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Carolina Liar Biography
In his day-to-day dealings with members of LA's music community, there are two things singer Chad Wolf has heard repeatedly. One involves praise for his songwriting skills, which seem to effortlessly tow the line between infectious pop music and a deeper, darker rock discourse. The other: disbelief. How did your classic struggling musician, who toiled away at coffeehouse gigs for most of his adult life, end up in one of Europes biggest hit-making studios writing a full album of songs with a major label deal at his side? The story may seem far-fetched, some might even say too good to be true, but somewhere between accolades and accusations is honesty, which, ironically, is what Carolina Liar is all about.
Chad's musical aspirations started innocently enough. Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, he was introduced to New Wave through his sister, who was eight years older. The first record I ever bought was a 45 of Duran Duran's 'View to a Kill,' he says with sentimental pride. I brought it to my third grade class for show and tell. By the time he got to junior high, Chad had graduated to Iggy Pop, but the Euro-centric sounds of Depeche Mode, the Cure and even Falco had also made a permanent mark on his psyche. A career in music, it would seem, was calling.
So at 22, Chad grabbed his guitar, boarded a plane for the very first time and moved to Los Angeles. To make ends meet, he held a string of odd jobs working as an extra on a Celine Dion video, cleaning toilets in exchange for studio time and eventually landed an internship with renowned songwriter Diane Warren. It was then that Chad honed his own writing chops while anxiously absorbing any and all advice that Diane had to offer. At the time, my sound had no relevance, he recalls. Diane told me, 'You've got to go to Europe. They'll be able to relate to what you're doing and help give you some focus.' But, at the time, I really didn't have the means to get out of the country.
Which is where the story starts to get really interesting and, at the same time, unbelievable. The affable Chad eventually networked his way to a job at a small label, and through new relationships in the industry, found himself house-sitting for a friend of famed Swedish producer Max Martin. Max and I became friends but I never wanted to bring up music, Chad recalls. We'd watch Italian football together and I thought it was better to leave it that way. So Chad labored on and continued to refine his songwriting skills. But the day came when he decided that it was now or never and as fate would have it, a phone call that very night would mean things were going to happen a lot faster than he ever imagined.
No lie, on the very day I quit my day job, when I had no idea what I would do next, Max called at midnight and said, 'I just listened to one of your songs. If you can write three more as good as this one, maybe we can work something out.' Fast forward to a few months later and Chad is taking in the sights of Stockholm and recording with one the worlds biggest hit-makers.
The 12-songs on Coming to Terms were all co-written by Chad, who also collaborated with proven songwriters, like The Cardigans' Peter Svennson. Yet, the heart of Chad's songs though come straight from the source. The rollicking California Bound contains all the wide-eyed anticipation of life as a Hollywood transplant while the albums title track took on a more personal significance. 'Coming to Terms' came from thinking about losing my job, having a relationship go sour, and the anticipation of knowing that your life is going to change, he says. But it also came from the realization that the past isn't going to change. You have no power over it, so you have to learn to just deal with it.
Another song written during this time, Show Me What I'm Looking For, spells out that same sense of longing with one simple plea Save me, I'm lost yet carries you away on a ride of swelling strings and chimes. It's that combination of desperation and hope that's at the core of Carolina Liar's music, from the unapologetic All That Shit Is Gone to the soaring debut single, I'm Not Over.
Weeks in the studio found Chad and Max bonding over vintage guitars, A-Ha's overlooked second album and the latest from Robyn, Devendra Banhart and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It was a prolific time, but not without its challenges. There's been so much manufactured stuff, but I wanted something that you can stand behind Chad explains, where you can defend each and every verse.
Nowhere is this more evident than the moving Beautiful World. Inspired by a friend who suffered from manic depression, Chad describes the juxtaposition succinctly. Every day when the sun came up, it was constant anxiety something he couldn't deal with, yet here it comes every morning. It's like watching the news every day. Sometimes you have to lie to yourself and pretend that the world is a beautiful place, when what lies on the other side is just madness.
Something to Die For has a similar resonance, with Chad posing a question: You know what you're living for, but what is it you'll die for? Why is it so important for you to have coffee every day, would you die for that cup of coffee? It's one of the prevailing themes on this record where's the passion?
To that end, it was Chad's own relentless zeal and yet another chance meeting that brought him to Atlantic Records. I honestly never thought I would get this opportunity, he admits. I believed in the music, and I was never going to stop playing, even if that meant just coffeehouses, but after years of trying, I thought it would always be very indie. I never saw it turning into this.
But now that he has the platform and support, Chad is giving Carolina Liar his all. And if, by name alone, he's mistaken for a Swede or a female, he really doesn't mind, as long as the songs get a fair shot. The biggest thing I learned from working with Max is to not let yourself get in the way of a song, Chad muses. Let it do its thing and live on its own. It can speak very loudly.