“I’m a serial collaborator,” says Christopher Leyva of Blizzard and Revolution 89. In addition to his band projects, Leyva has collaborated with Greg Laswell, Phil Solem (the Rembrandts), Steve Poltz, members of Louis XIV, producer Steve Russell (P.O.D.), and Chris Reynolds of Red Flag.
“I went all over the U.S.A. to record my latest solo album,” says Leyva. “From Dallas, Texas, to New York City…and Mexico City, where Erykah Badu’s husband played keys on one song. He was just picking up some demo at the studio and asked if he could lay down some keys!”
He singles out Dallas as the most challenging (and most fun) locale in which to record. “It was a tiny little studio, and we used nothing but one mike and our own creativity, from beating a metal rod to beating a washing machine. And recording the studio shower to make rain sounds.”
Chris Leyva’s latest solo album is SDMA-nominated this year for Best Local Recording, his second award nod in two years. He appears Saturday, September 5, at the House of Blues.
DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC…
“A mix of pop, singer-songwriting, and heartfelt lyrics. Think Paul McCartney meets Ryan Adams. But not Ryan Adams country, just a sprinkle of country.”
WHY SO MUCH ’80s GLAM ON YOUR NEW ALBUM?
“That would be from hooking up with Chris Reynolds, whose [local] ’80s band Red Flag was a big electro-jam act. We had talked for a long time, but I just never saw a fit until recently. I’m mostly known for singer-songwriter rock, but somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to stand out so I wouldn’t become just another Steve Poltz or Greg Laswell or Jason Mraz — all of whom are great, but I was ready to do a little ’80s-style dance electropop. So I found Reynolds’s number and called him…I first thought I was gonna have to go to Europe or Thailand to track with him, but then I found out he had already moved back to San Diego.”
HOW DID NYC INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
“I wanted some songs to feel like a walk in Central Park or falling in love in the East Village or a train ride to Central Square. I think the music scene there is so vast that you don’t even know where to begin, but everyone is happy to share what they’re up to and help you.”
AND THE MEXICO SESSIONS?
“Well, that’s where I’m from, and I had a Latin song, so I went with a Latin band I know down there. I think the locale definitely ‘authenticated’ the song. Mexico’s music scene is such a smart scene — they are very educated and the musicians truly appreciate art and the beauty of it all. They’re very conscious of the history, and there’s lots of orgullo — pride — over the roots of their music.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1. The Rembrandts. “It never gets old. ’90s production was the cleanest.”
2. Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. “You need your whiskey for this one.”
3. Backbeat, soundtrack. “It has Dave Grohl, Greg Dully, the bass player of R.E.M. — gotta have the classics. The album features a bunch of fast-paced three-chord rock ’n’ roll from the ’50s that the Beatles covered in their early days but updated to sound modern.”
4. Butch Walker, Letters. “Best songwriter and vocalist ever.”
5. Ryan Adams, Gold. “Truth-in-writing has never felt so pure and unrehearsed like it feels on this good old record. All the lyrics are smart and simple to follow.”
“I think I’m gonna take up Ben Moore [the Styletones] on his offer to get into the studio with him and finally do a record with him.”
GOLDEN TURKEY BAD-MOVIE AWARD?
“The Crying Game. It teaches you to rethink kissing girls while under the influence.”
FAVORITE VIDEO GAME?
“I like shoot-the-zombie ones.”
MAC OR PC?
“My Mac is my personal fun assistant. My PC assistant always got bugs and was very outdated. My Mac is so sexy, I can’t stop touching her keys.”
BEST THING YOU’VE EVER WON?
“I always lose; hence, I’m a songwriter. If I ever did win something, I’d be in danger of ending up like a Jonas brother or somebody else on Disney [Channel], singing about the happy Sunday I just had and how I got a cool toy with my Happy Meal.”
FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?
“The Little Prince.”
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?
“I love cooking.”