By Kaylia Cornett
Rising musician Graham Czach is all about making a difference. And, with a new album release on the way, he’s hoping to open eyes and minds, the only way he knows how – through music and also by supporting non-profits, such as Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood, the American Cancer Society and the Art of Living Foundation. The Chicago based singer/songwriter opened up to The Progress about his goals and inspiration for his album “Lucid,” how he got his start and why music is what he calls “a universal language.”
KC: I’m just going to go ahead and jump right in here, I’ve got some questions lined up for you, so I hope none of them are too hard (laughs).
GC: Oh, it’s all good. I appreciate it.
KC: Well, I’ll start by asking you about your new album. How excited are you about your official record release on Oct. 15? Your album was also recently released on iTunes as well, so that has to give you some positive feedback.
GC: Yeah, it’s really cool. It was a good process. The album turned out great; it much exceeded my expectations and I’m excited to do the premiere of the album as a show with the original line-up that’s recorded on the album.
KC: OK, can you give me a little bit of background on what inspired your album “Lucid”? There’s not really a title track called that, so how’d you come up with that name?
GC: Well, when you delve into the album a little bit more, there’s a lot of potent messages on there, and universal messages. And, the thing that inspired me to put this out basically, and why I’m doing this finally after being a side man for years and years, is that I was just inspired by society right now, and the world and the state of it. Music is a great platform, it’s a universal message, or a universal language, that you can convey messages through to anyone and everyone, and you have influence over people for them to listen to you and spread these messages. And, it’s like in the ’60s and ’70s, I reference that because it has a lot of influence in my music, like The Beatles and Zeppelin, and there was a lot going on back then where people were actually saying things in music, and having substance and messages. And, I feel like a lot of today’s music that’s out there is very materialistic and about sex and money, which is good, whatever. But, (music) is something that can make an impact on the world and change people’s lives. I’m doing this for the music and for the people and for myself, to make a lasting difference, and if I can change people’s lives after a show, after they listen to my music, after they listen to the album, and it can open up their minds or give them a perspective or an awareness that they didn’t previously have, or inspire them to change their lives, then that’s what life’s all about and I feel like I’m doing my job and I’m satisfied no matter what.
KC: Wow, that was a really good answer (laughs).
GC: I’m really passionate about it, and music nowadays, there’s a lot of techonology that covers it up, like the Autotune and some of it’s OK, I’m not totally knocking on it or anything, what I’m doing is trying to bring back that movement, like in the ’60s and ’70s, where people were actually empathetic and actually took a part in something. And, I think music is a great way to do that. And, I’m bringing that organic music back, I guess, with a modern spin on it, it’s still relevant in the 2010s.
KC: So, how would you actually describe your music? You’ve already mentioned that it has a bit of the ’60s and ’70s , but it also has a modern rhythm to it as well. So, that makes you really unique.
GC: Yeah, this is what I usually say because people ask me all the time, “So, what does it sound like?” (laughs) and, I go, “Well, you’ve kind of got to listen to it,” but, to give you a reference, I don’t like to put anything into boxes, or whatever, but just to give you a frame of reference, I would say ’60s and ’70s classic psychedelic rock, such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, that type of stuff, mixed with a ’90s grunge, like a Pearl Jam sort of vibe, and mixed with a more modern singer/songwriter, like Radiohead, you know, those modern, dark melodic rocks. All those influences are some of my main influences. But, one thing that I will pride myself on over anything else, is that I sound like myself, especially in today’s day and age where it’s just so overwhelming in the vast music market where there is just so much stuff out there, that to really make a difference, you just really have to be yourself. And, the legends that you hear, that you know, instantly, you can tell it’s them by their voices. I feel like regardless of what I’m doing it’s still original. You only hear influences . (my) music sounds like me, it’s straight from my heart, and it’s from me. I’m not trying to be like anyone else.
KC: OK, so I’m going to kind of switch gears here. How did you actually get your start in music?
GC: Well, I started playing, originally when I was about seven or eight, on bass and then upright bass, and orchestras and ensembles in school and then bands with my brother and other people. And, then when I was 14 or 15 I started this band Skalawags, it was this punk/rock band. And it featured the guy who was on my album, Kris Myers, the drummer from Umphrey’s McGee and he’s a good longtime friend of mine. And, it’s cool, we kind of came full circle on this album. But, (this high school band) that’s when I started performing professionally, and actually making some money. And then, I continued from there, through college (Illinois Wesleyan University). I went to college for a bachelor’s in music and upright bass performance and a double major in composition, and a minor in business. And, then it kind of went from there, and I graduated, and I’ve just kind of been a professional musician ever since then.
KC: So, have you already been on tour then, or is it in the works?
GC: I have been on several extensive tours all over the United States and the world, but that’s with different bands. This band of mine now, it’s our first show that we are playing Oct. 15, it’s our CD record release party, and then from there I’m going to look into booking and management with this project.
KC: So, where do you get a lot of inspiration to write your music, just through observation and experience?
GC: Yeah, I would definitely say from the messages, like seeing the injustices of our world and how I want to change it. But, also it’s from the little things in life that you really appreciate. The loved ones, you know, the emotions and the feelings that run through you. It’s very healing and therapeutic for me. I don’t know what I would do without music. It’s kind of like my…it’s a muse you know. I find it, like walking outside on a nice day or the ocean, just the energy of different places and the feelings you get and the different experiences you have in life too. Basically, you can (interject) your life experience into the music.
KC: I listened to your song “True Love” and it kind of has a different feel than your other songs; what can you tell me about it?
GC: I actually dreamt that song, I woke up in the morning and I had that melody in my head, you know the “True love, never felt like this before” (singing), like that part, and it kind of progressed on, and I woke up and I had it in my head, and I was just like, “Whoa” (laughs), and I grabbed my guitar and tried to put some chords around it and just played it and it just came out. It wasn’t necessarily an inspiration from a girlfriend, but it kind of turned into different meanings over the years.
KC: Well, thanks so much for talking to me.
GC: Yeah, no problem. Take care.