Chris Gheran
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Chris Gheran

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Chris Gheran wants to be your Friend"

Chris Gheran and I were sitting down to dinner at Lido Café, where the jukebox lined walls and past-era décor easily set the mood for an interview with someone who should have been born in the '60s, but missed out by a decade or so. Mixing elements of early bands like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Bright Eyes, sprinkles of Johnny Cash and hints of modern indie like The Shins, Chris' songs sound aged, as though they were transported straight out of those same dark corners and moments his idols were playing live by a musical time machine.
Chris has always seemed like sort of an enigma to me - painfully modest but infinitely talented, hilarious at times and almost shy at others, raised on The Beatles but unafraid to sing along with Depeche Mode. Sit him behind a guitar, however, and all ambiguity disappears. Chris loves music. Period.
Chris' recordings are homegrown, recorded himself on an 8-track in his basement. While the lo-fi might make ADHD sufferers squirm, it actually adds to the music rather than detracts, providing that irresistible old charm that the sound wouldn't be the same without. It becomes impossible to imagine songs like "Woodgrain" or "Running Around" as polished, studio hits. It just wouldn't be Chris Gheran. "I'm not John Mayer," he laughs, and thank God for that. Chris should always be making music on his own terms - modern theatrics aren't made for his music, nor would they be remotely suitable. 
Live, Chris commands the stage with a quiet sort of authority that you can only earn by being really damn good at your craft. His sets are electric. It's almost heartbreaking to watch - the emotion in his face is like that of a defendant confessing to a murder, every line being carefully chosen and sung with desperate sincerity.
"I think it is a bit of an effort to be honest," says Chris. "A lot of the time it's me staring at the wall, wide-eyed for (literally) hours, trying to get the words straight. One thing I really admired about The Beatles, especially John Lennon's album John & Yoko… everything they wrote about actually happened to them. I try to keep it personal - but also poetic." Not one to get bogged down in the seriousness of it all, Chris then beams, "I also really like to use the F-word." He smiles, and takes a sip of his strawberry milkshake. "A lot of what I see in people inspires me, it's a butterfly effect," he adds, "but I'm always thinking about how I can get better, how to inspire people. It's weird, because I'm feeding off people, and yet, I'm trying to inspire them. It's like a lizard that eats its own tail." Of the social commentary commonly present in his songs: "The things I talk about in my songs, the things I say we need to change - I really do believe in this crap!"
Music is deeply personal for Chris. He readily admits, "I started playing guitar in junior high. School wasn't my focus - I lacked direction. I was kicked out of my house." Though those days are long gone, Chris remarks, "Music is [still] all I have. At my last interview, the guy asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I said, 'Make albums.' That's for me. That's what it's all about." When Chris looked me in the face and said, "If I didn't have music, I'd be dead by now," it was with an alarmingly genuine sincerity. "It's something I absolutely rely on." Unsurprisingly, Chris blushingly admitted he was actually living on $9 and a half sausage this week.
The future is bright for Gheran, however. He's in talks with Lukes Records (The Pants Situation, Lions and Tigers and Bears) about an album, has a demo quickly on the way, and is regularly playing shows. His fan base is extremely dedicated. His music is the kind you get excited about, and just have to tell someone it exists. Byran Craig of Secret Broadcast said it best: "That kid, with the right push, could go places." Here's hoping.

Chris' music and show information can be found at

- BeatRoute: Joel Klettke Mar 07

"The monster and the lute player"

“When I was young, I used to draw until I realized I was terrible at it,” laughs local songwriter, Chris Gheran. “I wanted to play guitar and I started smoking because the Beatles did both. I realized then that this was my artistic outlet.”

There’s no drawn out metaphorical riddle, this is Chris Gheran’s authentic character. He’s an optimistic and sorrowful hybrid - not one or the other, but simultaneously both in every word he speaks. An unassuming individual, he’s quiet in his approach, direct in his words. These traits are obvious in his first full-length, Monster, released in October. Monster is a 13-melancholic-track, Dylan-esque storyboard - the kind that defines an artist’s ability to write.

Recorded at Sundae Sound, Gheran was surrounded by his Graveyard Gang consisting of members of Snow Smart Patrol (James Cochrane, Tim Horan, and Josh Fraser) and close friends.

“It took six days in total at ten hours per day,” he smiles.

Despite loving a full ensemble backing him, he holds solitude in a special light.

