Lostboycrow (Chris Blair) is currently on the road with Flor, and they’ll be making a stop in DC this weekend at U Street Music Hall (tomorrow/Saturday/9.21) and in NYC next week at Webster Hall (Wednesday/9.25); you should absolutely grab tickets to the gigs, and you should also grab a copy of Santa Fe, which was released earlier this year. In the meantime, go ahead and get familiar with Lostboycrow below via a phone conversation we had yesterday, during which we talked all about United States geography ‘n gratitude:
So how’s it going out there?
Pretty good! We had a show in Nashville last night, and we have a kind of “off day” to get to North Carolina, so we’re just kind of taking our time leaving town, getting some BBQ and all that sort of thing, you know?
Amazing! I feel like that’s a nice little rarity, since tour can kind of be a boom, boom, boom experience. You’re about at the midway point, right?
I think we’re a little under the midway point still, but it is going by pretty fast. We’re all really good friends, so it’s a very tight-knit crew, and it kind of felt like by the second show, even, we were really hitting our stride. Everyone’s getting along really well, and it feels like we’ve been out for way longer than we have. It’s nice. And it’s cool, because we really like each other and still have a long ways to go around the country! It’s been really good.
Oh, best case scenario that you’re all getting along so well! Now, do you feel like touring tends to influence you creatively, just being able to pass through new places (even for thirty seconds)…do you feel like you’re affected by shifting geography?
Yeah, I definitely think it does. Not in the sense that…I mean, I haven’t written anything down as we’ve driven through these places, but I think I feel strangely at ease and at home in motion and on the road. To me, being in a van and playing music with friends, stopping through these towns, whether it’s Nashville for a show or some town that’s just an exit number that we needed gas at, I feel like all those little moments store themselves deep within me, and they collectively build what I feel like home is for me, just being in motion. I think I draw from those places later, absolutely, when I’m writing.
Where does that come from? Because I watched an interview you did with a publication (can’t remember the name) on YouTube, and you did mention that this feeling of being on the road is a very nostalgic and comfortable one for you. Was that part of your childhood?
Yeah, I think so. My parents always made a point to take us places, especially out in nature, and kind of just explore. A lot of my family is from the Midwest, South Dakota, and we grew up in Oregon, so I think making those drives back and forth every summer became a really special sort of…almost romantic sort of thing. I don’t know if that’s the right word to use, but it’s just this larger than life experience that I kind of hang onto and still draw from, those feelings of being at total ease with my family and feeling the safety of being together, taking those trips and being in nature. So I feel like I was really fortunate to kind of fall in love with being on the road and seeing new places, especially just being out in the wide open spaces of this country, which I feel like most people consider “flyover states”. I feel like those are the places I love to be in the most.
Absolutely! Obviously I don’t know the exact route you guys were taking, but that part of the country is so amazingly beautiful, even though you’re right, I think a lot of people would categorize those states as sort of “flyovers”. My dad was always obsessed with Wyoming and Montana and the Dakotas.
Everywhere you just listed is tied for my favorite place to be. People have asked me before where I’d want to go if I could travel anywhere, and I mean, there are a lot of places I want to see in the world, but if it were up to me, I’d just as soon be in Montana or Wyoming as anywhere in the world. I can’t imagine anywhere being more beautiful. It just feels so big, you know? With the wide open spaces, whether it’s the mountains or the prairies. It’s just…you get lost in the bigness of everything. It really puts you in your place as a human, and it’s really beautiful. Yeah, I love all those places.
Totally. And so when you were at home as a kid, then, do you feel your creative process was at all informed by the landscape or culture of the Pacific Northwest? Obviously there are loads of amazing artists from that part of the country, too, so do you feel that that was influential?
Yeah, and maybe something I wasn’t cognizant of until later, but I think as I got a little older and started caring about bands more, started wanting to be in bands, and seeing the local scene in Portland (which is where I was at), seeing the other bands that were maybe moving to Portland even if they weren’t from there…the culture was just really inspiring to be around. A lot of cool bands like The Decemberists, The Shins, Britt from Spoon moved there…there were just a lot of cool people that, even if you weren’t seeing them around, just knowing that they were around was really cool. It is, it’s inspiring to be around. The Pacific Northwest in general is something I absolutely took for granted growing up. I had a really great childhood, but it wasn’t until I moved away, and even now every time I go home, that I started to realize what a perfect place it is to grow up. It’s very peaceful, it’s very serene and picturesque, and honestly, the people there are very friendly. So I think it definitely affected me in ways that I don’t even fully comprehend.
I think that’s so normal, too, though, to take for granted the place where you grew up. I grew up in the suburbs of DC, and the area where we lived was super beautiful; my dad was a horse dentist (a real job!) and so we were out there in horse country. It wasn’t until I moved away that I really appreciated it. Now, on that note, tell me about your move to LA! Because I feel like that was probably a shock to the system. You’re still based there, yeah?
