Living in Texas, Josh Logan seemed, from the outside at least, pretty settled. His band The Blind Pets earned a solid national reputation after approximately 20 U.S. tours, while his life in the small city of Dripping Springs, just west of Austin, was fairly slow-moving and stress-free.
But there was something nagging at him. An itch that The Blind Pets just weren't scratching. So about five years ago, he started an all-new project — a hootin’ and hollerin’, bluesy Americana-based deal going by the name of Chief White Lightning.
“I always had these other songs that I never felt right putting them in The Blind Pets,” Logan says. “I wrote all the material in The Blind Pets, too. I’d always go through these issues of keeping a drummer. I wanted to start a one-man band, and I stood and played bass, with one bass drum with one leg and snare with the other. Played guitar, sang and whistled. That’s how it all started out, and then I ended up meeting one of my now best friends, his name’s Jonas Wilson, at one of those shows.”
Wilson would go on to be Logan’s main creative partner on the Chief White Lightning project. It was he who convinced Logan to take it into a studio and lay down some tracks.
“At that point in time in my ‘career’ (for want of a better word), nobody had ever really taken a risk on me,” Logan says. “Anything I had got, I had paid for myself. Jonas went out and recorded the music, and then a couple of years later I got laid off from my job, right around the time we were flying to Portland to record what would be this record.”
The self-titled debut album was recorded in three days, and then Logan went home, jobless. He was cheered up by the feeling that he had just made a great album, and that feeling didn’t go away. When El Camino Media showed interest in releasing it, Logan gave himself a few weeks to consider the offer, then eventually signed on Christmas Day.
“The first record deal I ever signed,” he says. “I’m not religious or anything, but to say as an American that Christmas doesn’t mean anything to me, that would be a lie.”
In January 2017, Logan relocated to Long Beach in order to be closer to the label. He landed a day job at Made By Millworks, and has been plugging along ever since, getting the Chief White Lightning name out there as much as possible. It’s worth noting, by the way, that Logan IS Chief White Lighting. He calls his backing group The Good Times Band, and it has a revolving, fluid lineup. Meanwhile, he’s adjusting to SoCal living. He even dated Elle “Ex’s and Oh’s” King for four months — an experience he describes as “crazy.”
“It’s manic,” he says. “You can only imagine how crazy that would be. She was opening up for Willie Nelson. But then after we broke up, there’s nothing. It’s very manic, in the city. Do I prefer California over Texas? Man, I was living in a tiny home in Dripping Springs. When I wrote this record, a minute was an hour, a second was a minute. That’s how it is in the country. It’s not the glamorous L.A. life that I’m into — I’m more into going to Kern River or Lake Arrowhead. I’m definitely still very much a country boy. I love the ocean, and I like being able to go out in the water.”
After a year and a half, Logan says he has a love/hate relationship with L.A. He can be enamored one day, and frustrated the next. He enjoys the chill Venice vibe, and understands that Long Beach is entirely different.
“‘Nice’ is not their first foot,” he says. “Their first foot is to be defensive. I choose love, because hate is too great a burden to bear. It takes so much more energy to be difficult than it does to be easy. Some people are like vampires here. They crave that attention. There’s just no compromise to what they want. There always has to be some compromise somewhere, or your life is going to go to shit at some point.”
He also has no time for people who don’t consider Long Beach to be part of Los Angeles.
“I think about it like New York, which can be frustrating,” he says. “For me, in my mindset, I live in fucking L.A., just because it’s L.A. County. When you’re in New York and you’re in the Bronx, you’re in fucking New York.”
This week, Chief White Lightning performs at Harvard & Stone, and Logan says that he and the Good Times Band are indeed going to bring the good times.
“You’re gonna shake off that workday, and move a little,” he says. “Be a human being. Not post on Facebook. Your political beliefs, your race, your day — all of that stuff is out the door. All I want to feel is love in the room. People need more and more love now. We’re all here together, we can enjoy some good music together, and live life. That’s what you can expect — a good motherfuckin’ old-fashioned good time without internet connection.”
Chief White Lightning plays with Saint Cecilia, Color TV and DJ Tillie on Monday, July 9, at Harvard & Stone.