Christopher Owens, half of the critically acclaimed San Francisco-based band Girls (Chet “JR” White, the other half, has handled bass playing and production since 2007) is a remarkably gifted songwriter. His disarmingly heartfelt songs, which evoke comparison to such great American songwriters as Brian Wilson, Elliot Smith, Daniel Johnston and Cole Porter, gained the band immediate widespread recognition with the release of their first album, Album, in 2009. The band’s new full-length, Father, Son, Holy Ghost ranges sonically from shoegaze and noise pop to the sounds of the girl groups of the 1950s/60s, channeling a heavy dose of classic rock moves along the way. Tethered by the emotional core of Christopher’s meditations on love, loneliness, and family, the songs on Father, Son, Holy Ghost resonate with a beauty and sincerity uncommon in today’s pop landscape. We’re grateful Christopher took the time to answer a few questions and send us what is undeniably one of the most inspiring lists we’ve received from an interviewee on Listgeeks so far: “A current to do list copied and pasted from my phone”
Derick Rhodes/Listgeeks: I’m curious about the kinds of relationships you have with Girls fans – it feels like people would really feel that they can intensely identify with you, as a person, because of the amount of heart you put into your songs. Do you find people who love your music want to turn to you for advice, or – conversely – want to offer you their own thoughts/advice when you meet them?
Christopher Owens: I haven’t had anyone offer any advice, thankfully. People sometimes ask for advice and if it’s on something I think I can help with then I will, but even that is rare. I do get a lot of sincere thanks and gratitude from people for not being afraid to address the things that I do, or admit the things that I do, and I hear often from people that the songs “really helped” them in different ways. It’s always genuine and it’s one of the gauges that make me feel like maybe this is working.
LG: It seems like people are really enjoying the current configuration of the band (as an eight piece, including three back-up singers) – how does it feel different for you from the previous Girls tours?
CO: The backup singers aren’t able to tour full time right now, they have children and lives and we’re lucky to have the money to fly them in for shows in big cities or filmed performances, etc… I wish that we were an 8 piece touring band but that’s not really the case. I will say that within the band, Matt Kallman and Evan Weiss and Darren Weiss are the strongest positive force and it’s wonderful to know they’re a part of this.
LG: My favorite song on the new album is “My Ma,” a profound and beautiful track. It reminds me a little of the breathtaking Smog song, “Rock Bottom Riser” – I think because the sentiments are so straightforward and honest. Do you work towards simplicity when you write songs? What I mean is, do the songs sometimes start more complex, lyrically, and then transform into something more direct/honest over time?
CO: Never. When I find a song I take it or leave it. Lucky for me I’m not smart enough to write anything complicated.