Chadwick Stokes

We had the pleasure to meet Chadwick Stokes from State Radio and Dispatch on Friday. He’s just finished his living room tour, and had some time for us when he played the second last show in Munich.

How did the idea with those living room gigs come up?
I think because we wanted to try out the new songs in front of people, but in a casual way. It was a new way of touring which we heard a few bands doing it, and yeah I’ve done a lot of the other kind of touring, so we thought ‘Oh let’s try doing it just acoustic in living rooms and see how it goes’.

Are there any artists who influence your work a lot?
In general, I woud say Cat Stevens, Rage Against The Machine, Led Zeppelin..

Have you got a favourite place to write your music?
There is an island of the coast of Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard, it’s nice to be there. You know, the water, on an island, there is just a different feeling to it.

Mike left State Radio last year, is that the end of State Radio now, or are you looking out for a new drummer to continue with?
Yeah we’re looking for another drummer, but I’ll probably do the solo stuff for a while, then Dispatch and then do State Radio again.
So we’re still a little bit away from State Radio’s next record.

You are writing songs for State Radio, Dispatch, your solo stuff.. How do you manage to accommodate that number of things?You mean how do I separate and write songs for all three?
Well when I write I try to not think about anything. And when the song developed a little bit, then I’m like ‘Oh that might work for this or that’.

Which artists shouldn’t be missed at your personal soundtrack of your life?
If I had that, Joni Mitchell, like some of her songs I had listen to hunderd of times and never get sick of..

Can you also relate to her lyrics?
Yeah well she writes about travelling, California and Canada you know, places she’s been to and I like her story telling..
And then this kinda political side of things like listening to Bob Dylan’s more political songs.
That’s why I also love Rage Against The Machine so much, and yeah some more political songs.
Anything that combines music and political things, I really like that.
I also like Regina Spektor a lot. She’s a singer/songwriter and plays piano. I’ve been listening to her at lot recently, because when my little boy goes to bad every night, I put her on.
She is wonderful.
To get back to the question, it would be a lot of 70s rock, The Clash, then kinda skip the 80s haha, then at the 90s, Nirvana, Soundgarden Rage Against The Machine, into recently.
From the new stuff it would probably be some of the Tame Impala stuff which came out recently, that’s really cool.

What was your favourite song to to write? And what was the story behind it?
I think it was ‘All My Possessions’, about Troy David. It’s about Troy being in prison and dreaming about being outside of prison. He was on death row for 20 years and then got executed, it was so sad. I got to know him a little bit, talked to him on the phone a couple of times and its just a thought of his personal struggle and also a bigger struggle of the death penalty in the US and why is it still there and why are we killing people that could be innocent?
Kind of like Camilo, a singular story which is a bigger implication, but I just have personal connections with those two. They mean a lot to me. When I sing that song it means a lot to me and it’s a way to kinda connect with Troy and say hello to him.
And how do you choose about which things you want to write? Like do you watch the news and think ‘Oh ok this is something I wanna do’
(Joking) Yeah I sit in front of the news with pen a paper, haha!

Haha, yeah well I mean are there like any special social problems in the US or certain topics you’re fond of and you’re following and then think yeah I wanna get that message out?I think some of it is my own experience, when I travel, and yeah somehow it’s from the news but then we get deeper and make these personal connections.
And yes, the death penalty is a big thing. Also gender equality, womens rights, trying to stop violence against women, that’s been on our table last few years.
And then we’re working with Oxfam, to send over these winter packages of clothes. When a crises gets so huge, that it’s kinda undeniable, but we feel like it’s in the shadow in the media in the states, it feels like this is a place where we can try to make a difference.

To get back to the topic bands and influences, are there any artists you’d like to work with?
I’d like to do a rock opera, where some of my friends play the actors and sing.

And what story would you tell with that?
Probably a story about gown up kids, like 19 or 20 years old, who run away from home and dont know where to go, and dont know what to do with their life anymore. They are all running from differnt things.
Like one of them is gay and his parents don’t accept that, one just came back from war and dont know where to go.
And then they get into trouble, and they really have to run away, from the police this time.

And do they have to face their problems in the end?
Well I hope that from those adventures they have together, they get knew knowledge and wisdom so they can get back to their original problems.

And the last one, which advice would you give to young musicians?
I’d say play as much as you can, give your music away for free, make a few nice recordings like 3 or 4, and then just give it away. Then get in coffe shops and play, play where e
ver you can, pizza shops, on the street, at your friend’s party, just play.