I recently got to chat with local singer/songwriter and W\A\M favorite Kris Orlowski about touring, performing, and facial hair. Read on…
EJ: In February, you went on a headlining west coast tour. What does a regular day on tour look like for you and the band?
KO: Usually we wake up in a hotel room, a stranger’s couch or an Air BNB. We jockey for position to get the next shower between 5 dudes, then start our 2-13 hour drive that day. Then we get to a venue, load in, wait around, sound check, hang around and potentially get food, hang around and chat with folks, then get in the van and head to our accommodations. Then rinse and repeat 🙂
Touring is its own animal. A lot of sitting in the van, waiting at the venue, constantly feeling tired and being in a new town every day. BUT you get to play music every night. We get to see new places. We get to meet new people, connect with our friends in other places and there is nothing quite like the energy of playing to a full house or hearing about someone’s story and what really makes them tick.
EJ: When you’re on stage, does Torry’s majestic beard ever make you feel insecure?
KO: Absolutely. The beard steals the show EVERY. TIME. But I’ve come to terms with his majestic facial hair. This is show business and you have to let the lime light shift from time to time. Our band has a very mixed bag of facial hair.
EJ: What is your favorite part about touring?
KO: Getting to play music night after night. Getting to connect with someone and hear their story because you poured your heart out to them. It’s a very special feeling when that happens.
I also live the diversity that comes along with tours. Seeing familiar faces I haven’t seen for way too long. The adventures that go along with visiting foreign towns or getting to revisit your favorite coffee shop, park, bar or neighborhood in cities that you go through every 6-8 months. We’ve done a lot of touring on the west coast and it’s always nice to get a few days of sunshine on the southern part of the tour before heading back to the deep dark north.
EJ: What is your least favorite part about touring, and what have you learned from having to deal with it?
KO: I’m introvert, so being around people all day is tough. I love getting to connect with folks after the show, but when you are in a van with four other sweaty dudes all day and you share a hotel room, meals, your every waking breath with those same folks, it can be challenging. Those four guys are my brothers, but being around people that much is always tough.
I’ve learned to find escapes so I can be by myself. Taking a walk after soundcheck. Spending some time by myself when we are at the hotel, etc.
EJ: Outside of Washington, in which city do you most love to perform?
KO: Ah, that’s a tough one. We’ve had some really memorable times in Guthrie, OK, Chattanooga, TN and Joshua Tree, CA, but playing in San Francisco and Los Angeles have been two of our favorite places. We’ve started to develop a bit of a following in those places and having a lot of friends in a city that isn’t your own makes it a joy to perform in.
EJ: What’s your favorite song to play live, and why?
KO: “Carolina” and “Believer” for different reasons. “Carolina” is a song about a journey — going to find something and being all in. And I don’t think I’ll ever not identify with that idea, so it’s really easy to be “all in” every time I play that song. “Believer” is such a great song because the whole band is firing on all cylinders and it’s a bit of an anthem for us. I’m an optimist, I love to Believe, so it’s another song that feels really good to play.
EJ: Do you or the band ever wish that your last name was bacon, so all of you could perform as Kris P. Bacon?
KO: It’s like you can see inside my head. How did you… the answer is yes.
EJ: What (or who) do you think has most influenced your musical and lyrical styles?
KO: There is a laundry list of people who have influenced me. There are NW folks like Matt Bishop, Noah Gundersen, Nirvana, David Bazan, Fleet Foxes, Damien Jurado, Israel from Blind Pilot, Ben Gibbard, James Mercer, to people that I’ve heard about through friends or just being a listener like The National, Justin Vernon, Cinematic Orchestra, Paul Simon, Joseph Arthur, Phil Collins, Metric, Ghostland Observatory, Radiohead, James Vincent McMorrow, Maps, Jeff Buckley, Ryan Adams, Jose Gonzalez, Elton John, Sufjan Stevens. This is the tip of the iceberg really, the list is exhaustive. I could go on.
EJ: What has been the most influential moment in your musical career? How was it influential?
KO: Releasing our album Believer at the Showbox was probably one of the biggest moments for me. It was a dream and bit of a check box for me finally getting to headline that venue and release what has been one of my best music projects yet.
I think the other big moment for me came a few years back. We were recording an EP at the Fremont Abbey and a bunch of friends came out to record on the album. Last minute we did a little video in the center of the room with a bunch of songwriters and a four piece string quartet. It turned out really amazing.
I’ve come a long way since then, but it was another landmark for me. It hit home the idea of collaboration, and how it can really create something special.
EJ: What is the first piece of advice that you would give a musician or band looking to launch themselves into the industry?
KO: The first (three) pieces of advice I would give are: 1) Be nice. 2) Go out to as many shows as you can; it’s part of your education. 3) Write every day if you are a songwriter, and play every day if you are a musician.
Once you have been doing that for a while, you will naturally start to see the next steps 🙂
Major thanks go to Kris for taking the time to do this interview. I’ve raved about him before, but I’ll say again that you really should check this guy out. He’s the real deal. There are a host of places you can find Kris, and you can go to all of these places by way of the link page on his official website. Get connected, and check out Kris’ own blog. He’s got some great content over there.