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Bio

A proud New Zealander Chris was born in the South Island in Invercargill.  The loss of his young Mother to cancer encouraged Chris to focus on representative sport, including hockey and athletics. Chris got into music in his late teens as a source of dealing with the loss of his mother after being inspired by U2's front man Bono and drummer Larry Mullen Jr both losing their mothers at similar ages. Zeald D
A self taught guitar player and multi-instrumentalist Chris relocated to Auckland in 1995 to study education, music, and health sciences. While at the University of Auckland Chris learnt about music theory from his music education and friends and jammed with them into the late hours in the hostel they lived at. Already a big fan of music he brought with him influences of high school band GREEN EGGS who played U2, Nirvana and Skid Row numbers. Whilst at University Chris was introduced to guitar virtuosity from many of the guitar players at the hostel. "I loved Bon Jovi's Ritchie Sambora and The Edge in U2 but I couldn't really play like them at the time" says Chris.  "My new buddies were into guys like Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. They were also into bands like Jamiroquai and Primus. They played all this music  and I was blown away." "I listened to them on my little AIWA stereo mixed with a diet of Brit pop, and contemporary American Rock. This shaped my musical style" "I remember playing and learning the pentatonic and blues scales in my teens and not understanding really what they were about. Then I started to jam more along with all this music I was being introduced to. I got lost with all the different colours Vai and Satriani had with their playing, not knowing what they were doing. A good friend of mine who had been classically trained in piano and way ahead of me musically, heard me raving about these guitar players. He told me they were all playing with different modes. He then showed me how the guitar and piano are set out similarly in their steps and I was then on the biggest learning curve musically for my own guitar playing." Chris then learnt the modes associated with rock guitar and applied them to improvisation. "Jamming with my friend on piano taught me how to improvise in different keys and he taught me about roots, relatives, tonics and pitch." "I started to analyse music a lot. I then went to every big international music act that I was into that visited Auckland if I could afford it. I was seeing all these late 90s bands in the flesh which I loved also. The Cranberries, Oasis, Live, R.E.M, and the great U2. Then I brought so many guitar magazines. I also tried to play faster than my mind or my abilities would allow me. I treated the guitar like the gym." Running 1
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Around this time Chris got involved in Christian based music through his girl friend at the time who was involved in church and Christian circles. Chris says, "I wasn't religious but I respected peoples faith and I found the music side really satisfying and interesting as an observer. The contemporary Christian Music scene is large and professional in Australia and the USA and NZ is really influenced by them. I soon played in church music groups and learnt alot about musical dynamics and playing in a big band. The Churches I played at sometimes had amazing equipment and really good P.A systems, lighting and stages. I started playing drums because there were already enough guitar players. Then I played guitar for everyone.  They really dug my aggressive style which was a big surprise - so I was in! There are elements of rock, pop and gospel in contemporary Christian music so the distortion pedal was never far away from the foot. The church was big on rehearsing and took me to clinics with professional musicians who write Christian contemporary music. A highlight for me was when one of the clinic facilitators praised my playing and singled me out in front of about 50 different musicians. It really grew my musical confidence at a young age. While playing in church no one judged me for my lack of faith which was cool. Some of my best friends were made then and I am still friends with them today. I married that girl when I was barely 21 because I thought I could be into religion. It wasn't a fit for me."
 
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Following that experience Chris played in different bands that never got off the ground as covers and original bands. However one highlight was when Chris formed a band made up of music education graduates and composed the song "Touch The Sun" as a song for the School of Education graduation. "I was really proud of my degree and I learned so much from so many people about life and music. I was really excited about the future and I just wanted to gift this song to my fellow graduates. I wanted to make all of us special. We performed the song with myself on guitar and some great new music teachers playing all these other instruments in the band. It was so well received that we all got a standing ovation. It was never my intention to show boat or be in the limelight but I was treated like a star afterwards. We all were in the band. From that moment I knew I wanted to perform for people and make them feel good. I had my real first taste of it. It was like a drug. I also got to play through one of the best P.A systems still to this day at the Aotea Centre in Auckland. I loved the way my guitar sounded so enormous through the auditorium. It was addictive." says Chris.
 
