Chad Hollister comes from the "it's-all-I’ve-ever-done" school
of indie musicianship. He graduated from the University of Vermont and immediately
went full-time. That sense of unapologetic freedom comes through in his plain-spoken
and occasionally sardonic lyrics as well as the ebullience and resolute rock
in his compositional approach. "I’d like to get across to listeners
that they can do anything," he says.
By Barney Quick
Solo shows are his bread and butter, but he relishes dates with his band and
recording sessions with the wide variety of players he has met throughout his
career. It's all a matter of the type of venue that is booking him and what
kind of fee can be negotiated.
Planning his touring schedule also involves staying on top of when his bandmates
are available. "They all teach and have other gigs," he explains.
This has led to drawing on outside resources on occasion, such as when he used
drummer Dave Mattacks, an original member of the British folk-rock group Fairport
Convention (think 1968) on a recent show and some studio tracks. "We met
at a cocktail party," says Hollister.
He uses Mattacks and other musicians beyond the confines of his band on his
new, self-titled album. "This record was about doing what's right for the
song," he says, which meant some arrangements calling for instrumentation
he hadn't used before.
The producer for the record is Anthony J. Resta, who has worked with Collective
Soul, Shawn Mullins, Elton John and Duran Duran. "The whole thing about
Anthony is that he got me right away," Hollister says. "So many producers
come in and take over the project, saying, 'Here's what you're going to do.'"
Hollister liked Resta's style of giving "little suggestions, like holding
a bass note a little longer."
For any management activities beyond what he handles himself, Hollister maintains
an association with Eugene Foley. "He's an amazing guy," he says.
"He basically represents me to the press, and he does a lot of my legal
work. We did a radio push on Spirits (the most recent album by the Chad
He is basically his own manager, though. "I'm in this purgatory phase,
like a lot of indie acts," he observes. "Agencies don't want anything
to do with somebody making a grand a night." He says radio is a big component
of his marketing effort. "A Vermont station called Point FM has us in medium
rotation. WCLV in Portland, Maine is playing our cover of The Cars' 'My Best
Hollister experienced a shot of career recognition when he won the Billboard
Songwriting Contest in 2003. "We were on tour in Colorado," he recalls.
"I'd submitted songs to other contests, such as John Lennon, so I didn't
have big expectations. We'd had some bum shows. We were at a Quizno's in Kremmling,
Colorado and my manager at the time called and said, 'Are you sitting down?'
Interestingly, the song, 'Jesus, Bon Jovi and Tarzan,' won in the alt-rock category.
It bumped up the vibe on the rest of the tour. It definitely brought some people
He lives in the country in Vermont with his wife and kids. "A lot of people
have told me to move to L.A. or some such city, but I can do what I want to
do from this base of operations," he says. He plays a lot of private events
in nearby Marblehead, Massachusetts, where he has lots of family.
The stage is where he really sees everything his career is about come together.
"I feel so comfortable, like I'm in my living room," he says. He notes
that his gratitude for his success never falters, and that "the whole band
hits the stage with that appreciation."
He expects to see that in other acts as well: "I can tell when a performer
doesn't give a shit about being onstage. I've opened for Warren Haynes and Paul
Simon at various times. Guys like that have been onstage thousands of times
for decades, and they still get it. They appreciate every time they play for
"I get so angry when I see people who abuse their power in this business,
putting out stupid, vulgar messages," he says. "We're in such a position
of power. Artists should think about that."
Artist Website: http://www.chadmusic.com/