Get to know breakout country star Chris Bandi and hear his new EP!
Freshly released, Chris Bandi’s self-titled EP has been on repeat all day! With incredible success from his single ‘Man Enough Now,’ Bandi’s new music is just as amazing. As charming as he is kind, Chris Bandi has a way of making you feel like you’ve been friends with him for years. Before the release, Chris took the time to talk with Tonight Mag about his musical journey, EP release process, and future goals.
How are you keeping busy during quarantine?
“We’ve been doing home projects, like the stuff we have never gotten around to doing. Started playing monopoly, and spending lots of time with our dogs. [Our dogs] are loving it and having a great quarantine. We’ve been trying new food and new drink recipes, different projects I never thought I would be able to do. It’s been okay, we are very lucky to have a roof over our heads and food on the table.”
Was music always your career path of choice? How did you get to where you are today?
“I always knew that I wanted to play music and that I wanted to do something around music. I never really knew what avenue to take to make it happen. I thought I’d be playing at a bar one day and a record executive’s aunt’s sister’s best friend’s cousin’s neighbor would come in and say ‘Oh my gosh I know so and so and you have to meet them.’ I found out very quickly that that is not how it works. So I started playing acoustic sets at bars when I was 20 years old. My mom and dad’s stipulation was that I get a degree from college and then I can go do whatever I want. So I graduated and six days after graduation I made the move to Nashville!”
Has it always been country music?
“It has. I grew up listening to my mom’s country music. It was George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Travis Tritt. My dad listened to rock like Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, and Matchbox 20. So when everything that they listened to was the furthest thing from cool I got into Nelly, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and then moved to the acoustic guitar around high school and listened to guys like Matt Nathanson and Dave Matthews. I remember the first time I was reintroduced to country music was in a friend of mine’s car. He listened to nothing but country music and Kenny Chesney’s ‘Summertime’ came on. I remember listening to it and being like ‘this is new, I can get down with this.’ From that point it was country through and through.”
“Man Enough Now” has seen immense success in country music and is your biggest release to date. What have you taken from this single and applied to your new music?
“We kind of used [Man Enough Now] as a jumping off point for everything else. We looked at it and asked ‘Does this fit with Man Enough Now?’ because that song is me to a T. It’s what I want to sound like, what I want to talk about, and who I want to be seen as. It was such a big part of getting me to where I am today and still is because it’s my first single to country radio. We knew that the new EP had to be cohesive, so that’s what we tried to do.”
You’ve mentioned that storytelling is a major part of your writing process. Do you stick to stories that are true to your life or do you draw inspiration from other people’s stories?
“A little bit of both. One of the biggest pieces of advice I received when I first moved to Nashville was to write about stuff that I knew about and to tell my truth because that’s what people relate most to. I’m not gonna get out there and write songs about riding a tractor as a kid growing up because that’s not who I am. But what I love so much about country music is that it is lyric and story driven. It is so truthful. I write stuff that I have experienced or have seen in everyday life. Maybe I wasn’t the guy sitting there alone at the bar drinking to get over somebody but I’ve definitely seen that and know what that is like.”
What was it like working with so many people in the studio? Who did you really enjoy working with?
“Aside from the EP, one of my favorite people that I’ve worked with recently that was on my bucket list since I was 10 years old is Nelly. I got to write with him earlier this year. If you would have told 11 or 12 year old me that I’d be writing with, getting in the studio with, and singing on the same microphone as Nelly, I would have laughed at you and told you you were crazy. But that was one of my favorite musical interactions I’ve had.
The process of making the EP was unique for me. I had never really gotten to go in the studio and put my touch on what I wanted it to sound like or say. We started the whole process last August when I took a break from touring to focus on writing the songs for my fist project. Getting into the studio with musicians who have played on countless number one records and radio hits was incredible. I hope I get to do it for many many years.”
Who would you love to work with in the near future?
“I have been one of the biggest Eric Church fans forever. We used to go see him when there were 250 people at his shows, then go back the next year and there’s 750 people, and the next year it’s sold out. He has always been an inspiration. Garth Brooks was my first concert. Wow, there are just so many but those two are the people I have in the back of my head where if I ever get the chance I am jumping at it no matter what.”
How have you seen your fans connect with your music, especially during a time where you can’t perform live for them?
“We’ve seen how much people need music right now. It’s an escape and a release from everything going on outside. We kind of thought that this would be the perfect time [to release the EP] since everybody is needing something while they are at home wanting and craving music. We rolled out the EP a little earlier than we were planning but I am just so excited to get it out and so happy with the reception since we announced it.”
As you grow as an artist, what is the top goal you hope to accomplish? How do you plan to achieve it?
“This year has been incredible. My goal was always to get a record deal. Last August I got very lucky and we got to sign my first record deal. Then my next goal was to get a song to radio, and now we’ve got ‘Man Enough Now’ to radio. I feel like my goals are ever evolving and ever changing. One of them was to play the Grand Ole Opry and we made our Grand Ole Opry debut in February of this year. Right now my goal is to get back out and play music. I think that is everybody in Nashville’s goal right now. We are all itching to get back out and play. That first show you go see after [COVID-19], us artists are going to give it one million percent because we’ve been missing it so much. It definitely makes me appreciate more when we are getting to play. I am never ever going to take a show for granted.”