After earning considerable airplay in the UK, across Europe and in the USA in 2015, The Rising’s star has risen even further in the last few months. Having toured with Jess and The Bandits and racked up a considerable following on social media, they’ve put their all into their music, and it shows. Now, with work on their next album already underway and dreams of playing the Grand Ole Opry with Carrie Underwood (that’s a show I’d go and see!), Chris and Chantelle from the band took time out to chat songwriting inspiration, social media and upcoming shows.
PW: Please introduce yourselves.
The Rising: Hi, this is Chris Logan, guitarist, and Chantelle McAteer, vocalist, from The Rising.
PW: How would you describe yourselves and your music in a few words?
Our music is best described as country/rock, country/pop with a fusion of pop/rock and other genres thrown in.
PW: When did you realise you wanted to make music a career?
Music has always been a part of my life. I’ve always wanted it to be a part of who I am. I’m just always singing -- around the house, on the bus, in the car, basically everywhere. It’s always been there, and music was always going to be part of my future. I started writing songs and learning guitar when I was 10, and I just developed those skills over the years, and I’m now focused on making that my career.
CL: I grew up in a musical family; my dad was a singer/guitarist in bands from the 60/70s. The guitar was put into my hands at an early age, and I instantly became hooked, and I wanted to do nothing but learn all I could about the instrument. I was also obsessed with the family record collection and used to spend hours looking at the cover art and playing everything I could. I spent days in front of that record turntable listening to everything I could get my hands on -- everything from pop, rock, classical, country and everything in between. I really just fell in love with music, and, from an early age, I knew I wanted to be a musician, especially when I started writing my own songs. The minute I got the thrill of hearing a song come together, I wanted to keep writing more and more; it was like a drug. I can't imagine my life without music in it.
PW: Was there an album you bought or concert you attended that inspired you?
CL: My 'eureka' moment happened by accident. Basically, my folks’ record collection had many records without their outer sleeves and just the dust jackets. So one day I happened to lift one of these mystery records, and, from the very second the needle hit the record, my life changed. I had never heard anything like it before: the sound of the guitars, the vocals or the songwriting style. From that point onward, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The record in question was Queen, and the track was "Keep Yourself Alive". Since that moment, I became a fanatical Brian May and Queen fanatic!
CM: I’m a 90s kid, so I grew up during the Hannah Montana/Disney singers period, so, as a kid that’s all I wanted to be. For example, Demi Lovato was a huge inspiration for me personally. Being so young and getting bullied very badly for years was very hurtful and traumatic time for me, and Demi Lovato, at that time, had opened up about what she had been going through, and I related to her story. She encouraged me to always be myself and never give up on my dreams. Then, I heard Carrie Underwood on American Idol; she was my favourite, and she won, and that was when I decided I wanted to be like her and achieve as much success as she has.
PW: Which bands or artists influenced you growing up, and have those influences changed over the years?
CM: Well, Taylor Swift is a big one for me because she was writing and performing all her own songs, pouring her feelings into every lyric, so that showed me that I could do the same. Over the years, my influences haven’t really changed, but I have broadened my musical appreciation, so people like Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Kacey Musgraves influenced my songwriting style.
CL: I was brought up on country music like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, as well as the classics like Roy Orbison, John Denver and The Beatles by my folks. As time went on, I started to develop my own record collection, and tastes with artists like Eagles, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen, amongst many others, featured heavily. I was also a fanatical Queen fan and will be forever. None of those influences have changed for me; they all still continue to inspire me. However, I have added a few other modern artists to my major influences list. Artists like Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, First Aid Kit have all become major influences.
However, two modern artists have become the biggest influences and shape my songwriting. The first is Keith Urban, who I became obsessed with as soon as I heard his guitar playing way back when he was playing with The Ranch. The second artist is a band called Needtobreathe; their music hit me like a truck as soon as I heard one of their songs randomly. I immediately rushed out and bought all of their albums on CD and then on vinyl. I have since seen them live about four or five times -- basically, every time they come to the UK/Ireland. The storytelling nature of their songs, instrumentation they use and the sound they create live has given me something to look up to in modern music.
PW: Is there a band or artist you might say you're similar to?
CM: I like to think that we have a very unique sound as we integrate country with genres like rock and pop, but, on occasion, people have linked us to sounding like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum. They all fuse these elements in a similar way.
PW: Tell me about your new single "Last First Love". Is there a story behind it?
CM: Chris and I have mutual friends that are a couple. We happened to be out one night, and I was just intrigued about how they had been together since they’re teenagers and how they have lasted 15 years together. She was telling me their story of meeting in the same school, having a very big connection, and she said he was her first love. She continued on to say 'he’ll be my last', and that’s when it clicked ... we, then, wrote "Last First Love" on a napkin as a potential title for a song.
CL: The next day, we made a point of getting into the studio quickly to start writing the song while the idea was fresh. So we started throwing ideas down, tossing out lines and melodic ideas. Before we knew it, we had the bones of the song. We started recording the song that day, staying at it until late into the night. By the end of the day, we had pretty much recorded a full demo version of the song. The next step was to bring this to the rest of the guys to add in their ideas and parts to flesh out the song.
PW: How did you come up with the concept for the video, and is being creative in that way something you enjoy?
CL: I'm obsessed with film, photography and art, so I take the whole visual side of the band very seriously -- from how we represent ourselves as a brand, to look/style and how that all ties together, so, when it comes time to do a music video, I tend to get very fussy with how it looks and the story contained within the video. However, we are all the same in the band. So, when it was announced that we had to shoot a music video, we knew off-the-bat that we didn’t want to shoot a straight up performance video because these can be very boring to watch and everyone does that type of video. But, at the same time, we are a band, and everyone expects to see the band. The challenge is finding new ways to show it.