“As far as recording goes, I like to do it myself. It’s the same philosophy I have about my life. If you do it yourself, you can never blame anyone. You only have yourself to hold accountable.”

Stalwart comments like the aforementioned make Gheran come across as an old soul or an older, more accustomed artist. In reality, he’s still a young musician facing a crowd with just an acoustic.

“As far as playing shows, I really don’t enjoy playing by myself,” he says. He humbly posits, “Who really wants to listen to me play acoustic guitar while I yell into a microphone?”

Currently, there is a lot of people willing to hear him. The keen attention beginning to swell around the small frame that is Chris Gheran has not gone to his head. Although, he admits that the attention has him thinking.

“I think differently about how I want to say what it is I have to say.” He lingers on his last sentence, you can tell he’s uninterested in giving that thought too much value. Then, that warm smile emerges from his face as if he’s realized there is more lyrical fodder in its struggle than detriment.

He has his muse, he is content.

- BeatRoute: Dario Verrelli Nov 08

"5 Questions for... Chris Gheran"

Q: You're majorly influenced by The Beatles and Bob Dylan and you've defined your music as "hard folk." How did you arrive at that description?
A: I was playing a show at the Hi-fi last year and this guy came up and said you guys are like a hardcore band, except somebody gave you an acoustic guitar rather than an electric. I mulled it over for a while, this hardcore folk idea, and eventually I started calling my music hard folk. Sounded right!
Q: You're 27 now. When did you start writing songs?
A: I started playing when I was about 14. I was an ADD (attention deficit disorder) kid, supposedly, which I always thought was a bit of a farce. I just didn't like going to school. I'd rather be doing my own thing than be told what to do. . . . But my parents were like 'What's wrong with him? He can't focus.' So when I came home and announced I wanted to start playing the guitar they thought 'This is great, he's expressing interest in something!' And that's pretty much all I did from then on.
The problem with Ritalin and Dexedrine, the pills they give to ADD kids, they focus you all right, but you have to choose what you focus on. I'd be walking to school and then I'd say 'Nah, I wanna go home and start writing songs.' I felt like somebody was dangling a clock in front of me. I didn't have time to sit down and listen to anybody else. It was like 'I have to do what I wanna do, right now.' . . . I left school about the middle of grade 12 and focused on music.
Q: So your new album Monster is your first full on band and studio recording, but you used to record your acoustic songs on an 8-track in your basement, didn't you?
A: Oh yeah, I used to record them for the all-ages shows I would play. I have a double CD of 60 or so basement recordings which I'd like to release someday. I'd make each CD individually and hand make individual covers for each one and then sell them at the shows for five bucks.
Q: Join The Army is a standout track on this record. How did that one evolve?
A: My cousin is in Afghanistan right now... and I found it really interesting when he joined. I've always been fascinated about a soldier's mind. I don't understand how anybody develops the mental tools to be able to deal with a war situation. I have no idea how that works. When he was going away I started to write that song.
I like it because it feels like a classic 1960s protest song... but it's not anti-troops. People have said to me' I won't wear a support the troops button,' but I've always felt like a soldier's just a man. Don't wear a support the war button. But like the song says 'It doesn't matter whether you're a doctor or a butcher or a train conductor. It doesn't matter to the guys at the top cause you're all soldiers.' That really fascinates me.
Q: I love your backup band's name, The Graveyard Gang. Where does that come from?
A: I got it from a TV show I saw on PBS, Lemur Street (a drama documentary that follows the lives of two families of lemurs, one dubbed the grave-yard gang because they live in a graveyard). Before they came along my last backup band was called Rebel Scum. That's from Star Wars. I'm a huge Star Wars fan!

- Calgary Herald: Heath McCoy Nov 11 08

"Disc Picks: Homegrown"

To Say That Calgary Singer-songwriter Chris Gheran's hard-folk sound is heavily versed in the Beatles and Bob Dylan may just do the lad an injustice, because who isn't influenced by those guys? The difference between Gheran and his fellow classic-rock scholars is this: he really learned something from the greats, and he adds his own flair and a scrappy, post-punk energy to the mix. All of that makes monster one of the finest locally produced discs of the year. - Calgary Herald: Heath McCoy Dec 23, 2008

"2008 another rich year for Calgary music"

Chris Gheran’s, self-described hard-folk runs the gamut on his disc Monster from energetic post-punk and Dylanesque bite to jaunty cabaret pop, Britpop, Clash-rock, Beatles-rock and more. Not a bad set of touchstones, really, and Gheran, literate tunesmith that he is, proves on song after song that he has the skills to pull it off.

