Name: Chris Rawson
Band: Stick to Your Guns
Location: Windsor, ON, Canada
Link(s): @chrisxrawson | @stygoc
How did your interest in music begin? Do you come from a musical family? Take us back to the very start.
My family always played music around the house. I wasn’t surrounded by instruments but I was always hearing classic rock and motown. For me, though, it was “Thriller”. That was the first record I connected with that I felt was mine. My dad got it for me through Columbia House, or something, where you’d get 10 LPs for a penny. Rippin’ good deal in the early ‘80s! First record I bought with my own money was Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry.” “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was my jam.
Were you always dead set on playing the guitar or did you try out any other instruments?
Most definitely, I wanted to play guitar as soon as I heard the Michael Jackson “Beat It” riff.
Playing in the Detroit scene with Walls of Jericho, how’d you land with Stick to Your Guns – a hardcore band from Southern California?
Walls of Jericho had taken Stick to Your Guns on their first European tour. We had crossed paths in the US a couple times prior and brought them with us because they seemed like passionate and positive young kids. It was inspiring to be around young energy when we had been a band for a decade by that time. Jesse and I remained good friends and when Candace was starting her family Walls of Jericho decided to not tour much, so I hit him up. I heard they might need someone. He then asked me to help them write a record because they had lost a member who wrote a significant amount. Form there we wrote “The Hope Division” together and I eventually joined the band.
Stick to Your Guns has always had a positive message with its writing. Is that something that comes naturally?
Yeah. It’s all pretty natural. We’re not always happy and we bicker over dumb stuff like any band, but when we get together we’re truly all just friends. We debate each other constantly on what can make this world we live in a better place and we’re also able to laugh at ourselves and not take everything too seriously. For the most part, we have five guys who rarely whine when something isn’t going our way. We don’t complain much and as a group, we tend to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. We are very grateful to be where we’re at this far along in the band’s existence. I think we’re just positive people and that’s what comes out.
When Stick to Your Guns writes new material, does the band write together or separately?
Normally we come up with random ideas on tour. Then sometimes Jesse and Josh will come out to my place and we will demo stuff. We all get together and pick everyone’s ideas a bit and tweak them with a producer or before we go into the studio. Jesse will send me voice memos and videos. George has sent me cool drum beats MIDI and I’ll just load it up and write over of it. Only two of us live in California right now, so we’re pretty spread out.
What Toontrack products do you use and where in the creative process do they come in?
I use Superior Drummer every single day I work on music. For me it usually starts with the riff and I build the drums around it. I occasionally get in a rut and I’ll just load some beat out of a MIDI pack and just start to riff over it hoping to get inspired.
As a father and a guitar player in two bands, can you help share advice to anyone looking to juggle family and career in music?
I just focus on my daughter. She’s my priority. When I’m home it’s all about her. On tour I fly home when I can for a day off here and there. Stick to Your Guns is writing a record right now so I just treat it like a job. I bring my daughter to school go home and start working. When I pick her up from school, it’s family time. If what I was working on had me excited and I can’t wait to finish it. I’ll sometimes get back to it after she goes to bed. Obviously sometimes I have to work on stuff while she’s home but even in that case I’ll still get breakfast, lunch and dinner with her. Once dinner hits it’s all about her for the night.
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d do for a career?
I’d definitely want a skilled trade. Maybe a heating and cooling guy. A friend of mine does that and he was saying it’s the best because even if the economy tanks everyone finds a way to get their heat working.
Favorite venue to play live and why?
It’s a toss-up between the Shelter or Magic Stick in Detroit. I grew up in both those rooms. I have so many inspirational memories attached to those buildings – seeing bands for the first time or my first stage dive, being welcomed by the Detroit hardcore scene with open arms etc. I’ve made friendships that will last my entire life there. So when I play there it’s part nostalgic and part excitement. Kids go off for Stick to Your Guns there. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted as kid coming to reality. I’ve been playing there for over 20 years. I still get so stoked just like I did when I was 16. Sorry, I couldn’t just pick one.
Best studio or stage moment ever?
Best is tough because I’ve been really lucky getting the opportunity to be in two bands that have done some cool stuff. Anytime people sing or dance while I play I feel like I’m where I’m meant to be and all is right with the world. 50 kids or 5,000 kids. Forever grateful.
…and on the flip-side: Worst studio or stage moment ever?
Worst on stage moment: Hands down breaking my foot in SLC with Stick to Your Guns. I was out of it. Rolled my ankle on a photographer’s foot. Thought it was just a really bad sprain. Walked on it playing a bunch more shows. Then we rolled into Montreal. I took advantage of my free healthcare and hit up the hospital for X-rays. They told me I was an idiot and my foot was broken. Gave me a boot. I had to play the rest of that tour and the next in this big dumb boot just standing still. It was so lame.
How do you warm up for a live show? Does the band have any fun superstitions that must be done before each show?
Well, the boot caused a knee problem that took over a year to figure out. Yoga seemed to make the pain go away. So I have a few stretches I do before we play. I also had read about monks reconnecting with each other by hugging for 30 seconds. We started hugging before to reconnect before we go out onstage. So we’re not off living separate lives and then you don’t see someone till you’re about to hit the first note. I think it feels good to get a collective energy focused on a goal vs. five individuals. Architects also stole this from us for the record.
What’s next on the agenda for Stick to Your Guns?
New record and more touring. There are two rules for Stick to Your Guns: We never miss a beat and always leave a man behind.
Studio computer: iMac
Main guitar: Custom ESP telecaster
String gauge: 11-52
DAW: Pro Tools
STICK TO YOUR GUNS “NOBODY” FEAT. THE POP PUNK EZX.
Head on over to the audio player on the Pop Punk page to listen to this remix featuring the drum sounds from the Pop Punk EZX.