INTERVIEW: Chase Huglin discusses love, death, and relationships on debut album

chase huglin

Chase Huglin is a man known to many, but spread across a few different identities. To his local friends and counterparts, he’s known as “Entourage Music employee in Fort Wayne, Indiana” Chase Huglin—the version that might sell you a record at a modest price while playing a local show in the area on occasion. To the internet, many others know him as “Internet merch group celebrity” Chase Huglin—a person who’ll crack jokes, find common ground, and become a casual acquaintance in your social media stratosphere. To most of his fans, however, he’s known as “Indiana-based singer-songwriter” Chase Huglin, a solo artist playing music in the vein of Citizen’s Mat Kerekes, Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull, or Kevin Devine. No matter the relationship someone has with Huglin, however, one thing is for certain: Whether you just met him, or have known him for years, Chase is undoubtedly passionate about music and wants to share it with everyone he meets.

After putting out last year’s EP, Glow, Huglin wanted to set himself apart from the pack, in an attempt to grow up and mature with his music. In comes You Deserve An Island, Huglin’s debut studio album that’s as heartfelt and patient as anything the artist has done to date. Yet it also possesses an earnest, somber quality that can only come from years of experiencing tour life, friendships, relationships, and everything in between. You Deserve An Island is the full realization of Huglin’s current vision—an aspect of one’s craft that many artists take years to try to find.

Substream recently sat down with Huglin to chat about the new release, his tour with SayWeCanFly this fall, and the relationships he’s developed over the years.

Growing up in Fort Wayne, how would you say your time in the area influenced you as a musician? What is the community like?
CHASE HUGLIN: The funny answer would be me saying “the Midwest made me emo,” but, honestly, I love Indiana; it really feels like home. I went to my first local show when I was in middle school and I remember seeing Brideandgroom (Jordan from the Ready Set’s old band) play a barn and everyone screaming the words and I just thought that was super cool. I started playing solo shows when I was like 16; I wasn’t very good and I played every show I could get, but the local community saw what I was doing and definitely helped me out. It’s not the biggest music scene in the world but it’s definitely a supportive one and the first one to really give a shit about what I’m doing.

Are there any artists or bands that inspire you as a musician?
So many! I guess I’ll answer with a local band, a big-time band, and smaller band. Locally my favorite group is probably Great Flood Catastrophe. That band was so cool and melodic and I loved it so much. They always put on an incredible show. There are lots of bigger bands that I could say influenced me, but Manchester Orchestra probably did the most; their writing style really opened my eyes. I really dissected Andy Hull’s music when I began writing Glow as well as You Deserve An Island.

This fall you’ll be on the road with SayWeCanFly, who you’ve known for a little while now. How did the two of you initially meet?
I first met Braden from SWCF actually about a year ago while I was helping my best friend Casey Bolles by selling merch for him. Casey was opening for a SWCF headliner at the time, and I really loved Braden and the team. One day, Braden reached out to me on Twitter and told me he was listening to Glow and we exchanged numbers and have been buddies ever since. He’s really had my back and I can’t wait to hit the road with him again.

As someone who tours practically relentlessly, what have you learned in your years of being on the road?
That’s a tough question to answer. Right when I feel like I have the touring thing figured out, something goes wrong. But really, I just have to take it day by day. Everything is fixable and will sort itself out, which is actually something I learned when I worked at a car dealership before I started doing the full-time touring thing.

You Deserve An Island  [is out today]. With this being your debut LP, what kind of an impression did you want to make, for both fans of your music and those who are just coming in?
Well, I definitely wanted to stay true to myself. I was kicking around the idea of doing a full-band record but that’s not me, so I made 10 honest acoustic songs that were still similar to Glow but more mature and thought-out. I wanted to make a record that had choruses that you could sing along to, but with lyrics that will make you think and maybe feel the emotion.

How did you want to grow from your past material, mainly Glow, which is what you’re now currently known for by most?
I wanted to make something more mature. I really loved Glow for what it is. It really opened doors for me, but that’s it. It got me an incredible fan base, but with the way that record was recorded, it wasn’t very appealing to certain people. So with the new record it’s a much cleaner studio sound, and more careful, honest lyrics. I always tell people this, but if I knew I was going to get signed off of Glow I would’ve done everything differently. And not to be cheesy, but with You Deserve An Island, I think I did it right.

