Infectious Magazine spoke with Chuck Ragan to discuss genre techniques, creativity, and how fans can support and work to change their local neighborhoods and music scene. Check it out.
Infectious Magazine: Hey Chuck, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. You’ve been on the Revival tour recently. How has the road been treating you?
Chuck Ragan: It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s tough work to say the least to stay healthy, hold onto the balance of life and fulfill all responsibilities on both side of work and home life. It’s a never ending battle and always has had and will have it’s ups and downs but in the end I cannot complain one bit other than the fact that I’m away from home far more than I wish to be.
IM: You’ve mentioned that you essentially feel more at home on the road and require it to stay sane, and write music. What is it about being on the road that forces such creativity?
Chuck Ragan: That’s actually not true. I do not feel “more” at home on the road. I cope with it and I run with the ball I’ve picked up and have for years therefore I am more or less comfortable or more comfortable than most people when I’m in awkward or uncomfortable situations. As I said before, nothing’s easy and in this life you either roll with the punches or lay down and for a lot of us, only one of those is an option. So in time you learn to cope, get by and deal with sacrifice when faced with the tougher or uneasy side of being a nomad. One of the upsides to it aside from getting to know vast communities of amazing creative folks is the information and sensory overload that occurs while out and about. That always lends a hand in having a creative trunk of thought, inspiration and possibilities.
IM: What has been one of the more inspirational experiences you’ve had on the road-whether it ended up being used for a song or not?
Chuck Ragan: I could answer that question equally a thousand times and wouldn’t even know where to begin. If I don’t feel equally as moved writing the song that I’m writing today as I felt writing the last then it’s most likely not worth it and time to let it rest or die.
IM: You recently did a radio interview at Radio Boise 89.9 KRBX and expressed your support of community music. What do you think local scenes could improve on?
Chuck Ragan: I think local scenes of all types, genres and locations could always improve on community awareness and togetherness. I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite writing this since I’m away from home most of the time and am not able to support half of the functions that I’d like to in my town. But I do feel that community radio, functions, shows, local record stores and businesses along with local farming and the effects thereof are all crucial threads in the fabric of society and should not be overlooked. If you don’t like what’s happening in your town, join in and make a change before it’s simply gone and you have to start from square one. We can always learn more and be better to each other and leave a better impression for the young ones that’ll follow.
IM: What suggestions do you personally feel could change the local music scene for the better, and how can both fans and other bands get involved?
Chuck Ragan: Weekend get togethers, pot lucks, music… Songwriting workshops. Festivals. Pull in national acts to your town even if you start with one. Network the hell out of what you believe in and don’t look back. If you live in a town that you love but know there could be more to it, there’s no reason to settle for less. Do something about it. Whether we believe it right now or not, as individuals we are all capable to make a serious difference on our own. So just imagine what you and your friends & neighbors could do together!
IM: Having played in a punk band and now doing more acoustic work, what are some of the differences you’ve found in audiences, performance techniques, preparing, etc?
Chuck Ragan: When I play the loud stuff, I definitely have to remove myself a bit from where I’m at. I have to get back to where I used to feel when I was younger and get amped up in a completely different way. Walking on stage isn’t as much comfortable as it is a hurdle most of the time. My body and my voice have aged and it’s tougher nowadays to keep up the momentum and stamina that I need to. I have a real hard time standing still if I’m playing Hot Water Music songs. And if folks are going to come out and give us their energy and devotion and the guys in HWM are going to be there giving it as well, then I’m going to return it 10 fold. Anything else would be false.
When I’m playing my own music, it’s a completely different headspace and a very comfortable and liberating place to be musically and emotionally. Nowadays more so than the loud, rowdy rock and roll. I simply enjoy it more to be honest. The audiences are more diverse in every which way and the entire process of the evening and energy is not as harsh and rambunctious and I just feel more connected with that plane. At my age that’s certainly what I prefer but whatever my duty and job is at the time, I’ll certainly give it everything I’ve got out of respect to the supporters, the workers and my friends that I share the stage with.
IM: With songwriting being such a creative outlet, and having changed your style around before, would you say you also dabble in fiction/poetry/etc at all?
Chuck Ragan: I have since I was a teenager. My mother has always been a poet and a songwriter and I found interests in it early on. I’ve always written and collected or burned poems and have let it become a large part of my life even before I ever found myself in a band. I’ve been working quite a bit with a company called Milner Crest out of Portland who will be releasing a couple of my books. One of which is more or less a book of poetry, lyrics, reasons and such. One of these days it’ll see the light of day if it doesn’t see the fire first!
IM: Thank you for taking the time to speak to me. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Chuck Ragan: I just want to thank you for caring enough to ask. I feel very blessed and honored to be in the position that I’m in and do not take it for granted. If it wasn’t for the show supporters, the journalists and the friends and labels who help spread the word and the music that I believe in, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and for that I’m very grateful. I’ll keep writing and hopefully have something new for you down the road. Much respect!