Artist Interviews / Artists / Chris Bandi / CMTT Exclusives / New Music

Chris Bandi releases introspective debut EP

From his Grand Ole Opry debut in February to touring with Matt Stell this spring, 2020 was off to a great start for St. Louis, Missouri native Chris Bandi. Although his road life came to a halt because of the pandemic, he’s still bringing music to fans. Chris just released his self-titled debut EP, which is a cohesive, introspective collection of songs that showcases his gritty vocals and sensitive approach to storytelling.

Photo credit: Matthew Berinato

Chris Bandi EP Track List
Produced by Ash Bowers & Chris Bandi

 1. “Dirt On Me” (Matt Jenkins, Michael Hardy, and Smith Anhquist)
2. “Leave It To A Song” (Zach Kale, Matt Rogers, and Jordan Fletcher)
3. “Would Have Loved Her” (Chris Bandi and Zach Kale)
4. “Free” (Allison Veltz Cruz, Zach Kale, and Connie Harrington)
5. “They Make Whiskey” (Chris Bandi, Billy Montana, and Dave Turnbull)
6. “What If We Don’t” (Chris Bandi, Jason Massey and Kylie Sackley)
7. “Man Enough Now” (Chris Bandi, Jason Allen Duke and Jason Massey)

Chris has been writing songs since high school and he began making trips to Nashville during his college days at Ole Miss, playing small clubs and then making the big move after graduation. He now has a publishing deal with BMG and a RECORDS label deal. 

What’s the story behind your current single “Man Enough Now”?

I wrote that song about a relationship that I was in in college. And as many young dumb 21 year old guys do, I made mistakes that most young, dumb 21 year old guys do. So I remember I had a write coming up with two of my favorite people to write with in town, Jason Massey and Jason Duke. I was thinking about song ideas and for some reason, that relationship just kept playing over in my head. I was thinking, you know, if we met today, do I think it would have worked out or do I think we still would have broken up… because I wouldn’t have made those same mistakes. Although I wasn’t ready for the relationship then, I feel like I’m a man enough now for the relationship today. So I brought that title into the Jasons and they loved it. We wrote that song in maybe an hour or two hours and we knew that we had something special. But I think that it’s just that realization of losing something that was so important to you and seeing it from the other side and realizing, I was the dumb one in this relationship.

How did you approach the song selection process for your EP?
I feel like I started working on this EP last summer. It was the first time that I kind of shifted from writing for other people to writing for myself. I took a few months off of the road from touring every weekend just to really focus on this project. So we were writing, trying to find songs, and just trying to make this as cohesive of a record top to bottom that we could. Luckily we had a great jumping off point with “Man Enough Now.” That was the first song I put out and that is who I am. And when you hear that, you hear who I am as an artist, content that I want to tackle what I want to do melodically and lyrically. So it was nice to kind of base everything around that. And some of the biggest advice that I got when I moved to town was to write about my truth and write about things that I know about and not try to be anything else other than myself. And that’s what we tried to stick to. And when we were finding songs, I was so fortunate to have a team behind me that knew my vision and knew what I would say and what I wouldn’t say. And they brought me some amazing songs that I was very lucky to put on this album.

Describe the evolution of your career since moving to Nashville.
I had a very, very, lucky move to Nashville. A kid that I went to college with moved to Nashville around the same time. He went into the business side and I went into the songwriter/artist side. He started working for a booking agent and we got linked up probably about four or five months after he had moved to Nashville through a mutual friend. We had met in college a few times, but never really more than saying hello to each other and talking more than five minutes. So we got reacquainted through a mutual friend and he started pitching shows. “Hey, do you want to go play this show for X amount in Athens, Georgia? Do you want to go take this show?” And so six months after he started throwing me shows, he became my booking agent and he was my booking agent for about two or three years. He came to me around two years ago and said that he was making the move from booking to management. He was going to be managing with Ash Bowers at Wide Open Music. Their first client was Jimmie Allen, then they signed Matt Stell. I met Ash at a baby shower and maybe two or three weeks after that I got a call saying, “Hey, do you want to come in for a meeting?” And that’s when they said, “We would like to manage you.”

What was the last show you did before the pandemic happened?Actually, we were on tour with Matt [Stell]. The whole run was supposed to be in New York City, Salisbury Maine, Boston Massachusetts, and then Portland Maine. We played the New York City show the night that President Trump gave his announcement to the nation. We went on stage at 8:45, he made the announcement at 9, and we got off stage at I think 9:30. We came off stage to a completely different world… that’s going to last with me for a long time. The next night we went to Salisbury Maine and played that show, drove up to Boston and when we woke up in Boston, they had postponed the remainder of the tour. So we got on the first flight home from Boston and I’ve been home since March 13.

Since a lot of things are up in the air for touring right now, what do you think things might look like moving forward?
I know that we cannot wait to get back out on the road as soon as they give us the green light. We are going to be in that van and trailer loaded, ready to play shows. It’s been crazy because we don’t know how long with all of the phases and reopening and stuff like that, we don’t know when it’s going to get back to normal and where or when big crowds will be able to gather. It seems like every week we’re getting an email saying that this show is canceled or this show’s getting pushed. So it’s been… I don’t know if frustrating is the right word… but kind of for me. But I can tell you that I will never, ever, ever take another show for granted. Because I am itching to get back out there and play. There is not a show that I would pass on right now to get out and play. I was joking with somebody the other day that I think I’d even go play in a mask and gloves!

Five fun facts about Chris

  1. What’s your favorite TV show to binge watch? The Office
  2. Which artist would people be surprised to know you listen to? Lizzo
  3. What would your career be if you weren’t a musician? I always knew that I wanted to do something in music. If it wasn’t performing, it would probably be on the business side. I graduated with a marketing degree so I would have loved to do something in advertising.
  4. Where is your favorite place to hang in Nashville? I love just being home… but there is a little bar that was unfortunately hit by the tornado that came through called the Attaboy. It is a small little speak easy in East Nashville.
  5. What is a song that you wish you had written? “More Than a Memory” …I actually just found out that was the only song in country history to debut at number one.

Connect with Chris:
Instagram / Twitter: @ChrisBandi
Facebook: @ChrisBandiMusic

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