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A Conversation With Chris Shinn, Christopher Thorn, and Brad Smith
by Samuel Barker
October 27, 2000

Heading into this show I was experiencing mixed feelings about attending. I knew that most bands who play the Hard Rock are terrible, but I also knew Christopher Thorn and Brad Smith were from Blind Melon who were a great band. I saw Blind Melon's last show and know that Smith and Thorn are talented musicians. Knowing they were talented brought the fear of talking to a "rock star" who doesn't even want to speak to you. In the end however I was faced with 3 really cool guys who were really stoked about playing their music and loved what they were doing. They were even enjoying a look through their press kit. It was fun to see talented professional musicians digging through their press kits like it was the first on they'd ever seen. This band has a great deal of success to look forward to. Impressive musicianship, great songwriting, and a love for their art...they will be a great band for years to come.


Christopher Thorn

Samuel Barker: Alright, Let's start with the easy stuff, introductions, what do you do?

Chris Shinn: My name is Chris Shinn, I sing and play guitar.

Brad Smith: I'm Brad Smith, I do backup vocals and play bass.

Christopher Thorn: I'm Christopher Thorn, I play guitar.

Samuel:(directing attention to Chris Shinn) Well, I don't really know you. I know the other guys were in Blind Melon but I don't much about you. I read in the press kit you were from North Carolina.

Chris: Yeah, Charlotte

Samuel: Coming from there, how'd you get together with these guys?

I moved to LA when I was 18, and I started band when I was 20 called Celia Green, which was a solo project. Christopher got a hold of an EP I had done with that band, and at the time I was in between members my drummer and guitar player were on tour with Everlast and my bass player was out with Macy Gray. Anyways, to make a long story short, Christopher got a hold of that through a mutual friend of ours at A&M which is Interscope now, and she got us together. Christopher called me out of the blue and I didn't know what to expect or anything. I wasn't looking for a gig or anything like that. He just wanted to meet with me and we discussed the possibilities of starting a new band or him joining my band, just something different, something new. That's the way it all started. Then I went back with him to Seattle for about 2 weeks and at the end of the first week we had written "Cessna" and "Acid", so when I went back to LA with this tape you couldn't deny. Even the guys in my band at the time were like "man, you gotta do this".

Samuel: Awesome. (Directing Attention to Brad Smith and Christopher Thorn) You two guys were in a band together, so in this one were the two of you looking to stay together, or was it a case of you guys just needing a bass player?

Christopher: Yeah, we just needed a bass player.

Brad:(laughing) I was weaving baskets down on Aurora Boulevard and it just wasn't panning out. I figured I join....Na, Christopher and I have worked together since the demise of Blind Melon. He's produced a lot of records I've played on, and I got him to produce my solo record. We have a whole lot in common, with studio passion and we're both into technical gear and stuff like that. Also, we hung out a lot together too, so it made sense.

Samuel: So it was a natural move to continue working with this band?

Brad: Yes, Absolutely. And we both lived in Seattle which helped.

Christopher: I knew these two guys(Shinn and Smith) would hit it off actually. What was weird is that as soon as we decided to be a band I took off to go play with Live, and they just hung out for a few weeks and hit it off. The chemistry works between them.

Samuel: You guys just played some shows with Live right?

Christopher: Yeah, we played 6 or 7 shows with them.

Samuel: Was that the first time you guys played really big shows?

Christopher: Yeah, it was for us. It was great, we had a great time.

Samuel: So how long have you guys been together as a unit now?

Christopher: For about two...two and a half years now

Samuel: Wow, I've been out of the loop for a while then.

Christopher: Well, the first year we just in the studio.

Chris: A lot of time. He spent some time with Live, there was a lot of time involved. We were also searching for a drummer. The stuff was made in the studio piece by piece. All the songs came together over a long period of time. It wasn't like we were playing shows and writing songs as a band. The band was really just the three of us. After Dave played drums on "Cessna" and "Passive" he left to go on tour with Candlebox. We had to wait on him to decide if he was in or not.