CM: So we came up with the idea playing with the theme of ‘last first love’ and everything that means. We decided to tell the story of several different couples and the various different stages of their relationships. We, then, added the element of seeing all these different storylines unfold around a central couple. In order to tie in the performance aspect of the video, I played the part of the central couple. So the video starts off with me sitting in my bedroom writing the song, which leads to performing it with the rest band. The central couple, then, end up at a cinema watching the live performance with all the other couples playing out their stories in the same cinema.
PW: Who or what most inspires your songwriting?
CM: Personal experiences are a big one for me, but also seeing different situations my friends and family get into. I also love making up little stories and writing poetry, so that can also inspire a song every so often.
CL: Like Chantelle, personal experiences and people-watching are a big one for me. But I also like to keep an eye on newspapers, the news and generally what’s happening in the world. Inspiration can really come from anywhere: even talking to someone and they happen to come up with an interesting phrase; this could turn into a title which can be developed into a song. The studio is another useful tool to write. It could be a drum loop or an interesting musical idea that leads into a song. Sometimes, these ideas can sit around for ages before an idea attaches itself to them.
PW: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
CL: Always an impossible question, especially for me. I consider so many songs masterpieces. But I was to pick just one it would be: Roy Orbison – “In Dreams”, the 1963 version. Again, this is a song that I grew up listening to due to the fact that it was always being played around the house. As I got more appreciation for the finer points of music, I began to understand what a powerful piece of songwriting it is: An operatic ballad of lost love that is sung by a master of the trade, a truly haunting vocal that gives me goosebumps every time.
I love how, like many of Orbison's songs, it rejects the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus structure and completely turns it on its head. In comparison, the standard form of pop songs are usually AABA — where A represents a standard verse, and B represents a variation, usually referred to as the bridge. "In Dreams", with each variation, can be represented as Intro-A-B-C-D-E-F, giving the listener the feel of falling asleep and becoming immersed in an elusive fantasy. At the time, this must’ve been a real revolution, and it was certainly something that caught my attention.
PW: What are your upcoming performance plans, and is there an album/EP in the works?
CL: We are just finishing work on our second album, called Moving On at the moment. We are super excited about this new album since it’s the first with the new line-up, and we feel we have grown so much as writers. It’s a whole new chapter for the band. We expect it to be released toward the end of this year, so keep an eye on our website and socials for updates.
We are also in the process of planning a UK/Ireland tour around Oct/Nov -- just working out the fine print details at the moment. However, we are launching our brand new single with a special single launch in our hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It will take place in The Empire Music Hall on 6th Oct. The venue is legendary in Belfast because it hosted so many legendary bands and also because of the fact it’s a pretty unique venue that’s been shaped from an old church with a Vaudeville vibe.
PW: If you could share a stage with three other bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would they be and where would you play?
CL: Queen -- with Freddie Mercury -- at Wembley Stadium.
CL and CM: Taylor Swift at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville.
CM: Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media, and would you agree it's a vital tool for bands and artists today?
CM: Social media is a vital tool for bands today. It allows fans to connect with their idols and favourite bands and artists. I’m very keen on using social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to connect with our fans because it give us the opportunity to get to know them and allows us to share our lives with them and let them know we care and are very thankful that they are supporting us in our journey.
PW: Do you think you'd have the support you do without it?
CM: I believe there would be some description of support; however, social media reaches people all around the world and has helped us gain followers, supporters and fans of our music. For example, TheBoot.com premiered our "Last First Love" music video, which has since gone on to gain over 24K views in under four days, and is based in the UK, and we probably would not have been able to attract their attention without the use of social media. Another example, YouTube, is a global social networking site, and it allows people from all over the world to listen to their favourite music, see new music videos and even get lessons/tutorials on any musical instrument they wish to take up. I don’t believe we would have the support that we have today without the use of social media.
PW: What else does the rest of the year have in store for you?
CL: We are pretty much locked in the studio at the moment, finishing off work on our next album. But, we can’t wait to escape and play some live dates. So the remains of this year is pretty much finish the album, get out on tour across the UK/Ireland and generally get as many people as possible to hear our music.
PW: Finally, then, what's your ultimate ambition as a band, and, with that in mind, whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
CM: My dream is to play for millions of people all around the world and make them connect, feel emotion, dance and be happy when they hear the music we are producing.
CL: Obviously, every musician dreams of the whole sold out arena tour with an album killing the charts. But with the way the music industry is these days, you are forced to really graft hard to create a career for yourself. So my ambition as an artist would be to be successful enough to make a full time living out of being a musician and still be releasing albums and touring in 20/30 years’ time.
A career I would like to emulate would be Bruce Springsteen. F
irstly, he is still at the top the tree after decades in the music industry and still as relevant as an artist as he ever was, perhaps more so. Secondly, the fact that he is still touring arenas, playing nearly four hour shows when he’s nearly 70 -- I find that so inspiring. I read in an interview where he said that he older he gets, the more it means to him. This quotation really struck me and shows he still has an undying love and passion for music, and this is something I think gets lost today. Too many people are becoming singers to “be famous”; there’s not many proper artists anymore. So, when you find one, especially someone who still believes in it as strongly at 70 as they did at 17, it is so inspiring and something I want to emulate.