Backstage News, Front Row Pics

Washington State’s A Lien Nation: Their New Album Deep Pockets + An Interview With Band Founder Chris Haley


It’s been a long, hard day…the stress has taken its toll and all you want to do is get lost in the kind of music that somehow manages to speak to that intangible part of you ~ call it your spirit ~ not just through its lyrics, but through the emotion in communicates, the kind that both transports you and envelopes you, that is both cathartic and inspiring… A Lien Nation ~ Christopher Haley, vocals & guitar, Casey Kunning, bass & backing vox,  John Cave, drums ~ has created that kind of music on a level seldom if ever heard any more, and before you are 20 seconds into the first track of their debut album Deep Pockets, letting go of everything that has built up inside you that day…or over the course of a lifetime…becomes not an effort, but rather something you realize only when the album comes to an end that the music has done for you.


Whole bandHow I’ve described A Lien Nation’s music thus far may have led you to believe that it falls into a mellow category to which yoga and relaxation-technique instructors are drawn ~ nothing could be further from the truth, but the intentionally ambiguous introduction shows where the genius of A Lien Nation lies; the band’s sound is indeed perfect for restoring the soul and rekindling the spark inside each of us, but Deep Pockets in particular is a kick-ass, balls-to-the-wall combination of epic, classic blues ~ as much scar tissue as musical genre, to which only those who have truly lived life can do justice ~ and rock n roll swagger that achieves the nearly impossible: soothing you while simultaneously making you want to go out and raise some hell, boasting tracks that transition from disarmingly haunting to pure rock radio gold and back again, and giving you substantive lyrics that make their way into your brain but don’t overwhelm you with their weightiness and let you just keep rocking out to what the band has dubbed “Outlaw Blues.”



A Lien Nation really deserves a listen (or many!), not a bunch of words, so I’d suggest that if you want to hear just how talented the originators of Outlaw Blues are, you waste no time heading over to  And this just in, there’s a brand new track,Fade,” that you definitely need to check out first!


Depending on which of their seven tracks you’re listening to, you might hear the influence of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Wolf Mother, Jack White, Jim Morrison, Skynyrd or Johnny Cash…but it’s as though they too recognize that A Lien Nation needs copy no-one ~ they’ve got their sound well under control and are going to take center stage, literally and figuratively, no matter what.



A Lien Nation’s Official Facebook Page




Chris was cool enough to take time out of his insane schedule (just hearing what he accomplishes in a day made me need a nap!) for a few questions, and his answers will serve as the perfect segue into my full interview with all three members of the band, coming soon.

Whole band2Chris, before I make a terrible faux pas and refer to the band incorrectly, should I use (and should our readers get to know you all as) Chris Haley and A Lien Nation  or as simply A Lien Nation?


The album was released as Chris Haley and A Lien Nation (as a backing band),  but since then it has finally grown into a full collaboration and equal parted band. That being said, the next album will be the switch to just A Lien Nation, as we are finally the band that I had envisioned for the last few years: a group that writes together and shares the same vision. I am looking forward to the future of this group.


Chris guitarOkay, now that we’re clear on that…First things first, how/when did you really discover music?

Music was my first notable interest as a child. Started with a small digital Casio piano on my 5th Christmas {that and my love for my dads records: specifically U2’s Joshua Tree}. Thats where it all started for me. Piano led to an eventual interest in school band. So yes, I was a band geek! Funny enough, I wanted to play guitar…well, they didn’t offer that. Next choice was the Bass..didn’t offer that either. And when I realized that I could only play a snare and not a full kit, I decided that the next coolest thing was the sax. So the alto sax it was. I played that thing all the way into college {and still play it today} and was known for my interest in Jazz and more importantly, the blues. My dad always told me that I wasn’t allowed to play the guitar until I could play 5 instruments in band. So guess what I did? I learned every instrument I could get my hands on. Sax, clarinet (all types of each), flute, etc… by this time I was sitting first chair in every group and playing in pit groups to live dramas with many instruments surrounding me. So on my 15th birthday, I bought a crappy wannabe Strat for $150. Ironically I discovered the guitar AND Jimi Hendrix around the same time. After that, it was all over. I was hooked. Despite my far superior talent on woodwinds, I could not resist the guitar along with the idea of starting a rock band. Thus started my long and confusing travels in the music industry. I played in many bands (in school and out) and have been writing music all my life.  I was that kid practically living at the local music store. In the words of Jack White, my goal was “…to trick all the old guys into teaching me their tricks…”  So no, I never took lessons, but was taken under the wing of a guitar hero of sorts in Olympia, Washington. Smitty used to come by my house every now and then to teach me some licks on guitar. I was about 18 at the time. He would walk in the basement I was renting at the time and would whip out a big joint (which made him cooler than the Fonz in my book) and then would blow my mind on guitar. He would record licks into this loop machine I had. Then I would spend the next weeks obsessing over his little licks on the recorder. Ironically I still have a few of ‘em saved that I never erased. Needless to say, this guy changed my world and I undoubtedly owe my perseverance to the encouragement that this guy gave me in my young years. I still visit him to this day and consider his friendship the closest thing to a mentor and or teacher that I ever had regarding guitar.