Brad Smith

Samuel: I see he's been drumming for a lot of bands, so was it hard with him always gone to get everything done?

Chris: We were worried about it a bit because we wanted to make sure whoever we got was totally committed, but there was no doubt that he wanted to be here. You just know when someone is into it. We've been through enough drummer scenarios with drummers who were flaky as hell, and wouldn't commit to shit. We got lucky with Dave, he's an exceptional drummer. His attitude is way different than most drummers I've ever met.

Samuel: Is it kinda flattering that he's kinda settled down with this band rather than keeping on moving around?

Christopher: Well, it's a little early to tell right now.

Chris: It's nice to know someone with options is into the band, and we have a good thing going on. We got a lot of the songs done with him. Not all, but a good last half of the songs.

Samuel: After Blind Melon were you guys ready to head in a new direction?

Christopher: Totally. One of the advantages of our careers ending with Blind Melon was that we were able to do whatever we wanted. Then we met up with Chris which made us get back into it. As well as us wanted to get back into it.

Brad: It goes for all us though, because I was inspired by these guys in a writing sense because I'm finally working with people who know how to complete songs and finish ideas. Most of the songs I wrote with the last band of mine never really had an ending and just sorta faded out into the next song. And working with these guys it's like "we're gonna finish it and complete all of the stuff" which makes the songs tighter and adds more structure. It's a great change.

Samuel: Has it been rough starting over in a way? I know Blind Melon was established with touring and everything. Was it fun to go back to square one or was it like "FUCK! I have to start over"?

Christopher: Well, if I woke up every morning and was like "Oh fuck, I should be in a tour bus" I'd be miserable everyday. I'm happy to be in a band that I love and I get to play guitar everyday for a living. I'm not gonna be all pissed off we're not on a stage that's three feet bigger.

Brad: But we should

Christopher: But we should, thatsi true, we should have a bus. I'll tell you what this does, it clarifies what's important to you. Even though we'd love a bus and playing in front of 50,000 people, but what is important is that we're making music with friends and music that we like.

Brad: So we'd settle with 20,000.

Christopher: Yeah, we'd settle with 20,000. We're not that greedy, but it definitely puts into perspective what's important.

Samuel: Is it fun to get back onto the smaller more intimate stage?


Chris Shinn

Christopher: Yeah, it is. I don't know if this is what I had in mind when we were starting over.

Brad: Yeah, here at the Hard Rock.

Christopher: Yeah, this is NOT what we had in mind. We came really close to skipping this.

Samuel: So you've guys never played any other Hard Rocks?

Christopher: NEVER.

Brad: We played the Joint in Vegas, but that's a venue. It's the Hard Rock casino. It's got a big stage.

Samuel: I saw this on the itenerary and I was suprised. You guys played Fitzgerald's last time.

Brad: Yeah, and that's a real club people come there to see a rock show. Here they serve burgers all day.

Christopher: It's not the size, it's the place.

Brad: Yeah, people yelling "Can you turn the bass down please?"

Christopher: Yeah, there were quite a few phone calls going on today to figure this out. We needed something to get us to the V.A.S.T. tour.

Samuel: So this was kinda stop by and get gas money on the way?

Christopher: Exactly.

Samuel: I see you guys have a lot of instruments, so you guys are multi-talented or at least multi-instrumental or whatever the phrase is?

Brad: Yeah, we're pretty amphibious. (laughter)

Samuel: Wow, I'm gonna have to use that in the future, I can ask some bands if they're amphibious?

Chris: That was some football player or....Mike Tyson who said that. (In A Mike Tyson voice) "You see you can throw with your right or your left, I'm pretty amphibious."

Samuel: Did the ability to play multiple instruments help when recording the album without a drummer?

Christopher: Yeah, it did. Brad played drums a lot to help write songs.

Samuel: Anything you guys you want to add?

Chris: Well, the website is pretty important. It's at www.unifiedtheorymusic.com.

Samuel: Great. Well, I'll let you guys get back to stuff you need to do.

Christopher: Great, if you have any more questions feel free to ask us later.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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