LIVE: Rising Again with New Lead Singer, Chris Schinn

Article by Joy Houle, Photos by Jim Gilbert

Being the new guy is never easy. Try filling big, famous shoes. LIVE was one of the most popular grunge bands in the 1990s; I wasn’t the only one who was seriously bummed when the band split under some vague and ugly circumstances in 2009. Those of us paying attention were pleased to hear that the band was going to march on, but eyed the new lead, Chris Schinn with a decent amount of skepticism. And really, who wouldn’t? Anytime the new guy gets up on stage with an iconic group of performers, the fans’ critical eye gets super sharp. Most of us stubbornly refuse to accept lead replacements of super awesome bands, even if they are a great fit. 20140618-LIVE1-11 Schinn told us, when we sat down with him in Verona, that he’s been guilty of the same thing. But then he saw Alice in Chains perform with William DuVall (replacing the original lead, Layne Staley). When he left that show, not only was he sold on the “new” Alice in Chains, but he also thought to himself, “I could see myself doing that.” A short time later, he was. Before I saw him perform with LIVE during the Summerland Tour in 2013, I was seriously doubtful that the band could live up to my expectations without Ed K. I’m a fan of Ed too, so I went in with the same skepticism of a kid meeting their new step mom. But, WOW. I was not disappointed. I’m not the only one; Schinn told us about a fan who approached him after a show to tell him that she drove hours to that show fully prepared to hate him. But in the end, the opposite happened: she fell in love. 20140618-LIVE1-01 Schinn said that unlike the challenge of selling his acceptance to old LIVE fans, fitting in with the Chads and Pat was easy. Naturally, he was a LIVE fan in the 1990s (his favorites then were Operation Spirit, Pain Lies on the Riverside, and Lakini’s Juice). He also knew the guys personally; his former band, Unified Theory, actually opened up for LIVE during the Distance to Hear tour. Schinn and the rest of LIVE share responsibility for song-writing, many laughs, a good amount of patience — patience that I’ve been lacking actually as a fan. I’ve been eager to hear what they are up to, but they have taken things REALLY slow. It’s already been a couple of years since Schinn joined the group, and their first album together, The Turn, isn’t due out until October 2014. They wanted to make it good; get it right. They are using a lot of the same folks who have worked with LIVE in the past, including Jerry Harrison and Tom Lord-Alge, so we can expect the same quality of material found on Throwing Copper. 20140618-LIVE1-14 On stage Schinn adds his own style to the show while bringing the audience close enough to LIVE-as-we-knew-them. Admittedly, there is a different energy that flows from the songs of old. LIVE’s established fan base expects to hear the old, popular stuff, and that’s Schinn’s key to their hearts. But when LIVE played their new music the vibration kicked up a notch. Schinn promised us four new songs during the performance at Verona, and noted that whereas a lot of LIVE’s previous work included references to water and rebirth, the newer material is harder, with many references to fire. Schinn’s favorite current LIVE song is “Siren’s Call”, the lead track on their new album, and it is awesome, and I’m not the only one who thought so. Schinn says, and I agree, to “give it a listen.” The Turn will be released in October and LIVE will promote it on tour. Dates will be announced on the bands website and related social media sites. Setlist: The Way Around, Iris, Top, All Over You, Siren’s Call, Pain Lies on the Riverside, Operation Spirit, Beauty of Grey, Dolphin’s Cry, Rattlesnake, Freaks, Don’t Run, Selling the Drama, Lightning Crashes, I Alone, 6310 Rogerton Encore: Lakini’s Juice, White, Discussion