If Not for the Dark Tonight
Once upon a time, a six-year-old-boy was sitting at the kitchen table, chomping on his morning Frosted Flakes and noticed a drawing contest on the back of the Kellogg's box. Thinking he could sketch a character that might have promise, he entered. He was right. The kid won the grand prize of $5 a week for a year. Resisting the temptation of chrome spinners for his Big Wheel, Little Chris James instead opted to save his coveted stipend. Enamored by his parents' collection of 45s that ranged from Dad's Fleetwood Mac, the Bee Gees, and Sly & the Family Stone; Mom's predilection for the Beatles, Rod Stewart, and Jim Croce; altogether anchored by a shared love of Motown, fifty-two weeks later to the date he purchased a Wurlitzer electric piano. And that is how the story of Chapterville really begins, in the Midwestern capital town of Lansing. (Though the band, technically speaking, was formed in the next century amidst - and despite - all the glitz and glitter of Los Angeles.) After seven years of disciplined piano lessons combined with wayward teenage ways, Chris landed a job at an independent record store on the campus of Michigan State University. It was brief dream job that became a stepping stone to another John Cusack-esque gig: an 8-year stretch as a club DJ. Prior to today's iPod spinners, there was such a thing as a legit, beat-mixing, throw-a-dime-on-the-turntable scratcher. Like his folks, Chris spun everything from soup to nuts: industrial/goth, house/techno, 80s, alternative, pop, new wave, and he still owns the vinyl if you care to rifle through it. The wax job opened yet more doors, this time an on-air stint at the local rock station. Radio, along with random timing, raw talent and restlessness prompted him to pack his dog and bags in the backseat of his Jeep to head to the land where young people go to be free, California's Bay Area. After a top-rated afternoon drive show and hundreds of club gigs, Chris had accomplished what he set out to do, but he soon found himself burned out on introducing songs for a strict corporate format. He itched to try something more imaginative, and segued into the audio production side of radio. It was a good run - he became one of the most sought after creative-imaging producers, with output hitting the airwaves of music capitols as far as London and Tokyo. High on the artistic freedom this role allowed, Chris took the next logical step in his musical progression, and headed to the City of Angels. It was in Los Angeles that the collective artistic efforts throughout Chris James' life would set the stage for Chapterville. Armed with the metaphors of emotion, experience and all it's perceptions, Chris set out to explore the larger, more meaningful plot behind the snippets of everyday human interaction and relationships, and put together a band to make his own music. The result of Chapterville's quest to invent a lyrical, interconnected tale of pain and love is "If Not for the Dark Tonight." A chronological, sonic march, the album aims to ignite vivid déjà vu for listeners who travel with two characters on their journey of highs and lows between Ring the Bell's Eden-like seduction to the intense and frantic desperation of Tonight. A revolving cast of characters collaborated on Chapterville's first project - acclaimed musicians well beyond the imagination of some kid who realized a dream thanks to his silly rendering of Tony the Tiger. Even some of the brilliant artists who once contributed to his parents' 45s submitted their drafts on love and life to help orchestrate If Not for the Dark Tonight. Chapterville's vehicle to tell one version of a story, and what each of us sacrifice for the blueprint of a relationship in which melody, desire, lyrics and a venue all converge. Does it ring true?