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Chris worked as a school teacher, and after school he passed on his new acquired knowledge of guitar as a guitar teacher for many years to children, teenagers and then adults. Chris says "One of the greatest moments I can remember is going to battle of the bands for Intermediate schools and seeing one of my 12 year old students I taught, shred during Smoke on the Water. He was the only kid who could improvise out of all the schools. He had not merely rote learnt a song without really understanding what he was playing but improvised great leads. I told him if the audience is not responding to you make up some runs and then play the guitar behind your head. I showed him how to keep his fretting hand in the pentatonic box and showed him that it is quite easy to play behind the head like this. He then pulled it off and the audience went nuts! I went nuts too like he was some guitar god I worshipped. The other kids from the other schools knew all the songs but he stepped up and performed! They were all jealous of him. He still plays guitar now and in a project at school on great guitar players he listed me! I was so humbled because I was a nobody who no one had ever heard of!"
 
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In his mid twenties Chris went through some of the toughest challenges life could give someone in such an early part of his adulthood. Chris who got married in his early twenties to a long time girl friend had his world turned upside down when the marriage dissolved.  He went though a painful two year separation which Chris says 'created some material content for my future music which I wouldn't  realise at the time.'  "The hardest part was leaving the wonderful adopted family I had with the marriage.  It was like two marriages ending at once.
 
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Then following that Chris was diagnosed with CML. Chris says "I was always this fit young infallible guy in my own head who thought he was indestructible. Then boom. Leukemia.   I think at times the stress and guilt from my marriage dissolution got to me and manifested. I don't know? All I can say is I did not handle it well. Not well at all. I was weak in the mind and not yet sick from it physically.  I was so scared. I was then blessed to be able to be treated with an amazing new drug. I still take it today. I am better than ever! I can say that I am truly blessed. Blessed to be given a lesson in life and a chance. I am grateful. I want to some day give back to the universe for this gift. I am still working out how I can do this. I hope my music goes a little way to doing this. My song GO LET IT OUT is about this."  
There was a break in music for Chris and when he got his life back on track he got involved in the live music scene around Auckland. Chris played in cover bands and worked as a school teacher concurrently. "I played at night and worked during the day. It was hectic. I was working like a nine to five job and then three nights a week I was out till 2am in the morning." says Chris. nstinct poster final copy 3 1
Chris played in the cover band Ultrasound. Chris says "It was challenging because I had to learn so many songs all the time. I was also learning so much from DVDs and in particular the first G3 DVD. I was more interested in learning guitar theory than pub songs from the 70s and 80s. I am not great with short term memory stuff so I would forget chords all the time when all my head wanted to remember was how the modes of rock guitar related to each other and their chord formulas. There are a lot of musicians that are better than me at learning stuff quickly. I am a slow learner at times but when I get to the autonomous stage I am better than most." Chris found that at times "being in a covers band can be stifling because no one would let me improvise and mess around with all the scales I had learnt. When I was learning  a new song on my own I would sometimes slow my progress by messing with the solos because it was more fun. I just wanted to show off a little. A covers band is a team and I was not always the best team player." 377068 106803499440215 1231738075 n 2
Chris then played a few acoustic gigs on his own and then a few shows for different events around Auckland showcasing his instrumental electric guitar playing. "I played a lot for free and used backing tracks at charity events for cancer, domestic violence and gay rights. All great causes. I got a lot of great praise and feedback from audience members and important positions in the entertainment industry. This was better than money as my confidence grew. I thought I would get my break. No one really followed up on promises. Not everyone cares but it was always fun." says Chris. chris guitar 1 1
In 2007 Chris joined covers band Nstinct and played after meeting up with L A Thompson who was the bands leader. L.A spotted me playing at a charity event in Auckland's Viaduct and asked me to join an acoustic trio that lead to the full electric line up of Nstinct. Nstinct played many Auckland venues and during this period  had a regular gig posting in Auckland's upmarket cafe and bar district, Ponsonby. "They were good times as this atmosphere was less stressful than Ultrasound and I had more autonomy." Chris also joined L A Thompson in playing acoustic gigs as a duo around Auckland's cafes, restaurants, corporations, clubs, bars and a local music shop on Auckland's North Shore showcasing different guitars and amplifiers for them. Chris says "I liked the Nstinct experience a lot because we played originals and covers. I liked it too because I could improvise more and play some of my favourite less mainstream covers like Jimi Hendrix songs."
 
