SP: Chris, let’s start off with your newest venture which is Rattlebone. How did that come about?
CA: Well, I have a recording studio of my own and Johnny Neel, who is a good friend of mine, also has a studio and is a keyboard player. We end up being the rhythm section on a lot of other people’s records, and one day I was driving and I found a blank CD on the seat and stuck it in, and it was us doing a section of a song with no vocals or anything, and I liked the sound of it so much, why don’t we have a band together and it is always so good working together, so I called Johnny up and said, “Why don’t we do a band?”, and he said “Yea let’s do it!” The band turned out to be the guys we were working with: myself, Johnny, Dennis Gulley and Daryl Burgess. Everybody’s a lead singer in their own right and so there is a lot of versatility to it. For the first batch of songs for this first record, I just went over to Johnny’s house and recorded stuff we put together on our own phones for reference later and that’s pretty much how we wrote ten of these songs, we have one left to record. We hope to have it finished soon.
SP: Do you have a label?
CA: We don’t have a label, we have just done everything ourselves. We are lucky to be able to do it, although it would be nice to have a producer and engineer instead of having to do everything yourself, but it’s been fun and rewarding knowing you did everything yourself. It is much easier to concentrate on the music and the song than dealing with all the technical stuff. It’s nice to have people who are experts on the tech end. But we have gotten it done and we are happy with the results. (Since this interview, Rattlebone has named and released the CD “World Gone Crazy” on February 9th)
SP: Will you be touring for the record?
CA: Yes we are waiting for the record to release and for people to get their hands on it to start doing some shows. We may play an impromptu gig here and there just to get some of this music under our belts.
SP: Where are you currently living?
CA: I live in Nashville these days. I miss Sarasota. I am not used to all the gray, stark weather here, which is very different from sunny days in Sarasota. You really have to just not let it affect you. Sarasota always seems to have nice weather.
SP: Let me throw some local musician’s names at you since you have played with some of these people. How about Mike Kach?
CA: I have played with Mike a long time, we have had bands together. Molly Hatchett called me up and they wanted a keyboard player and I really hated to give Mike to them but I thought it would be good for him to get out on the road, so I did, and he ended up going with them on the road.
SP: It’s a pretty small southern musical world isn’t it?
CA: It really is, all the southern bands knew each other, just like a family that supported each other. Not as much like that today, although still a little bit like that. Back then, it was tight knit. Everybody knew each other, had mutual respect for each other and it was good times.
SP: Who were your guitar heroes when you were growing up?
CA: Everybody from the Monkees to Jimi and Eric Clapton. Really, if they didn’t have a guitar in a band, I didn’t listen to it. If they didn’t play guitar solos, I wasn’t interested. Maybe I missed out on a lot of stuff but, if they didn’t have a guitar hero in the band, I didn’t waste my time. I learned from those guys and I learned that they got it from old blues players. I ended up listening to the all the blues players, Freddie King, all the Kings, Albert and B.B. That was the benchmark for me; Freddie King in particular was a big influence on me. When I was too young to get into the clubs, I used to go stand outside the backdoors on Siesta Key, Neil Larsen would be inside playing and I would listen and sneak in when I could. Of course, the Allman Brothers were an influence and Dickey was always so gracious to me. He would come out to see my band play and he would have his guitar tech give me his guitar to play. In fact, the Allman’s used to give us their old equipment to play, speakers, etc. We had stuff from the Fillmore East, which of course I wish I still had!
SP: Do you remember what your first guitar was?
CA: My first guitar I got from a kid at school named Buddy Ross. He brought it for show & tell at school and I sat next to him on the bus and he started playing “Wipe Out” by the Safari’s and I was like blown away. The next day I bought the guitar and amp from him, it was a Sears Silvertone. He gave a me a big songbook and I went into my room, cranked the amp, opened the windows and played to my heart’s content! To this day, I play for fun and I tell people I get paid to travel. (laughs) My second guitar was from Maas Brothers in Sarasota (laughs). A $35.00 red-hollow bodied guitar, I begged my mother to get that guitar for me and I think I mowed some lawns for it.
SP: When you listen to music, who do you listen to?
