interview Tepper (2).mp3
Buzz Knight [00:00:00] I’m Buzz Knight, the host of Taking a Walk Music History on Foot. And today, our guest is a musician rising up the alternative charts. Singer songwriter Chad Tepper is our guest. Chad’s songs, they catch you and they just grab you with their intensity and their honesty. Songs like I Want to Be Your High I Hate Everybody Moonlit and so many More are part of Chad’s work, and he’s coming up next. Chad, thanks for being on, taking a walk. I only regret here is that we couldn’t do it in person. But thanks for being on virtually, man.
Chad Tepper [00:00:44] Hey, we’re taking a walk the way people take walks in 2023, you know?
Buzz Knight [00:00:49] So where did you get the go big or go home philosophy?
Chad Tepper [00:00:55] It’s my only option. It’s. I have no option. You know, my my mom and dad weren’t very rich. I grew up homeless for seven years, lived in cars and tents side of the road. Eventually, you know, moving into a trailer in a trailer park. And I have no option. So it’s like, if this is what I want to do, it’s like it’s always been balls to the wall. You know, it’s like, God, I moved out to Los Angeles with $300 to my name with nowhere to live, no friends, and then ended up staying on a couch. And thank God I did that. You know, it’s it’s I feel like in life, if you really want to, you know, do your dreams, you kind of just have to say, you know what? There is no other option. This is going to work or I’m going to you know, this is it. This is what I’m going to do. So, yeah.
Buzz Knight [00:01:53] So did you bring your skateboard out to L.A. when you made that move?
Chad Tepper [00:01:58] Well, when I moved to L.A., I literally had a backpack full of clothes, maybe a camera and my skateboard and one pair of shoes, you know, a couple of shirts. And it was so bad because I bought my flight. And then I had, I think, $600 to my name. So I got my flight and then I gave the person I was living with $300 for the first month of rent on the couch. This was a two bedroom, small apartment. Okay. Two people living in each bedroom and I’m sleeping on the couch. So it was a do or die. The whole world was against me. My whole family was like, Yeah, you go to L.A., you’ll be back in like a month or two, and it’s going on ten years. Strong, baby.
Buzz Knight [00:02:47] So what’s with the skateboarding community being so impeccably in-tune with fashion? And look.
Chad Tepper [00:02:58] It’s it’s just I don’t know what it is about skateboarding. I fell in love with skateboarding at a very young age at 12 years old. My first Christmas that I wasn’t homeless, my mom bought me a $12 Van Flex Walmart skateboard. And from there I kind of fell in love with it and all the cool kids skateboarding in my school. So they all dressed good. They all listened to the coolest music. The way they talked it, just every the whole culture of skateboarding was just so cool and I have no idea where that comes from, but I love it. I think it’s the whole mentality of skateboarding is just really not giving a shit about anything. You know, it’s like when you skateboard, you’re going to get hurt. No matter what you do, you’re going to fall. And I think what skateboarding really taught me a lot of valuable lessons in life where you’re going to fall, it’s going to suck, you’re going to get hurt. It’s what it is. If you love it this much is what you have to do. And it kind of taught me very valuable lessons in life to just keep going and to be strong. You know?
Buzz Knight [00:04:04] Have you ever got to meet Tony Hawk?
Chad Tepper [00:04:07] Tony Hawk follows me on Instagram, and I have met Tony Hawk. Yes. Oh, it was it was one of those moments I go on my phone and I’m like, Tony Hawk follows me on Instagram. What? Because he was one of my biggest idols when I was a little kid. So. Yeah, crazy.
Buzz Knight [00:04:22] So what at what point did you know that you were going to be an artist?
Chad Tepper [00:04:28] I’ve been an artist my whole life. Unfortunately, I’ve always been that weird kid writing poetry, you know, singing, making up melodies and songs. And I was that kid where, you know, I would hear jingle on the radio, and then I would rewrite it to make it funny, or I would rewrite it to make it something, you know, that’s going on in my life. And from there, I would. I started drawing when I was a little kid and painting and just all these things. Things that I shouldn’t be doing, especially as a homeless kid. Like there was times where my mom, my dad and my two brothers. The only time. So we didn’t have TVs. Sometimes we had a little black and white TV that we got like a thrift store. But a lot of times the entertainment that I would process through would be my dad would turn on the radio in the morning when we’d wake up in the car or before we’d go to sleep, turn the radio on. For me, I’ve always been an artist because it’s been a way for me to distract myself for a little bit, to take myself out of a horrible life and a hell of a world that I was living in. And I could escape by being an artist or taking in art. So it’s kind of been this thing that’s that saved my whole life.
Buzz Knight [00:05:46] And when we say artists, we not only say musician, but we certainly say you writing poetry. You as an artist, you know, drawing and creating. I mean, a multifaceted artist. Right.