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During the early Nstinct  period Chris really found a flourish of creativity and wrote many of the songs that are on iTunes and digital stores today. The live music scene has inspired Chris to try some of his approaches to playing live to his own new material. "I would often take risks out live in front of small audiences ranging from 5 people to 50 in a bar." I would try to improvise and my band was kind enough to allow me to extend songs so I could widdle around on the fret board.  I was also big on getting heaps of feedback from my amp and playing with my teeth and behind my head. Not every covers band like! I also learnt the power of being wireless to give me freedom on stage.The band always indulged me. I am grateful for this. I also learnt to set up my own gear way before the rest of the band so I could mess around on stage before anyone else was around. I would be getting ready to play Fleetwood Mac but then stumble on a cool riff for a new song. I would then visualise what this song would sound like cranked up with my band. Sometimes at sound check I would show the band a little piece and they would play it. I would go holy shit in my head and record it on my Apple ibook for later. Sometimes I would only need 10 seconds of audio. I have still got heaps of these crappy recordings. This was a really happy time because this led me to write a lot of my new songs at home later. L.A was great too because as band leader she was always changing songs around live in real time so I got really good at following her chord changes. We still work like this today when we play acoustic gigs together." l 2 1
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During the Nstinct period Chris had discovered home recording, pro-tools and Logic express. Chris says " I had brought my first Apple computer and G4 ibook. I managed to get pro-tools on it but it didn't run that well. So I tried Garageband and Logic Express. I then up graded to a new Mac Book. I fell in love with Apple products like the first iPod with the turn wheel in 2005 with the monochrome screen. The iPod brought me to Apple.I have been loyal to their stuff since.  I decided to focus on Logic Express because it was an Apple product and then I moved to Logic Studio. I have recorded on this ever since." photo copy 1
"I was writing songs in Garageband. My songs were based on past painful and liberating experiences. I think my music might appeal to the adult music market because I have gone through experiences that typically people touch in their 30s and 40s even though I was in my 20s. I have hundreds of riffs and song ideas on my hard drives that I want to explore." Chris says.
 
 
Chris says that whole period when he was in Nstinct was so cathartic. "I got to rehearse with very different musicians to me with different influences and I got a bit of a name as being a real showman. Sometimes gigs didn't go great because the audience didn't get us. I could hear us being heckled at times. It often made me want to shred the heck out of a song and the band would let me take over. We would push up a more rockier number to get the audience in favour.  It was always satisfying to have bogans in the audience one minute giving me shit at first and then wanting to invite me to clubs with them or buy me drinks after because I rocked out!"
 
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"Another highlight for me was playing at The Kings Arms in Auckland which is quite a premier small live venue for NZ bands and smaller commercial international live bands. Nstinct was part of a line up of emerging original and cover bands with a small cover entry for punters. When it was our turn my gig wasn't going that well for me. I was having problems with my wireless system that was cutting out. I was getting really frustrated because I was getting hardly any sound and I wanted to impress all the other bands and audience. I decided to plug straight in halfway through a song and then I let loose. The volume was so intense. I played my ass off for rest of the set because I was so crap at first. The sound guy seemed to indulge me and I played all the tricks I could fit in 25 minutes, though a little roughly. I tore the face off the crowd. I finished the last song with a massive dive bomb that shook all the glasses in the bar. It was cool. I learned a lot from the band in Nstinct and we all were so different. They helped me shape my own songs and helped me record in the studio an early version of OPEN YOUR EYES. I learned a lot about drums and bass from those guys. We all looked different, dressed different, and played different. Two of us were guys and two were girls. It was a strange mix. L.A and myself may of pushed the band too far with our visions of songs and having our own cheaper acoustic gigs on the side probably divided us. Eventually the band split due to a mix of creative differences, better covers bands than us and a live Music scene in Auckland struggling because of an economic recession."
 
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Chris then really started to focus on becoming a recording artist. He was frustrated at playing just other people's music and needed the creative and musical outlet of composing his own material. Chris says "I was a bit frustrated playing other peoples songs and not always being able to play the way I wanted. It was still a valuable lesson being in a covers band and I still perform covers now as my bread and butter. The local audience expect songs they know. But there is nothing as satisfying as writing, composing and playing your own music and to push my own musicianship with my own compositions."
 
