Photo © 2019 by: Roman Sobus
An interview with Bishop Briggs:
By: Dennis M. Kelly
Dennis: Hey Bishop! How’s it going?
Bishop: So good!
Dennis: Thank you very much for taking the time today, I appreciate it very much!
Bishop: Oh my God, I am so excited that we’re talking!
Dennis: As am I! So you had a phenomenal sold out show in Philadelphia last night and you’ve got another sold out show in Washington DC right now, right?
Bishop: Yes, yes, I am at the venue right now. We are playing 930 Club tonight and crazily it is sold out so I’m really excited! I think DC is an awesome place!
Dennis: I am so happy to hear that not only are you on a headlining tour, but selling them out! We’ve watched your career blossom since you played the Double Door (pictured left) many years ago and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of all your successes.
Bishop: Thank you very much!
Dennis: You’re most welcome! So, we have a lot to talk about, we’ve got the tour, Champion (the album) which is available for pre-order now, so that is astronomical in itself!
Dennis: Everything we’ve heard from it so far has been blowing the lid off of your previous works, so you have a lot to be proud of already!
Bishop: Thank you!
Dennis: You’re very welcome. You’ve always had such a down to Earth demeanor and you’re always so exposed in your writing that while some of the subject matter may not always be so pleasant, I think it helps fans identify and connect with it.
Bishop: I hope so.
Dennis: Yeah, I mean, pretty much everyone has gone through bad relationship situations at one time or another and I am very sorry for what you’ve went through, you certainly don’t deserve that regardless of what happened.
Bishop: Thank you, that’s so sweet.
Dennis: Anytime! So, let’s talk touring here… we cannot wait to see you here in Chicago on November 15th at the Vic Theatre, you always put on an amazingly energized show and Chicago loves you! But looking ahead to December, I was wondering if you’re going to be hitting your hometown for an early holiday gathering?
Bishop: Yes, yes, I truly can’t wait! I actually had a few of my extended family members come out to the show in New York from Scotland and just seeing them, its so grounding and always a fun experience and with my stage name, it was always because I wanted to be reminded of home, so yes, it is a stop on the tour and I told my family members they don’t need to buy tickets (laughs)…
Bishop: …but they’ve invited the entire neighborhood, but its very, very sweet, I’m very, very lucky.
Dennis: It sounds almost like the perfect opportunity to record your first live concert video.
Bishop: Oh my God, yes!
Dennis: It would be the perfect homecoming video with how far you’ve come (as a person) and having traveled the globe, I cannot think of a better time for something like that for you. Maybe even make it a fan-made concert video from everyone’s cell phones like other artists have done.
Bishop: Yeah and also having the opportunity to be that intimate and vulnerable you know with my entire family. As much as theres a part of it that is scary, I also feel like there’s no safer place than with the people who knew you when you had braces (laughs)
Bishop: When you were an awkward looking person… So as much as there is a little bit of nerves associated with being that intimate with my entire family it still is part of it and something that I’ll always look back on with total glee.
Dennis: Totally understandable and I think it would be great! Also on your tour will be a stop in Switzerland, you’ve been to Switzerland before, right? Or no?
Bishop: I think it might be my first time actually.
Dennis: Oh really?
Bishop: But who knows. (laughs)
Dennis: Then you’ve got to go skiing, are you a skier?
Bishop: Ah… I like the jacuzzi part of the skiing
Dennis: There you go!
Bishop: You know you’ve gone skiing and you’re in the jacuzzi and you’re waving at your friends who are on the slopes (laughs), that is the part that I enjoy. But I have skied before and it was randomly in Osaka Japan, very casual and I was seven and it was quite extreme and an intense experience to have.
Dennis: I’m sure, I mean, I’ve never skied myself, but in Switzerland, it seems like THE thing to do.
Bishop: Yes, yes. So, hopefully we can fit some time in.
Dennis: Well you at least gotta get some Swiss chocolate then. (laughs)
Bishop: YES! The jacuzzi and some Swiss chocolates are my cup of tea.
Dennis: There you go! I know you’re pretty much based in LA, but with all the traveling you do, what is the longest you’ve been in one place and what would be too long for you to be in one place?
Bishop: Its really crazy, I lived in Hong Kong for eight years and I didn’t know if I would stay in a place as long as that, but I am coming up to ten years in Los Angeles which is really exciting, but yes, I am always on the road. While I am on the road though, it is usually a maximum of 48 hours.
