INTERVIEW WITH STATION GUITARIST CHRIS LANE
Date: October 11, 2021
Photos: Thomas Von Voight
STATION CONSISTING OF GUITARIST CHRIS LANE, LEAD VOCALIST PATRICK KEARNEY, BASSIST EMI ASTA AND DRUMMER TONY BAPTIST RELEASED THEIR FOURTH FULL-LENGTH ALBUM ‘PERSPECTIVE’ LESS THAN ONE WEEK AGO. THE NEW YORK ROCKERS CONTINUE TO BE QUITE PROLIFIC IN RELEASING NEW MUSIC WITH THE EP ‘WIRED’ (2013) AND THE FULL-LENGTH ALBUMS, ‘‘STATION’ (2015), ‘‘MORE THAN THE MOON’ (2018), ‘STAINED CLASS’ (2019) AND ‘PERSPECTIVE’ (2021). STATION ARE ABOUT TO PLAY THEIR FIRST LIVE SHOW SINCE THE ADVENT OF THE COVID PANDEMIC AT ARLENE’S GROCERY IN NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, USA ON OCTOBER 22ND. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH LANE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM AND HOW THE BAND HAS DEALT WITH THE VARIOUS COVID RESTRICTIONS.
Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations on your new album ‘Perspective’! How did you come up with the title for the new record?
Chris Lane: Thanks! The songs on the record are all tied together with a common theme of self realization and introspection, so ‘Perspective’ came out of that. The album marks an important time in the band when we are all growing and it seems that our perspective on things and life in general are all changing.
Sleaze Roxx: What about the cover for ‘Perspective’? What is the idea behind the cover?
Chris Lane: Originally, we were trying to create a completely different piece of art. We were running out of time and so we had to improvise. I had my wife take a photo of an hourglass that we had in our house. When I sent it through to our graphic designer to turn it into the cover, Pat suggested rotating the shadow of the sand, so it’s a “sand half full sand half empty” type reflection where the shadow no longer matches the object. We all thought it was pretty cool and decided to go with it.
Sleaze Roxx: Interesting! During the last few years, you have been quite prolific at releasing new material. Does songwriting come easily to you or are there periods where you might experience ‘writer’s block’ or simply not have as many ideas?
Chris Lane: Songwriting comes very easy to us. We write a lot of music. I personally see myself as a songwriter who plays the guitar, not the other way around. We are on pace to release new music every year for at least the next three to five years. We have a very natural flow and we work together very seamlessly to bring the songs to life. The only frustrating part is that a song written today might not be released until 2024 since we’re already that far ahead in planning material to be recorded. I personally find that I write less songs in the winter, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m not as inspired because of the lack of sun or just because I’m out and about less due to the weather.
Sleaze Roxx: How would you differentiate ‘Perspective’ from your prior albums?
Chris Lane: To me, ‘Perspective’ is the most well rounded record we have released. I feel it really captures who we are. It’s not “one thing.” I think our past records have dabbled in different styles and sounds, but this one really commits to what it wants per song. A lot of that had to do with the process of recording it. Originally, I expected this album to be out in July or August of 2020, but due to the pandemic, everything got slowed down and our recording process took many months longer than expected. The silver lining to that was we had way more time to focus on sounds and I think it actually created a more organic approach because we ended up spending more time on things that we wanted to spend more time on. It really informed what we actually cared about in the recording process and to me, pushed us to create a better record that was more “us.”
Station‘s “Believe” video (from Perspective album):
Sleaze Roxx: Your previous album ‘Stained Glass’ came out a few months before the Covid pandemic struck the world. Do you feel that ‘Stained Glass’ got a fair shot exposure wise and what would you do differently knowing what we know now about the long lasting duration of the Covid pandemic.
Chris Lane: ‘Stained Glass’ got screwed [laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] I think so too!
Chris Lane: We released it in November of 2019 and it was both our biggest release followed by our biggest tour yet. We had planned to do a second leg in May of 2020 after releasing another video in the interim. What happened was we decided to make up vinyl for the second leg of the tour. When we did so, we were finalizing dates when ‘bam’, Covid shut everything down. We actually ended up cancelling everything before New York City even shut down simply because I got sick in early March. At the time, nobody knew what was about to happen, but because I got hit with pneumonia really bad, it meant our dates were cancelled regardless. On top of that, Covid interrupted every supply chain and the vinyl got severely delayed.
