The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world






Though he might be best known as the lead guitarist for  the stadium-sized monster that is THE FOO FIGHTERS, or his punk rock band 'No Use for a Name', or the rather cool punk cover band 'Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' CHRIS SHIFLETT has a surprisingly broad taste in music that even stretches beyond Country to Honky Tonk.


'All Hat and No Cattle' the latest album from Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants is out now and features covers of nine classic honky-tonk songs by artists such as Don Rich, Waylon Jennings, Faron Young, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard plus one new original song, “A Woman Like You”.




Mark: “All Hat and no Cattle”, it’s an interesting name! It’s a cool phrase, but is there any specific meaning behind it?


Chris: Well, I thought it was fitting, given that A, it’s covers and B, I’m not exactly known as a country musician!! So, it’s just a little “tongue in cheek”, but the truth of the matter is we are proud of our record! We have lots of cattle!!


Mark: Lots of big hats too?!!


Chris: After some of the shows I made some of the other guys buy cowboy hats too, I was like, I’m not going to be the only “mother fucker” up here in a cowboy hat, you guys had better get the cowboy hats going!!!


Mark: I think it’s one of those things you have to do! I went to Texas for the second time, last year, and the first time I resisted, but second time, I couldn’t help myself, I had to buy one!


Chris: You put on a Stetson and a good pair of boots, and it changes the way you walk, you become a different person!!



Mark: The first album in 2010, was great, this one’s a little different, is it the sort of thing you had to get out of your system, getting these classics down?


Chris: You know, it’s more like I wanted to get it in to my system. That style of music, I have loved for a long time, and I’ve just never played it, so until you sit and play something for a long time, it’s hard to get it to sink in, and that was really the motivation initially. We weren’t even thinking about doing a record, we just wanted to learn some songs and go play, and be like a cover band for a while. When we were doing that, we just had so much fun, we thought, we should get in the studio and record it, see if we can capture a little of it.


Mark: I think you definitely have. A mate of mine actually saw you play in store at Amoeba Records, back in July, and said you were sounding great, he was over from the UK. Do you enjoy getting out there? I know you haven’t got any dates scheduled with the Dead Peasants.


Chris: Well, we don’t have tonnes of stuff, so we are not really going to be able to tour, and for a number of reasons, but mainly, the big one being time and lives. But, someday, I would love to get down to Australia, with the band and do some shows, it would be a lot of fun, I’d love to go to Europe, and all over, but when you are in a lower level band, your options are a lot more limited. People are on our Facebook page, complaining that we don’t play outside of California, and the truth of the matter is, we would love to, but it’s not as easy, as maybe people think! We’d love to get to Australia at some point, but I don’t know when.






Mark: The album was out on the 30th of July here, and probably everywhere else, are you pleased with the feedback so far?


Chris: Yeah, I really am, man! It’s been pretty exciting, when you put out a record you never know if anyone’s going to like it or not, especially when you do something outside of what you know. So when we getting it ready, I didn’t know how people would react to it, so I’ve been happy, there have been some good reviews. Usually some sound like, “Oh, it’s something they’re doing between stadium tours”, and I get that, I don’t expect everyone to dig it, but, for the most part it’s been positive.


Mark: I think it’s a good thing also because it opens up people’s eyes to music they wouldn’t necessarily come in to contact with. I spoke to a guy called Charles Normal, who did a Country flavoured album, a while ago, and he’s well known as a producer, but, it’s amazing that people latch on to these sorts of things, and listen to them. The tracks that really stuck out for me, and I just assumed the album was all covers, was “Woman Like You”, it sounds like you nailed it!! Was that what you set out to do, infuse yourself with all this music, and then see what you could do?


Chris: That’s exactly what I wanted to do, I just wanted to live in Honky Tonk for a while, and see what that did to us, and see what that did to our song writing, and I want it to rub off on what we do for the future. That song for me was the first new song that we wrote, since we started doing this, and I have a bunch more that we haven’t learned as a band yet, and that’s the kind of direction I see us heading, for this thing. It’s obviously influenced by old school stuff, but it’s still modern at the same time.


