Chris English has opened shows for Hall and Oates, The Doobie Brothers, The Psychedelic Furs and The Smithereens. During his years at Virgin Records he worked with acts such as INXS, Don Was, The Clash’s Joe Strummer and Ziggy Marley. He has also had the opportunity to work with R.E.M. producer Don Dixon, David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails.
Chris plays the piano, guitar, bass, drums, banjo, mandolin and electric sitar. His debut CD Dreamtown was released in December 2008 on SideBMusic and features guitar-driven, melodic pop and haunting ballads with lushly-layered guitar arrangements reminiscent of early Genesis, Steely Dan and XTC. Chris composed, arranged, performed and mixed Dreamtown at his home studio in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Chris has written and produced programs for MSNBC, NASCAR, Kashi Foods and others. He has scored short films. A media Producer/Director by day, Chris has shot video for CNN, MTV and CMT and has worked on films with Reese Witherspoon, Beau Bridges, Helen Hunt and Diane Keaton. Film and video work has afforded Chris an opportunity to sojourn to England, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Tanzania and Kenya. “I’ve worked domestically from San Francisco to New Jersey and everywhere in between,” he recalls.
Chris’ father, a traveling salesman, exposed his three sons to a variety of artists and genres, including gospel, Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, Herb Alpert, The Smothers Brothers, Arlo Guthrie and Henry Mancini. The boys listened to radio shows starring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Tony Bennett. “I’m kinda glad now that he controlled the radio in the car,” Chris says.
As a toddler, Chris was already pounding out drumbeats using the cardboard tubes from clothes hangers. The Beatles and other British bands as well as The Beach Boys and other iconic American acts made a lasting impression on Chris and he knew at an early age that rock ‘n’ roll was his destiny. He developed an early ear for melody and arrangement that set him apart from many of his peers who were bent on playing music limited melodic range.
Chris pursued his musical calling by singing in his church’s Youth Choir and, at his father's urging, taking piano lessons. His first “band” was a trio featuring Chris on piano, his younger brother Terry on trumpet and his older brother Mike on 12-string acoustic guitar. “We wrote most of our own stuff and generally only played when company came over,” Chris says. “Our limited repertoire was comprised of a few short instrumental compositions. Terry’s trumpet usually carried the melody.”
High school and college opened new musical doors, including opportunities to work with established acts such as The Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oates. “In college, I was in a band called Stoney Creek,” says Chris,”a sort of early, alt-country outfit.” Stoney Creek gave Chris a chance to stretch as a writer and multi-instrumentalist. “We got ‘discovered’ by a talent agent and thought we were going to take off big time. Had a tour booked and everything, but things fell apart.”
As he made his way through college and his cultural tastes evolved, he discovered Todd Rundgren, a musician and producer with whom he shares a strong artistic connection. Rundgren’s influence can be heard on the Dreamtown track “I Can Take It”, a song that might also have fit snugly on XTC’s Rundgren-produced classic Skylarking album. Chris also developed an affinity for Progressive Rock, including favorites King Crimson, early Genesis and Pink Floyd.
After college, Chris began to approach pop songwriting at its essence: pure, unadulterated melodies flanked by crafty musical textures. Combining elements from past influences and production techniques gleaned from repeated listens to Pink Floyd and Radiohead, Chris found his niche. When composing, he finds inspiration in every aspect of life. However, he is especially moved to write music inspired by his wife and best friend, Donna Oliver and daughter, Kendyl. He continues to strive for pop perfection without compromising at any level.