Chris Wyse from The Cult on his influences and his band Owl

We recently got a chance to catch up with Chris Wyse and have a chat while he was packing for the current tour of The Cult. We delved into several subjects, some of which we were aware of and some we weren’t. I mean who would have guessed that the bass-line for Tal Bachman’s smash pop rock tune “She’s So High” was influenced by Iron Maiden? Okay maybe not Iron Maiden but at least Steve Harris, the bass player for said band.  During our research for this interview we found out that Wyse was the bass player on Tal’s breakout debut album. Thanks to Bob Rock, Chris got that gig and a whole bunch of other great gigs afterwards. He’s also played with Ozzy Osbourne, Mick Jagger, Jerry Cantrell and Scott Weiland.



ARS: Sounds like The Cult tour is going to be a blast.

Chris: Yes we have a lot of shows coming up and I just had a good run with Owl too. So it has been quite the year already.

ARS: Dude. That band is killer. I know that I heard the name somewhere but I mean it gets so busy for me and I miss things. That Band is awesome…you guys are sick!

Chris: Yeah thanks. We are trying to take it to some edgy place. Obviously I get to express the kind of things that I do. Like, I play bass and being my own singer and songwriter. A big part of it is Dan Dinsmore. He  is one of my childhood buddies. He was one of my first band-mates and we have been friends for years since high school. We always said that we’d get back together so there is a real intense energy there. Then Jason is one of my good buddies here in Los Angeles. It is a real group.

ARS: Yeah. No doubt, they both can play, there is no doubt about that.

Chris: Yeah we have a chemistry together in Owl.  It’s a different kind of energy because it’s a trio. It’s just cool to have the ability to shift gears. Now The Cult has a great tour coming up. I get a little break from Owl and of course then come back to it. We’re working that out during The Cult breaks for the rest of the year.

ARS: Yeah. Cool. I’m looking forward to it dude. I’ll be catching the Seattle Cult show.
Like I said, I’m really digging  Owl. I listened to a lot yesterday. I listen to a bunch this morning. I was trying to figure out exactly why I like the band so much. I figured it out, just a while ago. My musical interest are like, all over the map.  I like everything from classical music, to blues, to metal. Owl has a lot of different sounds … I get just about everything that I need listening to Owl. There is Celtic…Rock….slide guitar…..

Chris: Oh thank you very much. I’m glad that you get it. It’s a diverse palette for people to experience when they’re listening to a record just like the old days. The music that influenced Dan and I so much. Just like the Zeppelin  and Pink Floyd, there was a bit of journey that they take you on, not just the 30 minute compacted song, which is great in itself but I like the full gamut of things on a record. I mean one of the things that I like is that I am my own artist. I am a grown man and I have these experiences.  But, I can’t do a whole song about girls and brokenhearted experiences. I can’t do a whole record rather. What I  think it really is just that I was very influenced by these bands that would stretch out a bit. For example on the Owl  record there is  track that is a bass solo. There is no guitar on it. There is just a bit of piano to add to the atmosphere. It is great stuff. Jason also played the piano on the Owl record. But you know not many people are doing that these days and I’m also kind of a classically influenced jazz influenced guy to some degree. I like the experience of hearing “ Well that wasn’t really a song, That was an instrumental”!  That is what it was meant to be.

Chris: Some people ask what was the reason for creating Owl? Was there a specific reason? I said yes definitely! Because there is no other outlet for this kind of stuff unless I created it. You see how we kind of do a heavy song but only part of it is heavy and the rest of it is melodic.  We save it for the surprise not just screaming heavy all of the time. That is more of an impact red color for us that we just use.  You know.

ARS: Yes. Especially  “The Rover”…. dude that song is everywhere. It is like Celtic and then rock and then the tempo just changes to this weird spot…that is awesome. Then he throws in this over the top killer slide work  I just love that.

Chris: Yeah. I love the slide. It drives the  Gypsy riff on the bass. The whole band jumps on it and [Dan] plays like a crazy person. It’s very cool. That is something that I think if a label was standing over us, they would be like taken a back by it. They would say that I don’t know about that. Now we have people thinking. Like can you do that? I didn’t know that you could do that. It’s like this:
I didn’t there were rules of rock. I didn’t know there was a rock ‘n roll book that I need to buy before I work on my new band and racket. IT’s tricky stuff though because there is business to be done out there and you cannot deny it. Yet I think the best work comes from the artist when they are not thinking about that stuff.

ARS:  So we can’t not talk about Tal Bachman.

Chris: Man, I had a great ride with him.
I was so excited to see that exchange on Facebook. I just added him recently and all of that. Tal is an amazing talent and he is a great guy. You know he kinda got thrown into the big machine there.

ARS: I know he did.

Chris: The baseline changed “She’s So High”. I Remember I would always tell Tal how influenced I was by Steve Harris and John Paul Jones. If you to go back to that you are going to hear a little bit of the song “The Number Of The Beast” in there.
Check out the end of the solo. There’s a bass riff that is very John Paul Jones and Steve Harrison influenced. You would not think of it in kind of a major happy pop song like “She’s So High”.

ARS: I always thought that song rocks for a pop song.

