What do you want to do when you’re older? A question we all faced growing up; some knew the answer, others drifted between ideas, whilst a number of us are still struggling to find our passion. So what happens when your attention moves from one passion to another, or you simply crave something new to fulfill your life? We caught up with Chris Rivers to discuss his experience discovering his passions.
Chris is someone who I have admired for a decade. I first became aware of him as the drummer of UK rock band Heaven’s Basement. They were recording songs, touring all around the world, eventually securing a record deal. When we spoke about his time in Heaven’s Basement and some of his favourite highlights he said “I’m really proud of everything we achieved, being a group of lads from various towns in England to touring all over the world and having our music exposed to millions of listeners, ticked all the boxes. Highlights would be some of the big shows we played, everything from Download festival to big shows in the US in front of fifty to sixty thousand people. Also learning that childhood heroes became fans of the bands.”
Part of the fun of building a business, a label or a band is the beginning when you are establishing yourself. When your drive cannot be stopped by anyone who tries to get in your way and you are forced to overcome obstacles, much like when Heavens Basement were unsigned. “As much as the years when we had a record deal were cool I always look back on the years we were unsigned with the best memories, the drive we had was brilliant, we made things happen and found ourselves in all sorts of situations and places! When everyone in a band is on the same page and pulling in the same way, it’s unstoppable. I still stand by that on our day we would have give any band in the world a run for their money with the energy we put into our live shows.”
Following on from band life, Chris has jumped ship to being an artist after discovering a love for painting. However to him this was a natural progression, “It just started with drawing on my drum heads in sharpies after shows. I started to get more and more ideas and it’s just got way out of hand since then.” After finding himself hooked on drawing, he continued to make music and tour whilst finding moments of downtime to create artwork; until late 2016 when he made the decision to hang up his drumsticks. It didn’t come as a shock to many Heaven’s Basement fans as we had already became invested in Chris’s new adventure. Over the past three years his expertise has grown, his ideas and stories becoming more in depth and his knowledge of the industry expanding.
Switching careers isn’t always simple but that has not stopped Chris, he has already gained vast appreciation for his work. Many opportunities have arisen, including a number of gallery exhibitions, printing his artwork on scarves and even making a children’s book. “I’ve always enjoyed doing as much for myself as I can. I’m literally using the same approach I had with doing music as with my artwork… There’s a few really cool people who’ve shown faith in my work. The main thing for me is working with cool, honest people. I’m all about following a gut feeling and once I officially commit to something that’s it, I’ll give you my 100% commitment.”
The thrill isn’t only in the successes but the journey to those high points.“Trying to earn money in anything creative is tough, practically the whole of my 20’s I lived on nothing, but if I worried about every risk I’ve ever taken and took the sensible option then tomorrow morning I’ll have to go to the job centre and find something that might be reliable. Bands and artists probably wouldn’t exist if they took safer options.” With that in mind, he continues to conquer projects without the knowledge of whether his next piece will work out or not, but with all of his heart invested anyway. “There’s no guarantee someone will buy my work, there’s no guarantee a band would sell a million albums but I’m more and more fired up than ever for the work I’m doing.”
Chris’s attitude to life and work champions his ever growing success. By reflecting on his time in the music business, he has developed a positive mindset to continue forward with. “I’m rarely left disappointed, the music industry taught me never to have any expectations, I’ll just do my thing regardless.” As for the future he doesn’t believe in having a finishing line, with his main aim simply improving as a painter.
Without any art training, he has made a name for himself purely through determination and a love of what he is creating. What is stopping you from doing the same? It is easier for us all to make excuses and find reasons not to want to achieve the best we can; but, imagine if we put the energy from procrastinating into picking up the pencil or that camera or that instrument. Pick up the tool that will start your journey and run with it. Let’s see what we can all create.
Words by Hayley North.
Images courtesy of Chris Rivers.