CA: I will listen to anybody to get a barometer of what is going on. I usually go on YouTube and look at new guys out there. I listen to both known and unknown people. I try to discover new artists. As a matter of fact, I was listening to Damon Fowler’s record this morning. I remember when Damon would come around to places with his parents when he was too young to get in places. I have known him since he was like 13 or 14. Same with Derek Trucks, his dad would bring him around. I remember Dan Toler and I being on either side of him & the guitar was almost bigger than he was, he was swinging Duane Allman licks around. Speaking of Dan Toler, we had a band together for awhile, the Anderson Toler Band, it was both Danny & Frankie Toler, myself, Bruce Waibel and Mike Kach occasionally. We always had so much fun. Danny was not only a brilliant player but always joking around. I remember playing a gig with him somewhere and he snuck up behind me one time on a solo, he sneaks up behind me and grabs my cable, I have no sound happening. I turned around and he is laughing like a little kid. He would do crazy things to make you laugh.
SP: Since you are a Sarasota guy, I have to ask you about Sarasota’s songstress Twinkle. How long have you known each other?
CA: Yea, I have known Twinkle since she was a little girl too! Now I am feeling really old!ha When she got her deal with Warner Brothers, I went out and played with her. It was just her and I since it wasn’t affordable to take a band around to promote this new record she had done. She has always been so gifted. Here she is this skinny little blonde girl with the big voice of a black woman like Aretha Franklin back when she was like 11 years old. She sounded really good recently at the Stone Crab Festival in Cortez, her whole band was really great.
SP: Do you have a ‘go-to’ guitar you play more than anything else?
CA: Well, I have many and it is hard to have just one, but when you are out on the road you can only take so many. I usually have a Les Paul, Stratocaster, Paul Reed Smith or a Telecaster. They all do different things and different sounds. If I am just picking up a guitar to play for fun, it is probably a Strat. It has a lot of different sounds to it. It’s comfortable in my hands.
SP: You were with the Outlaws for a long time from the 1980’s on. How was that experience?
CA: Yea, I joined back in the 80’s after they recorded their “Soldier of Fortune” album. I was there until about 1990. Henry and Huey could never get along. Things got chaotic on the business side of it but then it turned into a country band “Blackhawk” and I bowed out. I still had some rockin’ to do and I told Henry Paul I wanted to try some other things. I bowed out and Blackhawk became pretty successful but it just wasn’t me. I am not really a country player, then everything went around to country rock anyway and it was what I already do. I went back in 1998, but then it stopped being fun and it was just a job. No one cared about the content or what we were doing and it was just getting a paycheck. Not doing anything new. It was like a weight being lifted. I had been wanting to do something else for a long time and when I left it was a blessing really.
SP: Do you do session work in Nashville?
CA: Oh yea. Let’s face it there are a million guitar players in this town but sometimes it is somebody you know and they know what you can do so they bring you in. A lot of it is custom records, people who are trying to launch a career. Tucker Yochim, for instance did some stuff in my studio. There is a group of session players around Nashville who pretty much play on everybody’s records, probably like 50 people playing on everything that gets released in Nashville. Unless it’s a band the artist tours with.
SP: What was Gregg Allman’s influence on you?
CA: I learned a lot from Gregg and Dickey. I remember being 12 years old listening to Fillmore East. Those guys were a huge influence on me. I remember him and Dickey coming down to a Grinderswitch show we played in Venice somewhere and gave me a lot of compliments. He said, “Gregg Allman don’t talk no sh*t”, as if he was in the third person (laughs). Gregg and I would try to write a song about going down to the Gulf of Mexico (laughs) when we would run into each other but we would never get it finished. He was always nice and always got me up to play with them. I always thought Santana and the Allman Brothers were similar in sound because it was guitar oriented and due to the percussion part of the music. Allman’s had that freight train sound. I remember seeing the Allman Brothers at Robarts when I was really young and it was an experience that I still remember today. The music and intensity of it was so overwhelming and powerful.
SP: Chris, thanks for your time and all the great stories!
CA: There are plenty more where those came from but they don’t come out until after dark! (laughs)
Rattlebone is playing at the Synchronicity Southern Rock and BBQ Festival on Saturday, February 23rd! Don’t miss this great day of music at the Mason Youth Park in Wimauma this Saturday!
Photos by sarasotapost.com