On Saturday September 2nd, I headed to downtown Annapolis to see a matinee show with Christian Lopez who opened up for Sister Hazel at Rams Head On Stage. I was able to watch the concert and then meet with him at 49 West , a perfect coffee shop and restaurant to conduct our interview.
Christian Lopez is a Martinsburg, WV native who now lives in Nashville, TN and has devoted his life to music. He is a singer/songwriter who is poised and ready to release his new album “Red Arrow” on September 22nd with Blaster Records.
I was seated at a table with a very nice couple that knew Christian very well. They love his music and have followed him for quite some time. They shared how much of an amazing talent he is and the kindest and most humble person in the world. There was a terrific crowd for the matinee show.
Christian took the stage with his coffee in hand from his stroll through downtown Annapolis prior to the show. He introduced himself and explained how much he loved the area. It was from that moment on that he started to win over a crowd that was there primarily to see Sister Hazel. He picked up his acoustic guitar, walked to the mic stand and began playing. The best way to describe Christian’s performance is that every song that he played made you feel like you were a part of it and the story that he was telling. One of my favorite moments that evening was when he took out the harmonica and made it talk. His vocals were so pure and talented. He played heartfelt ballads as well as some up-tempo feel good tunes. At one point, I had to tell myself, wow it is just him playing and not a guitarist accompanying him. He is also a true musician on the strings. After every song the applause grew louder and louder. I guarantee everyone walked out of this show knowing who Christian Lopez was and wanted to purchase his music. He truly was born for an acoustic set.
A very touching moment was when Christian talked about the song “Steel on the Water” He told us a story about how after his 21st birthday he went to Pearl Harbor and boarded a vessel to perform for the troops. He met so many people his own age and realized the sacrifice they were making as well as the pride each had for their country. As he started playing the song it truly painted a picture for me. We were blocks from the Naval Academy where our service men and women sacrifice so much for our freedom. It was such an amazing moment. I truly recommend listening to this song as it will pull at your heartstrings.
He began playing his last song and was almost finished when one of his strings snapped on his acoustic. Like a pro, he stopped and said “Well, this is a first. Don’t worry we will get through it!” He even joked about not having a guitar tech with him on this road trip. At that moment, he was given Drew’s guitar from Sister Hazel. He then treated us to another song to close out the set. Christian is releasing his album Red Arrow on September 22nd and I highly recommend pre-ordering it now. I promise you everyone will know the name Christian Lopez very soon!
We then walked down to 49 West and had a bite to eat while discussing his career thus far. The food and atmosphere was incredible! I hope you enjoy!
B Chord – So Christian, Rolling Stone names you as one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know” how does that make you feel?
Christian Lopez – You know, when I saw that and I had got a heads up a couple days before it came out I thought, every day in this world of music you are trying to get to that next small goal. Pieces of press and good shows that happen to the one bigger goal. When something comes out like Rolling Stone, it kind of helps you put into perspective what you have done, where you have come and it is validating. It is a great reminder and motivator to keep going and be proud of what you have done. It is an amazing feeling. The thing that I love about it the most is validating feeling of all the hard work you put in.
B Chord – “Red Arrow” your new album has a release date of September 22nd. Tell us a little about the project and the feel of the music.
Christian Lopez – I stated pre production for the album last October. It has been a long time. I started working with my producer Marshall Altman. The 2 years after my first album “Onward” came out I had 40 or 50 songs I wanted to consider but I knew the record needed to flow as not only, one piece of art but also a narrative of its own. So song production is a big thing and pre-production that’s what you hash out. You figure out what songs your going to choose and how you’re going to record them in sequencing. Overall vibe of the album as one piece and that is what I worked on for half a year to a year with Marshall. Then we went into the studio for 5 or 6 months to record it. But it was extremely thorough unlike my last album. Part of getting the magic on the last album was moving fast. But I really wanted to take things slow this time and we did. I feel like I gave this album “Red Arrow” everything that I had and it is a line in my song “Swim The River”. The final verse it says “I’m not good at aiming but I am taking every shot pointing my red arrow at your heart”. Basically that is symbolizing I am giving all I have, everything that is me, I am throwing it in to this situation. I am putting all my eggs in one basket and we will see what happens. I’m taking that shot. Sometimes doubt gets in the way and failure and sometimes you just need to do it. It represents this whole record and my 5 years being on the road working with this label at my age. It is where I am in my life.
B Chord – We watched the video for “Don’t Wanna Say Goodnight” on CMT and it is fantastic. Can you tell us where you filmed it and the process behind it?
