Follow Us on Twitter

Chris Shiflett - The IndieLondon interview

Chris Shiflett

Interview by Rob Carnevale

CHRIS Shiflett talks exclusively to IndieLondon about his new album and band, Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants, and the inspiration behind many of the songs.

He also talks about the state of play with Foo Fighters and when they’ll start recording new material, why he’s hoping to get to the UK real soon with The Dead Peasants and why he thinks the new record from Tom Petty is also worth checking out.

Q. Hi Chris, we really enjoyed the new album from you and The Dead Peasants. First off, why are you calling your band The Dead Peasants?
Chris Shiflett: Thanks! I was originally gonna call the band “Chris Shiflett and The Cheaters” but that made people wince, so I changed it to “Chris s
Shiflett and the Campesinos” but there was already a band called “Los Campesinos”, so then I settled on “Dead Peasants”.

Q. I guess you’re also kind of indebted to the friend who invited you to Hootenanny festival in 2008 for firing your passion for Americana and old country music?
Chris Shiflett: Yup, for sure! We actually just played there again this year. First time we were out in a field, this year we played next to the funnel cake maker in the food court. We’re slowly working our way to the main stage [laughs]…

Q. What is it about those genres that’s of particular appeal to you?
Chris Shiflett: I can’t really define it but I do love a twangy guitar.

Q. Which artists do you admire the most from those genres?
Chris Shiflett: I listen to Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Elvis, X, Replacements, Stones, etc…

Q. My personal favourite song on the LP is God Damn. What inspired that?
Chris Shiflett: Cool. I actually wrote that main lick a long, long time ago when I was still in “no use”. I’ve been meaning to turn it into a song ever since and finally did. Lyrically, it’s inspired by a crazy night with an old girlfriend!

Q. Likewise, what inspired An Atheists Prayer?
Chris Shiflett: I knew someone that killed themselves around the time I wrote that song so I drew from that.

Q. And Bandaged?
Chris Shiflett: I think it’s usually better to let people have their own interpretation of lyrics.

Q. How much fun was it to record with the likes of Davey Faragher, Greg Leisz and Stevie Blacke?
Chris Shiflett: SO much fun! Those guys are all A-list players and they really took my songs to new heights.

Q. You have an obvious flair for playing guitar – what do you love about the instrument?
Chris Shiflett: When I was a little kid Ace Frehley was my favourite member of Kiss. So, I guess that’s where it started.

Q. Which other guitar players do you most admire? And who would you like to most guitar duet with? Or stand-off with?
Chris Shiflett: My friend Eddie Perez came in and played a bunch of guitar on my record which was very, very inspiring.

Q. When did you know you wanted to pursue music as a profession? And how easy was it to achieve those goals?
Chris Shiflett: I never thought about it that way. Music was my whole life, not a career. It definitely was never easy… Still isn’t.

Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants, LP

Q. Has the success and profile of Foo Fighters made side projects such as this album easier? Or is it also hard to find the time you’d like to devote to them?
Chris Shiflett: In some ways it’s easier but in others it’s actually harder. You get tarred and feathered as a “side project”, which is kind of silly. Foo’s have been on a long break so Dead Peasants has been my primary focus for a while.

Q. What’s the state of play with Foo Fighters at the moment? When can we expect new material?
Chris Shiflett: We’re learning Dave’s new songs and getting ready to make a record. Looks like we’re gonna start in September and record through the Fall.

Q. You’ve played some amazing gigs, both solo and with Foo Fighters, so what are some of your favourite memories on the road – firstly in Dead Peasants form, and with the Foos? I imagine the acoustic sessions were pretty special too?
Chris Shiflett: Well, Dead Peasants are just starting so there aren’t too many road stories yet. We played up in Fresno the other night at just about the coolest bar I’ve ever been in. There’s been so many special Foo shows that it’s hard to narrow that down.

Q. Can we expect some UK dates to be announced soon?
Chris Shiflett: I’m hoping to get over there around the holidays. Keep your fingers crossed…

Q. What do you like about the UK and its music scene?
Chris Shiflett: The UK has always been great to whatever band I happen to be in. I think you guys are more loyal to the bands you listen to.

Q. What’s the greatest piece of advice or lesson you’ve learned in reaching this point to date?
Chris Shiflett: I never learn my lesson [laughs].

Q. If you could cover any track, what would it be?
Chris Shiflett: I covered Burning Lights by Joe Strummer on my new record. We do a couple of other covers live too. I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can by Merle Haggard, Long Black Limousine by Wynn Stewart, and Sunset of My Tears by The Shaking Pyramids.

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod players at the moment?
Chris Shiflett: My iPod deleted all my songs the other day so I’ve had to start over! But I’ve been listening to that new Drive-By truckers Record a lot lately. The new Tom Petty is great too. I always stock some Clash, Jawbreaker and Hanoi Rocks on there too.

Read our review of Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants