Raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier, Chuck Prophet went on the road as a musician straight out of high school, eventually going solo after a stint with the psychedelic rock band Green on Red.
He settled in San Francisco early in his career, and remains a loyal resident of the city to this day, with frequent forays up to Sonoma County, where he has performed live at the HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol and the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, and on Santa Rosa's KRSH Radio.
Evolving into a potent singer and songwriter who can be plausibly placed in the same general category as Tom Petty, Tom Waits and even Bob Dylan, Prophet, at 40, is just as direct and incisive in his conversation as he is in his lyrics.
With a return engagement coming up this weekend at Sebastopol's HopMonk Tavern, Prophet took time to talk about his music and career:
<strong>Q: You just had a big national and international concert tour this past spring, right?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> We criss-crossed North America and Europe a couple of times for our last record, "Temple Beautiful."
<strong>Q: Are you planning to come out with another album early next year?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I've got a lot of songs that I'm trying to wrestle to the ground. I don't really know what I'm doing. I don't have that kind of Chairman Mao sort of plan. I wish I was that organized, but you know, I'm not.
<strong>Q: Do you see a shift in your own songwriting over the years? Are you going in different directions now?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> Every record is different, in terms of songwriting. I realized that every record is a reaction to the one I had before. That's how I'm able to get up and be interested in what I'm doing every morning. Whatever I can do to keep myself interested, that's what I do.
<strong>Q: The imagery in your lyrics is very rich. You have religious images, a lot of pop culture and a little bit of doo-wop music. Is that a conscious choice?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I don't know. You get some chords and you start singing stuff, and you hear it bounce back off the walls. It's like honking your horn in a tunnel. If it sounds cool, you keep doing it. If you write a good song, it's a great feeling. It's usually followed by depression, because you wonder where the next one's coming from.
<strong>Q: You're deeply rooted in San Francisco, but you've performed in Sonoma County a lot over the years. What brings you back?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> We just enjoy that area up there. We played in the Cloverdale Plaza last summer for some people who had seen us before, and we took some new prisoners, as well. It's really great for us to go play and then come home and sleep in our own beds.
<strong>Q: Is live performance especially important to you?</strong>
<strong> A:</strong> I like playing live. I like having a great rhythm section, and I like leaning back into the rhythm, playing guitar and singing the songs. When it's all clicking, there's really nothing better.
<strong>Q: It's interesting how eclectic your lyrics and music can be, yet you always have that straight-ahead beat. Does that make your music more accessible?</strong>