- Calgary Herald: Heath McCoy Jan 6 2009

"CD Review"

Most of the time that music is playing in my presence, searing guitars flay skin from the bones of the weak, and I stand on my desk shrieking loudly, hands held aloft in victory. But every so often I need to turn the tempo down; sometimes Crom needs to get introspective. For many moons there has been a derth of worthy music to soothe the beast, and there are only so many times you can play “Blood on the Tracks” before its lost any and all meaning. Fortunately, there is a light in the black.

I was standing in my living room, waving a broadsword around, the usual Saturday afternoon, when a fellow warrior told me of a soothing new voice. I frantically jammed the CD into my computer, jacking the speakers up to the bleed line, and sat back in the lazy boy, waiting for the first strings to waft my way. A rainbow sprang forth from the speakers, and made it possible for me to again believe that solid tunes can be produced not only in our day and age, but in our area code as well.

Chris Gheran is a folk-rock pimp, rising through the levels of amateur smog that chokes the local music scene, and dodging the bullet of imitation with each new tune he releases. A local boy who swings with a mighty bat, Chris has slowly gained notoriety through the local music scene over the last few years, plying his wares across town, popping in at the Blind Beggar, Vicious Circle, Rusty Cage, and Broken City. Chris has endured the venues, and small-time song contests. In fact, though I have no clear memory of how, several days later I was packed into the Snatch RocknRoll bar (a place I adamantly refused to go) where the Fuel 90.3 Big Rock Contest was taking place, and Chris had hit the semi-finals.

Gheran had brought along the Gang, a trio of instrument-wielding thugs who bludgeoned the room with rhythm. I slurped down Rum & Coke, pounding my fists on the bar in time with the music. The band is versatile and the good time they’re having on stage is infectious. Who knew that whistling could actually sound good on stage? The rum flowed strong as the boys brought out an array of talent: trumpet, piano, 3 guitars, no bass, some bass, all bass; it felt like the Allman Brothers Band had jumped on stage, as the lads gave a showing finer than most the live music I’ve seen in a decade. I laughed along with “Monster”, and whooped hard during the refrain of “Join the Army”; a good time was had by all. Sadly the boys were undone in the voting by a corrupt system, and my complaints went unheard as I was violently expelled from the bar for calling the panel a group of brackish whores.

But Hark! There is hope still friends, for the Gang has finished their battle in the studio and the band’s first professional mixed CD is coming out. Oct 3rd the Gang unleashes “Monster”, and Chris Gheran will use his soothing voice, to push the sun back into the sky, and give us one more day of summer.

- Crom

"CD Review"

Beatles- and Bob Dylan-influenced folk-rocker crafts engaging album.
Tapping into his inner guitar hero and enlisting his band’s penchant for crisp beats and soulful melodies, local songwriter Chris Gheran effortlessly rolls through some 13 tobacco-stained ballads and Beatles-inspired shack-shakers on his debut release, Monster. Revealing their playful side, Gheran and his band (made up of his current associates The Graveyard Gang, as well as a few ringers) tip their hats to Bob Dylan on the toe-tapping ditty “Join the Army,” then wax elegant to deliver the stormy “Ghost King, King of Ghosts.” Framed by two equally earnest versions of the singer-songwriter’s darling “Woodgrain,” Monster is an engaging and immediate album that somehow manages to reinvent itself with every deliberately crafted track.
Gheran will celebrate the release of Monster with a show at the Blind Beggar Pub on Friday, October 3.

Posted by Vitamin D on Oct 6th, 2008 at 10:17pm
The Cd Release party was Awesome!! Blind Beggar was the perfect place to have it :)

- FFWD Weekly: Christine Leonard Oct 2 08

"CD Review"

There are a variety of scenes and emotions that can be conjured in 55 minutes listening to songs from Monster. Chris Gheran has a deep and husky voice which effectively conveys the contrast between strong and sweet aspects. The lyrics are slightly wordy in some songs, but overall are clear, down-to-earth and even inspiring. There are decent dynamics between Gheran and the rest of the band as their instruments create rustic and serene sounds as well as powerful and military-like tunes. But surprising elements like xylophone do not fit well with any of the songs, including some of the softer offerings.

Not only do the tracks call up the feeling of a busy, rustic '70s bar, they almost echo the Beatles and other beloved pop bands of the past.

