The story of “The Static Tones” in interview with the guitarist Chris Dehlbom
Chris Dehlbom: “A lot of times what makes up the band is the guys, not necessarily the music. And it takes a community to make a band big.”
Left to right: Ian Nelson, Chris Dehlbom, Josh Nelson, Ronnie Ross. Photo by Steven Sturges/Courtesy
I met with the guitarist of a Coeur d’Alene indie/alternative rock band The Static Tones Chris Dehlbom, 22, Coeur d’Alene on March, 15 in the Kroc center lobby.
Our conversation dwelt on the forming of the band and their ambitions.
Chris appeared to be a fun company and the interview took shape of an entertaining and at the same time meaningful chat full of jokes and laughter.
Q: “What is your music about in general? Is there any specific message you are trying to bring to the public?”
Dehlbom looks aside thoughtfully and proceeds framing his answer with care: “Every song is different. But usually we don’t promote ignorance of any sort. We don’t like people judging people for no reason. We like people to be open when they judge. Just things that we think that need to be changed. We have songs about moral decay. We have songs about people being fake for profit. We have songs about break-ups, what I would call just regular songs. It is whatever Josh [the singer who writes the lyrics for the band] is feeling….”
Q: “So far one of you most memorable, I would say, songs is ‘Death on High Heels’. Did you have a specific person or a situation in mind writing the song?”
Dehlbom bursts into laughter: “Oh, yes! It’s about Josh’s girlfriend, and how he feels about her. I don’t really know a lot. I think it’s a Josh question. All I know is that it is about his girlfriend. And obviously he likes her a lot. But still it is really interesting imagery of blood and death, I know.”
Q: “So how long the band has existed? “
Dehlbom: “The other guys started in January of last year and I joined in March. So about a year, not too long.”
Q: “Before you joined in the band did they have another guitarist playing with them?”
Dehlbom: “No, that was just Josh before me and then I joined.”
Q: “How do the guys feel about the change in your music after your coming in?”
Dehlbom: “They really like it as far as I know. They keep telling me they like it. I believe them.”
Q: “Can you tell me more, how did the idea of starting the band come to your mind? And who was actually the person to come up with the idea?”
Dehlbom: “Well, that is actually a long story. When I was in high school the singer and I had the band called ‘Borderline’. We didn’t do too many big shows, only like 2 or 3 and we played at school lunges a lot. But…” Chris pauses and keeps on with a laugh, “We weren’t that good. He was the bassist back in instead of the guitarist.”
Q: “And you?”
Dehlbom: “And I was the guitarist and the singer. And then we had a drummer and a keyboardist. And…” he lingers on the words. “It was a good learning experience. It takes a long time to figure out how to play an instrument with other people. That was the first band for us. It took us a while to figure out. And then we got it! The music was very simple, very pop rock… Not that good. And then in summer our drummer eventually quit. Actually no, we fired him.” He laughs sprightly.
Dehlbom: “He was considered one of the 3 top drummers in the state of Idaho. He was an amazing drummer. But it got to his head, and he became really mean about it,” his voice losses lightheartedness and face takes serious expression. “He would never want to practice. Or when we had a show he would never want to move his drum set, so we had to find a drum set for him somewhere and then bring it back. And we just got to the point where he wasn’t worth that any more. So we fired him. Our current bassist became our drummer for a while and we changed our name to ‘Black Friday’. It was the time when the road towards The Static Tones began, because then we started paying more attention to style,” he emphasizes the last word.”Both Josh and I went to singing. We changed it more to…” he pauses pensively, “almost alternative acid rock.”
Q: “How did it happen that they actually started The Static Tones without you? I mean, you were heading in that direction and…”
Dehlbom: “Right!” he nodes.
Q: “There is a sort of a gap. What happened?”
Dehlbom: “After the Black Friday the bassist quit to pursue more of the metal background, he joined the biggest metal band in the area. And Josh and I tried to start another band called ‘Wicked Monday’. But we couldn’t get people to play with us. It was a really weird, though good time for The Static Tones, because that was when I started playing more lead guitar and Josh had switched from the bass to guitar. He was more into the singing. And I…” Chris gives a dramatic pause and proceeds after a laugh, “…quit. In October of 2010 I quit because it wasn’t going anywhere. I tried to start another band with the girl I grew up with. And that wasn’t going anywhere, because those guys didn’t do anything at all. And then at the end of the year Josh asked the other two guys to be in the band with him. So they started what would become The Static Tones. Though at that time it was called 1880s which is a nearly ‘Star Wars’ reference. At that time I eventually quit the band I tried to start and joined back with them.”
Q: “That is a lot of quitting from your side.”
Dehlbom: “Yeah, and usually I’m not a quitter at all. When I quit playing music with Josh I got to the point ‘Screw music! It’s never going to work out.’ And I wasn’t really serious about the [new] band I started. I just wanted to play music. Then I went back to school for a while. But when The Static Tones started getting well, obviously I changed my mind about it. A lot of times what makes up the band is the guys, not necessarily the music. All of us have grown up together. We are extremely close. We are brothers pretty much.”
Q: “So it sounds like right now music takes the central place in your life?”
Dehlbom: “Definitely!” he replies thoughtfully.
Q: “How did the idea for the name ‘The Static Tones’ appear?”
Dehlbom beams with a cunning smile: “It was a joke. When we were getting ready to record our three songs demo in May, 2011, we had had the name 1880s for like 2 months. And 2 or 3 weeks before the record Ronnie eventually told them that he thought it was a stupid name. And I was like ‘Yes! Yes, it is!’” he laughs cheerfully. “ So the other two guys, they are brothers, said ‘Ok, whatever. Let’s come up with something’.
And we had to make a little recording for the recording artist just to know what our sound was like so he would know what to do with us. I had an iPad and I just recorded on my iPad. It sounded terrible. And I said ‘It sounds like a bunch of static with some tones in it.’ We all looked at each other and started laughing. We just named our band The Static Tones.” Chris gives a laugh, looking pleased and amused.
Q: “Do you know anything about the band of the same name ‘The Static Tones’ based in Ontario, CA?”
Dehlbom: “Oh, yes!” his voice sounds ironical at mentioning of this other band. “I mean, we didn’t know about that until August. They suck! Did you listen to their music?”
Q: “I heard one song on YouTube. If to trust the Internet they existed around 2009 and are not playing anymore.”
Dehlbom: “I saw them after the album came out, the first week of July. One person took it and put on YouTube. When I searched for The Static Tones I got one of our songs and all the rest were from the other band called just Static Tones. They didn’t have ‘the’ in their name. They had a girl singer, and she wasn’t very good, and the music wasn’t really good. At that point I was kind of annoyed because I thought we came out with the name that nobody else has thought of.”
Q: “Was it frustrating?”
Dehlbom: “Yeah. It was… it wasn’t that of a big deal since they sucked. If they were good, we probably would have changed our name.” Chris laughs lightheartedly.
Q: “Could you please describe the music making process in the band?”
Dehlbom turns to seriousness: “Well, the singer usually writes his own lyrics and usually has basic guitar parts. I think it is very important that he writes what he sings. It is usually not a finished product at all. At practice we jam with it and usually have a finished product within half an hour. We each put own individual income in it. I learned how to play the guitar with the classic rock’n’roll/blues background. So I usually do with my classic rock background. And the bassist brings very metal/scream background. Our base lines are very technical like in scream bands which I think makes it very interesting. And we usually say that Ronny, the drummer, is the one who takes all that crap and makes it work.” His eyes sparkle as he utters a giggle.
Q: “So from the origin of the idea how much time does it take to get a song ready for a show?”
Dehlbom: “It really depends on the song. There is a couple of songs which would be difficult to learn… We have a song called ‘Firecrackers’, one of our newer ones. It took us about a month or two to make it show ready, because it was really outside of our comfort zone. The bassist wrote every single part, even most of my parts. So it was really weird for us to learn something that was already predestined… Usually we come up with all our own parts which is a lot easier to play. Most songs we can get show ready in a week. We have a new song for the show tomorrow. And we just learned that last Tuesday.”
Q: “Interesting! What kind of song is that?”
Dehlbom: “It’s actually the continuing of our newest song which is called ‘Dr. Green’s monster machine’. Part I. This is Part II. It is all instrumental. It is only music,” he looks directly into my eyes with seriousness narrating about green monsters.
Q: “What emotions did you put into ‘Dr. Green’s monster machine?” I am intrigued.
Dehlbom: “The song is basically about people being fake in order to get rich, specifically talking about the pop-singer, Lady Gaga.”
Q: “As far as I know The Static Tones have entered this year’s Ernei Ball Battle of the Bands to struggle for the chance to play at 2012 Warped Tour. What would getting to play in Seattle at the Warped Tour mean for you?”
Dehlbom laughs: “It would be really helpful. We’re planning on going to Seattle a few times this year. We don’t have any dates set. That is going to be when we are done recording our album actually.”
Q: “Do you have places in mind where you are going to play in Seattle?”
Dehlbom: “No. It is too early for that. All we know that we want to make it in Seattle and we are hoping to do it in a nine-day long tour through the North-West and maybe upper CA.”
