Headin' South With The Werks: Catching Up With Chris Houser March 13, 2018 14:40

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Ohio-based jam band The Werks are back on the road yet again, and this time, they're headed south for a highly anticipated return to Lexington (KY), Nashville (TN), Atlanta (GA), and Asheville (NC). Known for their inventive creatvity and constant musical exploration, this band promises to deliver a genuinely unique experience for their loyal fans each night. This year is already off to a hot start, as The Werks recently held the second annual Winter Werk Out in Columbus (OH) and have just announced the initial lineup for this year's installation of The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival. This year's festival, which is held annually at Legend Valley in Thornville (OH), will feature four sets from The Werks, as well as Umphrey's McGeeLettucePapadosio, TwiddlePigeons Playing Ping Pong, TurkuazZach Deputy, and many more.
In preparation for this week's run through the southeast, we caught up with lead guitarist Chris Houser to discuss everything from southern hospitality to songwriting strategy. We're also giving away a pair of tickets to Friday night's show at Terminal West in Atlanta. Share this post directly from our Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win. We will announce the winner at 12:00 PM on Friday, March 16th.  See below for the full interview, as well as further details on The Werks upcoming shows.
Atlanta is obviously one of the Southeast's musical hotbeds, and Terminal West is undoubtedly one of its premier venues. What do you guys love most about playing down here?
Chris: Southern hospitality is REAL! Terminal West is on top of the game as far as the hospitality standards go as well. The weather is usually nice and that inspires us a lot especially when traveling from the north most of the time.  The southern states seem to have a different appreciation for our type of music as they really seem to pay attention to the tension and release strategy of our playing and the response is always felt a little stronger down here.
The band is off to a hot start this year. The 2nd Annual Winter Werkout seemed to be a huge success, and you've now revealed a pretty serious initial lineup for The Werk Out in August. How vital have these homegrown events been to the continued growth of this band?  What are you most excited about for this year's Werk Out?
Chris: Homegrown is the keyword here. We planted our roots in Ohio in the beginning, and they have grown into an unimaginable network of family and friends that are incomparable to other states, as far as nurturing our imaginations, making us able to follow the dreams we’ve had, whether big, or small. For me, Home is truly where the heart is and the Werk Out and Winter Werk Out have become points of passion for us over the years. We’re proud to show our hometown friends and family what we’ve been up to each and every year. I personally am most excited to bring back Umphrey's McGee for their second year at The Werk Out, being a guitar player myself, they are second to none.
As a big fan of this band, I've always connected with the consistently uplifting, positive message in so many of your songs. Where do you look for inspiration when writing new material, and how do you feel that message can impact the listener?
Chris: We often look inside ourselves for inspiration. Sometimes the most uplifting songs come from a feeling of personal despair, and the words are us actually telling ourselves “things will be ok.”  “Compares To You” for example, tells the story of a man completely smitten by a girl whom he knows he will never have, but he tries and tries anyway because, “No one compares to you.”  The listener will ultimately hear what they want to hear from a song and relate it to personal experiences from their own lives, but telling a story that comes from our lives -and hearts- makes the connection real in whatever way the listener chooses to perceive it.
You guys have a truly special relationship with your fans. Each of you make a point to be accessible both before and after each show. That approach has built a very special culture amongst "The Werkers Union." Why is that such an important factor for you?
Chris: The personal connection is something that, in this day and age, has fallen off a bit. We are more likely to text someone nowadays instead of calling. We are more likely to be shy instead of starting the conversation. To me, when someone takes the time to talk face to face, it is infinitely more important and impactful than just saying hi or sending an emoji via text or Facebook. When I go see a band, it means so much more to me that I feel I know the person playing, and their notes seem to take on new life and reflect their personality more than if I was just watching or listening blindly with no background whatsoever.
For the casual music fan who might be (hypothetically speaking of course) coming out to see their first Werks show this weekend, what can they expect from that initial experience?
Chris: We hope to convey a feeling of joy, spontaneity, and willingness to adapt.  A lot of our songs enter a realm where one person starts a groove, and the rest of us take a moment to study it and adapt our minds to compliment said groove. A first timer might have a similar experience with a new group of people that he or she has met at our show. Our fans are always very joyous, spontaneous, and adaptive. We like to think that we inspire that in some way and the world needs more people like our fans in it IMHO. Werkers are our favorite people in the world and we wouldn’t trade them for anything. 
Watch the official recap from Winter Werk Out 2018 here:
The Werks: Upcoming Tour Dates
3/14 Cosmic Charlie's - Lexington, KY
3/15 Exit In - Nashville, TN
3/16 Terminal West - Atlanta, GA
3/17 Pisgah Brewing - Asheville, NC
3/23 Ophelia's - Denver, CO
3/24 Hodi's Half Note - Fort Collins, CO
4/13 Soundstage - Baltimore, MD
4/20-4/22 Earlybird Festival - Garretsville, OH
4/20-4/22 Backwoods Music Festival - Ozark, AR
4/28 - Boonies - Toledo, OH
6/21-6/24 - Electric Forest - Rothbury, MI
6/28-7/1 - Electric Forest - Rothbury, MI
8/2-8/4 - Werk Out Festival - Thornville, OH