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Chris's music is guitar driven and not solely based on the pentatonic scale. Chris also used melodies based on scales in different modes within songs. "Joe Satriani is a huge influence on me. He uses his guitar like a voice. Joe also has the guitar perform chorus and verse patterns. His playing is so fluid, and his solo's are often the tension release to his melodies. Often he sounds so exotic and mysterious because he uses a great modal palette. He has great knowledge of pitch and chords that relate to his instrumentals which are very much like songs. My songs often start as instrumentals at first and I struggle to change them into songs with lyrics because in my mind they work as instrumentals. When I add lyrics it means that I have to lose some guitar ideas otherwise there is too much in the melody mix. On STAY BEAUTIFUL the song was full of cool sounding arpeggios which had to go. I don't have the Kudos to have an audience just listen to me shred. I need to have a song to get commercial success. For me I need to sing."  In OPEN THE BEDROOM DOOR, GO LET IT OUT Chris uses the modes and bases his solos around the use of pitch axis where the guitar solo changes between different keys. Chris says "I love the tension this produces in the music." Go Let It Out white strat 4
Chris goes on to say "I have also always been drawn to singing because some of my greatest idols were singers.  I don't profess to be a great singer. It can scare me at times. When recording I have to psych myself up to sing…I sang a solo sometimes on the odd track in covers bands and I always felt I held my own doing back up vocals. My followers and listeners seem to enjoy my voice and comment positively on it as much as my guitar. They are very generous. Just with playing the guitar I am still learning to sing better. I am certainly no Bono or Celine Dion but I do try!." 41nW9W9o1IL
Chris had two of his songs "OPEN YOUR EYES" and later "GO LET IT OUT" released in 2009 on Quickstar productions charity albums ROCK 4 LIFE  and RISE UP. Then in 2011 Chris re-released these two songs himself on iTunes and other digital stores.
 
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Chris says his songs are a reflection of his life experiences. "I have struggled in life at times and at other times I have been on cloud nine." "One of the greatest things I have struggled with personally is people judging me wrong or not understanding where I am coming from. DON"T GET ME WRONG was the first song I wrote and it is about wanting to be something that others expect of me only to find that others find I'm not what they expected and they can't deal with it. So I have been treated badly as a result. The great thing is sometimes people get to know me they find out that I am actually very close to what I externalise. Or sometimes it is me internalising and wanting to be great and I have the potential but I have failed. With me there is no middle ground. I can be brilliant and I can also be crap. I'm crap when I force it and I think I can show a little hint of brilliance when I am spontaneous.  I WON"T FADE continues to talk about finding yourself and to be the best you can be by creating the actualised self. Those close to me know that I often like to make fun of myself and know that I'm not too serious. 1 1
Songs like STAY BEAUTIFUL and OPEN YOUR EYES show Chris wearing his heart on his sleeve. These songs talk about the issues of lust, unfaithfulness, religion and infidelity. Chris says "You don't usually like to talk about these issues, but I find the whole thing fascinating because it is taboo that can be easily broken no matter what culture or society you are in." OPEN YOUR EYES and STAY BEAUTIFUL deal with the issue in two different ways. Either you break the trust and pursue the affair and experience exhilaration, happiness and or pain. Or you merely entertain the idea and experience safety, stability or pain again anyway. Whatever way it can be very dicey. "I think a lot of my listeners may know what I am talking about as human nature is fascinating within the monogamous relationship. Stanley Kubrick's movie Eyes Wide Shut deals with this issue brilliantly. I really like STAY BEAUTIFUL because the lyrics could be interpreted as a darker song or a love song."
 
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For Chris the musical ideas always come first. "It is more natural for me to write music ideas as a guitar player first" says Chris. "The lyrics come later and fit the music. It is never any other way for me."  Chris frequently writes lyrics with his writing partner Sean Ford. Sean is a former lawyer who writes different forms of literature and is a good personal friend of Chris'. "Sean is a great buddy of mine who has a great passion for writing and has a huge knowledge of rock music. Sean grew up on Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. Chris says, "When I need help with some lyrics…I send Sean demos of early music and lyric ideas I have. I try to convey a theme or song meaning to him. Sean then sends sends me lyric ideas. Some which I like and some I don't. But what I like about writing with someone else is they can add a new fresh prospective to the song. I also like that Sean likes Rock music so if I am sounding like a pussy there are always some visceral ideas coming from him because he is a rocker!" Zeald 2
Chris' guitar tone can range from metal to rock, to overdriven blues too clean. Chris uses a lot of speedy alternate picking when playing and uses tapping, legato, and sweep picking frequently in his solos.  "I have a great love of the blues but I have not finished songs in that genre yet except
I WON"T FADE which touches on the blues a little.  I have been influenced heavily by white blues players like Clapton, Vaughan, Beck, Page, Mayer and understand that they were influenced by black blues players including Hendrix. My songs seemed to have evolved from my love of pop and rock, and the admiration for great electric guitar virtuosos like Satriani, Vai, Malmsteen and Van Halen. I have always been drawn to the technical abilities of guitar players who can be melodically sonic and expressive whilst showing speed, accuracy and the ability to tear your face off with the power only the electric guitar can exhibit." says Chris. "I love watching all the great players from Bonamassa to Slash and Clapton. I am still learning about the guitar all the time. I have strengths and weakness. I could always practise more to get better."
 