- Gauntlet, U of C: Spun - Susan Park

"Gheran brings Graveyard Gang to campus haunt"

Sitting in a booth at the Lido Café in Kensington, Chris Gheran is twitching with nervous energy. 

Hanging out with Gheran is like chillin’ with a hilarious cousin you haven’t seen in years, one who makes you laugh ridiculously at anything and everything.

“I make a lot of jokes, that’s the way I deal with my nervousness,” he says. “It’s kind of like the best defence is a good offence.”

And while Gheran’s jokes might be hard to express on the page, in person his creative genius shines through. You can’t help but be thoroughly entertained in his presence.

Within his music, Gheran’s lyrics express some bizarre themes, beginning with his obsession with monsters and ghosts. 

“I really like emotional, thoughtful songwriting (pause) −about monsters,” he says.

This interest manifests itself in the title track of his new album. Monster is a fun and enthusiastically upbeat song embodying Gheran’s self-described style of “hard folk.” 

In his earlier solo work, Gheran did a lot more “soft, sweet songs” that can still be found on MySpace. But with the band, “things get a little out of control,” hence the slightly harder folk on the new album.

His manager (and mom) Jackie Bourgaize says while Gheran has difficulty focusing sometimes due to his attention deficit disorder (ADD), for some reason this was never a problem with singing and songwriting.

“When it comes to music –oh my god– he writes these intense lyrics, verse after verse after verse and remembers every word,” says Bourgaize.

“That was what he was born to do.” 

Gheran attributes his ability to overcome his ADD to the nature of music itself. “Within music, it’s like a whole other world,” he says. “You can focus on so many different things, my style of writing and playing is very conducive to a rapidly shifting focus.”

Gheran expresses his unique perspective in his tour stories as well.

During a recent tour to Revelstoke and Kelowna, B.C., Gheran stayed in a budget hotel room he describes as being “like watching a Tarantino movie on a tiny screen.” 

In the morning, he says he felt as though he had “inhaled mold spores.” But instead of being worried about his health, Gheran hopes the spores will lead to a “symbiotic relationship” like the one between Spiderman and spider venom.

“I can only imagine it would go one way –superpowers,” he says, and then laughs.

And this is the fabulous vision one can expect from Gheran on stage. 

He appears as a young man given super powers to overcome whatever obstacles have been thrown at him, and to not only play some great music, but also to have the crowd laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

“I just think that the world is too hilarious in all its stupidity,” he says. “The world’s out of control, and I’m wondering if everybody else is noticing that, or if like am I the only one?”

- Weal, SAIT: Ruth Lloyd Oct 08

"Chris Gheran: Track by track"

While much of Calgary’s independent music scene prays at the altar of Sonic Youth and Animal Collective, Chris Gheran’s musical tastes point backwards to the hallmarks of British rock and Dylan’s glory days. Throughout his recently released debut album Monster, Gheran nods his head towards his heroes, fitting right in on a mix tape of ‘70s classic rock and ‘90s BritPop. In the process, he’s carved out a unique place for himself within the local community.

“Automatic Millionaire” flirts with Ray Davies-style narrative and horn arrangements in its tale of a downtown working man set to knees-up jaunt. “Blame the Sun” settles next to Noel Gallagher’s mid-tempo Oasis ballads, while “Ghost King, King of Ghosts” toys with that patented quiet-loud-quiet early ‘90s Seattle sound. Yet Monster is at its best at its mot stripped-down—the closing solo alternate take of “Woodgrain” focuses in on the song’s simple beauty, without embellishment.

Spending his daytime hours working at one of downtown Calgary’s busiest music shops, Gheran’s the type of artist/record store-worker capable not only of making some killer recommendations, but charming you into adding Monster to your listening stack while he’s at it.

Chris Gheran
On the songs of “Monster” (his album, not R.E.M.’s, Steppenwolf’s, or Herbie Hancock’s)

Track by Track

Hope for the Best “I wrote that song entirely on an old organ with a drum machine. I turned on three beats, mixed them together, and turned them up as fast as they could go. It was pretty hard to reproduce with a live drummer.”

Woodgrain “I was listening to a lot of Ryan Adams when I wrote that. I had a friend who was in love with this girl, and we took the title ‘Woodgrain’ and both write songs with the same title, and then compared our songs.”

Join the Army “We were out to dinner with my cousin, and he’s in Afghanistan now. I wrote that the night we had his going-away dinner.”