Chad Tepper [00:06:00] Thank you. Yeah. I am pretty much the only thing I like to do in this world besides hanging out with my fiancee and my dog is creating art, if that. I like to write scripts. I’m writing a kid’s book. I’m writing another book right now. I paint every day. I design clothes. You know, I’ll go to Goodwill and I’ll put cuts in my clothes and add patches and paint it. And I think that all comes from never having anything but being able to create something that I want, that that’s kind of what it’s been. So, ah, I just love art. I think art is one of the most beautiful things in the world, you know?
Buzz Knight [00:06:41] So you’ve had some pretty amazing collaborations with folks. Maybe you could talk about some of those collaborations and talk about how they came together more importantly.
Chad Tepper [00:06:52] Yeah, I I’ve had some of the craziest collabs that are kind of impossible to have. I’ve got to work with a lot of my idols that I grew up listening to and I mean like people that like it’s weird, bro. Like I’m talking to Tommy Lee, like, every day and like, I shouldn’t a little homeless lose the kid from Florida, shouldn’t be friends with Tommy Lee, you know, a little homeless kid from Florida who got picked on every day and ate lunch by himself and bullied for being the poor kid. He shouldn’t be best friends with Pierre Bouvier, the lead singer. Simple plan. Very weird stuff. So I’ve been very blessed and very lucky and fortunate. But I have I have a song with Bowling for Soup, which is crazy. I love that band. I listened them when I was a kid. I have a song with Charlie McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, one of the multi-platinum artists like, I don’t even know how that happened. And then I have a song with Simple Plan, who I used to listen to. I got the CDs from the library when I was a kid because we couldn’t afford to buy CDs and little kids singing these songs. And then fast forward, I see the lead singer follows me on Instagram when we start talking and we’re friends, and then I go over to his house to make music for the first time, and he’s singing my songs to me. And it was just one of those moments. I was like, Whoa, you’re singing my songs right now. How do you know those songs is like, Oh, you make great music, man. Of course I listen to your songs. I’m like, You are So like, This is very weird. And I think for me, what’s really helped me a lot is being very loving and caring and zero ego. A lot of artists nowadays, they they think they’re iconic and they’re gods and they’re just assholes to everybody. And I think what the world needs to understand is that for me as an artist, I have one goal. I want to make everybody smile and be happy. And life is hard enough, you know, I want to be that escape. When you’re having a hard day, you put on my music and you can smile or you can scream or yell out the pain and just feel better. That’s my goal as an artist, where other artists say that, you know, they might want to be famous or they might want to be rich, or they want to be rock stars. And for me, it’s always been, I want to help people the way people helped me with their music. So I’ve been I’ve been very, very fortunate to make friends with a lot of people that I grew up listening to and and having mentors like that. It’s it’s it’s crazy because I’ll I’ll be in the studio and they’ll like, okay, this is how you hit this note, or you should write this way. Or are you just saying this way? And, and when you go on big tours, don’t do this and don’t do that. And they’re telling me all of their mistakes so I don’t make them. So I’ve been very, very lucky.
Buzz Knight [00:09:47] How do you keep it all in check, though, as your your star is rising? How do you how do you keep it all in check?
Chad Tepper [00:09:55] Ah, I it’s I I’ll be real with. Sometimes you slip a little bit, you know? Boy, come on. Sorry. My dog. My dog. I got him a toy. Sometimes you slip a little bit in life, you know, and it’s okay to slip as long as you’re aware of of your surroundings and what you come from in. For me, I wake up and I just smile because I get to live in a nice house and I have a car and I have money and food and a beautiful fiancee and a beautiful dog. And she really humbles me a lot, too, you know, like I’ll be acting sometimes it’s sometimes it’s hard. You know, you you go somewhere and everybody gasses you up and you feel so high and you feel so great. But then you realize that we’re all we’re all humans and we all we all just want to be loved and be good to each other. So I feel like that really brings me down to earth. This just trying to be a good person, you know? And sometimes when I would watch like podcast of me or I would watch different videos and I would be like, Wow, who is this guy? I don’t want to be like that, you know? So I think just wanting to be loved brings me back to Earth because nobody likes an arrogant, cocky douche, you know? So being a nice being nice soul is what I really want. Yeah.
Buzz Knight [00:11:15] So what is your writing? Discipline. Are you writing every day in terms of poetry or songs or all of the above?
