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Barsuk Records

Chris Staples


I recorded Holy Moly in my garage all throughout 2018. I would work on it for a few months and walk away. I did this several times. Every time I came back I would have a fresh perspective and find that some of the songs were great and some of them I never wanted to hear again. I would pick the best songs of each two month period and eventually I had a record. In the spring my neighbors started building a house next door and the noise made it impossible to record during the day. I started working only at night from about 10pm until 4am. I was on a vampire’s schedule. I always feel more creative at night so it worked out fine.

I quit drinking in 2018 and it sort of re-sensitized me to life. It reminded me of being a teenager. I used to write lots of songs and poems as a kid, it was how I coped. In my thirties, drinking sort of kept me from having to be inquisitive. Writing wasn’t as important. Since I quit drinking, my evenings are full of thoughts and questions. Writing became more frequent and automatic as I engaged with ideas in this way. There’s a popular notion in the arts that alcohol makes you creative but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Being sober put me back in touch with a creative energy that I had been hiding from for a long time.

My songs are sometimes morose and deal with depressing subject matter. We all carry this darkness around and no one should feel alone with that weight. I want my music to connect with people on that level. Beyond that, what I hope to communicate with Holy Moly is that a human life is full of possibility. There is so much goodness that you can will into existence. I feel like people are resigned to a type of inevitable hopelessness in our culture. Why rule out the possibility that things can get better?

I’ve always thought it was crazy how a great song can make you feel joyous, alive, sad, and humbled at the same time. “World On Fire” was one of the first tracks that came together early in the writing process. It’s a song about how great music is a cocktail of all those things stirred into the same pot. It’s a medium that gives people a socially acceptable place to feel and express things that are hard to talk about. It also can can make you forget for a moment how dysfunctional the world is. This was my ode to music.

“Horse and Saddle” is my favorite song title I’ve ever come up with. It’s about living a life in the arts. It can be life affirming one minute and demoralizing the next. Learning how to ride out these wild vacillations and stay committed is a necessary skill. It is guaranteed to never be a perfect experience. Probably similar to parenting, owning a business, or anything worth doing.

Holy Moly, as an expression, communicates a sort of disbelief. I feel like I see and hear a lot of things these days that I can barely believe. I find myself saying Holy Moly often.