Yves Chiasson - musician extraordinaire, songwriter, kick ass guitar player has freshly returned to Montreal after a Zero Degrees Celsius reunion concert on August 15th – Acadian Day, when the band played many of our favourite tunes, agreeing to answer some questions here at 4Q. He presently performs as Luther Chase. Links provided below, please check them out.
4Q: The band played an awesome show on the 15th Yves. Brought back great memories of when we watched you and the gang rock over fifteen years ago. What was the reunion like for you and the band members?
YC: It was extremely cool to hang out and make noise with my old friends again! My wife Renelle (keys, vocals, violin) and my brother Dan (drums) are both in the group so it was extra special to reunite with Poirier (front man) and Matt (bass) to perform our old songs together as a band. The original 5 members had not played together in 15 years, so we were pretty rusty at our first practice session. But once we got going the songs started to flow and that old magical feeling started to seep through. We had some pretty intensive practicing to do, but the group has a great sense of humor, so we laughed and joked around for most of our practice sessions. When we finally hit the stage and there were around ten thousand people cheering us on, it was surreal! And they were singing along and knew most of the words! That was by far the most beautiful part of the entire experience. The folks from our home town of Moncton singing the words from songs we had written as far back as 20 years ago! What a feeling!
4Q: You’re a great songwriter Yves, are you still writing. What inspires your songs?
YC: Well thank you for saying that! Since I was a kid I aspired to be a composer or songwriter. I studied classical music and still very much enjoy it. I especially love listening to Glen Gould play Bach. But then I figured out in my twenties that what I really loved were songs. And so instead of trying to compose classically inspired music for ensembles and orchestras, I went completely the other way and started writing songs for our band; songs that were rather simple and could be played by one person on a guitar. So I felt extremely liberated from the constraints that I had imposed on myself when I was trying to become a composer.
Nowadays I tend to write Blues/Country/Folk inspired songs that I still try to keep simple, and that have melodies that are groovy to sing. I record in my home studio and my partner/wife Renelle plays and sings on a lot of my material. Luther Chase is releasing a 7 song EP on vinyl this fall entitled Past the Empty Town. The album contains music written in 2013, and is independently funded.
4Q: Please share an interesting or fond childhood memory with us!
YC: I started playing guitar when I was fourteen. I had seen these guys a few years older than me at Parlee Beach playing Heart of Gold by Neil Young. So I was like, I want to do that too! My father had an acoustic guitar and he taught me three chords: G, C and D. I also discovered Jimi Hendrix during that period, so naturally I wanted an electric guitar. So for a while, every day after school I would go down to Moncton Music Centre and look at the electric guitars hoping to one day own one of these shiny beauties. So one day Big Bill, who was the nicest guy, saw me eyeballing the guitars AGAIN and said “do you want to try one plugged into an amplifier?” I picked up a cheap Stratocaster knockoff (the same type as Jimi used), plugged it in and struck an awful sounding G chord, then looked up at Bill and said “It sounds just like Jimi Hendrix”. Bill just smiled and said “yeah it does!”
4Q: What can we expect in the future from you Yves, musically speaking of course. Is it still your desire to perform live and if so, what kind of venues do you prefer?
YC: In the last few years I have not played live very often and therefore miss the energy that is shared between musicians and the crowd. Playing to 10 000 fans on August 15th 2013 (Festival Acadie Rock) renewed that need in me to share music with a live audience.
My preferred venue is a “soft seater” or auditorium that has great acoustics because people are there to listen and the sound is pure and pleasing. A bar is fun too because there is generally a relaxed and casual atmosphere, but people are often distracted and are not really listening, which becomes a distraction for the performer. As I get older (I’m 43 yrs young) I prefer playing for people that are listening to the music. It makes the effort that mush more gratifying.
You can certainly expect more songs from Luther Chase in the future, as I am constantly coming up with new song ideas. And I really enjoy the work of putting music to tape and documenting ideas that might be forever lost were it not for the act of recording.
I fondly remember listening to you singing Sister Morphine by The Rolling Stones many years ago at the UdeM campus, smoky little place called The Kacho. I had a good idea then that music would always be an important part of your life. Best of luck to you and Renelle with the new album.
Listen to Luther Chase at https://soundcloud.com/luther-chase and/or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Luther-Chase/