The Playlist Interview: CHUCK
THE PLAYLIST INTERVIEW IS A NEW FEATURE EXPLORING THE MUSIC BEHIND THE MUSIC—THE SONGS AND MEMORIES THAT INSPIRE OUR FAVORITE ARTISTS.
"How's your back?/How's your Sprite?/How's the fear that you can't control your life?," Brooklyn bedroom musician, CHUCK (aka Charles Griffin Gibson), sings in "Becky," a highlight off of Frankenstein Songs For The Grocery Store, and a perfect encapsulation of what Gibson does best: routine and everyday anxieties treated with respect and a tempered touch of humor.
It's a quirky release to be sure—one whose merit largely lies in its handcrafted creation and Gibson's commitment to putting his ideas and nasally voice out there for us to cling to—but if the hilariously self-effacing "New Yorker" doesn't make you crack a smile, I'm afraid there's not much I can do for you.
Combining Dinosaur Jr.'s slacker relatability, strong whiffs of 90's alternative, and even some shades of emo, Gibson's influences can be traced back to seminal moments in his life—many of which he explores gracefully in this very interview.
With Frankenstein Songs, Gibson is bidding adieu to the music biz, stating eloquently, "I'm 30. I'm married. I have a full-time job. I just don't have it in me anymore. So without further adieu, please enjoy the final CHUCK record. It's got songs about diet, exercise, work, love, T.V. and animals.”
Oh, CHUCK—we hardly knew ye.
the last song you listened to:
“It Was Never Enough” by Fog Lake
Spotify threw this one at me when I was cleaning the house earlier today. It was a playlist called “Your Summer Rewind” that they “curated” for me. I’m a big Fog Lake fan and this was really the song that hooked me on them. It’s perfect.
a song from the year you were born:
"Tougher Than The Rest" by bruce springsteen
I discovered this deep cut from the Boss a few years ago. I love his use of orchestral synth strings on songs like this, “I’m on Fire” and “Streets of Philadelphia”. This is pretty much the dream soundtrack to falling in love at a bar.
a song that reminds you of your parents:
"fast car" by tracy chapman
There was a period where my Mom had Pearl Jam and Tracy Chapman tapes in her car. I must have been like 6 years old. I remember feeling something for this song and not understanding why or what it all meant. The magic of music baby!
a song that reminds you of high school:
"the laws have changed" by the new pornographers
My musical tastes changed around age 15, when this kid I met at school gave me copies of Beck’s Sea Change and the Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. We became best friends and continued to discover music together until we graduated High School and moved away from our hometown. The New Pornographers is a band that we discovered together, and I have fond memories of us driving around with this song blasting out the windows.
a song that makes you cry:
"anthems for a seventeen-year-old girl" by broken social scene
Dear God. Don’t get me started on this song. Just sitting here and listening to it and writing about it is making me tear up. I was hipped to Broken Social Scene by Pitchfork. We’re talking 2002, dawg. They were raving about this record at the time. I had just started reading the site. It felt like very “deep” music to me at age 17. This song has been a very good friend ever since. It brings up so many memories, faces, basements, parties, lost-loves etc.
The best make-out song:
"you're mine" by robert & johnny
3am. The bar is pretty empty. You’re both so drunk you almost can’t stand. You’re sweaty. You both sit firmly down on a secluded bench in the back of the bar. This track comes on. The rest is history.
a song by one of your heroes:
"the singing tree" by jeffrey lewis
I really look up to Jeffrey Lewis. He’s been in the game for a long time and I love the universe he’s built with his music and graphic art. This guy is an NYC legend! It’s inspiring to watch him stick with it through thick and thin. He’s so funny and he’s a great storyteller.
the song guaranteed to get you out on the dance floor:
"playing with knives" by bizarre inc.
Just dance and move your body! I love how hype everyone is in this video. The instruments remind me of Sega Genesis.
a song you wish you had written:
"icehead" by (sandy) alex g
Alex is my favorite musician. DSU is such a seminal record. I’ve always been really amazed by the production moves on one of its best cuts, “Icehead.” The way the drums sound, the flute sample, the pitched up vocals, etc. It doesn’t make sense on paper, but when I hear it, it just makes me feel some type of way. How did he get those drum noises? Why do they work so well? It’s baffling. I feel so connected to this song, but I have no idea what it’s about.
a song that feels like love:
"is that all there is?" by peggy lee
My wife and I recently watched the film After Hours, and this song is prominently featured in a scene where two characters slow dance. We’ve been into it ever since. It’s so romantic and heartfelt and hazy. I love it.
the best road trip song:
"schopenhauer in berlin" by emporer x
I heard this song on Gold Flake Paint one day and it’s become a heavy hitter for me this summer. It has this amazing, live feel. Also, the lyrics are extremely strong. I love the mixture of history, pop culture, geography, humor and emo. My wife doesn’t always like the music I’m hyped on, but still let me sing very loudly over the whole song on our last car trip.
your go-to karaoke song:
"everybody's talking" by harry nilsson
This song sits right in my vocal sweet spot. I can sing it comfortably and put some emotion into it. I only sang it once at karaoke, but when I did, I hit the high note perfectly in the final movement of the song and people were very taken aback. I gotta bust it out next time I’m in the zone.
a song that made you want to be a musician:
"the king of carrot flowers, pt. 1" by neutral milk hotel
This was the first song I learned on guitar, so I have a deep affection for it when it comes to making music. I remember finding this album at the record store and just listening to it over and over and over for years. I probably got it around age 16. It’s always felt like a psychedelic Roald Dahl book to me. I’ve been inspired by the writing, the production and—maybe most of all—Jeff Magnum’s vocals. I think he’s the reason I push my own voice to high pitches at loud volumes. It tickles my ear drums or something. As a young emo teenager, it was inspiring to hear someone sing so confidently with such a strange voice. I’ve never researched the band or read much history about this record. It’s like the Bible or something. It’s too holy to investigate.
a song that should be more famous than it is:
"lazy nina" by greg phillinganes
Actually, I don’t want this song to become any more famous. If I hear some asshole blasting this at a party I won’t be able to enjoy it anymore. But, I still wanted to share it with the few people that made it this far into the feature. It’s a dance song about the beauty of humdrum life with someone you love. It’s very Steely Dan. Enjoy.