When April and May came around, we thought we would be back on the road by maybe September, and then as we all know, that went on much, much longer. Since we couldn’t get together in person safely, we decided to release an animated video. The video was done in September, but because of the election and a lot of attention being focused on that, we decided to push it. So, in effect, the second video for ‘Stained Glass’ didn’t come out until almost 1.25 years after its release and by then, it was pretty clear we would never tour again with ‘Stained Glass’ being our most recent release. I really like that record and I definitely think we’ll keep it alive in our set in a few ways. If I had known the pandemic was coming, I would have tried to shoot three videos before everything got shut down and release them over the next year before we started promoting ‘Perspective.’
Station‘s “I Need You Red” video (from Stained Class album):
Sleaze Roxx: New York City and New York State were hit particularly hard during the Covid pandemic. What were your experiences like during that time?
Chris Lane: We played a show [at Arlene’s Grocery] on March 5th. It was a Thursday. That Saturday, I spent the day recording music with Emi. That night, I felt a weird feeling in my chest and figured it was from leaning on the horn of the guitar all day, since we were doing rhythm tracks. The next day, I had a slight fever in the morning which turned into 103.5 that night. This lasted four full days — not fun. Doctors were starting Telehealth and by that Thursday, I ended up in the hospital with pretty nasty pneumonia. The first month of everything — besides recovering from my own health issues — the band spent trying to figure out when to rebook shows. The second month it turned into, “OK, this is not going away.” So we decided to regroup and work out a new way of recording for the time being to get everything done. I’m actually glad we waited three months to resume recording, only because the stress of everything happening was a lot and I think that stress could have snuck into the recording process. Luckily, with the internet, cell phones and every other means of communication, everyone was able to stay in contact and since we all talk maybe one thousand times a day about nonsense anyway, that didn’t stop.
Sleaze Roxx: I believe that you guys went a year without being in the same room together during the Covid pandemic. How did that impact the creative, writing and recording process but as well simply the chemistry of the band?
Chris Lane: It really didn’t change anything on the chemistry front. I think I talk to Pat more than any other human other than my wife. The band has a very strange professional relationship where we can very much talk business or songs or whatever while casually working in everything else in our lives. We live and breathe the music, so there is never really a “time to talk about this or a time to talk about that.” We communicate so regularly that the lines are blurred. As I said before, thanks to the miracle of texting, phone, Zoom, everything, we really didn’t miss a beat. The only time it was felt was when we first started recording vocals. Normally, Pat records in the room with everyone else. We are just quiet while he does so. We will stop, listen, talk, and then move on. This time, because we couldn’t do that, it was a little weird to have him isolated in another room. Before we ended up going to Westfall — and of course even there, the vibe was different when wearing a mask and face shield — Pat did some of the vocals in an ISO booth with a wall separating us. Our only way of communicating was through the talk back, not even being able to see each other. That wasn’t great, so we decided to just move straight to doing all vocals at Westfall Recording Company where we could see each other through the fiberglass.
Station‘s “I Can’t Find My Way” video (from Perspective album):
Sleaze Roxx: You’ll be playing live again soon enough. You must be really looking forward to that after all this time off.
Chris Lane: I cannot wait. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but it also feels like it’s been an eternity. I’m just worried I forgot how to play something [laughs]. We get so much joy from being on stage together, so it’ll be a real pleasure to finally do that again.
Sleaze Roxx: You have a lot of material that you can play live now. How do you decide what songs to play live?
Chris Lane: That is a tough process. We are actually pretty much able to play every song in our catalog. I would say there are maybe three to five that we can’t just bust out without prior rehearsal and coordination. So that said, we usually need to first balance upbeat and ballads and then we try to represent the songs from each album. I would be lying if I didn’t take into account the songs we find the most “fun” to perform. When we tour, we often play long shows and we flex our Station music memory muscle quite a bit. It also keeps us sane because it is tough to play the same songs over and over sometimes.
Sleaze Roxx: There are still a lot of restrictions out there due to Covid. Will Station be touring or simply playing select shows in support of the new album?
