Despite the opportunity for Chris Simmons to boast support slots, openers and tours with the likes of Passenger, Kate Nash, Seth Lakeman, Beth Orton and The Maccabees (to name a few), he casually mentions his sizeable roster of associations like the next person recounts bumping into an old friend.
Simmons’ ambitions originally lay in film. As a student, independent and foreign cinema captured his imagination. While each song on his forthcoming album works brilliantly as a stand-alone track, filmic resonance and emotional depth sew a thread of cohesion throughout his album which is due for release in spring 2014. Simmons said: “I wanted to challenge myself more and to make a record that flows as a piece, rather than recording a bunch of songs and sticking them together.”
The video for his new single The Occupant was shot by Steve Glashier whose own credits include fellow Brightonite, Fatboy Slim. Dark and slightly moody, the sound of The Occupant incites flecks of Turin Brakes, Fossil Collective and Scott Walker. Simmons cites film soundtracks and scores as keen points of influence for his music but further affectations link back to names such as Elvis Costello, Simon and Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills and Nash. At the same time, intonations of Britpop are hard to ignore; no surprises then that he can add Ocean Colour Scene and Suede to the list of artists he’s supported over the years.
The Occupant is a wonderfully scenic, atmospheric and relaxing, if dark, track that captures what Simmons’ music is all about. He has a knack for writing memorable and meaningful lyrics, “They know/They can break me and split my skin/But never snap me from this state I’m in/She’s in my heart and in my head/She is the occupant.” His vocals carry these lyrics allowing them to breath and create life – you can start to picture the woman he is talking about and the relationship between the two people, the narrator and the occupant.
Mentioning Squeeze as an especial influence, Simmons has latterly found himself closely affiliated with Chris Difford with whom he’s both written and performed. Perhaps also it’s no coincidence that his fondness of Crowded House found him travelling around Australia and New Zealand last year, where his songwriting benefitted from new places and perspectives and where he got a taste for the busking tradition so loved in the Antipodes. Closer to home, Simmons frequently visits other countries in Europe, touring and playing house concerts around Germany and Switzerland where he has a solid following. A personal connection with his audience – be it passers by, at house concerts or ornate theatres – are critically important to Chris Simmons.
HMV Singer-Songwriter TIP FOR 2014 https://www.hmvdigital.com/pages/221
“Majestically dark with the medieval lyrical theme creating an atmosphere that truly draws you in, recalling Neil Finn in his 'Private Universe' pomp. You can't also help but notice a McCartney influence in Simmons' songwriting which is attracting collaborations with Chris Difford (Squeeze) amongst others. Seriously one to watch.”
-- MUSIC WEEK
"A great songwriter with an incredibly distinctive voice"
-- JACKSON BROWNE
“British, brooding and expansive songwriting. Love it!”
-- Tom Robinson - BBC 6 MUSIC
“If you like Damien Rice, David Ford and Matthew Jay, then you need to give Simmons a listen”
-- The 405
"One of the best songs of 2013" - 'The Occupant' -Single Of The Week
-- Caught In The Carousel (USA)
5/5 - Wireless Magazine
"Lyrically akin to Brett Anderson in his prime."
-- EVENING ARGUS
Chris Simmons’s tracks