Q&A with Chris Shiflett, lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters
BY TOM BLANTON AND TRAVIS HOWE —
The Lumberjack had the opportunity to call up Chris Shiflett, guitarist of Foo Fighters, to ask some questions about his side project, Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants. Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants will be performing March 23 in Flagstaff at the Museum Club. The event is 21 and over, and advance tickets are available for $15 at www.museumclub.com.
The Lumberjack: What’s it like preparing to go on tour with the Dead Peasants?
Chris Shiflett: It’s a little bit of a different thing than what I normally do. I actually just went today and picked up the van that we’re going to be driving to Austin in. We’ve got our last rehearsal tomorrow and then we’re going to pack it up and head out on Monday man, so I’m going to be behind the wheel for around 20 hours. We’ve got a bunch of shows lined up for the next week and a half.
LJ: Do you guys have anything planned after this recent lineup of shows?
CS: We do. We just made this record that we’re going to put out in a few months. It’s like all honkey-tonk, old classic country kind of songs. We did some Wynn Stuart and recorded some Buck Owens and stuff like that so that’s going to come out in a few months. We’ve got some shows lined up here and there. We’re going to play the Stagecoach Festival and some different things, but we’re still kind of putting it together. I think that we’re probably not going to be doing any Foo Fighters stuff for the rest of the year, it looks like. So I’m going to try and do as many Dead Peasants shows as we can squeeze into it.
LJ: What’s the name of the new album you guys are putting out?
CS: It’s called All Hat and No Cattle
LJ: You’ve rocked arenas all over the world; you’ve played Wembley, man. Do you look forward to playing smaller venues like the Museum Club?
CS: I do: I love playing smaller venues. I love playing bars. I think most people that play in a band, you know, that’s pretty much where they started. I guess I started playing keg parties or whatever, and high school talent shows, crap like that. But I’ve played bars for so long that it feels comfortable. In a perverse way I’m totally excited to get in the van on Monday, I don’t know why. I’ve got this massive drive but it’s going to be kind of nice to get out on the road. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven straight to Austin.
LJ: How many people are in the Dead Peasants entourage; how many people are you packing in the van?
CS: It’s not too bad. We’re actually bringing no road crew at all, so it’s just the five of us. Sometimes we have a pedal steel player, so in the best-case scenario there would be six of us, but he’s not able to make it for this run of shows, so we’re a five-piece.
LJ: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
CS: We haven’t done any shows for a while, so not really. Hopefully we will develop some on this run of shows, but we’ll see. I’ll let you know when we make it to Flagstaff since that’s towards the end.
LJ: I saw you a few nights ago on-stage with John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. How was it getting out there and shutting down Hollywood Boulevard for a rock show?
CS: Unbelievable man; it was so much fun. It was such a trip, the big year blimp was flying above us and there were people for as far as you could see. It was crazy, man. You know, where we played was just a few blocks from where my first apartment was when I moved to LA when I was 18 years old. My buddy, Luke, who plays with me in the Dead Peasants, came down to Kimmel that night. We spent so much time in that area when we were younger and lived over there. To be playing that gig was just bizarre. Actually, where the Kimmel show is used to be this club like 20-something years ago that reminded me of an old band we played in, it all just kind of came full-circle.
LJ: Having a career as a rock star, your job is to melt faces, you know? What advice could you give college kids who want a career as musicians?
CS: I don’t know man. I think it’s like everything else. People always ask me that and I feel that the record industry has changed so dramatically over the years that I wouldn’t even really know what to tell somebody except to play music because you love it, and if you play it enough and you love it enough, you might get lucky. I don’t know, I don’t think that there’s any real strategy you can take to make it. I don’t even know what making it is anymore because nobody really sells records anymore, so I would say good luck, work hard!
LJ: I feel like you’ve gotta know some people these days.
CS: That never hurts. I think being successful in anything takes an insane amount of hard work, you know?
LJ: You were in the punk band No Use for a Name; you’re the lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters. Why did you form the Dead Peasants? When did you start the band?
CS: I made a record in 2010, and when I made the record it was just me, my friend Lou and my friend Derek. When I got it done and put it out I wanted to play some shows but I didn’t have a band. So I called up some old friends and put a little band together to go tour that summer. In that fall we started working on the new Foo Fighters record, Wasting Light, and did that all through the fall and then toured for the next few years so I’ve been busy with that. I’ve used the Dead Peasants as an outlet. I grew up playing rock and roll, punk rock and stuff like this, but I’ve wanted to live in this country genre and really immerse myself in it.
LJ: I’m sure you know that the Museum Club is Hank Williams’ old stomping ground, right?
CS: I did not know that. Is that for real? He played the Museum Club? No [expletive]! I did not know that. Well, I’m really looking forward to it now. Hopefully I won’t die in the back of a Cadillac on the way to the gig then.