EXCLUSIVE: Interview With The Rising

The Rising are a five-piece mixed sex country/rock band from Ireland made up of Chris Logan – Guitars, Banjo, Mandolin, Chantelle McAteer – Vocals, Harmonica, Brian Mellors – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Shane Watters – Drums and Carla Crawford – Piano, Keys/Synths, Backing Vocals .

They are currently gearing up for the release of their sophomore album which is due to drop this winter with their new single ‘Last First Love‘ coming out next month.

Here the group talk exclusively to Celeb Mix about their new single, album, and much, much more.

How did you all meet?

CM – Chris and I were both performing at a singer/songwriter night and after my set he came over and asked if we could write together at some point and I jumped at the chance. We had an instant creative connection and shortly after I was then asked to be part of The Rising.  CL – With Shane and I being cousins it was only natural that we would end up in a band with each other.  I first met Brian during a recording session. I was recording the band that he was in at the time and after the first session we hit it off and remained close friends ever since.

I then continued to use Brian as a session bassist on any recordings that came through my studio. When the bands original bassist decided to quit music I quickly made the call to Brian to become a full-time member of the band.

I met Carla when I was working in a theatre doing live sound. We got talking about music and I soon learnt that she played piano and had a similar passion for music. She was in another band at the time, but, had left the band to finish her studies. So as soon as she had finished I asked her to join The Rising.

What made you decide to start a band?
CL – It was really a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ I would start a band. Being brought up in a musical family with my Dad playing in bands since the 60’s, the guitar was put into my hands from a very early age and from that moment on I was hooked. I spent every waking moment practising and learning as much as I could about music. All the while dreaming of being in a band with the ability to write and perform our own music.

You are from Belfast so what/who got you interested in country music?
CL – I was brought up on Country Music by my Dad who was a country singer. So I was fed a steady diet of Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Eagles and everything in between. But in Ireland country music is massive, always has been. You only have to look at the God-like status Garth Brooks has in Ireland. But what really interests me is the fusion of Country Music and Rock/Pop that contemporary artists like Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum etc are doing.

CM – I was brought up on country music with both of my parents being very into artists like Shania Twain and Garth Brooks. My mother was also line-dance teacher so that meant I was always hearing it around the house as well as learning how to line-dance too.

You have quite a distinctive sound of rock/country, do you think Shania Twain helped turn the tide of what people expected country music to sound like?

CL – Absolutely, artists like Shania who became famous for crossing-over, fusing Country Music storytelling, production and fused it with other genre elements like Rock, Pop and even Dance music have certainly helped in changing peoples mind about how country music could and should sound. Previously, when you said you liked Country Music you were greeted with stares and Blues Brothers quotes about Country and Western. But today with contemporary artists like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum etc who continue to mix up genre elements have made Country Music more accessible to the younger generation who are starved of great storytelling songs. Today’s pop music has become so dumbed down with artists that sound the same and lyrics that mean nothing. So the younger generation who are looking for more substance in their music are turning to Country Music to get songs/lyrics that mean something, instruments that are played by real people and yet still have that pop sensibility that makes great pop songs work. This was all made possible by artists like Shania Twain and Garth Brooks in the 90’s who really pushed Country Music forward.

CM – As a female songwriter, I am always looking for positive female role models and artists like Shania Twain who write and performed their own material are massive influences on me. Also, the fact that she was taking risks with country music at that time by fusing it with Rock and Pop was massive. I think it’s this fusion of genres that has attracted so many young people to Country Music, just like artists like Shania opened my eyes. Previously, it may have been ‘old persons’ music but now with the new generation of artists borrowing from all genres it makes it accessible to everyone.

Growing up who were your musical inspirations?

CL – Growing up music was all around and I immersed myself fully in everything that was available. I am a die-hard Queen fan and became obsessed with them and Brian May as a guitarist from an early age. Other life changing artists were Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Eagles, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, REM, Keith Urban, Byrds, Gram Parsons, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow, Bryan Adams and of course, The Beatles.

CM – Carrie Underwood is big inspiration to me, as a singer I love her voice. I’ve followed her from American Idol all the way through to her current album. Other influences include Keith Urban, Lucy Hale, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato. Basically, a mixture of all music genres.

You recently performed at the C2C festival, what was that like?

CM – “Performing at C2C was amazing and what made it more special was that it was my first major gig with the band, so I was super nervous leading up to the gig. But the moment I stepped onto the stage and saw people singing songs that weren’t even released yet back to us after the first chorus was something I will never forget. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to perform at the festival. We played on Friday and Saturday and during the after-show party I got to see David Nail as well as celebrate my Birthday as the clock turned midnight so the whole weekend in London was pretty magical to me.

CL – We have been incredibly lucky to perform at C2C Festival two years in a row, firstly in 2015 then again this year when we were able to play more shows on bigger stages. C2C was a massive catalyst in a lot of the good things that happened for us in 2015, not to mention opening us up to the UK market. For this we are incredibly grateful to the guys at C2C Festival for the opportunity. However, this years shows were incredibly special. Firstly, from a personal point of view, I actually made a wish that one day I would get to perform on the Brooklyn Bowl stage during last years after-show party and amazingly this year we got the chance to do it. The reality of the dream was also more special and it will be one show that I will always remember.