Mark: I think you’re right. You play in so many other projects as well, one of them being that little band we have heard of down here, called The Foo Fighters! I understand you are working on a new album at the moment, is that right?


Chris: You know we are always off somewhere recording a new album, but we have been playing together, and learning some new songs, it’s going great!! It’s really moving along.


Mark: Anything different, off the wall there? Are you going to get some Honky Tonk in there?!


Chris: I don’t think there’ll be a lot of that on there, on a Foo Fighter record!! It’s still taking shape, it’s hard to say at this stage, it’s all really exciting, and it’s got a really good energy to it, so I think it’s going to be great!





Mark: Sounds good! Reading through your bio, it seems you grew up in small town California, where there wasn’t much of a music scene, what sort of stuff were you into when you were a teenager? You’ve played in Punk and Hard Rock bands, but do you think the country influence was always there in the background?


Chris: No, I always liked Rock and Roll, my earliest memories, I was lucky I had older brothers as they had good musical tastes, my older brother liked The Beatles and Elvis and stuff like that. I grew up listening to Kiss and Sabbath, and music like that. Then when The Stray Cats came out, that was the first band I liked that wasn’t hard rock. Through High School, I got into Punk Rock, Rockabilly and different stuff like that, and I started listening to a lot of old Elvis, Johnny Cash and Gene Vincent records. So it was just a small step from that to Honky Tonk, I also got introduced to the old country stuff, so I just got in to it, and you keep diving backwards, it’s not that far to go from The Stones, back to Chuck Berry and Hank Williams.


Mark: You have to go back to find out where it all came from, and I think it gives you a greater appreciation of music. One thing I’ve found with younger fans these days is that they don’t seem to care about that sort of thing, so unless they hear it again on albums like yours, they are not going to go on that voyage of discovery, which is so easy to do these days.


Chris: You know the amazing thing is if you want to discover music from the past, you have this endless resource at your fingertips. A bunch of the songs that appeared on the album, were clips from You Tube that our pedal steel player sent me! When you dig in to it, I mean, I love all kinds of music, but when you get in to this, there’s a great backlog of stuff from the 50’s and 60’s, and up till now, its endless! I thought I’d listened to a lot of new music, but the old music that I listen to, is new to me, and so it serves the same purpose.


Mark: I think with the Honky Tonk, it was always the music serves the story, rather than it’s all about the music, it was always the lyrical content of the songs that appealed to people.


Chris: Yes, that’s right, it’s the story in the lyrics and the vocal, and that’s the craziest part of the whole thing, the music is such a different discipline, and the focus is way more on the vocal and the lyric, and less about the bombastic instrumentation, that you tend to have in rock and roll.





Mark: Our time is almost up, it’s been great talking to you, I wish it could be longer. I have one quick question if I can slip that in! I think you are a fan of Hanoi Rocks, like I am what happened with Andy, and The Real McCoy??
Chris: Well, sadly, and it’s funny you brought that up! We had an issue of Classic Rock magazine, in our studio, I don’t know how old it was, but they had a great interview with Andy and Mike Monroe, talking about the making of “Back to Mystery City”, that’s my favourite Hanoi Rocks album! So, it was really cool, but when I wanted to do that tour, it just kind of fell apart because, to be perfectly frank, Andy, in my view was just in no condition to work, and that’s what it came down to.


Mark: It’s sad.


Chris: I am such a fan of him and his music, and his guitar playing, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be the guitar player I am today. If it wasn’t for studying my Hanoi Rocks records without jamming, and first learning how to play, I can’t overstate how big an influence him and that band were on me! But, trying to play music with him was a disaster!!! So, I couldn’t be a part of it.


Mark: It’s such a shame! Anyway, Chris, it’s been a pleasure, thanks for your time. Hopefully we’ll see you in Australia soon.


Chris: Thank you so much, take care.





Chris spoke to Mark Diggins August 2013





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