Dennis: Thank you! Now back to your wonderful album, theres a lot to discuss here. I know it is the most personal album for you, but I will let you take it from here.
Bishop: Yes, I feel really excited and proud of this album. I wrote it non-consecutively in two weeks, it was a really condensed period of time and it really felt like verbal diarrhea, I mean, I know it is an intense visual to have but it was as if my skin was inside out and I just started showing up at studios and just released my demons in the room as best as I could and I think something that was helpful in the making of this was that it was something that I needed to do rather than even wanted to do. I felt that it was something really important in the grieving process and I think when you experience any heartache in order to heal from that heartache you have to really cleanse your body and your being of the things that you went through and hopefully on the other side you can learn from the things that you’ve experienced and forgive that person and forgive yourself for anything that happened along the way.
Dennis: I can relate, I had a very bad bout of depression after a break-up and what I connected with at that time was the Cure’s Disintegration album which came out around that time. I know this is quite a bit different in that I didn’t write the album, but I connected with the album and I think that is part of the end game for you. Part of me is a little afraid to listen to the whole album for the potential of the heavy emotions that I suspect it might have and it might be hard to listen to.
Bishop: Whenever I played the songs from the album, I felt my cheeks get very flushed because it is very intimate and I think something that I realized in this entire process was how alone you feel you know you really feel like you’re the only one experiencing this and I really just wanted this album to be something that would be that form of comfort that someone isn’t alone and be able to wipe their tears away and tell them it was going to be OK and it gets better and so the thought of having something where someone was going through anything that was bringing them any sort of pain and they could listen to this album and just feel a tiny bit better and I feel like even the album you mentioned, it is really about telling some truth. When I think of Adele’s album and when I think of Amy Winehouse, these were such specific stories and moments and people yet it was so universally gratifying and we all felt that pain and we all related in some way to experiencing that pain in some way in our lives
Dennis: I couldn’t agree more Bishop. The difference I see with your album that gives me hope in listening to your album (when thinking about the heavy emotion aspect) is that there is a sense of empowerment; a sense of hope with the song Champion in particular.
Bishop: Aww, thank you.
Dennis: You’re most welcome, despite the feelings that you’re feeling, whether relational or whatever else you’re going through…
Dennis: …Everyone has worth and it is important to remember that and by your (almost) mantra with the song Champion as you had said in other interviews as a mantra for yourself…
Dennis: …it is also a mantra for other people to realize their own self worth.
Bishop: Oh I hope so.
Dennis: Yes, there is too much darkness in the world and God bless you for bringing hope and light to people because there is truly too much darkness in this world. Now, Church of Scars came out at a totally different place in your life for you, so how does the album compare for you to Champion?
Bishop: Well, I think something that is really lovely about the first album and I’ve heard other artists talk about this too, where you don’t even realize that you’re making an album, so there is this ease at which it happens and for me with Church of Scars, I was touring and it was really over the course of a couple years that it came together. I feel like on a completely subconscious level I was hiding, you know I was hiding behind my own metaphors and poetry and I feel with this new album, there really wasn’t any room to do that, I felt like I would be doing a disservice to myself if I wasn’t to tell the whole truth and a lot of that was being painfully direct and making sure that whoever was in the room with me was someone that I was really close to or someone that had an empathy for what this type of thing feels like. So, I think that was a really big differentiating factor this particular album being so specifically timed and happening so quickly, I wanted to make sure that when I finished it that it was a couple months later when it came out if not sooner. I think the main difference would be that with the new album, I wanted to make sure that it was the cover that I wanted and I wanted to make sure that it was words that made me uncomfortable that really pushed me as an artist to be as straight forward as possible because I do feel that is the most healing and helpful way to do it.
Dennis: I can completely understand where you’re coming from, thank you. Now you have ten songs on the album and I noticed the first song on the album is called “I Still Love You” and I really have to say, I respect that it is the opening song. Not knowing the background on what you went through, I feel it is so important that the first thing you saw with the album is I still love you.
Bishop: Aww really? Thank you!
Dennis: You know there are [some] artists out there that would bash former boyfriends or girlfriends, but you lay it all out there and say I still love you and I really respect that.
