Band of the Week: Robbie Christmas

The Seattle singer-songwriter plays with PNW soul.
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"Every song I wrote sounds like it was written in the Northwest," Robbie Christmas says.

With so much happening in Seattle's bustling music scene these days, how do you even know where to start? Allow the highly trained culture curators of Seattlemag.com to help with Band of the Week. This week, catch up with Robbie Christmas, a singer-songwriter oozing Northwest soul. His latest release When I Finally Get Myself Together dropped March 31. Find it on Apple Music, Amazon or Spotify and catch Christmas every Friday at Village Wines from 7:30-10 p.m. and at Willows Lodge from 6-9:30 p.m. Saturdays.

In three sentences or more, tell us the story of your band. I met my bass player, Jon Bayless, nine years ago when I was looking to put a duo together. He stood by me while I paid my dues playing dive bars and Irish pubs around Seattle. Fun Fact: Rugby teams don't want to hear you play "Your Body is a Wonderland" while they're drinking Guinness and watching the [FIFA] World Cup.

I met my drummer, Michael, at a bar in downtown Seattle. He was playing with another guy at the time. I stole him. He's mine now, you can't have him. He's one of my best friends and one of the best drummers in town.

I met my keyboardist, Eric Robert, through Jon. We were floored by his talent. At gigs, he stole the show. My fan base started calling it "The Eric Robert Band," so I fired him, then rehired him so I could regain respect in the eyes of the group. I don't think they noticed.

Tell us about the new project (themes, inspiration, personnel, release details, etc.) and/or what have you been working on these days? I just released my second EP, When I Finally Get Myself Together, which I spent the last four months recording with my band. 2016 was fraught with some of the most trying experiences of my life. This record captures so much of that raw emotion.

Between the energy of the band and my collaborative efforts with producer Jason Lackie, I think we found the perfect mix of Americana and pop. The influences range from [Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young] to James Taylor, Amos Lee and John Mayer. I had the pleasure of writing one song on it with Patrick Monahan, lead singer of the band Train.

The opening track, "Wish You Were Her," has been getting some good radio play in other parts of the country. I'm still waiting to hear back from a couple stations here in town (I'm looking at you, KEXP). You can find "When I Finally Get Myself Together" on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. 

What does being a musician in Seattle mean to you? I would definitely say the city has an influence on the musician. Every song I wrote sounds like it was written in the Northwest. From the lyrics to the guitar playing, I think there's a sound that musicians here just innately emit in their playing. Being in Seattle, surrounded by the mountains, the ocean and forests give me the space to reflect on what I want and where I want to go. Things just move at a pace that I find conducive to my creative process.

What BIG question should we ask, and what's the answer? Question: What's an important quality to have when leading a group? Answer: Humility. Hands down. I have faith in my guys and their experience to trust if they think something is a good idea or a bad idea. It shifts the tone of the creative process from a solo effort to a collaborative effort. Also, at the end of the day, we're lucky to do what we do. Let's not take ourselves too seriously.

What’s next? We just went back into the studio to start working on the next record. We've challenged ourselves to step it up and take some more chances this time around. We're expecting to finish at the end of June. We're also putting a radio station tour together for the summer.

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