Unlike so many hard-bitten crooners who sing about manual labor and strife, alt-country singer-songwriter Chad Kichula practices what he pens. By day, Kichula works full-time cutting and pruning trees as the owner of a forestry company. By night, he writes haunting, toe-tapping anthems in the vein of his heroes Springsteen and Steve Earle. “The Whale’s Back”, the debut single from his forthcoming album The Whale’s Back (available Sept 10) is a shambling, ragged ditty, with dueling electric guitar, harmonica, and upbeat spirit lifting the track far above standard, melancholy alt-country fare. The accompanying video, with dazzling animation recalling classic videos by Gorillaz, serves as the perfect visual component to the track.
It took time for Kichula to learn to balance his passion with paying the bills. Having written and recorded music since 1999, it was not until Chad sold his truck in 2005 to pay for his debut album, that he was able to get his music out to the masses. Chad’s self-titled debut was an Americana/Roots-Rock album that showcased his development as a songwriter. Songs like “Sierra Leone” showed he could craft lyrics and tell a story—just as his inspirations Springsteen and Earle had.
After a lengthy break, Kichula came back with Killer in early January 2011, and it took almost two years to complete. Choosing not to record in a studio, Kichula and his co-producer Matt Kaip (Chad Kichula, and Better in the Morning) removed restrictions, allowing them room to experiment. The result captures raw performances and their most creative productions to date.
Harnessing that creativity, The Whale’s Back sessions began in 2012. With a busier schedule than that of his bandmates, the process took a while to complete. Although Kichula’s previous releases have all had elements of country music, The Whale’s Back will be his debut, strictly alt-country album. Although Kichula is still working a very physical and demanding job to support his music, he has no complaints. It seems like a way of life after all these years, the working side and the creative side combining to make the best and strongest artist possible.