Chad Wolf is one of those people who never lets a minute pass him by. I had a few minutes with him the other day and I found him to be one of the most inspiring and in touch musicians of our day. With the band Carolina Liar, Chad’s music has helped soul-searchers find their way with their biggest hit, “Show Me What I’m Looking For.” This is just a tidbit for now but you can see the full article in Saturday Night Magazine, published in November. Live your life the way Chad would.
LC: Because you’ve already have a very successful career in music, what advice do you have for students who think they might want to get in music?
CW: Don’t quit. Just work every day. The best lesson I ever learned was from this songwriter when I first moved to LA. I was interning at her company and she told me that she had just won a Grammy. She would come in the office, still beating everyone to work. I would say, “Diane, what are you doing here? You just won a Grammy—that’s a huge accomplishment.” And she said, “Well, Chad, it’s cool that I won the award but you’re only as good as your moment. If things start to work out for you, don’t get caught up. Accept that moment, enjoy that night when it happens but then you gotta go back to work. If you’re gonna get into music do it because you’re really passion about it cause it’s a lot of work. It’s worth it but you gotta do it every single day of the work. Don’t rest on your laurels.”
LC: That seems like a great part of this, that so many doors are open to you that weren’t open before.
CW: Never, nobody would ever take a phone call. It really comes down to that. If you get that one thing working, if the door is open, then go in and work. If someone’s going to give you an internship, go work for free. Work for free for as long as you have to doing what you love, the money will come. That’s the other side—don’t do it for the money. That’s the result of the hard work, that’s not what you should be working for. Work for your soul.
LC: So you recommend students following your passion. Not what mom and dad say will “make a career” someday?
CW: No, if you don’t you’ll have that in the back of your mind, no matter how old you get. Maybe I should have taken that chance, maybe I should have done it because life is so short. We’ve so many of our good friends pass away—young guys—and they never did what they wanted to do. What do you have to lose, especially in America? We have every opportunity in the world. Suffer it out, live on a couch, eat macaroni and cheese and ramen. It’s more important than having the fastest car or the coolest jeans. Do what makes you happy, you’ll be so much more fulfilled.
CW: I was one of those freaky kids that would sit in the swing set making up songs. It seemed like the perfect life because I always wanted to travel. I was never quite good enough at math or engineering but music I could do. It was innately there. I didn’t want to join the Air Force anything like that. Music will be it. I set my head on that goal. All my travel has all been because of music and songwriting.
LC: I love that you have that mindset. I learned in an acting class that if you have a plan B, you’ll fall back on it. You have to have a Plan A and stick to it.
CW: Sometimes life throws some really hard curveballs. I was so poor at one point in time. I had a budget of $25 a week. I had a plan to make that work. You could buy 10 pounds of potatoes for a dollar. Save the extra $2 or $3 and you save it and then you might be able to buy a steak or chicken. You totally find a way. I just found a tax form and the most money I made that year was $8,000, and that was in LA. I was just living on couches and doing whatever it took.
LC: So your dream kept you going.
CW: That was the only thing. There was nothing else. I couldn’t go out to bars or clubs unless I knew someone who was playing. But I was so determined to make it work. I was either determined or stupid, one of the two.
LC: And here you are now. Did you ever expect this?
CW: No, not all. Really I didn’t. I just moved into a new house and it’s still so overwhelming. You walk in and feel like someone’s gonna pull the rug out but then it keeps going. You keep working and keep your head down and hopefully it’ll just keep going that direction.
LC: It seems like gratitude is a big part of it.
CW: Yeah, just being grateful. So many people forget that you don’t do this on your own. It’s impossible. There’s no way, you can’t.
CW: People put their time, effort, and work. There’s thousands of other people that could be put towards someone else and they’ve chosen to believe that you can stand up to all the work that everyone’s put in. It’s a bit overwhelming at times when you see it like that. Like wow, these people actually believe in me. I better show up.
LC: How much do you think as a songwriter you should write for yourself rather than for the people producing it? How much of your personal creativity goes in to it?
CW: You have to write for yourself. If you don’t, you’re gonna go crazy. You play the songs so many times. We play “Show Me” two-three times a day. If you’re lucky enough for it to become a hit, you’re gonna play it for the rest of your life. You gotta be sure that it’s an honest thing because if not you’re gonna hate yourself. You’re going to hate going out to play for people who have earned hard money to come and see you and sing along. You have to deliver it like it’s the first time you’ve ever sang it. If you don’t write from your heart and soul, it will destroy you.
LC: Good to know.
CW: I think that’s what happens with a lot of people in any kind of work field. Yeah, they make a lot of money and you can buy any of that commercial stuff. The car, the family, the whatever and then you’re still left feeling empty. You never fulfilled that dream, you never went out and really gave yourself what you wanted. You settled because you wanted the security of the money and married the wrong person. It goes down that path if you don’t stay true to yourself. You’re gonna settle your whole life.
LC: Unsatisfying, to say the least. So how important have your band mates been in this whole process.?
CW: We’re a family. We all work together for everything. It’s a strange thing because you do become like a bunch of brothers. I mean, you take care of each other and you do have your little squabbles. These guys have put in time and energy and belief into this project. Without that, this wouldn’t happen. They put so much faith in this and with this energy, it makes it work.
LC: So what’s next for you guys?
CW: There’s possibly a touring coming up in October. We’re just waiting to see if everything is good to go. The album is going to release on the 27th of September and we’ve got a couple of concerts coming up.
LC: That’s so nice that you have so many projects in the works. My generation was taught to pick one career and stick to it, but really, you can be 10 different things if you want to be.
CW: Especially now because you have the ability to multitask. Our parents were raised with the idea to have one job all of your life. Now most people only work one job for five years and then they get a new job or they develop something new. The world is changing so drastically fast. Things are dying that were fixtures for 20, 30 years. Newspapers, video games, the post office. Dying forms of media.
LC: So what do you think? Do you expect the worst or hope for the best?
CW: I always hope for the best. I always see the silver lining for everything. People tell me to start seeing people for what they really are but I would rather be let down later than expecting to be let down to begin with. That’s a terrible way of living. Why? Why would you even want to start there?
LC: Good to be an optimist?
CW: Life is easier being an optimist. What other option do you have? Why would you want to be covered in misery thinking doom and gloom?
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook