In this exclusive Q & A with Review Fix, Chris Wyse, the Bassist from The Cult, discusses his side project, Owl. A vastly different band from The Cult, Wyse discusses Owl’s new album and what makes them a special band.
During his career, Wyse has played with rock legends Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, Jerry Cantrell and Scott Weiland.
Review Fix: What can fans expect from this new album?
Chris Wyse: “The Right Thing” is the product of us guys in Owl being honest and growing together. It is a record with lots of experimental music mixed with catchy edgy songs. There are great moments captured in the studio that none of us expected. The whole sound of the band and the vibe has become a thing unto itself. There could be a bowline from my upright bass leading a song off or a drum solo leading. Our guitarist Jason showcases some piano as well as ripping on guitar and we added bagpipes to a song. We do all this still with the song as the focus.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite track on the new album? What was the creative process behind it?
Wyse: “Give” is a standout for me. There is just the right amount of emotional feeling in it. It is vaguely about a person who has already done so much and feeling worn and a little broken. The spirit of the old couple in the grocery store still trucking along and not whining. It feels like an anthem for the silent struggler who people seem to take for granted. I only did a couple vocal passes on this one once I had the lyric dialed and I remember this feeling when listening back and saying “Oh man people are going to cry when they hear this.” It perfectly captured the mood.
Review Fix: In your opinion, what makes Owl a special band?
Wyse: We take chances on things and it raises eyebrows. Playing upright bass is an obvious thing that sets us apart as a rock band. The songs are very catchy and with one listen you can sing it right back. We also have complex music that unveils new things on every listen. We write and utilize techniques and sounds that are off the beaten path. There are songs that are so heavy it skips the metal and goes hardcore, while in the same breath we can have something very pretty. There is always an undertone of mystery with Owl. We don’t want to safely fit into any one genre.
Review Fix: What can you do in Owl that you can’t do in The Cult?
Wyse: Owl is a progressive trio with me on lead vocals and sometimes I play an upright bass and a bow where we let the bass do lots of melody parts. In The Cult I play bass guitar with a pick more. Also, you must honor songs from The Cult’s canon that fans love and want to hear over the years. When it came to the new albums with The Cult, Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy were pretty great about letting me fly on bass, so I feel quite expressive in The Cult as well. The bands offer two very cool, different experiences.
Review Fix: Why did you decide to cover The Kinks? What was the story behind the decision?
Wyse: Our drummer Dan loves The Kinks and really pushed for us to cover “Destroyer.” I was pleasantly surprised and ended up loving the way the track came out. It’s the first song on the record because it just really pops. The way the song turned out, it sounds like it could actually be an Owl original.
Review Fix: You’re proud of the band in the studio and that’s important, but what’s the band like live?
Wyse: Owl live is even more raw and emotive. We sweat hard and hit you like a ton of bricks. We are good at holding the crowd with dynamics and mood. We take you on a journey.
Review Fix: During your career, you’ve played Bass with Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, Jerry Cantrell and Scott Weiland among a few, is there someone on your bucket list you haven’t played with yet?
Wyse: I’d love to play with Snoop, Jack White, Dave Grohl and Bobby McFerrin.
Review Fix: What are your long-term goals on this project?
Wyse: I see Owl over the next ten years morphing into a real touring band. We already have ideas kicking around for other albums, and I’m always writing and jamming with Jason and Dan. We would like to tour behind “The Right Thing” all over the U.S., Europe, South America and beyond.