Bishop: Thank you so much, I never heard it interpreted that way, so I appreciate you taking that from it. It was the first song that was written when I went to London to try to write. I had to get out of Los Angeles because it was too hard being there and I wanted to release everything that had happened and be strong and have learned all these lessons and the first thing that I wrote on my paper was I still love you and it was that confusing feeling of I know that everything was painful and hard in the end and I know all those things to be true but its really hard when something ends despite each of you loving each other deeply and I think that with starting the album, I really appreciate you describing it that way because there is still so much love there.
Dennis: You never stop loving each other, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
Dennis: It doesn’t mean that it has to end in a really bad way…
Dennis: … it is a further example of how amazing you are as a person that you are smart enough and whole enough as a person to realize that not everything is going to work out and you took the best from each other and that doesn’t always mean that it is going to work.
Bishop: Totally, and I think something that was really eye-opening for me was learning about timing and I didn’t know how much relationships had to do with timing and the timing being right and I think if there was to be a future with me and him this album really had to happen and he would say the same. It was part of the grieving process for me and a part of the forgiveness for everything that we went through.
Dennis: So true Bishop, so true and it is so good that you see all this, you’re really taken this experience and turned it into such a powerful growth movement for yourself. I think there are very few people in the world that can take depression, isolationism or grief and turn it into a fuel for your soul to propel you even further than you ever could have without it, which is why you really ARE a Champion! Speaking of which… how did Tom Morello get involved in the with the song too?
Bishop: Its so unreal, I truly can’t fathom when I was writing that post to tell the world about it. I truly couldn’t believe what I was typing and I am obviously forever a fan and have forever been a fan so its just so surreal and I feel like it really does take the song to a different place I would love to perform it with him live one day…
Dennis: Chicago… bring him over for the Chicago show!!
Bishop: That would be amazing!
Dennis: We’ve also been loving the Jekyll and Hide video and the twist on the name and it gives a feel of a live performance yet the black and white gives it an old-school horror feel with the Jekyll and Hyde. Really well done!
Bishop: Thank you so much! I feel really proud and excited about that track and its been really fun to perform live so I can’t wait to perform it in Chicago!
Dennis: Yep, November 15th! It is coming soon at the Vic Theatre…. we can’t wait! Well, unfortunately my time is up, but I wanted to thank you for all you do and even more simply, for you ‘being’ you. The world is so much better with you in it! See you soon at the Vic Theatre!
Oct 22 – Atlanta, GA, USA – Tabernacle
Oct 23 – Saint Petersburg, FL, USA – Jannus Live
Oct 25 – New Orleans, LA, USA – City Park
Oct 26 – Dallas, TX, USA – Canton Hall
Oct 27 – Austin, TX, USA – Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
Oct 29 – Phoenix, AZ, USA – The Van Buren
Oct 30 – Flagstaff, AZ, USA – Prochnow Auditorium at Northern Arizona University
Oct 30 – Flagstaff, AZ, USA – Prochnow Auditorium at Northern Arizona University
Nov 1 – Los Angeles, CA, USA – The Wiltern
Nov 2 – San Francisco, CA, USA – The Warfield
Nov 4 – Vancouver, Canada – Commodore Ballroom
Nov 5 – Portland, OR, USA – McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
Nov 6 – Seattle, WA, USA – Showbox SoDo
Nov 8 – Salt Lake City, UT, USA – The Complex
Nov 10 – Kansas City, MO, USA – The Truman
Nov 12 – Saint Paul, MN, USA – Palace Theatre
Nov 13 – St. Louis, MO, USA – The Pageant
Nov 15 – Chicago, IL, USA – Vic Theatre
Nov 16 – Milwaukee, WI, USA – The Rave / Eagles Club
Nov 17 – Detroit, MI, USA – Majestic Theatre
Dec 7 – Glasgow, United Kingdom – Saint Luke’s & The Winged Ox
Dec 8 – Manchester, United Kingdom – Manchester Club Academy
Dec 9 – London, United Kingdom – Islington Assembly Hall
Dec 11 – Amsterdam, Melkweg
Dec 12 – Hamburg, Germany – Uebel & Gefährlich
Dec 13 – Berlin, Germany – Metropol Theater
Dec 15 – Cologne, Germany – Die Kantine
Dec 16 – Zürich, Switzerland – Mascotte
Dec 17 – Paris 20, France – LA BELLEVILLOISE