An interesting aspect of this record is that every track tells a unique story. What went into constructing such a precise direction?
Of course. This record starts off on a intro track that I really wanted to set the pace for the record. It’s a song where I was trying to create a setting and a mood. I wanted the listener to feel like they were somewhere else listening to that song. I felt like it was a great start to the record. But each song is about different things; some are about girls, some are about my mom, some are about different relationships I’ve made on the road from touring. I wanted to create a record that has a theme, but every story is different. No song on this record is about the same thing. Some songs are about mourning a death, and feeling like all your friends are doing things they don’t want to do but they do [them] because it’s “cool” or what seems “right.” On songs like “Niagara”—people think it’s a song about a relationship, but really it’s a song about keeping things that a partner has given you and you don’t have the heart to throw it away.

What led to titling the record You Deserve An Island?
It would be hard to tell this story without mentioning the guy who did the album artwork, Brian Manley. I lost my mom to colon cancer just a month before Mother’s Day, and it was on Mother’s Day when I was trying to stay far away from all the sappy posts about other people’s moms because I knew it would make me upset. But I ignored my own rule and was scrolling through and saw a really interesting post; I seriously wish I could remember who shared it. But it said, “A mother deserves an island, don’t just give them flowers,” and this was really heavy on me. Basically, to me, what it meant was, you don’t appreciate someone enough when they are around. Be the best friend to someone when they’re around you. I remember telling Brian that story and he was on the same page as me, and created the most vibrant, beautiful art for this record.

What kind of a relationship did you have with her?
Great. She was my best friend, and I’m not even just saying that. Any time I’d get home from whatever, I’d go in her room and tell her I made it home safe and give her hug. It was the same thing with when I left; I would call her daily. Last year I spent a lot of time touring alone, so I would always call my mom to keep me company on the road.

A lot of your mom’s passing comes out in the lyrics of “Folded Hands,” the final track on the album. Was it difficult to put to words what you wanted to say about her, seeing how it’s such a difficult thing for many people to go through?
Weird enough, this song just really wrote itself. I knew that this song needed to be about my mom, and when I stumbled across those guitar chords, I just started singing and it felt right. It was just a stream of words once I started, and I really loved the idea of making this track 10 with a big, full-band part right at the end, and very silently finish out the song with my favorite line I’ve ever written: “Six feet under the ground and you’re still the best part of this earth.”

Fun side note: The last line of this song was done in one take, wasn’t written at all—just came out and felt right. There was no vocal editing on it either. It was a completely genuine emotion, and probably my favorite moment of the record.

Last question: One thing that’s been a big calling card of your work ethic and music career is all of the personal friendships you’ve developed through social media and touring. Was it a conscious effort when you started to make music to develop such personal relationships?
Last year when I first started touring alone, I realized that if I don’t start making friends in each city I go to I’m going to feel really alone at these shows. Now my favorite part of touring is seeing old friends and going out to eat and hearing stories about their lives. I want to be friends with anyone that supports me. It seems right. If someone takes the time to listen to my music and connect with it, I should take the time to interact with them. It just seems fair. S

Huglin’s record You Deserve An Island  is out now on InVogue Records and can be purchased here. If you’d like to see Huglin this fall, and possibly become his new friend, you can check out a full list of dates below.

11/3 – Toronto, ON – Hard Luck Bar
11/4 – Philadelphia, PA – Voltage Lounge
11/5 – Cambridge, MA – Middle East Downstairs
11/6 – New York, NY – Studio at Webster Hall
11/7 – Kittanning, PA – Radioactive Events Center
11/8 – Lakewood, OH – The Foundry
11/9 – Pontiac, MI – The Pike Room
11/10 – Columbus, OH – Park Street Saloon
11/11 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s Rock Club
11/12 – Burnsville, MN – The Garage
11/13 – St. Louis, MO – Fubar
11/15 – Denver, CO – Moon Room
11/16 – Salt Lake City, UT – Billboard Live
11/18 – Orangevale, CA – The Boardwalk
11/19 – Van Nuys, CA – White Oak Music
11/20 – Anaheim, CA – Chain Reaction
11/22 – Mesa, AZ – Nile Theatre
11/23 – Albuquerque, NM – Blu Phoenix
11/25 – San Antonio, TX – Korova
11/26 – Fort Worth, TX – Tomcats West
11/27 – Houston, TX – Scout Bar
11/29 – Orlando, FL – Backbooth
11/30 – St. Petersburg, FL – Local 662
12/1 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade (Hell)
12/2 – Nashville, TN – Rocketown
12/3 – Greensboro, NC – Arizona Pete’s
12/4 – Freehold, NJ – GameChangerWorld