Eight years ago Chuck Westmoreland was playing rock and roll with his band, The Kingdom - until he decided to walk away from it all. This past September, he returned, almost a decade later, with his self-titled solo debut. Mining personal experiences including marriage, fatherhood, and his wife's cancer, Westmoreland's songs are character sketches that deal with real life, tragedy, and perseverance. Via email, he kindly took the time to answer a few questions about the record and more.
What happened eight years ago that made you walk away from The Kingdom?
The band broke up and I got busy owning and operating a restaurant and then opened a bar. The next thing I knew I was sitting in this electric blue ranch house in north Portland with my pregnant wife who had just survived cancer, staring at a stack of guitars I built, finally taking a deep breath thinking "I should play one of these guitars - it's been a while."
Were the events in your life the largest contributors to the record’s sound or was a shift in musical styling always
in the cards for you?
I think a lot of it is me getting a little bit older and the songs reflecting what I've been listening to. I just write the kind of songs I want to hear and try to write them as honest as possible.
Was there any artist you found musical inspiration in for this project?
When I'm mopping the floor of my bar in the mornings and cleaning up I listen to George Jones a lot.
I was also listening to Link Wray's self-titled album from 1971 when I was writing and recording this record.
For some, writing stories so personal can be therapeutic. Was it that way for you?
I think that turning horrible events into songs diminishes the pain, and that sharing them diminishes the loneliness, and that having another person identify with or be moved by that song allows the writer to trade something terrible for something beautiful.
You have said that “All these songs are about the character trying to recover something that has been taken from them. Or the character trying to understand some horrible thing they’ve been given to deal with.” Through the music have you come to understand the things you were given to deal with?
Not really, but I've been able to give them names or titles.
There’s much imagery in your lyrics, with “I Remember Hearing Voices Before I Came” and its gospel-like harmonies being a very affecting song. Would you share the story behind it?
This is a song about a guy being abandoned by the person he loves and feeling as if he was a child abandoned by his mother. I scrapped the original version we had recorded and started again with 8 tracks of me banging on different planks of wood with my boots. I had this sacred steel type of sound in my mind with this song and the call and response type of vocals and hand claps fit into that.
While the songs are very personal, their themes are also relatable. Why did you choose to begin the record with “Pattern In The Blood”?
This song is about a cycle that cannot be broken. It seemed like a good place to start, the idea that this has all happened before and it will all happen again.
Recently you premiered a stunning video for “The Clouds Beyond Us Carry Rain.” Can you give the story behind the video?
Kevin had some images in mind of a clear-cut and a woman wrapped in bandages. I wanted to do something physically exerting in the video where I would get more and more exhausted as the video progressed. We took those ideas and put them into the arc of the song and I think it worked out nicely.
Will you tour for this record? And if so, will it be strictly on the west coast or across the US?
I need to find a booking agent. I would love to get out on a national tour with this record.
Finally, I always like to know if there is a recent release, any genre, that you cannot stop listening to and would recommend we check out?
Ural Thomas and the Pain. Mississippi records put this out over the summer. He is a 77 year-old r & b singer from here in Portland and he is amazing.
For more information visit his official website
Find him on Facebook & Twitter
Purchase the album here