Local spotlight: Chris Madronich

Chris Madronich is a young musician native to the Niagara Region, and though he is currently pursuing his education in Ottawa, he still credits his smalltown roots for the creativity in his music today. Music is something that Madronich has been passionate about since a young age; he is seeing more and more success as he continues to explore his own musical abilities and has been involved in a number of CBC music competitions.

chrisMadronich’s music career started in elementary school when he began a musical program through the District School Board of Niagara in the fifth grade. He played the trumpet for nine years, participating in various jazz and concert bands. He also had the opportunity of playing with popular local jazz ensemble, More Bad News and The Horns from Hell. Madronich had moved to picking up the guitar in the summer of the sixth grade and immediately fell in love with the instrument. He wrote his first blues song for a school talent show shortly after.

In high school, Madronich transitioned to the bass guitar so he could tryout for bands who would be performing in battle of the bands in the area. He since learned to play the drums and says he has always enjoyed dabbling in the piano. Madronich’s talents have long since expanded and grown but he credits the trumpet for the musical and theoretical background he deemed as necessary to have become the musician he is now.

His current band consists of himself (guitar/vocals), Patrick Guenette (percussion), Nicholas Masciovecchio (guitar) and Mark Stephenson (bass), all of whom are from the small Niagara Region town of Port Colborne.  Madronich has known each member for a number of years through school and being friends-of-the-family with a love of music. Though Madronich is pursuing his education further away from his band members, they make it work when rehearsals are possible during breaks and summers.

“It is kind of hard to practice while we are all at school, so it takes a little more planning,” said Madronich.  “During the summer it was usually more spontaneous.  If anyone felt like jamming they would just shoot me a text to meet up and whoever was available would come.  Sometimes it was great to have one-on-one practices. It was good when I could practice just bass and singer, guitar and singer, drums and singer and then practice all together when we could. Practices also depend on what up-and-coming events we have because we’ll practice for a week straight if we’re going to hit the studio the following weekend.”

Madronich’s music covers a variety of genres, with rock and blues inherited from his own musical history and backed by his own original and unique lyrical imagery. He says it is difficult for his music to be confined by one genre because his inspiration comes from so many places and is continuing to grow.

“I have been influenced by the jazz scene and have been involved with jazz for a while but I ‘dig’ everything from The Guess Who, Jack Johnson, K-OS, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Blood Sweat and Tears, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Pederson to Miles Davis and of course, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers,” Madronich said. “When writing a song, I write it in my head with all of the instruments and harmonies that need to be there, then I write down the lyrics and try to put the thing together. Whichever way the song comes out is the genre of that song. To me, it’s become more confusing and complicated to define a genre when it comes to the full band. We have all been influenced by large ranges of genres and when we get together, we could take a song anywhere.”

“As a songwriter, I love the aspect of storytelling,” said Madronich. “I take my music to many dimensions by the lyrics I write, and I take a lot of time in writing lyrics.  My ideas for a story or a song, come to me very spontaneously.  Take for instance, a song I just wrote called “sexy shoes”. I wrote this song about a game I invented while on a train where I just tried to guess what a person is like by looking at their shoes. “Michelle Bell” on the other hand, is not a love song, but a story about a friend who I feel was not respected for who she really was. Then I have a song called “Survived the Grey” which is about a much darker part of my life. I try to always write about something different and out of the ordinary, or take a song about love and take it in a different direction. The topics will change even more over time.” Madronich has so far produced a lot of original music, reflective of his own musical interests and a resume of his personal abilities where he is able to create something on his own. He takes the same approach when doing covers as well, adding something to the song and revealing his own interpretation of the piece.

“I am always down to do covers, and have done them but I believe strongly in performing a cover in a way that is different and unpredictable. I try to interpret every cover differently than it’s supposed to be and if there’s no way I can do that then I’ll just do a different cover.” Madronich has played at a number of venues in Niagara such as the Crystal Chandelier in Crystal Beach. He and his drummer, Guenette, have also played at many festivals such as St. Catharines’ own SCENE Fest. He says that one of his favourite venues to play at is The Sanctuary in Ridgeway, which was once a church that has since been renovated into pub with its own microbrewery.  “Pat and I opened up for Michael Bernard Fitzgerald at The Sanctuary and I can’t wait to play there again.” Madronich claims his music has changed a lot over the years since he took to songwriting and says that although he can’t really pinpoint exactly how it’s changed, the way he sees his own songwriting has matured.  “I have some music from the beginning that I can’t even listen to anymore because I feel like it’s just too goofy and cheesy for me now. Now I like creating music that I care about because it’s satisfying even if other people don’t like it. I am much more confident as a songwriter and as a person which has allowed me to create music from all and any inspiration. I don’t hold back as much.  My music is a much better reflection of who I am now.” Madronich said that coming from a small town is what sparked his creative personality as there is no easy answer to boredom and claims that to overcome that you need to be creative.

“Songwriting was a great way to pass the time when there was nothing to do in a small town,” Chris said.  “Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I’ve represented my hometown as much as I should have in my music, and I realize that now that I am living in Ottawa. There is so much to be proud of, and there is so much to write about.  I plan on representing Port Colborne more in the future.” Madronich also credits how well the Niagara Region lends its support to all types of artists and says it’s a great area for inspiration due to its beautiful surroundings from Niagara Falls to Lake Erie with a surplus of vineyards and more. He says that if the inspiration is there that the music will come which is why Niagara has such a solid music scene.

“I don’t think there are enough efforts in getting youth involved, especially the high school demographic and I think there needs to be more events planned for this age group. For younger people, it feels like every time someone has a good idea that would help our community, there are ten more people that say “nay” and find a reason it shouldn’t happen. People need to be more open to the growth of art in Niagara and need to encourage it, not the other way around. It’s good for our youth and for our community,” Madronich said.

Madronich’s passion has lead him to be involved as a CBC artist, having been in CBC’s Search Light contest a few times. The band is currently involved in the “Rock Your Campus” competition where they would have a chance to throw a concert on his campus as well as $10,000 if he were to win. They are hoping to get the support both from their current homes as well as their local base.

“The CBC contests have also given me a glimpse at who else is out there and how far off I am from creating the same quality product that they have. It puts everything into perspective when you are competing against other bands and it has helped me grow as a musician.” Though he is currently stationed elsewhere, Chris Madronich is a true reflection of what the music scene in the Niagara Region is all about. He is truly passionate about his music and is always reflecting on how to improve and better himself as a musician. If you’ve never heard of him before you should take the time to listen to his work.  It’s an organic sound and his passion and love for the art are reflected in his performances. He and his band are currently working to have an EP done by the spring, but in the meantime encourages fans or fans-to-be to find him on Reverb Nation and also on the CBC website.  “There really is no greater compliment for me, than anyone who takes the time to listen to my music/lyrics whether they decide they like it or not. With today’s social media, there is so much useless, stimulating content that I believe people have stopped taking the time to listen to a full song, or hear someone out. People are attacked by so much useless information that from a one seven second video to another people don’t have the time to hear out quality music. Musicians are gearing their songs to the three minute mark, when we used to actually enjoy listening to a seven-minute master piece by Led Zeppelin. People do not have the same attention span as they used to, and the two minute song is where we are headed.”

“I put a lot of time into my lyrics and instrumentation, and try to create an experience within them. If you have the time to listen to my music, try not to only listen to what is stimulating, but try to dive deeper, listen analytically and interpret your own meaning. I believe all music is more satisfying if you get down to this level.” To access and listen to Chris’ music, visit reverbnation.com/chrismadronich or at music.cbc.ca and search Chris Madronic.

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