Ghost King, King of Ghost “That one’s a song I wrote in a band called tough Ghosts. All of our songs were either about monsters or zombies or being a Chinese Citizen. They were all really fun songs about mythological, or supernatural-type stuff. That was one of the ons I kept from that band.”

Automatic Millionaire “I didn’t have a name for it for, like four years, until I went it into a bathroom in a bar and there was a book on the floor called The Automatic Millioniare. That song is so much fun to play.”

Dance, Dance Revolution “All the verses in the song are about stuff that really happened. The first verse talks about when these guys mugged my friend and me, and tried to stab my friend. The second verse holds my views on religion. That’s a recurring theme in my songwriting. I really wonder what’s up with religion. But every Mormon I’ve met has been so nice, so maybe that’s the one. They know about my questionable lifestyle, and they’re so kind. Still, I’m not about to convert. I don’t like rules.

Britannia Rules the Waves (Still) “The first line is, ‘I thought I’d write you a song / the perfect words I have not found yet.’ I had a rendezvous with a girl I really liked but she was with someone else. Her name’s Brittany, and whenever I write a song about a girl, I use a play on her name. She’s my girlfriend now, so that worked out OK.”

Blame the Sun “I just remember waking up in the morning. Brittany had stayed over, and I walked her to the train, got super drunk, wrote that song, and recorded it.”

Train Wreck “I went to my parents’ house one day because they have a piano and I don’t have a real one here. I was recording ‘Automatic Millionaire’. I called the bus and was going to take it home, but started playing this chord and bass line, and ended up writing that song in five minutes and recording it really fast.”

Modern Times “I ordered something in a restaurant and got my order, and the portions in North America are way too large. I just can’t believe how out Western culture has evolved to be so excessive and wasteful. Wasteful not just of materials, but of out time and energy. Just trying to make more money to buy fancy stuff, which I say as I look at my XBOX360. I would get rid of all my friends before my XBOX.”

Monster “I wrote that song when I was sleeping with this one girl, but was far from in love with her. It was more like two people playing a tennis game together, rather than an actual expression of love. I’ll take an emotion that I feel and just embellish it into an extreme version of how I feel. You have to embellish and lie t tell the truth.

Maggie “It’s all about a girl named Megan that I really like at the time. I’m like Don Juan over here, but without all the style and charisma.”

- Swerve: Mark Hamilton Nov 08


Chris Gheran writes and sings his fresh Hard Folk the old-fashioned way. Think acoustic. Think lyrics that touch your soul. Sounds like John Lennon. Writes like Bob Dylan. Charms like George Formby.

  1. Monster (2008) rocks out his Hard Folk band style;
  2. Coup d’etat (2010) is a solo collection of unique perspectives on war and society;
  3. Calgary (2011) has a calico sound;
  4. MATTERHORN (2012) was recorded in his own studio.



Chris Gheran writes and sings his fresh Hard Folk the old-fashioned way. Think acoustic. Think lyrics that touch your soul. Sounds like John Lennon. Writes like Bob Dylan. Charms like George Formby.

Monster (2008) rocks out his Hard Folk band style; Coup d’etat (2010) is a solo collection of unique perspectives on war and society; Calgary (2011) has a calico sound; and MATTERHORN (2012) was recorded in his own studio.


Highlights include "Quite Like You" a song written in only 7 days as part of the global Acoustic Guitar Project, showcasing at Folk Alliance in Kansas City, East Coulee Springfest, and Calgary Stampede, along with songwriting competitions: South Country Fair and Calgary Folk Music Festival.

Chris’s Digging Holes Military Tour through Canadian Forces Bases, field batteries, and Army Navy Air Force Vets changed his life and spawned demo "Sergeant At Arms". “Elephant Man” placed second in South Country Fair with a Best Performance overall. Chris showcased at Folk Alliance, Canadian Music Fest and the TransCanada Alberta Music Series (headliner). He performed at the Kaleido Festival and Breakout West.

Chris rode the rails with Ian Tyson in a city tribute and showcased at the Arts Touring Alliance Alberta Showcase, played in Medicine Hat’s Tongue on Post Festival, performed at the Calgary Folk Music Festival (judged 2 CFMF Youth Songwriter Contests). Chris has confidently opened for The Fray, The Doll Sisters, Lucas Chaisson, The Wailin’ Jennys and Jonathan Richman.

McGraw-Hill Iverson lists Chris’s “Pieces of Stone” video by Doug Cook as a teaching tool for Canadian schools

Chris continues to perform at two farmer’s markets and hosts Gallery House Concerts Society once per month.

Band Members