I was fortunate enough to sit down with frontman Cris Brown of “One Less Reason” and discuss their anticipated sixth studio album, The Memories Uninvited, which is set for release August 19th. The band, born in Tennessee, operates under Tattooed Millionaire, a record label Brown bought and created back in 2014. The album is two years worth of creative freedom and sincerity, a conduit for heartbreak, betrayal, peace, and resolution, and with the lyric video for “Break Me” already giving a first taste of what’s to come, The Memories Uninvited is a record that could not have been more raw and personal if it tried. Even if nothing were to come after this (and let’s hope that’s not the case, considering how fantastic it is), it would be a beautiful record to go out on.
Claire Batchelder (NT): For starters, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me! I’m super stoked about the new album. It’s been five years since your last one, right?
One Less Reason (Cris Brown): Yeah, about five years. One reason was I started a family. Before that, music was everything and I had no life outside it. When my daughter was born, it turned the volume down on what my priorities were.
You took your time making this record because you wanted to tap into the sadness and heartbreak it took to write the songs. Why do you find you can’t write songs when you’re happy?
When I’m happy, I want to go be happy around people I love. Why waste happiness on writing when you should be living it? I’ve only written one happy song, and it was when my daughter was born.
Branching off that, you’d said one of the reasons you’d had trouble tapping into the negative stuff because of your success in the last few years. What if this album brings similar success? How will that affect your next work?
Album success and failure affects me in no way, that’s just money. This record is just about the music, and I can say I’m satisfied. I made the record that I wanted to make, and when I’m 80 years old sitting on my front step, I can say ‘I love that record.’ Even if it doesn’t succeed, it’s still mine. My thing, my creation. Like it or love it, it’s mine. I live and die by it.
You bought your own studio, right? How has it been to be able to work under your own label, at your own pace, with no constraints?
I bought House of Blues in Memphis in 2014, now Tattooed Millionaire, and it’s actually where Matchbox 20 and BB King recorded. We got to do what we wanted to do and make the music we wanted to make. There was no one saying “You’re running out of money” or “You’re running out of time”; if we felt like recording then we did, if we felt like playing video games then we did. Honestly, it was the fans that kept us going.
What do you want fans to take home from this record, then?
This album is the things that keep you up at night no matter what you’ve done. It’s the things you are and the things you were, the pieces you left behind when you fall apart and need help picking back up. I want people to know that the past is dead. I want this record to be able to relate to people no matter what age they are or the place they’re at in their life, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of messages we get from people saying ‘You saved me.’ Recently, a woman on an army base reached out and said they’d lost two soldiers in the line of duty, and “Uneasy” was going around helping them through the difficult time. A year ago, that song would’ve been irrelevant, but this music is something people can relate to whenever they need it.
It sounds like music as a catalyst is a really important part of your life and your creative process. What music has helped you?
The three albums that saved my life were Matt Nathanson’s Some Mad Hope, Dishwalla’s Opaline, and Matchbox 20’s Yourself and Someone Like You. That’s one of the reasons I bought my studio: That Matchbox 20 album was recorded in the same place. Walking into there for the first time—wow.
Besides those albums, what kind of music has influenced your work?
I don’t listen to rock music, actually. A lot of The Cure, Amos Lee. I guess the only ‘rock’ album I really listen to is Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. The lyrical value of ‘Sowing Season’ is absolutely genius. ‘A whisper from your Father couldn’t fix it/he whispers like a bridge/it’s a river spanned.’ That just makes me want to write music. Bands like Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind are the same deal, they trigger emotion. I can’t listen to 16 and 17-year-old bands because I just can’t relate to them.
One track in particular I’d love to talk about is ‘One Day.’ What does it mean to you?
‘One Day’ was written 6 years ago for the previous record, and I absolutely hated it. It sat on my hard drive and didn’t go anywhere, but for some reason I played it for an old band member and he pushed me to release it. I had to let go of the stigma attached to it. Everything I write has a memory to go with it. For example, I can’t play ‘Uneasy’ because it’s too emotional—I wrote that song and my dad passed away two weeks later. It was like a premonition.
What’s your favorite track on the album?
[Without hesitation] ‘The Lie.’ It’s about if God had a wife or a girlfriend before He became God, and He said, ‘I’m gonna go try this God thing, but I’ll be back.’ He goes and then has a God complex, and the girlfriend tries to talk to Him but He says, ‘Who do you think you are talking to me like that?’ And the girlfriend says, ‘But I knew you before this.’ It’s a conversation back and forth between the two. ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ ‘You said you would come back for me/said you’d find a safe place/you said that heaven and stars would never tear us apart.’ ‘I said I would come back for you/I said I’d find a safe place/who knew that heaven and stars would have their own prison bars.’ It’s about how every band has people who are with them at the beginning of their journey, but then you change with your success. I didn’t want to write from the perspective of a band member because it’s too stereotypical, so I chose someone everyone is familiar with. I mean, who knows what God did before He became God?
Can you tell me a little about the album art? Who did it, and how is it significant to the record?
The album art is by Maggy from a company called Chunks Creative in France. She came up with the design herself and I would 100% recommend her. Art is personal to her the way music is to us. We wanted a Raven because it’s synonymous with pop culture [like Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven], so why not? It’s like, it doesn’t have big colors or pink feathers, it doesn’t go out there all decked up, but it’s still known. You either like us or hate us, but it’s still us.
One Less Reason will be playing KHTQ’s 94.5 “Too Broke To Rock” Show on 8/19 at the Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA and will be opening for Sick Puppies on the Sick Puppies Tour around the US! Be sure to check out their calendar:
KHTQ’s 94.5 “Too Broke To Rock” Show
8/19 Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
Opening for Sick Puppies Tour:
9/18 Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
9/19 A&R Music Bar, Columbus, OH
9/21 Druid City Music Hall, Tuscaloosa, AL
9/22 Masquerade, Atlanta, GA
9/25 Trees, Dallas, TX
9/26 Granada Theater, Lawrence, KS
9/27 The District, Sioux Falls, SD
9/29 Wooly’s, Des Moines, IA
9/30 Pop’s Nightclub, St. Louis, MO
10/2 Route 20 Outhouse, Sturtevant, WI
10/3 The Stache, Grand Rapids, MI
10/5 District, Rockford, IL
10/18 Ziggy’s By The Sea, Wilmington, NC
Link to Lyric video for new single “Break Me”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Official Website: http://www.olrmusic.com/
iTunes Pre-Order Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-memories- uninvited/id1111285342
Press: Ed Bunker / Ed@NoProblemMarketing.com