lemos (White/Light), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), and Chris Connelly.
As Chris reported back in February, this foursome spent some time in the studio (see photo). They now have a name, The Confessions, and their work will be mixed next month (no release date, yet). It’s possible that they may play some shows during the Sonic Youth tour, so stay tuned!
Chris’s new album, Pentland Firth Howl, will be released by Busted Flat Records on May 26, 2009. A very limited edition vinyl pressing will be released at the same time, on Adenda Records.
Chris says, “Pentland Firth Howl is a song cycle about my native Scotland and has 10 tracks. It was produced by my friend Zak Boerger, who also plays guitar on it along with me.”
Shipwreck was released to critical acclaim in 1994 and has long been a favorite of many a Connelly fan. Now, over a decade later, we can hear more of that album, thanks to the availability of the master tapes!
As part of this 6-disc set are some album mixes, alternate mixes and instrumentals (great for karaoke!). There’s also a cover of John Cale’s “Close Watch”, which is a different recording from other versions made available on this site previously.
Many thanks go to Mark Weddle for doing all of the work needed to make these tracks available and to Chris for allowing these to go public.
The Marjorie Kovler Center is a facility in Chicago, Illinois which provides counseling, therapy, aid, housing, and resources to help refugees and victims of torture who have come to the USA.
I first learned about the Marjorie Kovler Center about 10 years ago from a doctor I was seeing at that time. She was an amazing woman, whose name unfortunately escapes me. In addition to being a doctor and the mother of two children, she found time in an incredibly busy schedule to avail herself to the Kovler Center to give her services free of charge.
I was profoundly touched by her, and who wouldnâ€™t be? She told me about the Center, about the refugees that came, who were traumatized in ways that I cannot begin to imagine, having, luckily, no frame of reference except the media for the kinds of inhuman atrocities these people have suffered. She spoke frankly about what had happened to people, and how they found themselves in a new country, often without any language skills and penniless, as well as suffering physically and mentally from their ordeals. Needless to say, it shook and chilled me to the core, and I wanted to help, but at that time did not feel that I had anything constructive to offer.
It was not until the spring of 2007 that I realized I might be able to do something. I had started writing for a new album, and what I was writing was heavily informed by what I had been listening to on the BBC world service, and also by things I had been reading. Slowly, over about eight months, I finished what was essentially a long poem, â€œForgiveness & Exileâ€, which, without trying to explain too much is my own impressionistic view of countries and peoples torn to pieces by war, of prejudices and intolerances, of families destroyed, murder, imprisonment and torture. At the end of the writing process, and during the recording process, I realized that I had said what I set out to say, but was unable to justify my luxury of using language and music to talk about something I felt strongly about, but certainly knew very little of, and was lucky enough to never have experienced such brutal inhumanities. It was at that time that I remembered my conversations with the doctor, and of the Kovler Center, and realized that now at last was my opportunity to do something tangible, and in this respect I am donating all the money I make from sales and royalties of this album to the Kovler Center. Perhaps I can make someoneâ€™s transition a little easier and their quality of life a little better.
Chris is playing at Schuba’s Tavern on Friday, September 12th, opening for JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN. Chris says, “Her new record ‘to survive’ is one of the best records I’ve heard for years!”
Schuba’s is at 3159 North Southport in Chicago; doors at 10:30 PM.
The May 2008 issue of Record Collector magazine features a four-star review of Chris’s autobiographical book, Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible & Fried, by Kris Needs. (Link)
Chris’s wife, Shayna, a talented filmmaker and contributing writer to Time Out Chicago, recently sent an e-mail to family and friends to tout Chris’s book, Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried: My Life as a Revolting Cock. Here is her take on the book, and a little background information on the project:
“The book deal happened in typical Chris Connelly fashion. Ever the supportive fan, he was reading a book from SAF publishing, a company specializing in rock biographies and wrote them to say how much he enjoyed it. In a post script he mentioned he was a musician and asked if they would they would be interested in publishing his story. They asked for an outline and a chapter, loved it and Chris began writing. He wrote it on the train to work while I was pregnant. At the same time he was also making another record – ‘The Episodes’ – and working full time – you’d think he’d get grumpy, but he doesn’t!
“Chris is a fabulous, funny storyteller and ‘Concrete’ is written as candidly and charmingly as he speaks. Unlike a lot of other rock bios, his prose reflects his historian’s mind and voracious appetite for literature. Despite living the quintessential rock and roll lifestyle for many years, the part of Chris that is now devoted family man is still recognizable on the page. The reckless part of his rock-and-roll self has mellowed, but the fun part remains and keeps me, Angus and everyone he meets laughing.”
Durtro has announced the release of Chris’s new CD, The Episodes!
For this album, Chris is joined by Joan of Arc’s Tim Kinsella and Town & Country’s Ben Vida (who also produced the record), as well as members of US Maple, Califone and other Chicago jazz and improv luminaries.
To celebrate the launch of this record, Chris is doing a special one-off show on Saturday, February 17th at 9pm at the Hideout in Chicago.