Chris Lane: Right now, there is no tour planned unfortunately. We have talked about spring being the target to get out there. The biggest reason is the uncertainty surrounding a show cancellation. We are at the level where if we lost two or three shows on a ten night run, it could make the tour tough financially. So we need to do our best in the planning process to protect against that and right now, it’s just too uncertain. We will be playing in New York City on October 22nd, and that is happening. I suspect there might be a show or two to pop up in 2021 still, but it won’t be a full-on tour like we’ve done in the past. I guess that just means we need to really hit the road in 2022, right?
Sleaze Roxx: For sure! Lyric wise, what are some of the subjects that you tackled on the new album?
Chris Lane: It’s all about viewpoints. A lot of the songs are about realizations. For example, ‘Spanish Steps’ is a poem about the realization of who you’re with and what that means for you. It’s specifically written about a trip my wife and I took in Spain. This is before we were married and I was walking through Valencia, in the pouring rain, back from a parking lot next to our hotel. The Spanish Steps are in Rome though, so the idea was more that the feeling of being with her is a universal experience and it’s either “Rome or walking in Spain,” so it’s not specific to where I am. It’s who I’m with. Another theme that runs through the album is the expectation to need others to truly see yourself. “Don’t Keep Me Waiting,” “I Can’t Find My Way,” “You Found Yesterday” and “See The Light” all talk about self discovery and not allowing others’ involvement in your life to define you. It’s about learning who you are and being true to who you are.
Sleaze Roxx: Has there been any thought of Station releasing a live album?
Chris Lane: Not really. I think if we did, we would do something totally different for us. I think we would try to reinterpret the songs or maybe bring in an orchestra or perform the whole thing on kazoo.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Chris Lane: I wouldn’t want to just recreate the albums in a live setting. Our recordings are pretty dense, and since there is only four or five of us on stage, we need to do our own rendition of the studio recordings anyway. If we did build a live recording, I’d want to go beyond that and really create a new experience.
Sleaze Roxx: Where can people purchase Station’s new album ‘Perspective’?
Chris Lane: The best place to get it is directly through our Bandcamp site.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that you would like to add that we haven’t covered?
Chris Lane: I just want to say thank you for all of your support over the years. It’s outlets like Sleaze Roxx that have helped us get the word out and really allowed us to continue making music.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you, what are your top three albums of all-time and why?
Chris Lane: First is ‘Venus And Mars’ by Wings. I am a HUGE Beatles fan and a HUGE McCartney nut. I love all his writing. ‘Venus And Mars’ has so much diversity to it, but finds a way to reinvent the love song with each track. Also, the tones on the album are really all over the place and what I love about it is you are transported to very different places with each song. Second would be ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd. My favorite band of all time is Pink Floyd. My biggest guitar inspiration is hands down David Gilmour. I learned how to play by improvising over ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ on endless repeat and developed what I found sounded good. For me, ‘Wish You Were Here’ creates an atmosphere unlike anything else. Couple that with the fact that it features one of the most moving and introspective songs — in my opinion — makes it my absolute Pink Floyd go to. The most impactful single guitar riff on my playing is actually the breakdown part of “Have A Cigar” when the music cuts out and it gets really compressed. I don’t know why, but that funky blues thing has stuck with me since I heard it.
Third would be ‘Aja’ by Steely Dan. This is a perfect album. The songs are really journeys in themselves. I love this album because the song lyrics and music mesh so perfectly that it transports you into the world of the song. Also, the mix is such that I feel like if you close your eyes, you can almost walk around the instruments playing. There is a sense of space that you can really feel and it’s not played with ultimate precision, but instead, so much soul. One of my favorite things is the guitar in “Peg.” If you listen to the single note riff through most of the song, it isn’t super defined and kind of drifts back and forth from the foreground to the background. What is so great about it is that it’s having it’s own conversation in the space provided and then when the chorus, it’s time to get with the group. So the instrument has a true personality and it’s not just a slave to the larger song. In my opinion, the brilliance of Steely Dan is taking pretty complex pop songs and allowing for players to live inside of them. It’s brilliant.
Thank you to Amanda Cagan at ABC Public Relations for facilitating the interview.
Station‘s “A Matter of Time” video (from Stained Class album):