Secondly, this years C2C festival was also the introduction of the new version of the band. So that was exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time. It was nervy because you were wondering if people who had liked the previous version of the band would come with us and see the changes as a positive thing. Thankfully everyone loved it and this gave everyone in the band the sense that we were doing something right and we were excited to move forward.

Do you think country music will ever be as popular here in the UK and Ireland as it is in the US?
CL – Absolutely, I believe it’s only starting to kick-off in the UK due to more people finding out that contemporary Country Music sounds like pop music but with better stories in the songs. In Ireland Country has always been big, especially in the 90’s when Garth Brooks was able to sell out the largest football stadium in the country for several nights. But now there’s a new generation of fans in UK & Ireland who are perhaps more fanatical. Largely due to the fact that we are starved of American Country so every time a US artist makes the trip over to play fans will flock to see them because they know that the artist will spread the word about how great the fans are and how the scene is exploding… leading to other artists coming over

Your debut album ‘Coming Home‘ has been out for a while, where did you record the album?
Our debut album ‘Coming Home’ was released just over a year and a half ago so we are currently recording our follow up album. The album also features the first version of the band before we changed singers. It was recorded between our recording studio in Northern Ireland and also sessions in Nashville, TN. In Nashville we had the opportunity to work with other musicians such as Molly Thomas (Solo artist, Molly & The Rare Birds and Matthew Ryan Band) who played strings on the album, Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, Solo Artist) who sang backing vocals and also several Grammy nominated engineers and producers including Hank Williams who mastered the album. We will always be proud of what the album achieved for the band and the songs on it. It lead to many firsts such as Graham Norton playing our first single on BBC Radio 2, radio play and positive reviews from all over the world (Europe, USA etc) as well as leading to several read UK an Ireland tours. But we are so excited to open this new chapter for the band and get our new music out there.

If you could collaborate with anyone who would you choose?
CL & CM – Keith Urban… we are both big fans and we are obsessed with his new album Ripcord. Its mix of Country, Rock, Pop and Dance elements are right up our street. So we think we could make some great music together.
CL – Though the collaboration may turn into a 20-minute guitar solo record. (haha)

Do you think country music is now more widely accepted by the core Pop music fanbase?
CL – Yes. I think this is due to the fact that modern pop music has become ’samey’ with everyone sounding the same, lyrics that don’t really mean anything other than getting to a catchy chorus. Or even worse, with the music being driven by celebrity or a fancy music video. So I really believe that the younger generation are turning to Country Music to get music with a little more substance.

If you weren’t musicians what would you be doing?
CL – As cheesy as it sounds there’s no real plan B for any of us. Each of us loves music so much and can’t imagine living life not being involved in music to some degree. Personally speaking, I have a Bachelor Of Science Degree in Music Technology and I’m an Avid Certified Pro Tools Operator so I would imagine I would be full time into the production of music. I currently produce the odd record for other people, but I am completely focused on the musician side at the moment that I only do it for the select few.
What is your favourite part of being in a band?

CL- There are loads of great things about being in a band from the comradeship of hanging out with people who share the same dreams/goal as you all the way through to playing live and achieving each little goal together. But perhaps my favourite part is the creative process, that moment when you get in a room and start to work out a song. This feeling is even better when a song comes quickly and you leave the writing session with a complete song, sometimes even a demo recording of it. Its such a great feeling when something you have built from nothing more than an idea is fully formed. This feeling is only matched by the first time you hear a song you have written on the radio. It doesn’t matter how many times you get played on the radio, it always feels the same way.

Your new single ‘Last First Love’ is out on September 16th how has the response been?
Yes, we are super excited to get our new music out. We have been working hard over the last few months recording material for our upcoming album and this single is a good introduction to the new album and also the new band. So far the response has been amazing. We actually debuted the song during our last gig at FSA Festival in July and we actually had people asking for copies of it. So this lead to us putting a pre-order up on iTunes etc in advance of the singles official release on 16th September. Even from the press and media the response so far has been amazing. With US based Country Music bible ‘The Boot’ (theboot.com) premiering the brand new music video for the song on 16th August. So we can’t wait to see what people think of the music video and hope that this new era brings in more fans to or music.

What would you like to achieve in the next ten years?
Of course every musician dreams of playing arenas and having the whole selling millions of copies of an album. But in today’s music industry, especially for independent musicians you simply hope to be able to make a sustainable career out of making music and performing without having to have a second job. So as a goal for the next 10 years I would hope to be able to get the band to point where it was earning everyone in the band enough to live off while still making music and touring the world. Anything that happens above and beyond that is a bonus. I would just love to think that somewhere down the line some kid will listen to our music, perhaps in 30/40 years time and discover it for the first time. The same way I did with artists of my parents generation. I love that about music, truly great music is timeless and it will last forever.
Make sure you keep up to date with everything The Rising by following them on Twitter @TheRisingMusic.
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Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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