Chuck Ragan Between Hot Water Music "reunions" and a solo-effort that has resulted in what promises to be an extremely prolific endeavor, Chuck Ragan, hasn't really slowed down since he set out to do just that. Either way, his fans are luck for his decision to remain active. Punknews reader Dan Balda recently caught up with Ragan and asked him a few questions.

How‚??s the tour going?

So far so good. It‚??s going great. We‚??re having a blast.

Has having an upright bass and fiddle added to your show?

Absolutely yeah, it‚??s liberating playing by myself, but having these guys makes it just as fun. Digger and I have been playing over a year since Bristol Ridge, Gaunt and I have played together a while, he‚??s played fiddle on all my recordings.

Top 5 (6) albums of the last year? Gaslight Anthem‚??s '59 Sound, Bruce Springsteen‚??s Working on a Dream, Gasoline Alley, Tim Barry‚??s Manchester, all of Austin Lucas‚??s stuff, Ben Nichols The Last Pale Light is absolutely absurd, it‚??s so good.

How do you feel about the election?

It‚??s so exciting, it‚??s exhilarating. It‚??s the first time in my life that someone I voted for actually won. Just to see the overwhelming response from communities and the population in our county, that everyone was so fired up. It‚??s a monumental moment. It was wonderful.

Has the economy affected you at all?

Honestly it has not affected us that much. Where it has affected us is fuel prices, but doing what we do, whether you have a good economy or a good economy it doesn‚??t really change nor effect bar sales. It‚??s proven that one business that doesn‚??t change is bar sales and entertainment. I haven‚??t been doing a lot of work in that last couple of years, in my trade as carpenter, for the longest time work was just truckin‚??, you got as much as you wanted, but then just the same it can just dry up; hence "Feast or Famine," that‚??s where that all came from. A lot of my friends that are in the trades are suffering badly right now.

Honestly, I feel like I am as ignorant as they come to what‚??s going on around me, most of the time. I try to keep up with world politics here and there, but my god, I am the kind of person that would much rather be out in my yard planting tomatos than following politics. I can‚??t stand them. I don‚??t like the way I get; I get angry, I get uneasy, I get worried, I get stressed when I am really following that because it is rare that I involve that I involve myself in politics and it‚??s been positive. It‚??s always going against, or fighting against what I see as negative you know, and for the longest time I was doing that and then one time it hit me, you know if you surround yourself with negativity all the time you are going to breed that and it‚??s going to affect you, and I‚??m not speaking against it at all, I think it‚??s vital, all of us fight for change in our own way, in my mind it‚??s a lot more important to change myself and my household, because I believe that change starts at home, and that‚??s what builds stronger communities, and a stronger society as a whole. All in all I don‚??t think I‚??m a political person.

What motivates you to try more things musically?

Honestly we don‚??t really try to do anything. It is what it is. A lot of music that I play, and I would speak on behalf of a majority of my friends in the music business, nobody is trying to be something or to sound like something or someone that a lot of my friends that are in it for the right reasons and play it honestly, are just playing what is coming totally derived from the inspiration and the influences they had growing up. I grew up in a southern Baptist household where there was a lot of gospel and bluegrass, old church hymns and that was before I found out about bands like Bad Brains and GBH and stuff, surely it is going to come out. I think that everybody in music, if they are playing from the heart, with the right reasons, that stuff just comes out one way or another.

What is the plan for the new album?

We are just going to kill it. We are stoked to get back and record, we are going to play some new songs tonight and give it a shot. These songs are so new and so fresh, so we are still working them out and getting into them. I‚??ve got a ton of songs but we are only going to record 14 or 15, and then pick the best record.

Who else are you going to work with on the record?

I am going to produce it myself, so that‚??s pretty exciting and intimidating at the same time, I‚??ve worked with producers for so long it‚??s always good to have somebody there to holler at you and to get you to go in another direction if you need to, but I know what I want. Jon Gaunt‚??s going to be on it, Digger (Barnes) is going to be on it, George Rebelo, the drummer for Hot Water Music is going to be on it, we actually going to have some drums on it. Todd Beane playing pedal steel guitar, there is going to be some beautiful instrumentation on it, that I‚??m really excited about working with these guys, we‚??ll see man. I‚??m aiming to make the best record I‚??ve ever made in my life.

What are the chances of touring with Austin Lucas in the future?

Pretty high. We are planning on touring after we finish the new record.

How was the Revival Tour?

Man, it was absolutely insane. Probably the most special, coolest tour I‚??ve ever done in my life. It was pretty wild, most of the time there was 12 of us traveling together, it felt like we were family from the start. There was no stress, everybody gelled, it was really remarkable, we traveled on a bus together. Usually there are one or two people who are the odd man out but this time everyone was so communal, they just took hold of the idea and ran with it. We had the time of our lives. It was awesome.

Why do a lot of guys do solo stuff?

For me when Hot Water Music was towards the "hiatus" or whatever, I was over it and it was crazy because we were getting up there and singing songs about following your heart and being who you want to be and listening to your conscience and then one show something just kind of clicked and I thought, "I‚??m not where I want to be right now." As much as I love the music, and our band and our fans, there is something else. I had just gotten married and I wanted to get off the road and put more of my time to my trade and so I just went for it. One day my wife and I were in the kitchen and we were listening to some of the songs I had and she said I should record some of this stuff and then she came home a week or two later and said I booked you a show. For me there is something really liberating and true about cutting yourself open and stripping yourself down and going back to basics and getting simple. I love the clarity of it, I love the story telling of it, I just love it all. It definitely hurts a lot more these days to play Hot Water shows, it‚??s hard on the back.

Is HWM going to play any more one-offs?

We are definitely going to play some more shows? I have no idea when, everybody is busy.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks to you for taking the time to show some support and to everybody else. We wouldn‚??t be here unless people came to the shows and supported us, bought the records and supported the music.

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