The Werks Announce 8-Week Coast-To-Coast 2017 Tour November 16, 2016 12:54

Beloved Ohio jam rockers The Werks have responded to tragedy and transition by solidifying the strongest lineup in their decade of existence. They’re ready to launch 2017 with an 8-week coast-to-coast run in support of this effort, their fifth full studio release entitled “Magic”.  Full dates listed below.  Tickets go on sale 11/18 at

It all kicks off with a 2-Night Event in early February in Columbus, OH, the “Winter Werk Out Music and Arts Festival”, which is a sister showcase to the band’s 8th Annual Werk Out Festival, returning next August to Legends Valley in Thornville.  Count on two big nights with hometown heroes The Werks plus a host of national rock and electronic acts. 

Tour then heads to major cities in the Northeast like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, before a swing through the South, including favorite stops in Asheville, Atlanta & Charleston.  After that, they’ll hit the Colorado ski resorts as well as Denver, where the band will host their first ever “Werk Out West Music & Arts festival” over 2 nights, featuring multiple shows with The Werks and many other acts.

They’ll continue West through the Rockies with visits to Utah, Montana, and the Treefort Festival in Boise, before landing on the Pacific Coast and two weeks of shows throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. The tour then concludes with the band’s debut visit to Phoenix.

Catch their sensational blend of rock and deep electronic funk beloved by fans across the musical spectrum, as The Werks visit a town near you with special guests like Cure for the Common, Moogatu, and many more to be announced soon.

Tickets go On Sale Friday November 18th at

The Werks 2017 Tour Dates:

2/3/17 - Winter Werk Out Music & Arts Festival - Columbus, OH
2/4/17 - Winter Werk Out Music & Arts Festival - Columbus, OH
2/8/17 - Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY#
2/9/17 - Once Ballroom - Boston, MA
2/10/17 - The Foundry - Philadelphia, PA
2/11/17 - Gypsy Sally's - Washington, DC~
2/12/17 - The Broadberry - Richmond, VA
2/14/17 - Lincoln Theatre - Raleigh, NC
2/15/17 - Asheville Music Hall - Asheville, NC
2/16/17 - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA
2/17/17 - 1904 Music Hall - Jacksonville, FL
2/18/17 - Barrelhouse South - Savannah, GA
2/19/17 - Pour House - Charleston, SC
3/14/17 - Taos Mesa Brewing - Taos, NM
3/15/17 - Agave - Avon, CO*
3/16/17 - Barkley Ballroom - Frisco, CO*
3/17/17 - Werk Out West Music & Arts Festival - Denver, CO
3/18/17 - Werk Out West Music & Arts Festival - Denver, CO*
3/19/17 - Mesa Theater - Grand Junction, CO*
3/21/17 - OP Rockwell - Park City, UT*
3/23/17 - Knotty Pine - Victor, ID*
3/24/17 - Eagles Ballroom - Bozeman, MT*
3/25/17 - Top Hat - Missoula, MT*
3/28/17 - Big Dipper - Spokane, WA
3/29/17 - Nectar Lounge - Seattle, WA
3/30/17 - Wild Buffalo - Bellingham, WA
3/31/17 - Star Theater - Portland, OR
4/1/17 - Domino Room - Bend, OR
4/2/17 - HiFi Music Hall - Eugene, OR
4/4/17 - Humbrews - Arcata, CA
4/5/17 - Crystal Bay Club - Lake Tahoe, NV
4/6/17 - The Independent - San Francisco, CA
4/8/17 - Winstons - San Diego, CA
4/9/17 - Last Exit Live - Phoenix, AZ

* w/ Cure for the Common
# w/ Swift Technique
~ w/ Moogatu

Watch The Werks perform "Duck Farm" at AURA 2016 here:

The Road To AURA: Chris Houser of The Werks February 29, 2016 12:51

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

The 7th Annual AURA Music & Arts Festival is right around the corner, taking place at The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida from Thursday, March 3rd to Saturday, March 5th.  As a part of our coverage of the festival, we are sitting down with a handful of this year's performers for a series of interviews called "The Road To AURA".  Next up it Chris Houser (guitar/vocals) of The Werks.

