Framing Hanley’s Chris Vest Talks about the New Album
“The Sum of Who We Are”!

Josh Belcher At Rocking Gods HouseOne of middle Tennessee’s best hard hitting rock bands is getting ready for a big month in April. They have announced that they will release their third album, titled The Sum of Who We Are (Imagen Records) on April 29th, 2014. The band started a project to fund the recording of the album. It is completely fan-funded, with over $60,691.00 pledged to help Framing Hanley successfully record their new album. Learn more about it here! In many circles, Framing Hanley has been rumored to have ties to the Christian music scene with songs like “Hear Me Now,” “Built For Sin,” and “Home.” I can see how this band might be compared to other artists on the Contemporary Christian Music charts. But contrary to popular belief — and this is confirmed to me by the band themselves — they consider themselves a secular band. They are a great group of southern gents, and they make Nashville and the rest of middle Tennessee very proud. My cousin Ryan Belcher is the lead guitarist (shameless plug), so I guess you could say I am kind of biased. But it has been proven: I am not the only one that truly appreciates their talent.Being a drummer myself, I enjoy interviewing and learning about the drummers of bands — often the unspoken hero of the group. To me, the timekeeper is the quintessential backbone to any great band and deserves props whenever possible. Chris Vest is my case in point. He has been with Framing Hanley since the band’s inception in 2005, and he is a killer drummer to see live. He puts all of his heart and soul into his performance, and he is a showman and an incredible entertainer. He has a very intricate way of flipping his drum sticks in the air during a performance that I myself have yet to master; but he is so cool and nonchalant with it that he makes the difficult task of stick flailing look easy. (Hint Hint: maybe he will show me one day.) I spoke with Chris about their new album, what it was like being in a band with my cousin Ryan Belcher, and how Chris conducts life as a Christian in a very popular secular rock band. To Chris Vest’s credit, he is punctual, intelligent and very well spoken. He makes the drumming community proud!

For people who may not be aware, how did you guys choose the name Framing Hanley?
We were originally called Embers Fade, and there was actually another band called As the Embers Fade that was discovered right as our band got signed, and we talked about doing a name change. And about the same time, a really good friend of our band, Ashley Hanley, passed away in October of 2006 in a car accident. She was a really good friend to the band, and we wanted to do something to somewhat honor her. She used to take pictures for our band, hence “framing.” Naming our band Framing Hanley was the least we could do for someone that means so much to us. We all thought it would be a really nice tribute.

Do you think with this third album you guys have grown as a band, and how has your writing process changed?
I definitely think we have grown as a band and as musicians. I really think that is going to show itself through the music on this new album. Not to say there was anything wrong on our previous CD, but we were kind of just getting acclimated with Ryan as our new lead guitar player. Now we have had some time to really mesh together and really get used to each other.

What is your favorite track to perform on the new album?
Wow. It is still so fresh that it is really hard to decide. I’m sure it will change as we play shows live. The ones that are full of energy and bash really hard live are usually my favorite ones. One of my favorites on the new album is “No Saving Me,” just because of the writing and everything that goes into the song.

What is it like being in a band with my cousin Ryan?
He is one of the more laid back guys of our group. He is kind of the one where when some of us are bouncing around ideas he is great with collaborations and coming up with ideas with songs — either playing our ideas on guitar or playing something he thought of that really may work better. His playing speaks for itself in many ways.

So he is keeping the Belcher family name proud and representing it to the fullest?
Yes. [laughs] Most definitely.

Is it difficult being a Christian in a popular secular rock band?
For me it is not, just because there are different beliefs within our group and everybody is really respectful of each others’ opinions, and we try to give each other that respect. I think more so in the touring world it can be more difficult at times because I am kind of thrown into different environments. I was in this music even before I became a Christian, and in my walk and growing as a Christian I have always felt like it has been a chance to shed a little bit of light in the darkness. I think it all depends on what God calls you to do, and I think if you are called to walk where there are people who can uplift you and give you that motivation then that is great, and sometimes he sends people in darker areas to shed some light. And that is what I try to do, even if I speak to someone to let that be the little bit of difference that might spark a conversation or plant a seed in somebody’s life.

You do really cool tricks during performances flipping your drumsticks. Have you ever lost control of a stick, and if so what happened to it?
Yes, I lose sticks on a nightly basis. I am sure if anyone comes to the shows, they have probably seen me drop more than I actually catch or lose control of one. I have just got to the point where I laugh it off and keep going. I have had a couple of times that the sticks will bounce and land a foot in front of a guitar player, and they will look back at me and wonder where that just came from. I have actually busted both my eyes at different shows where I had gotten a little too much into it and hit myself. When the adrenaline is pumping, you don’t even realize it until someone looks back and says, “Hey man, you’re bleeding!” [laughs]