Q: “Could you tell me a little bit more about the plans for recording the album since we touched the topic?”
Dehlbom: “We are planning on doing a full-length album, I think with 11 songs in April. The guy by the name of Dawson Scholzis is going to be recording it. We are still working on finishing two songs for it.”
Q: “And when do you expect to release it?”
Dehlbom: “I have no idea about that. It’s just going to be whenever it’s done. Since he is not charging us hourly, we can work on the song as long as we want. We want it to be a really, really good sounding album,” his eyes shine. “So it could be two months, it could be two days, I don’t know.”
Q: “So, till the moment you are satisfied with the sounding?”
Q: “OK, thank you. When you record the album, how will it be distributed?”
Dehlbom: “We will just do it ourselves. Probably on iTunes. We will try to sell discs at shows. And also send them to record companies. Try to get noticed from that.” His face is full of determination when he talks about the album.
Q: “Can you tell me more about other aims the band currently sets?”
Dehlbom takes a long pause and continues looking thoughtfully into my eyes: “Well, 2012 is a big year for us, because our drummer graduates college in early 1213, and so he will have to move to go to school in Moscow. And we are hoping to get at least enough recognition so it is worthy for him to stick around and maybe do his schooling some other time. I don’t want to pressure him… I want him to do whatever he wants to do.” Chris is very serious now. “I feel he wants to do music… This year we need to make something like careerwise. So he has the chance to pursue it.”
Q: “Something worthy?”
Dehlbom: “Yeah. So we are going to be doing a lot of work this year, trying to keep him in the band.” He smiles.
Q: “I know that you also were a student in NIC. For how long did it last?”
Dehlbom: “I did it on and off. For like a year I think. I think I only have two and a half semesters completed.”
Q: “And when do you plan on coming back to school?”
Dehlbom: “That is to be determined,” the answers is accompanied by a cunning smile. “I plan on it, but I want to see how the music will be going right now while I’m young enough to do that. I can always go back to school. But I can’t always pursue music.”
Q: “Why is that?”
Dehlbom: “Because it’s kind of a young thing,” he explains earnestly. “It’s kind one of those things, when you look at musicians these days and they are always young. And usually they are about the same age as me. So I hope to make it by the time I am about 25. Anyway at that point, I will have to really think about life and what I need to do.”
Q: “Is it your current goal?”
Dehlbom: “It is my current goal.”
Q: “How do you feel about The Static Tones among other local bands?”
Dehlbom: “There are a lot of really good musicians around here. I’ve never noticed them until The Static Tones started playing with them. There are many, many musicians who are very, very talented. I would just say we are in the sea of musicians.” He pronounces the last words with a big deal of respect. “I would say we are more popular, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are better.”
Q: “What do you think is the main cause of your popularity?”
Dehlbom: “I would say that is because we are different. We are not metal, and we are not soft rock. We are somewhere in between. We have a different style than a lot of bands. And we appeal to more collage age people.”
Q: “What keeps the band going on? What is your biggest motivational factor?”
Dehlbom gives his answer easily and naturally: “We just really love what we are doing. We love our style and we love the lyrics and the writing. As for me, I like both of the things a lot. I think a lot of the music, as far as Josh does with it, is genius. I think it is very beautiful. And I have a lot of fun with it. And I am very passionate about what we are doing. I am sure it is the same with all the other members.” Chris’s lips curve into a smile as his eyes burn with passion and confidence.
Q: “So passion is the main factor?”
Dehlbom: “Passion! Definitely. We all really like it.”
Q: “Could you recall the funniest moment related to the band?”
Dehlbom takes a pause and then laughs: “Several things have happened… Josh, the singer, is an extremely funny guy. You would never know it on stage, because he is shy on stage. But during practice he does things freaking hilarious. He would change words in the middle of songs and make you laugh.”
Q: “Any recent examples?”
Dehlbom: “Yeah, on Monday we played a song called ‘Firecracker’ written by the bassist’s. It is about his girlfriend. The lyrics say something like ‘if I wasn't chivalrous and well- mannered in the matter I would expand upon what goes on in the bed’ and he changed it during the practice ‘ if I wasn't chivalrous and well- mannered in the matter I would expand my recipe for bread’ The practice stopped, because we were laughing so much.”
Q: “Is there anything you would like to add or tell your fans?”
Dehlbom: “Keep supporting us. Support is just by coming to the shows, or by tips. It doesn’t matter. Every little bit of support helps. It takes a community to make a band big. And thank you for all the support you had given.” There is gratitude in his eyes and voice as he says these words.
Q: “Ok, thank you! It was a great interview!”
Dehlbom laughs in return.