INTERVIEW: Thin Lips

Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian on partying, songwriting, touring, and ‘social weedia’.

Photo by Scott Troyan

By Michael Ferrence
March 8, 2019

MF: I don’t know a lot about Thin Lips. I was researching the history of punk rock music the other day and eventually ended up reading an article about Philly bands, and you were on it. I listened, and really enjoyed it, reminds me of some late 90s stuff I used to really dig.

First question, since this is an email interview, who am I talking with? Can you do a brief history of your life?

CT: Hey Michael! my name is Chrissy Tashjian! I’m 34, and originally from Delaware County just west of Philly. The drummer in the band is my younger brother Mikey and when I came to Philly for college I was in a host of bands that eventually ended up morphing into us meeting Kyle and we’ve been playing music and touring for ten years now.

MF: I missed your show at Boot and Saddle last month. (I was busy obsessively checking to see if Gabe Kapler was fired yet) How’d it go? I saw on IG you said you’d be partying with people back at your apartment afterwards. Did that actually happen? You bring strangers back?! Thats wild! How was it?

CT: Haahaha. Well, I wouldn’t say strangers, I’d say people I just met. I have a pretty good sense of people. The party was mostly a lot of super close friends that wanted to party for my birthday, a bunch of pals that came from out of town, and then a handful of new friends that I met at the show and where interested in coming to hang out. It was a blast. I used to throw shows in my houses when I was younger, and that was tons of people I don’t know. As far as the party goes it was E P I C. We literally danced all night. The dancing ended at five am.

MF: When writing, what’s your approach? Do you collaborate on each song? Write individually, then bring it to the group and take it from there? Do you have a certain vibe in mind while writing the album, or just write and whatever happens, happens? (Or something else?)

CT: My song writing has evolved slightly, but generally I write everything by recording a bunch of stuff, and then I send it out and we jam it and then make version 2.0, then so on and so forth until we are pleased.

MF: Do you actively try to differentiate yourself from others or are you different just by being you?

CT: I don’t really think about things like that. I feel like everyone has their own special things. I’m just a friendly weirdo aquarius in my own little world usually.

MF: What other bands have you been in? Are you currently in multiple bands?

CT: I have been in many many bands. For a long time I played in Dangerous Ponies with Kyle and Mikey, as well as several other folks. For a while I played in Mikey Cantor’s band- The Goodbye Party. This past year I was a hired hand playing for Hop Along as a part of their live set for Bark Your Head Off Dog. Thin Lips has been my main thing for a long time, but I have a long history of playing in different projects with folks.

MF: How many songs have you ever written, all time? Have you recorded and released every one?

CT: I have no idea. There are many songs I abandon, or that make it to fruition, but not to the record cut. I have recorded most, but I definitely ax a lot of them.

MF: How’d you learn to play?

CT: I played violin in fourth grade and then I decided I wanted to play rock music, so my pop gave me this old beat up guitar and a Beatles complete, and taught me how to play bar chords and I started there.

MF: What kind of stuff do you listen to? Can you recommend some newer bands you’re really into?

CT: I mostly listen to The Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, and Lauren Hill. The band I’m SUPER into right now is The Beths from New Zealand.

MF: It’s extremely difficult to make it in music, to have enough listeners and followers who will buy your stuff and go see you play so much so that you can earn a good living. Unless you’re one of a few dozen bands, it doesn’t seem very lucrative or glamorous. Would you agree? What’s a normal day like?

CT: It’s definitely not lucrative or glamorous. People assume tour is a vacation and every show is a party, but it’s actually really hard work, and definitely a labor of love. I more often than not pay to play in some capacity, even when I’m making money, but if money was my major interest area I probably would’ve stopped trying to play live music a long time ago.

MF: There are probably millions of really good bands and artists who’ve gone unheard, without more than one listener. How have you gotten people to listen to you?

CT: TBH I have no idea. I think through just going to shows and meeting people and being friendly. I think no matter who you are there is always someone who has done (and this is a very complicated quantification obviously) more or less than you. Like I’ve released and played on several albums that are mine and been on other people’s records, I’ve toured the States many times. I’ve toured Europe twice, but I still don’t make money. I usually have to work crazy work weeks when I’m home to even be able to cover myself. There where many tours I’d been on when I was younger where the shows where BLEAK. But I’ve done a lot of stuff and I’m grateful for that. I know a lot of people who play music who have done way ‘more’ than I have and people that have done ‘more’ than they have. I don’t know how it works, all I know is I like writing songs and I love playing guitar.

MF: Do you have day jobs or is Thin Lips your thing?

CT: I am a contractor and I work for myself doing bathroom and kitchen remodels. I really like plumbing and electric. Kyle co-owns and operates the Headroom Studio in North Philly. Mikey does all sorts of stuff. He works construction sometimes, he was a mover for a long time. Lou, our new guitar player, works for this company in New York that does moving services. She actually works from the van a lot on tour.

MF: Does everyone in the band have thin lips?

CT: lol. No, it’s not literal.

MF: Is social media useful? Do you think it gets people out to see you?

CT: I imagine so… I’m not really sure what people did before social weedia.

MF: What do you have planned for the future, musically and otherwise?

CT: I’m currently working on new music, kind of trying to decide what direction to take that.

MF: Thank so much for your time. Good luck with everything.

CT: ❤ You too, angel! The best of luck with everything, truly.