The Ghosts Are Coming Home by CR & The Nones | INTERVIEW
Author: Thommy Delaney

If you love Americana, folk, and singer songwriter vibes in your music taste, then you will thoroughly enjoy CR & The Nones! A five piece group from Jersey City, the band has two albums under their belt, including their most recent release, "The Ghosts Are Coming Home" available on all streaming platforms now! Without any further delay, let's have a conversation with band leader Chris Gennone and find out more about his fantastic group and their music!

Hey CR & The Nones! How did you guys meet and develop such an awesome sound?

I met our guitar player James Abbott and his wife Nicole when he was opening for Delicate Steve in 2015. I met our bassist John Dewitt shortly after that through our friend Max Rauch of LKFFCT. And I met our current drummer John Gallagher through our friend Skylar Adler, who recorded part of the record. I guess me and Jim have always been into twangy sounding stuff, but I think it's his playing style and tone that really shape the band's sound. You take Jim out of the mix and the band sounds completely different. But I think the band has really evolved over the years playing together and everyone contributes to the sound and vibe of the band.

Every artist has different influences that helped guide them to their own signature sound and/or style. What were some of the types of music you would listen to growing up as a young musician?

I grew up on a lot of classic rock, and a lot of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I was always into music, but I didn't really think about music seriously until I was maybe 16. I was listening to a lot of Neil Young, Springsteen, and Bob Dylan. I started playing harmonica and eventually bought a guitar and started writing songs. I think I was more into lyrics back then. But was also drawn to and more interested in harmonies and the songwriting, rather than guitar riffs and solos. That came later.

The songs on this album are incredibly well crafted from the lyrics to the arrangements. Describe your process of how you write and arrange such great songs.

Thank you! I don't really have much of a process. I kind of just wait for stuff to come, whether it's a melody, lyrics, titles, or anything really. Sometimes the music comes first. Sometimes the lyrics come first. Sometimes it comes altogether. It's always different.

Lyrics are important to me. If I can't convince myself, it's not good enough. It has to have meaning and the right feeling. But I spent a lot of time working on the arrangements for this record, and trying to figure out what each song needed. Some songs like "Hills of Pennsylvania" and "Concessions" didn't change much at all, but songs like "The Bridge" went through a lot of different changes, choruses, melodies, riffs, etc. I focused on writing more choruses for this record and I had some friends who helped with those arrangements.

You use many musical elements in each song. From lap and pedal steel to synth sounds, each of these make the album as a whole special. When you write a new song, do you experiment with different effects and instruments once you bring them to the studio?

Yea sure. Generally I have an idea of how I want the song to sound, including effects and the instruments. But sometimes things change. I originally was going to put lap steel on "Concessions" but ended up recording piano and mellotron for it instead. It all depends on what the song needs and what feels right.

The title of the album is the same as the leading track called "The Ghosts Are Coming Home." The song itself is very well arranged from the harmonies to the slide guitar that you hear throughout. Why did you decide to call the album "The Ghosts Are Coming Home" and what is the song about?

Ghosts is an older song. I wrote it while I was recording the last album, Living in Fear but it just didn't fit the vibe. I was going through a really rough time and struggling with depression, anxiety, and alcohol. And "The Ghosts Are Coming Home" just kind of captured that time, that feeling of helplessness and accepting some kind of fate. But as dark as that sounds, I think the song is pretty hopeful also. I decided pretty early on that it was also going to be the title of the album. I think the title just kind of represents that feeling of acceptance and hope.

The lyrics of "After The War" seem to relate to breaking up with someone or just relationship troubles overall. What is the main subject matter of the song and was it inspired by something you saw or went through yourself?

I was going through a break up, but that song was kind of a moment of clarity, ya know? "After the War" is a celebration. But there's also that thought of, 'what's next?', which can be another battle in itself. Ya know, a break up while sad, can also feel freeing. But then there's questions like, how will things change, how will you change, or will you change at all?

The song "The Hills of Pennsylvania" is such a fantastic tune! What is the song about and what was it that moved you to write it?

Thanks. That song's about my grandmother. One of those moments when it all comes together really fast. I was driving to go see her in the hospital and the words and melody just came to me in the car. She had a stroke and I didn't know how what to expect or what her condition was so it was pretty nerve-racking. Yet there's like this stability and fragility in the beat on the recording, which really helped represent the feeling at the time.

Are there any shows coming up that you would like to promote?

Currently not. I'm kind of focusing on writing right now but we'll definitely be playing again soon.

What other projects are you working on for the future?

Well I just started writing and piecing together songs for the next album. It's starting to take shape and I'm excited about it. Hoping to record it live this time for a more raw kind of feel. And my other band Winnebago has a bunch of new songs ready, we just need to get together and record. Hopefully sometime this winter.

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Yea, thanks for listening and reading. Shit will be ok, keep truckin.

Artist Bio
For Jersey City guitarist and songwriter Chris Gennone, it's been a long road to The Ghosts Are Coming Home, the second album from his five-piece outfit CR and the Nones. Ghosts, the Nones' second record and first on Magic Door, is a culmination of the sound and aesthetic Gennone has been building across many years and multiple bands. Its combination of expansiveness and introspection recalls The War on Drugs or early My Morning Jacket, and the ten tracks here showcase sincerity and heart that are impossible to resist.

Recalling past Garden State guitar music, Gennone's soulful vocals and his band's driving hooks invoke roads, journeys, and forward motion in general. His sound has always been propulsive, and with C.R. and the Degenerates, his previous band, he operated at a pace to match. The Degenerates released five full albums from 2016 through 2018. The band rechristened itself as CR and the Nones following a few lineup changes in 2019, retaining the core of Gennone, lead/slide guitarist Jim Abbott, and bassist John Dewitt. The CR train kept chugging along, and the band released the excellent Living in Fear on Favorite Friend in 2020.

A certain global-scale event later that year put the brakes on the band's prolificity, though, and the isolation brought on by the pandemic as well as its huge chunks of unfilled time allowed Gennone to be more considered, thoughtful, and purposive in his songwriting. Being forced out of his normal songwriting process and comfort zone opened Gennone to new influences, and his resulting growth as a songwriter is evident in Ghosts. Some of these influences were nearby – friends in the NYC/NJ music scene contributed both ideas and sounds – and others, not so much. Gennone specifically recalls listening to Brian Eno nonstop while recording Ghosts, and the synth sounds and ambient textures that underpin much of the album are certainly a testament to that.

Ghosts was written while Gennone was dealing with personal struggles as well as lockdown, but it's not a bleak record by any means. On "Memory Ave", for example, a lament about inescapable chaos turns into an ode of gratitude to those who have given support throughout it all. Gennone's voice and Ryley Crowe's pedal steel guitar pair beautifully here, and despite the hard times chronicled here, it's impossible not to hear and share the joy CR and the Nones felt while recording The Ghosts Are Coming Home. - Zach Romano




About the Author: Thommy Delaney is a Senior Music Business Major at New Jersey City University. He is also the lead guitarist and a vocalist in the Bayonne Indie pop-rock band BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Looking for something new to listen to? Be sure to follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj on social media and stream their music on all platforms.

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