It’s funny, I haven’t been out there in a minute, but I feel like (especially being from the East Coast), there are a lot of things you’re told about LA that people prepare you to hate with a passion, and some of those things are true, but for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved LA. What’s your perspective on living there?
Well, I think the move there was kind of the perfect storm of a few different things. I joined a band in Portland, was playing keys for them, so it wasn’t like my project, and I didn’t necessarily feel a lot of ownership, but I was having fun. The other guys kind of on a whim decided that we should move to LA, and I’d thought about it for a while, and I think it was just that perfect storm. It was something I wanted to do, but it was something I wouldn’t have done on my own. I think it took that spur the moment decision to really get me to pull the trigger on it, and yeah, we moved down in 2014, didn’t really have a plan or anything. I don’t know, I won’t necessarily say that’s what you should do, but I think a lot of things like that, especially with LA, it’s one of those things that you’ve kind’ve gotta do. I think if you want it bad enough, you’ll figure it out and make it happen. That’s kind of what happened for me, because I moved down and was able to reconnect with my buddy Kyle, who’s in the band Flor that I’m touring with now. He introduced me to the rest of his band, and I started recording all the first songs I released with Dylan, the bass player. It all happened really fast, and I think I was fortunate enough to have it happen faster than it maybe takes other people to get acclimated. So I just hit the ground running, and within a year I started releasing Lostboycrow songs. Yeah, it’s just kind of been a whirlwind ever since. But yeah, LA is such a sprawl, and you’ve kind’ve gotta know where to be. I’ve lucked out by never having to live in Hollywood, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. [Laughs] I live in the Valley now, which I think is very family-oriented, very much like a more relaxed pace but still a lot of musicians and artists. So I’m loving it there. I always say that LA is a great place to leave and a great place to come back to. It’s a nice home base, definitely.
Completely! The people that I know who are happiest out there are in the Valley, Eagle Rock…basically anywhere that isn’t Hollywood or “central LA”, like you said.
Yeah, Eagle Rock is great. Lots of studios popping up there, and a lot of artists having families, laying low.
Absolutely. Alright, shifting locations again, you named your debut record after Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tell me about the significance of that.
Yeah, so in my pre-Lostboycrow days I’d done some just like, get in the van and see what happens kind of touring, and we’d always stop in Albuquerque. The people were always really welcoming and really friendly, and I think some of the first people outside of my immediate family to show interest in what I was doing, which is a huge moment for any artist of any kind; as soon as anybody starts showing interest, it opens up a whole new world of like, “Wow, this is what this feels like. I don’t have to force my music on people anymore.” So I was drawn to it, because it’s a small group of people that would always come to see me play, and I’d appreciate it, kind of grew to love Albuquerque and always make a point to stop there. But I’d never been to Santa Fe. It never worked out to go there, and I knew from what I heard that I’d love it, so when it came time to make a new album, my manager Jared suggested I actually go somewhere and try and start it with some friends. And it just seemed like New Mexico would be the perfect fit, because it was January, and it was the high desert, so it was going to kind of be still dismal vibes, but we weren’t be freezing or anything. Basically it wouldn’t be like going anywhere too tropical where we’d be distracted or anything. Santa Fe in January is the perfect opportunity to get work done but still be somewhere very inspiring. And as far as something I kind of put together a little after the fact, is that the first song I ever sang in front of a group of people was actually called “Santa Fe”. It’s from a musical called Newsies, so that was also kind of a full-circle thing where I was like, “This album kind of needs to be about myself now talking to myself then, coming from this place of gratitude and peace and reflection.” So it kind of felt like Santa Fe was the full-circle meeting place of like, I was always supposed to go there and do this album there. It kind of seemed like this familiar but new territory.
Absolutely. Now, yours isn’t obviously an overnight success, but you’ve said yourself that it was maybe a bit more rapid of a coming together than might be true of other people’s experiences. For you, how did that affect the way that you identify yourself musically in terms of what you’re trying to do with the project, or even the fact that you’ve sort of lifted the veil on your moniker a bit? Where do you feel you stand on that ground at this moment in time?
Just complete gratitude. It’s been a wild ride since day one. I mean, I say it’s been a wild ride, but so many years pre-LA especially of just grinding and…you know, you know you want to do this, you just don’t know how. But you know you have to do it, and you try a bunch of different things. Moving to LA and seemingly being able to really get my feet wet from the get-go was just…I didn’t really have time to overthink it, you know? I started making music in October or November of 2014, I released the first and second song I think in December, my managers hit me up in January, and it all happened so relatively fast that I kind of felt like I was shooting from the hip and didn’t really have time to overthink it. Everything kind of felt natural, I guess. Not to be too repetitive, but I just didn’t have time to overthink it, and I kind of just did what felt right as far as the aesthetic and the songs. I was just completely blown away and grateful that people were finally responding to my music outside of close family and friends, and I think that’s always been a pillar of what I’m doing and what inspires me, is just getting lost in the magic of how incredibly lucky I feel to be on the journey I am, and to see the journey that I’ve had. Complete and utter gratitude.
Featured photo by Sophie Harris