Peace of Mind
Four years on from his last public performances, Charlie Chastain returns a completely different artist. 'I feel it's time. There's no new product to sell, no grand illusions of stardom- just a sincere desire to connect with the music.' After five years of touring and recording his two previous releases, 2000s Peace of Mind EP established Charlie as one of the souths leading artists. That time had a profound affect on Charlies outlook. 'The last leg of the Peace of Mind tour just about killed me. I felt like the songs were played out. The touring schedule completely sucked the inspiration out of me. Looking back, I feel like I toured one year too many. I wanted every person in the crowd to feel where I was coming from. But that's just not possible. You have to let some songs go, otherwise they turn you into something you truly are not.' Charlie left it all behind. 'In 2002 I moved to Arizona, went to recording school and, after graduating, found work in New York City.' As an assistant engineer at the historic Clinton Recording Studios, Charlie worked on sessions with legends like B.B. King, Ringo Starr and R.E.M. He also worked on his share of commercial jingles, national awards shows and broadway musicals. 'The biggest thing that I took from my time in New York was humility. I watched these artists, producers and engineers give everything they had to the music with very little gain to show for it. The music industry is one of the most crooked institutions in the world. The carnage in Manhattan is staggering.' Despite his desperate surroundings, an amazing thing started to happen to him. Charlie started writing songs again. 'After the sessions ended, my fellow assistants and I would have to break all of the equipment down- which in some cases meant spending the night at Clinton. On those long nights, I would spend hours banging out songs on this old Steinway piano. The songs were different this time. I didn't have to prove myself with some mind-blowing guitar part or impressive vocabulary. I wrote these songs for me.' Since Charlie's return to the south in late 2004, he has continued writing and recording tracks at his home studio. 'With the experiences I have from Arizona and New York, I have been able to create my own little world where I am free to experiment, and also avoid breaking the bank on studio time.' A few small glimpses of the new tunes show the same fire and craftsmanship of earlier Chastain compositions, but now they also contain humility, fear and even a bit of humor. From the sparse, ambient piano of 'Confidence' to the hyperactive technopop of 'Loaded' to the sexy falsetto on 'Love You Down', Charlie has shown his familiar versatility now with the heart of a producer. 'As always, my songs are all over the place. I was never too good about keeping my focus.' With many of these tracks nearing completion, Charlie Chastain is considering trying out the new material where it counts- on the road. So what about a new album in the near future? Well see.