Christian Lopez – We filmed it with Steve Condon and he is just awesome. The whole video was filmed in East Nashville but the main party scene is at a store called Old Made Good, awesome place. It is a thrift shop in town and we made it look like this cool old living room with a house party. We went to a laundry mat literally right next door to shoot those scenes. We took a mid 60’s Lesabre but that was a total car rental. I took that down the Percy Priest and that is where I jump off that cliff into the water. We then went to a bowling alley on the south side and shot that too. It was just all random places throughout Nashville. We tried to stick to the outskirts and I think it turned out great. It took us a couple days and then came back to shoot a few more scenes. Cece Hetrick is the girl in the video. She is actually a musician and also does some video work as well. A lot of my friends are the extras in the video and all the dance scenes were professional dancers. The people that dance really good weren’t my friends (said with a laugh). It was wonderful.
B Chord – You worked with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb on your last album. Many know him because of his connection with Chris Stapleton. Tell us a little about Dave and working with him.
Christian Lopez – Dave is amazing. I remember when Dave told me about Chris Stapleton for the first time. I didn’t know who he was. He told me “I just got hired to make this record for Stapleton” and we listen to the album in the studio when he was making “Onward” we had just finished it. We all were there listening, crying when we heard “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore”. It is crazy to have gone from there to then seeing Stapleton absolutely rule the world. Dave works in a very interesting way, which I think is a beautiful way of capturing the magic. His thing is taking first reactions and I felt it was a great way to make my first record. It was a lot of who I was as a kid but also my live show. Every day you learn what to do and what not to do. I learned from Dave that I need to trust myself and trust my gut. My gut feeling after working with Dave was do a record where I could really dive into it and take my time and be thorough. Working with Dave was amazing and I am glad I have the opportunity to try different things with other producers as well.
B Chord – How are you feeling leading up to the release of “Red Arrow” on September 22nd?
Christian Lopez – You know I am so excited. I wasn’t as involved on my first album. It moved very fast and I trusted in everyone that they were taking care of everything. This time I am involved in every step. I am on the phone at least once day asking how is everything, where are we. I really wanted to be hands on and involved in the process more. We are playing a show in my home town of Martinsburg, WV. the day after it comes out at the Shenandoah Hotel. See the problem with West Virginia is we do not have many concert venues. So a lot of the time we need to find the spot and make it. We contact the hotel and we will have the whole downstairs set up for the show. It is going to be great. I haven’t played there since my first album came out. I always try to bring those big milestones to my hometown. I am very excited and truly looking forward to it.
B Chord – I love the song “Swim The River”. It is very American and country routed. Did you write that song and where did you get the idea?
Christian Lopez – Well thank you so much for saying that. I co-wrote that song with my buddy Jordan Lawhead in Nashville. I remember I went over to his place and we were sitting on the deck. He was smoking weed out of an apple. I did not partake in the smoking but I will say I ate the apple after. We were just sitting around picking and the idea came out and the song was born.
B Chord – Favorite song to play live?
Christian Lopez – Hmm that is a really good question. You have me going through my albums and sets. I would have to say it is “Steel on the Water” That song is so heartfelt and has such a special meaning. When I wrote that song after the trip, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t offend anyone in the process. It made me realize that there are kids my age out there risking it all. I wanted to honor them with that song. It was so cool to play that today in Annapolis.
B Chord – We have a signature question that we ask at every interview. You are stranded on an island and you can only have one guitar with you. What would it be?
Christian Lopez – Oh well that is easy. It would be my broken string Fairbuilt I played today (making both of us chuckle). I love that guitar. It was built by Marty Fair just for me. So that is the only one like and it is mine. I really like that question.
I would like to thank Christian again for his time that he spent with us. He lived up to the hype and I have to say he is one of the most humble, kind and well rounded individuals I have met. I know he has some pretty amazing things coming his way.
Please check out the links below for Christian Lopez’s music, website and social media.
Website – http://christianlopezmusic.com/
Rolling Stone Article – http://www.rollingstone.com/country/lists/10-new-country-artists-you-need-to-know-july-2017-w491510/christian-lopez-w491513
“Don’t Wanna Say Goodnight” Video – http://www.cmt.com/videos/christian-lopez/1732031/dont-wanna-say-goodnight.jhtml
Shenandoah Hotel Release Party “Red Arrow” tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3044133
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Clopezmusic/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clopezmusic/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Clopezmusic
Spotify – https://play.spotify.com/artist/1znIH6fNMWar92jiLLW1Eo
Photo by Robby Klein