Cris Brown is an artist of significant emotional intelligence. He understands how to convey the heft of his message through his words as well as his music. In 2003, he began his journey as the creative force behind Memphis-based hard rock heroes, One Less Reason. On Aug. 19, the band’s sixth album, The Memories Uninvited will be released through his own, Tattooed Millionaire Records. As he has done throughout his career, Brown crafted a series of spectacularly emotive passages for the new record that one cannot help but experience on a visceral level. One Less Reason’s music is made more poignant and powerful by the heartfelt and accessible lyrics that Brown pens which are often as aching as they are memorable. This week, Metalholic caught up with Cris to talk about the new record and what the future may hold for One Less Reason.
You have never been one to just kick albums out every couple of years, but The Memories Uninvited has taken longer than usual on the journey. Why has this one been so long in the making?
I’ve always been a firm believer that you don’t write music unless you’re compelled to or you have a feeling to write music. I’ve never been able to be really happy and write music, I guess, and I kind of took the last four years off and had a family, and the growing up thing I said I was never going to do. It’s been a really happy time in my life, so there really wasn’t anything to complain about to write music [laughs]. I was wondering if this record was even going to happen because I really didn’t have anything to say right now.
You now have your own recording studio and you started Tattooed Millionaire Records with John Falls (Egypt Central). What has that done for you creative freedom?
I don’t answer to anybody, ever. I got so tired of record labels and some dude who sits at a desk listening to the new Justin Bieber single telling me how I need to write more radio-like hits. It’s like, ‘What do you know about music [laughs]?’ I got tired of hearing that. We’ve gotten this far on our own—why listen to anyone else? If we succeed, we’re going to succeed on our own terms, and if we fail, we’re going to fail on our own terms, and I can live with that.
Every One Less Reason album is so emotive and distinctly personal. Tell us about The Memories Uninvited from your perspective.
The Memories Uninvited – The album name came from those things that keep you awake at night when you’re tossing in your bed. It’s a reflective record from the past of things you either should have done, wished you done, would have said, should have said. The person you didn’t say ‘bye’ to because you never got the chance. It’s all just based off of that. It’s a reflection of life that we’ve already lived…That we’re not going to get to change anything about, no matter what we do. No matter how much money you make, no matter how famous you get, no matter what you do in life, you’re not going to be able to change things you’ve done in your past.
Because each song is so emotionally powerful, I have to imagine some songs were tougher than others to complete. Was there a particular track on the record that it took you a while to wrestle with more so than the others?
The song ‘One Day’…that song was partially finished prior to the Faces and Four Letter Words record but it just never felt right. Every song has a feeling to it. It’s like writing a chapter to a book. You know when the chapter’s over. That song had just never come to life the way I wanted it to. I actually found it on a hard drive when I was sitting with a friend of mine, and he was like; ‘Oh my God, dude, you’ve gotta put that out.’ “I’m like, ‘I’m worried that it sucks.’ He said, ‘Absolutely not. You’ve got to put this song out.’ So I worked on it, hashed it out, and that song is about seven years in the making.
Your lyrics are mostly about relationships, but they can be interpreted in so many different ways. The new single, ‘Break Me’ is a good example of that.
Lyrics to me should be universal. They should apply to anybody based on what it is they’re going through–their thought processes at the time. We all, as humans, have human conditions to associate things that are going on with us and what we’re focused on at the time. ‘Break Me’ is about somebody helping you pick up the pieces that fall behind whenever you’re broken. Sometimes it takes a lot of people to pick up your pieces, no matter what that is; whether it’s drug problems, or relationship problems, or political, or whatever it is. We all need help along the way.
You have said that The Memories Uninvited perfectly summarizes what you set out to do with One Less Reason. I doubt you could ever stop making music, but does this mean you might blaze some new trails with a new project?
No. That pretty much means what it says. I don’t know if I’m making another record. I really don’t. When I sat down to write this record, I didn’t even know if I was going to put another record out. What I mean with that more than anything is, if I ended my career on this record I will be more than happy with my body of work that I set out to make. I feel like I accomplished the things that I wanted to accomplish. I said the things that I wanted to say. If there’s more to say then I’ll say it, and if there’s not, I’ll shut up and go away.
You can listen to the full interview with Cris Brown in the video below, you can pre-order The Memories Uninvited here.
One Less Reason is:
Cris Brown – Lead Vocals
Blake Heimbach – Bass
CJ – Guitars/Vocals
Leo Goff – Keyboard/Vocals
Cody Landers – Guitars
Grant Brooks – Drummer
One Less Reason – Online
Official Website: www.olrmusic.com/