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

As we progress into 2016, The Werks enters it's 11th year as a touring band.  The lineup has evolved over the years, but it's clear that the band's foundations have remained the same.  What stands out the most to you when reflecting over the past decade?

Chris:  Looking back on the past decade, I would have to say what has stood out most, to me personally, has been the will to survive. It hasn't been easy to keep doing what we do for so long. The road wears on our minds, bodies, and souls, as well as our interpersonal relationships with other band mates. I feel we've done what we've had to do at certain times and made sure to keep relationships good between former band members as well as current, although it may have taken some time to achieve in certain circumstances. As far as the music goes, I feel like we have always had a certain goal for achieving new heights through music. I just feel like we have kept getting better at it and have a more positive message as we go along.

This tour is obviously a bit different four you guys, as bassist Dino Dimitrouleas has taken an understandable step back to spend time with his family.  In the meantime, Jake Goldberg has stepped up to fill Dino's spot.  What is the band's history with Jake, and how has the transition been on the initial run of shows on this tour?
Chris:  We've been friends with Jake for a while now, and he's actually sat in for Dino on numerous occasions when Dino was unavailable in the past, which has made this transition much much easier. Jake started as a fan, became a friend, and now he's filling in during one of the hardest times in the bands history. Jake has added a new groove to the band during these last few weeks, and it's been fun having his outlook musically added to what we already do. While still holding true to Dino and Chuck's originally recorded licks, he has not hesitated to add his own flavors to the jams which is new and fun for us to use a jumping off points in jams.

Listen to "Drop" from The Werks' most recent album, Inside a Dream, here:

Over the years, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park has become the home to many of the nation's most anticipated annual music festivals.  What is it that differentiates Suwannee from other festival sites and makes it so special?  Do you feel the atmosphere has a direct effect on this music?
Chris:  The vibe at Suwannee is unmatched, in my opinion, by any other site in the region. The Spanish moss hanging from the trees is what always gets me.  I don't know what it is about it, but it makes me feel like I've gone back in time (laughs). The grounds seem to promote a laid back simplistic vibe that encourages relaxation and care free bliss. That's how I feel when I'm on the amphitheater stage looking at the people and the trees; pure bliss and relaxation. It pours through the music and brings us to higher climaxes as we seem to have maybe just a little more confidence when surrounded by such feelings, sights, and faces.
You guys are scheduled to headline the first night (Thursday 3/3) on the Amphitheater Stage.  How does this band go about determining the setlist for a major festival set vs. any other night on tour?
Chris:  We usually go by the feeling we get when we arrive at a venue and go by what jumps out at us. Recently, we've been trying to make sure that we aren't playing the same songs we did in years prior. This year, with Jake, we planned ahead (which is very abnormal, haha). We hand picked this years set honoring suggestions from our tour manager (Kenny Holmes) and our lighting designer (Alex 'Herm' Schneider). This one's going to be really good.

Photo by Josh Timmermans: Noble Visions

This year marks the 7th Annual AURA Music & Arts Festival.  You guys understand the amount of time and effort required to execute a festival of this magnitude as well as anyone, as The Werk Out proves.  What are some of the most important factors in establishing and growing a successful music festival?
Chris:  I would have to say that two of the most important things would be first: knowing when to say "no" when planning the fest. "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well, you just might find, you get what you need".  There's a fine line between having what you need and losing your ass. Throwing a festival is scary in that sense, because if you over shoot it, you could be screwed. Number two is: knowing when to say "yes". This is the hardest one for me.  There are so many factors that go into throwing a fest: between staffing, equipment/production rental, the lineup, food, lodging, transportation, hospitality, vending, parking, etc.  It can make your head spin. We, and AURA as well, have been blessed by learning over the years and putting the right people in the right positions that are trusted and have our best interest in mind. We have become very good at deciding when it is time to say "yes", and when it is time to say "no".
This year's lineup features a notably diverse variety of the festival scene's most exciting groups.  What do you think this lineup says about the depth of this music scene in 2016?
Chris:  It's fantastic to see such a broad spectrum on this years lineup, from The Disco Biscuits to Holly Bowling, from ALO to our good friends Broccoli Samurai, from Snarky Puppy to Nunchuck, and Thievery to Mike Dillon.  Wow..that really just sunk in (laughs).  This is going to be off the hook man.  AURA is always a fest that The Werks looks forward to every time we are lucky enough to be said "yes" to.  AURA is wonderfully doing its part to make sure you get as broad a spectrum of today's best music on one bill. Our scene is so diverse right now, and it only helps out every other band and fan, because it opens all of our eyes to what's really out there and what you never knew you loved.
Watch The Werks perform "Gameplan" at Catskill Chill 2015 here:

Catch The Werks on tour in a city near you this Spring!