Chad Tepper [00:11:23] Writing for me is so beautiful because I’m chasing, I’m chasing moments and it’s so cool for me because I write every single day and I’m always wondering, what is the song that I write That’s going to be the biggest song in the world, you know, is I know I’m going to get a big one very soon. And when that happens, like what? What is it going to be about? You know what Journey? For me, writing is very pure. It’s about everything that I’ve been through in my life or the things that are going on right now in my writing process is I’ll write songs in my sleep, like I’ll have dreams that meet. Like I had a dream a couple of weeks ago where I was performing at the Grammys and I was singing a song and the whole crowd was going crazy. And I wake up and I’m like, Oh my God, what was that song? It was so good. What was that song? So and then I’ll remember a little bit, so I’ll write it down or I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll top of my fiancee. So I’m like, Baby, can you text me this right now? Can you write this down? And she’s like, Yeah, yeah. And so like, or I’ll be driving in the car for me. You never know the moment where you’re going to make the greatest song ever. So there is no sleep for me. I’m writing every single day, all day. You know, if I watch a TV show and someone says a word, I’m like, Ooh, that’s a cool word. Let me see what rhymes with that. Let me see what goes with that. So it’s kind of a lot. And I think it’s really bad for my mental health that I work so much, but this is what I’m meant to do. This is what I’m made to do. So it’s like, you know, you can’t tell a clock to stop. Ticking is just going to keep ticking. So that’s kind of like what I am. You know, there’s no stopping until the battery runs out. So let’s see.
Buzz Knight [00:13:00] Who are the writers, whether they be musical or literary, that inspire you?
Chad Tepper [00:13:06] Oh, man, there’s there’s so many. I love Freddie Mercury. I think he’s one of the greats. I love Elton John. I love Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. I love I love The Doors. I love the Beatles. I’m a very old soul and I feel like a lot of new artists, we all have to realize where we came from and where the music came from, you know? But I feel like everybody is a great artist and a great writer. You know, there’s beauty in every song that you listen to. You just have to find it. And I felt like a lot of people are super judgmental where they they’ll change a song in 10 seconds where the best part of the song doesn’t happen for the bridge, you know, or maybe even the hook. And they’ll miss that moment of beauty and just feel good energy because they skipped it too quick. So for me, I always take in a bunch of different writers and different types of art.
Buzz Knight [00:14:08] Well, lastly, if you were to talk to somebody who’s a musician that is is struggling to get that breakthrough, what would you tell them to keep them inspired and focused on the prize?
Chad Tepper [00:14:21] I think the my thing when I started to get recognition by big management and labels and stuff, because I get so many people interested in me and I ended up saying no to a bunch of them and I ended up signing the epitaph. And for me, everybody wanted to change me. This is what you need to be doing. This is what I want you to sing about. This is how I want you to look. And I would say, Be authentic, be you don’t ever listen to anyone. No one knows. No one knows how to do it. Even some of the biggest artists in the world that I’m friends with. Relevant or old or whatever. They always tell me the same thing. Nobody believed in us until we made it. Everyone said that we were wrong, that it wasn’t going to happen until we made it. And then when we made it, we were right. So I would say, stick to your guns. If it feels right, if you love it, just keep going and don’t listen to anybody. People are going to tell you to stop. People are going to tell you it’s impossible. I am not living proof, okay? So don’t don’t ever stop with your dreams ever, because everyone’s going to tell you to stop. And you never know how close you are to your dreams. Right now. You are the closest you’ll ever be to your dreams. Right now you’re the closest, right? But let’s say you stopped believing in your dreams, or you stop focusing on what you want to do and you just stop. You don’t know. Tomorrow could have been the biggest moment of your life. And you gave up. See, for me, when I started making music, a lot of my friends that were making music with me, you know, this has been a long, long, hard journey, man. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and it’s a very hard life to do, you know, especially when all your friends, when you’re not making money, people are like, you need to get a real job. How old are you now? You think you’re going to make it at 25? There is no way people make you that ten and 12 and 15 and you’re just too old. And don’t listen anybody. Never listen anybody except for your heart and soul, bro. And you’re going to make it. If you believe it, you can do it.
Buzz Knight [00:16:27] Brother. I’m looking over the horizon and I see that Grammy performance.
Chad Tepper [00:16:31] I’m telling you, man, Look, I have some crazy dreams right now. Goals that make no sense. You know, I want a platinum plaque on my wall. You know, I want a number one song on the radio. I want a Grammy, I want a VMA. You know, I want sold out arenas and all that sounds so crazy. But if you go back to when I was a homeless kid and you tell me that I would have, you know, two Mercedes and live in a big house in L.A. and have the number 30 song on alternative radio right now, and a song with 10 million streams and all these big features and doing all these big shows and festivals. And I would say there’s no way in hell. So right now where I’m at, the dreams that I want are so crazy. But it’s all possible. Anything’s possible.
Buzz Knight [00:17:19] Thanks for being on Taking a walk, brother.
Chad Tepper [00:17:21] It was a good walk around.
Buzz Knight [00:17:23] Thanks to Chad Tepper for being on this episode of Taking a Walk. Taking a Walk is produced by Bob Malatesta. Taking a walk is available wherever you get your podcast, Spotify, Apple Podcasts. Tune in I heart and make sure when you find us on all those platforms, leave it to review. Share it with a friend.
About The Author
Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.
After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.