Ezy Reading:
The Cud Interview- An Overnight Low
Evan Kanarakis


Over the past few years, Maine songwriter Chad Walls earned his Doctorate in Education at the University of Manchester. The grind of seemingly ceaseless travel back and forth between the United Kingdom and his native United States was surely exhausting, but it also afforded Chad the opportunity for plenty of reflection. The sum result of all that contemplation was several songs, the formation of a band -An Overnight Low- and the album 'Euston', released this January.

Recently The Cud sat down with Chad to discuss his band and new album, the journey that led to 'Euston', and what lies ahead.


THE CUD: Tell us a little about how this entire project came to be. It sounds like it was an entirely unplanned album -and band, for that matter. What led you to An Overnight Low and 'Euston'? And why not make this simply a solo project?

CHAD WALLS: I moved to the UK completely unprepared for the pressures of completing a doctorate. The university warned before I arrived that I would be conducting endless hours of research most days, but I believed my Yankee work ethic would pull me through. They were right... I would deal with these often unbearable weights by hiding in my headphones on long, long train rides. There was something about hearing the British records from my youth in context that really inspired me. Songwriting came easier to me there. It occurred to me that perhaps I had been conducting research in my childhood when I listened to The Beatles, XTC, Elvis Costello, etc... And there I was.

THE CUD: Do you find that you're always writing, no matter where you are and what the circumstances? What about the experiences surrounding your Doctorate studies made this work feel more meaningful or even 'worthy' as compared to previous compositions you may have written in your travels and then set aside?

WALLS: I picture completed records. I think about what they might be about, how they might sound and what they might look like, etc. Then I deconstruct the record into chapters and then the chapters into songs. I had to approach my thesis in the same way, so maybe that's the connection. For instance, ‘Euston’ is the first of three records. In July we'll release ‘Piccadilly’ and in December we'll release ‘Waverley’.

THE CUD: What of your musical influences? Were the songs on the new album influenced by both American and U.K styles, or were they more directly a product of the experiences and places you encountered in your travels?

WALLS: This is going to sound crazy, but I was inspired by the gray dampness of Mancunian winters. I have synesthesia and so I associate musical notes, letters, numbers, days of the week, months, etc... with colors. When I'm surrounded by too much color, I get distracted. There was something about stone buildings fading into gray skies and quiet, dimly lit pubs that put my mind at ease. I would listen to local accents and expressions and these would often inspire a song. For instance, I remember one time I overheard two older men from Liverpool teasing each other at a pub called The Pig on the Wall. One man claimed he could still fit into the pants he wore in his tweties and he proceeded to his flat across the road to get them. The bartender said, "You won't bring them 40-year-old mingin' things in here". That inspired a song... not the mingin' jeans, the camaraderie.

THE CUD: Tell us about the recording of the album. Did you bring more songs to the process than you knew you'd need, or were some tunes still being written during recording? It was quite an elongated recording process anyway, right? How much time lapsed between the recording of your first song to the end of the album?

WALLS: I write the lyrics, melody and chords. I take these to Chris and Mac (Chad’s bandmates, Chris White and Mac Coldwell) and we work the songs out acoustically. When the songs are half-baked, we book studio time. We bring in other musicians from the area and just let the song decide what it's going to be. I'm always pleasantly surprised. ‘Euston’ took a long time to record because we did it in fits and bursts. I like recording this way because a cohesive sound usually starts to develop over the course of a few sessions. This process also has its limitations. It took us two years to finish.

THE CUD: Much of the album really does feel like a travelogue, of sorts. I imagine, as with a diary, if you hadn't penned some of these songs, the memories would have no doubt dissipated… Which song lingers for you in perhaps holding the most vivid memory of an experience from the past few years? Why is it that 'the road' seems to lend itself so perfectly to songwriting? Movement as opposed to stasis breeds interest I suppose, no?

WALLS: I wrote ‘London’ when I realized that on old friendship in America had run its course. One of the last things this friend said to me before I left for Manchester was, "Have a safe journey back to London". That really hit a nerve. When I returned to Manchester and told my friends about this and how it made me feel, they made me an honorary Northerner. I wrote "London" on a train ride from Piccadilly to Waverly. In fact, I think I wrote most of the songs for ‘Piccadilly’ on that route. There is something about trains that really commands my attention. I think it's because the anxieties that come along with self-doubt are removed when you're on a train. You can't turn back. Once the train is moving, you have no choice but to complete your journey. I treat An Overnight Low the same way.

THE CUD: You've said elsewhere that it wasn't your intention that 'Euston' necessarily wind up being performed live. What changed that?

WALLS: I'm doing most of the publicity for this record, so it's easy to assume that An Overnight Low is a solo effort. Playing live can generate motivation and also allow us to workshop songs before we enter the studio. More importantly, it gives folks the opportunity to hear the individual talents of each band member.

THE CUD: So with that in mind what are your plans for the album– and what can we expect next from you and An Overnight Low?

WALLS: I'm off to the UK in a few weeks to do some publicity for "Euston" and we have a CD release party planned before I depart. I think Mac and Chris might play some acoustic shows while I'm away. I hope to get the final draft of ‘Piccadilly; completed while en route. Then it's back to the drawing board... You see, once you get on the train, you have no choice but to complete your journey.


‘Euston’ can be ordered online through Bull Moose Music: http://www.bullmoose.com/p/16084260/an-overnight-low-euston-local