While in Austin, TX, Chad Raines found his musical niche, becoming a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing everything from bluegrass banjo to salsa trumpet and most everything in between.
At 19 he became a late night television personality on Austin Music Network – a cable channel that featured Texas artists and on cable access television producing bazaar television shows (Eccentrics Anonymous) as a visual aid for his music using experimental video production techniques and super 8mm film and animation.
He formed the Elastic Wasteband after writing music for his first play at the Doghouse Theate, which formed a chamber music ensemble that would perform original music for dance, theater and clubs around town.
From that he studied music theory and composition at Texas State University.
In 2005 he joined the Stingers, a roots-ska band that toured Europe with Jamaican legends such as Desmond Dekker, Doreen Shafer and Laurel Aitken as a keyboard/trumpet/guitarist/vocalist.
After moving to New Haven, CT he soon earned critical acclaim with The Simple Pleasure, an electronic rock band for which he fronted and wrote music for, With that band he wrote an original score for Yale University’s production of Bertold Brecht’s “Baal” as well as playing with such acts as White Denim and Ra Ra Riot.
Yale Summer cabaret productions starred him as Tommy of “The Who’s Tommy” and “Hedwig” getting rave reviews as a theatrical rock star.
While at the theatrical Sound Design program at the Yale School of Drama, he wrote and premiered works such as “Missed Connections” and “Project Realms: The World of Henry Darger” as well as designing and composing for Yale School and Repertory productions.
Currently, he lives with his wife and daughter and plays with Amanda Fucking Palmer and performs, composes and designs in the New York area.
What is the current project your working on?
Right now, I’m working on three things intermittently. I’m finishing up an EP with my pop music group The Simple Pleasure – for whom I sing and write for – Its a lot of fun and its sounding great – some final mixes and a few vocal takes and its done – also, I’m in the middle of a technical rehearsal for a new play entitled “From White Plains” written by Michael Perlman. I’m doing sound design for it now and tomorrow is the last day I have to get all the music cued up and ready for showtime! You can check that out here – http://www.facebook.com/events/166567276805849/ – And of coarse not to mention touring and recording with Amanda Fucking Palmer. YOW!
How do you measure success?
Happiness really – having the luxury to focus on things you care about. And how many times I get to ride in a limo – or ride first class, which as of now I’m failing miserably. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a limo. Jeez, I don’t know if thats a good or a bad thing. Lots of things could go wrong in Limos. I almost bought a limo with Zebra stripes that was on sale for 2 months in Hyde Park Austin, TX when I lived there. That would have been a good investment.
How do you handle rejection?
Rejection just makes me want to prove the rejectors wrong. It inspires me to work harder. Or to say “fuck them, they don’t know what they’re missing!” – so I guess not very well.
Did you always want to be in a band?
No. – OH DID I? – I thought you typed DO YOU – my bad. UH…..
I just always wanted to make music – being in a band is awesome- but only if you’re making music. Otherwise your just masturbating together in a circle. Big fucking mess in the middle. That tends to happen a lot.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Um. I’ve never been able to adequately express myself through language. It’s something I’ve been working on. I think it is born out of frustration. Also, I’ve been exposed to a lot of strange stuff – things haunt me and I have to exorcise the demons.
Who is your favorite musician of all time?
Thats a hard question – There are musicians and there are artists who happen to play music. I think they are very different things and sometimes there are artist who are virtuosos. I think thats rare. OK so – favorite musician of all time…
I know its a cop-out but its gotta be Beethoven. Sturm and Drang baby! virtuoso pianist – first freelancer – deaf? -Didn’t bow to no Hapsburg – didn’t need to. The beginning of Romanticism the end of Feudalism. The last piano concertos…
How has your life changed since you became a musician?
Well, shit. Right now is the first time I can call myself a professional musician – as in. I make all my money now – doing musical things. No student, no daytime job. Its great doing what you love and what you’re good at. Its called “living the dream”. Except “living the dream” is such a harder life. There is no clocking out of the dream. There are no 5 week holidays away from the dream. You won’t even be able to enjoy yourself because you know there is still so much to do.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to become a musician?
Travel. Meet lots of people. Keep in touch. Do what you want to do.
What do you like to do when your not creating and/or playing music?
I like cooking. Staying at home. Cuttin’ Loose. Reading. Staying physically active somehow. Outdorsing. Electronics – Circuit Bending.
How would you describe your education?
I’m an overeducated twit. A near high school dropout that accidentally got a master’s at Yale. I still think I’m self-taught for some reason. Sounds better.
How would you describe the music “scene” where you live?
I live in New Haven now, have been for 7 years I guess. New Haven is a very transient town (in more ways than one). People are always in and out – and that’s mostly Yale’s doing (though not all). I think the state of CT is ranked 49th in keeping young people in their state. And it shows. With so many other places to go so near by, its like – why stay? But that might be changing. The city is becoming a better place to live – and if more Yalies decide to stick around instead of fleeing immediately – there would be such a better “scene”. Also – Yalies tend to get to busy to venture outside of their 3 block perimeter of study.
How has social media changed the music industry?
Provided a lot more noise – we go through filters (blogs, twitter)to help identify things we like from the barrage of information. Each person is not competing with other local bands or shows for attention anymore – they are trying to compete with the rest of the world in their particular genre.So artists try to entertain filters with hot web presence. Have you tried to entertain a filter? Then their stage show is weak. Thats ok though – as long as you got banging music videos.
What’s your opinion on crowdfunding?
Awesome. I love what its doing to the music industry.I wonder how long it will last though? Like pledge drives for public radio? I mean, shit – I can go out and buy a tshirt for $10. Why do I need to give you $50 for that shirt -a warm and fuzzy feeling? I can get that for another $10 of Makers.
How does independent music differ from the mainstream?
Mainstream goes: boom si boom si boom si boom si
Independent goes: neener neener neener neener neener neener neener
You could go back in time and see any band play for the first time? Which would it be and why?
An Ottoman Military Band in the 17th century. Mozart heard them on the doorstep of Vienna -so impressed by their exotics, he wrote Rondo a la Turk (sp?). That shit must have sounded like outer space and probably still does. Shifting rhythms and time signatures played by an army of heathens thirsty for the slaughter. Must have raised some hairs.
Music before and after war – that would be a good study.
Thanks for doing the interview Chad. I wish you all the best with your projects. I’ll be attending the rock show in Boston in August. Hopefully, we can meet in person.