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Chris still plays around Auckland in an Acoustic Duo with L.A Thompson on guitar and lead vocals. L.A Thompson and Chris play around Auckland's smaller venues and also frequently works within the corporate circles with covers and some of Thompson's original acoustic based music. Chris has contributed his electric and acoustic guitar to L.A's recorded music in the studio on iTunes. Chris also works as an instrumentalist at corporate gigs and weddings. Chris says "The acoustic guitar has been a device for me to work around town and practise my skills." l 1 1 1
The playing of regular acoustic guitar lead Chris to showcase his acoustic guitar playing for a 2012 podcast that  eventually turned into a free download and then an iTunes e.p."THE ACOUSTIC SESSIONS". Chris recorded it live in his home studio and then offered RUNNING  and OPEN THE BEDROOM DOOR acoustic versions as separate free downloads. This became one of Chris' most downloaded recordings. Chris says "I wanted the recording to show a live feel and the pop nature of the songs when stripped down. The acoustic guitar is a funny thing to me. Some times I feel I am a good acoustic player and then I see Tommy Immanuel play with his prestigious technique and I just want to burn my guitars. I consider myself a lead player who plays lead acoustic guitar like a lead guitar player would. I love the satisfaction of playing the best I can with no effects. Just strings and wood. Over the years I am finding I am using a pick less and my thumb and fingers more."
 
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Chris has goals of playing and performing all around the world and being recognised as a guitar player and professional musician. Chris says "My influences are many. I have huge respect for Eric Clapton and John Mayer. They have had the holy trinity in music. Mainstream commercial success, critical acclaim for their guitar musicianship mixed with the blues and songs which have charted on the Radio and billboards and receive Grammy's at the same time. That would be a dream. I love it how the blues contributed to their guitar greatness and that electric guitar players owe the blues so much today. I respect the great Eric Clapton because he is one of the electric guitar godfathers still alive today. I also would love to be known for some great contribution to the guitar world as a musician with my technique. I love watching Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen or Steve Vai when they come to town. I love the whole guitar virtuosity seen with these type of players who lead the instrumental guitar scene. I really love the way these guys work around the fret board and how the dynamics of the electric guitar are manipulated so amazingly. I merely adopt what they have pioneered. It is also amazing to see a great player like Joe Bonamassa achieving in this industry with no help from the traditional record company management model. He has attracted his audience with pure talent and hard work. I would like to take a tiny bit from all these guys and bottle it."  Chris would also love to support some of the worlds big acts one day and as a guitar player  be one of the guys that a great artist would  go to if they wanted someone to contribute to their music live or in the studio. 11 3
Chris goes on to say "A form of success to me would be to be a rockstar archetype. The Bono's and the Jon Bon Jovi's in this world a far and few. Then I could promote causes I believe in that are doing fantastic work for humanity.  I really like how Keith Urban has really emerged as a Rock Star who plays guitar. Who wouldn't want to be like that? Famous people can give so much to others because they have the means and following to influence people positively. They come under flack by haters but how much money, time and inspiration has, Bono, Angelina Jolie or Jon Bon Jovi given to others? I am happy to receive fame. But only as a Bi-product of what I am trying to achieve commercially and artistically.  I have a lot to learn and I still do each day.  I just want to make a contribution to music as it has been the one true constant that has carried me. I have been a listener and lover of music all my life first. An album of an artist is a sacred thing in my mind. A collection of thoughts and feelings and significant experiences we can learn and reflect on. They are the sound tracks to our lives and help us with a best memories of a time and place. An album of music or a song is a powerful piece of artistry that can be taken anywhere. A great album or song can lift us out of the dark. The music I listen to is my companion to my journey in life. I would love to contribute to others like some great artists have for me. To do this my tool of choice is the electric guitar. I have loved how it has been the excalibur of the rock music I listen to. I would also love to inspire others with it. But ultimately, I would love to see and make people happy with it. I have in a very small capacity in the past. In the smallest of live venues up close and personal and over the internet to a listener in another country thousands of miles away. What a privilege that has been. If I can do that for life and touch someone else's life then that would be my greatest achievement." chris 2011

 

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