BY CERVANTE POPE // Creswell-native waxes poetic in ever-changing Portland
For a town with a music scene as invigorating and thriving as any larger city, there is no shortage of crazy characters and creative kooks to see dripping sweat onto any given stage. They’re all interesting, to say the least, but one of the most strangely charismatic humans that’s captivated an audience sans shoes has definitely got to be Chad Davis.
You’re guaranteed to have seen him around town, be it slinging your drinks at the Hophouse, or in one of or all three of Chad’s bands – Ah God, Hands In and Talkative. All grant Chad the opportunity to get a little weird and wavy for intrigued viewers. But anyone who has gotten the chance to converse with him (and witness his extreme Jack Nicholson-esque voice) off the stage can quickly see that he isn’t your “typical Portlander,” or really that much of a typical person at all.
Hailing from Creswell, a small town nearly 20 minutes south of Eugene, Chad lived a life not really exposed to anything diverse or intriguing until he attended the University of Oregon. A town devoid of anything interesting or entertaining left almost everything to the imagination doctors tried to suggest he suppress.
“I wasn’t exposed to anything until I was, like, 20 years old. I didn’t even know what Thai food was until I was 22. I didn’t download a song until I was 16 and it took two days,” he recalls with laughter.
It makes sense then that Chad played sports, like his two older sisters, even captaining his football team. He became the ultimate all-American teen by playing lead in one of his school plays and being voted as prom king. Yet, at age 19, his best friend Dallas got him more out of school-based extra-curriculars and into more musical activities.
Chad and Dallas have been friends since Chad was a wee six or seven year old. They still kick it to this day, as Dallas has in some way or another been a part of damn near every Ah God album. Back in the day, the two even palled around in a magnificently named band together, Blast Majesty. If you’re able to, check out their 2009 album Summertime Bummertime. It’s a real treat.
Though Dallas eventually ended up returning to Creswell, Blast Majesty thereafter became Ah God and Chad ultimately began translating his poetry into lyrics, as the main songwriter of the band. For him, he says, “Poetry is like stream of conscience. It’s raw. Then I take the parts I want and make them more refined for songs.” Aside from his prose, a few local bands-Meth Teeth, Eat Skull and the Hunches-served up as some inspiration as well.
He can say with confidence, though, that big name “Top 40″ bands have never really done much for him, and he hopes to not ever be on a “Foo Fighters type” level, because he feels it ruins the craft.
“It wouldn’t be honest, sincere. Truthful. I get a catharsis from it. If I don’t write the tunes then I’m a pointless thing. I got nothing,” Chad says. He lives by this truth and digs on other bands that are of the same nature, like Grandparents and Ladywolf. His opinions in general are just as entertainingly poignant.
Such keen thoughts flow from Chad freely and he doesn’t tend to hold judgment, even towards the easily irritating Miley Cyrus. Though he thinks pop music is pretty ridiculous, he does like “Wrecking Ball” and is overall pretty supportive of her career.
“She could be uptight and act like a super rich shit, but I think it’s cool that she’s all naked on the side of the road with funky glitter wigs on. She can do anything she wants,” he says. He’s right, she can do what she wants. And with what us old-schoolers are now deeming “nu Portland,” he’s just as forgiving.
“If it gets bad enough here, I’ll just go somewhere else. I don’t have to identify with Portland all the time, or anywhere really. I think it’s sad that people get pushed out because they’re poor. I feel like I’m gonna get pushed out soon, but that’s cool. We’ll go make somewhere else the best part of town. We’re what makes it good. Not the buildings, even though we love them and have a lot of sentimentality towards them.” To hear a nondescript view of Portland’s inevitable gentrification is not only sweet, but refreshing.
With such a big heart and an even bigger mental scope, Chad Davis makes for both a great friend and an outstanding musician.
He and the rest of Ah God are getting ready to drop a new tape and hopefully releasing another one soon after. You may catch his co-director credit on the new Is/Is video, but you’ll for sure spot both Talkative and Ah God on Joel Magid’s Mt. Portland compilation vinyl. A true gem of a man, his music is just as raw as his logic and his desire to simply exist.