10Qs with Chad Walls of An Overnight Low

Chad Walls is a member of An Overnight Low and formerly of the disbanded The Frotus Caper.   An Overnight Low plan to release a series of records starting in January 2014, each of which will be named after a UK train station. “Euston” will be released in January, “Piccadilly” in June, and “Waverley” in December.  The material for the album was inspired by Walls’ time spent living and traveling in the UK, Ireland, and Europe while studying at the University of Manchester.  To record the series, Walls enlisted the help of a number of Maine musicians and engineers (Mac Coldwell, Jonathan Wyman, Mark Rohman, Ryan Dolan, Chris White, Holly Nunan, Joe Boucher, John Nunan, and Steve Hodgkin).  The band will play The Thirsty Pig on September 29th, 2013.

Chad Liverpool
Chad in Liverpool

Where were you born?
Biddeford, Maine

What brought you to Portland?
I was founder and sole member of the Biddeford music scene.  It was time to move on.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m an instructor at Southern Maine Community College.

What was your most memorable gig?
The Frotus Caper played a lot of shows.  A lack of moderation eventually burned us out.  I remember at one particular gig we decided to play our original music in one continuous three-hour set.  I don’t know what point we were trying to make by doing this, because I’m sure no one noticed and we all got really sick from working up a sweat on stage and loading out in the dead of winter.  But man, you should have heard us.  Playing one song that night was worth a year of rehearsing.

What was your worst gig?
I caught this horrible cold once from playing a continuous three-hour set in the dead of winter.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  The band broke up soon after.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
I have a terrible singing voice so it’s inevitable that whenever I write a song, it will go through a number of interpretations before it’s committed to tape.  I often bring lyrics and chord changes to a project and encourage my band mates to participate in the writing process.  I’m pleased when folks say they can hear that camaraderie in our music.  I hear that on R.E.M. records, especially Life’s Rich Pageant and New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My plastic ukulele.  I write and demo songs with it.  It sounds cheap and never stays in tune so I’m seldom hopeful or excited about the noise it makes. My ukulele and I don’t sing very well, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever be bullied by the sound of a song in its initial stage.

 Any advice for a musician starting out?
Write and demo one song a week.  Write a song about your commute to work.  Write a song about holiday shopping.  Write a song about a childhood memory.  Sing and accompany these into a digital recorder.  Compile, review, erase and revise.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
An Overnight Low is based on an experience I had when I was delayed at Heathrow airport for nine hours and was facing another six on my overnight flight home for Christmas. I pulled out the pictures, videos, interviews I collected over the past year while studying at The University of Manchester.  Over several cups of Costa coffee, I organized these scattered items in folders on my laptop while waiting for my flight.  The year of distance provided an objectivity allowing me to stitch together unrelated moments into common themes.  The collected events spoke with a new voice creating new stories. That’s what our first record Euston is all about.

 What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I’ve got to come clean about something.  I’ve always been jealous of my friends who spent their formative years listing to the right bands/artists:  The Beatles, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, T. Rex, Joe Jackson, Neil Young, etc.  I did own a copy of Magical Mystery Tour, but I was more inclined to listen to Double Platinum by KISS after a hard day in the 4th grade.   So this is essentially a revised answer to Q6.

Stephen Quirk

Prior to landing his dream job at Automattic, Stephen served as Associate Director of a Boston-based non-profit overseeing the organization's technology, visual design, social networking, and event planning. For twelve years, he worked in the Technology Department at his alma mater, Maine College or Art.

Additionally, Stephen has exhibited his photography in Portland, Maine, Boston, and California. He lives just outside of Portland with his wife, Megan, and daughter, Kate.