Chris: It does. Yes it does. I had a great time doing that record,  that’s how I met Bob Rock. Bob is the guy who introduced me to the Cult. That day he did not have a bass player. The next day and I jumped in and did the whole [Beyond Good And Evil] record.
Bob told me when I worked with Tal that he was going to call me for a lot of other things. I was like, well that’s nice he said that. It is Bob Rock. But it happened. He called me for Nina Gordon. I  recorded with Bob on The Payolas.  Then obviously The Cult.

ARS: Let’s talk about Jerry Cantrell’s influence. I can hear some of him in Owl.

Chris: Well I was in his band. I worked with him very intensively for two years before the Cult got back together. We toured together doing his solo album or rather his solo stuff his solo career. We went out on the road as Jerry Cantrell.  We opened up for Kid Rock and we did a lot of different things. And we had a cover band called Cardboard Vampyres with Billy Duffy as well. That was pretty cool. That was kind of like a heavy metal Camp Freddy, it was just a party band for fun.  Jerry was thinking about doing another solo record. Then the Alice In Chains thing came up. I was like what am I going to do? Luckily, Billy called me and said they were getting back together as well.  You know how it is in these situations. Jerry was a big part of my life. I lived with him for two years. We did Under Cover for Ozzie together. We did Camp Freddy. We did Cardboard Vampyres. We did his solo stuff. And we started to write songs together but it never came to fruition because of the call and offer for Alice In Chains.

Chris: So we would wake up every day. Jerry was not really a coffee guy but I would get my coffee and we would get on with our day together. We were in five projects together for over two years and I was also developing Owl back, then writing songs and all that stuff. Billy and  Jerry would come out to the our shows and all of that.  I really enjoyed working with Jerry and we had a lot of fun together. We definitely bonded. I mean Jerry is like for ever a brother. You know I learned a lot from Jerry. He’s done it all. And now here he is, getting himself into another really cool phase of his life. I’m proud of him out there doing Alice In Chains.At one point(when I was younger) I started to realize that I did not like people bringing up influences all the time. I guess people need a gauge but now,  I look back at it from having a lot more experience. We’re talking about another five years later but at the end of the day I just realized that yeah absolutely Jerry  influenced me. I was  standing there singing with them every night. I don’t know how otherwise he wouldn’t be. Do you know what I’m saying? Now I’m just proud of it. When I was with Jerry Cantrell  I think of the vocal things that I learned, such as projection from being around such a talented artist. It stuck with me and I am proud of it now compared to saying “no, no, no” I’m not influenced by anybody.

Chris: And then of course there’s Ian. I think Ian has made an impact on my voice. He is such a strong singer. I think literally Ian is one of the loudest projecting singers that I have ever been around. It’s like he shakes the walls without the PA on. He just has something special going on. I remember first singing and he said maybe you should project your body a bit more  when we were working on harmonies together.  I am now changing my perspective as a singer a bit because it is a different voice now. I am now connecting with and understanding. So Ian has also had a big impact.

ARS:  Yeah Dude, these are all like some of my personal absolute favorites of all times. I’m not going to argue with the results because I think that Owl is fantastic…

Chris:  I’m really glad that you are digging it.

ARS:  What was the first big concert that you when to?

Chris:  It was the Iron Maiden Piece Of Mind tour.  I remembering hearing The Trooper live and saying to myself  “I am so going to be a bass player for the rest of my life”.

ARS:  What is your go to album?

Chris:  I don’t know but I can’t help but go to the Dark Side Of The Moon from Pink Floyd. I know that it is one of the most hyped but there is just something about, something that hits home with that record. I also like Physical Graffiti to0,  I like going to that one as well.

ARS:  Cool. About a year ago I got a turn table for the first time in a long time. I got back into vinyl. Listening to all those old albums again.It is different this time dude.  It is better.

Chris:  Yeah it is better and it is a bit more crystal clear…. you hear all of the nuisances differently.
I love to come from that place and  bring back some of that mentality but also putting a modern tip on it with Owl. Taking the listeners on a journey. That is kind of what our band is about.

ARS:  Yeah. I’m looking forward to hearing more about it and seeing what you guys have planned for the future. There is definitely some potential for that band to get out there. Like you said I think there are a lot of people probably like us that have varied tastes in music. They get…I don’t want to say tired of the same steady diet of whatever but you are just all over the place. Its like schizophrenic music. [laugh] In a good way. [laugh]

Chris:  Yes. Thanks I guess I liken that to my influence to a degree. The fact that they did so many different things  that I remember hearing  from Pink Floyd as a young teenager. That was before I picked up the bass. I realized that I remember hearing a song and going…you can do that. You know just being so inspired, then saying to myself, wait a minute there are no boundaries here with music, this is what I’m doing. You can take a painting and say well that is on painting then move on to the next painting. Music is different… I do not know why this happens, that a band comes out with a good song. Then you hear the rest of the record and you think to yourself is that the same song? Its hard to understand what…they just want a very homogeneous stream line sound for every song.

ARS: Who is your favorite blues artist?

Chris:  Well that is such a big category of course. Right now I keep getting blown away by Stevie Ray every time that I hear him. I say man,  this is like the genetics of Hendrix or something, do you know what I mean? It has got a quality to it. Every time that I hear him solo lately I just have been really taken back and realize what an on fire guitar player he was. So that is probably my latest favorite.

ARS: Okay bro, thanks for the chat. I’ll let you get back to packing and I’ll see you in Seattle with The Cult.

Chris:  Great, Great. Well a big thanks man we will be talking soon.

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