tinyInitial reaction when you read/heard “Guitarist and Singer Christopher Haley places in top 5 with Evening Magazine {#4} Best Musician in Western WA?”


Humbled, excited, and grateful. It was almost uncomfortable to be noted amongst such prestigious names. Jimi Hendrix, Dave Mathews, and Eddie Vedder were all a big part of my influences growing up. Seeing my name next to theirs gave me that excited kid feeling. Most importantly, I am grateful that people locally cared to take a minute and show me some love by supporting… meant the world to me.

You’re producer, vocalist, and guitarist…how’d you wind up in the band AND producing the new album Deep Pockets?


First off, I must give credit where credit is due. Eric Janko (co producer) was in fact a large part of the entire process. He and I proved to be a great team. There were many instances where he helped me through my ideas or even reigned me in when I was getting scatter-brained. We talked before hand about the concepts and desired feel that I wanted. He was very good at keeping me on target with my own goals. Ultimately this first album was the product of my personal vision. I wrote the music. A Lot of it is based off of songs I have had for a few years. So many people have come in and out of the picture in this group, but the concepts always remained the same. My goal in the studio was to properly reflect the material. I sat and made decisions through every minute of the process from tracking to mastering. As a band we are looking forward to the next album as it is shaping up to be a lot more of a collaborative effort between John, Casey and myself. Though this interview is geared towards the release of Deep Pockets, we are very excited to announce that we will be releasing a few singles in the next two months and possibly another full length album by the end of the year.         



The band’s name ~ intentional social commentary, play on words, a combination of the two?

Definitely a combination. I have always been heavily affected by my environment (duh…we all have). There is a quote that had a lot to do with the idea: “The cost of sanity in this society, is a certain level of alienation.” ~ Terrance McKenna.

The band name is a statement of our times along with a concept based on 3 ideas. 1. The concept of an Alien Nation, so to speak (take from that what you will), 2. The feeling of individual alienation in this ironically connected world we live in, and finally 3. A-Lien-Nation (a nation indebted). Not so much an emphasis on “Nation” but more so a societal concept of indebtedness and how it is implemented. How we react to all of this is up to us as individuals. The collective thoughts/ideas of ANY group of individuals can be extremely powerful…And that is where I will leave it.


And while we’re on the subject of names ~ Deep Pockets…irony related to the “Lien” reference, “I’d have to kill you if I told you” kind of hidden meaning, sudden inspiration from a pair of jeans with actual deep pockets?


[Absolutely] an ironic reference to the “Lien.” “I’ve got these holes in my pockets, they won’t let me hold onto nothin’…I try to sew ‘em up and burn the edges…My hand catches fire and all my change comes spilling out…” This first verse of the song expresses good intentions resulting in failure. The final verse, “Now my pockets overflow with gold…and I don’t care to hold onto nothin’… I try to show it off and burn some bridges…My heart catches fire, and all my gold comes spilling out…all for fat cats and a rush. I’ve spread myself way too goddamn thin…,” that’s about how money has a way of changing things/people. That is only a fraction of what is said on the album. You will have to listen hard to the lyrics in the tunes…we couldn’t afford enough pages for the lyrics. [Laughs] So no, we don’t have “deep pockets.” [Laughs]


Red Rpse


Not only do we thank Chris for his time and good nature, but for sharing the video for “Rose Red,” a new and unreleased song that will appear on the band’s next album, with us, because now we get to share it with you!  Production credit goes to ThinkPiece Productions.

Finally, here are some pics that will give you a glimpse inside the ALN world…enjoy!  Photos are courtesy of Chris Haley, Tony Spring of Fierce Bad Rabbit Photography, and Peter Max Cordova.