Austinite in L.A.: Chief White Lightning

Josh Logan talks dating pop stars, stage get-ups, and more

Josh Logan, aka Chief White Lightning (Photo by Jack Grisham)

Hours after his van crosses over into Travis County, Josh Logan is bellied up to the bar in my barn, glowing red in the light of a neon sign and possibly also from the sweltering heat. The former Austinite then proceeds to breathlessly recap the 15-city tour he just wrapped as Chief White Lightning.

The longtime local, who fronted homegrown power trio the Blind Pets, now resides in Los Angeles. His current single “City’s Alive” is prominently featured in the new Happy Madison flick Father of the Year as a drunken David Spade fights an inflatable tube-man. As such, a wave of recent press around his project’s self-titled debut builds mystique around the Chief White Lightning persona.

Austin Chronicle: Last September, shortly after you moved to L.A., there was an article in Us Weekly titled “Elle King is Dating Rocker Josh Logan: Details!”

Chief White Lightning: My life went from zero to 5,000 miles per hour. I’m a New Mexico kid from tumbleweeds and dirt, so going to the Hollywood Hills where dreams are made, flying first class and staying in nice-ass hotel rooms, was insane.

We flew to Georgia for her to play with Willie Nelson. While Elle was rehearsing, Willie’s drummer Paul English, who’s a motherfuckin’ legend, is standing by the door listening to her practice. She’s got such an incredible voice and she’s so talented. People probably can’t see that on Ex’s & Oh’s or America’s Sweetheart, but on her next album you sure goddamn will.

I walk up and Paul says, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just wanted to hear her.” So I introduced them and it was like he was meeting somebody he thought highly of. It was crazy. What has Paul English not seen, times a million? Yet here he is, standing at the door, listening to this girl I loved.

A week later, we fly to New York for another show and she asks me to go with her to pick up her platinum records from RCA. We go to this room of about 10 people, including the president of RCA, and everyone’s drinking fancy champagne and there’s Elle’s photo right above Alicia Keys and right next to David Bowie! It was mind-blowing to be there.

Anyway, we’re in is upper-level music industry thing and there was this guy, who had worked for the person who signed me. He says, “Hey, are you Chief White Lightning?” It was all surreal.

AC: Now that you’ve experienced both, please give us your perspective on Austin versus L.A.

CWL: In Austin, there’s so much great talent. I had no idea the magnitude of talent until I moved to L.A. and saw all these bands trying to be famous, which isn’t as musical. Also people in Austin are just nicer. It’s such a safe city that people don’t have their guard up and there’s Southern hospitality.

People bitch about Austin traffic, but get the fuck out of here! In L.A. it’s an hour-and-a-half to go practice because it’s just so big. The city is more expensive and time consuming, so it’s harder to hone your skill there.

AC: The Chief White Lightning album just came out on El Camino Media last week. Does this album feel like a mile-marker for you?

CWL: It’s funny, when I was in my 20s it was all about getting aggression out. Now it’s not about cool riffs, it’s about songs. [Austin’s] Jonas Wilson and I made this timeless record that isn’t necessarily rock, but the songs seem to make people happy and that’s what I want to do.

AC: You have a beautifully embroidered white suit you’ve been wearing on tour. How do you keep it smelling good?

CWL: It smells terrible. It was designed by Rusty Cuts. It’s part polyester, so I pray it’s not staining up, but I’m a working man so I don’t mind having a sweat stain where the guitar strap touches it.

It’s made me more of an entertainer. Austin’s oppressive about people going all the way with their style, so I never felt 100 percent comfortable expressing myself with clothes. L.A.’s a dog-and-pony show and you have to up your game in that way – trying to be iconic.

The thing that’s interesting about Nudie suits is, obviously they make you look like a country artist, but the Chief show is rock & roll, pop, country, and everything. Rock and country are step brothers and I feel good about getting rid of that separation.

Chief White Lightning headlines a Hot Summer Nights show inside at Mohawk on Saturday with Altamesa, Ghost Wolves, and Booher.

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More Chief White Lightning
Watch: Chief White Lightning’s Donut Shop Daydream
Watch: Chief White Lightning’s Donut Shop Daydream
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Kevin Curtin, July 1, 2019

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Chief White Lightning, Hot Summer Nights 2018, Josh Logan, Blind Pets, Elle King, Paul English, Willie Nelson, Jonas Wilson, Happy Madison, David Spade, Altamesa, Alicia Keys, David Bowie

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