Rising Music Star Chris Todoroff: “Everybody has to have a chance to contribute so that they own it”

Everybody has to have a chance to contribute so that they own it — it was really important that everyone in the group feel that they own our music. If you don’t, you aren’t harnessing your full power. It’s like playing with the amp turned down. As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I […]

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Everybody has to have a chance to contribute so that they own it — it was really important that everyone in the group feel that they own our music. If you don’t, you aren’t harnessing your full power. It’s like playing with the amp turned down.

As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chris Todoroff, a member of rock band Dirty Snowman Society. Dirty Snowman Society is a rock band based in Copper Mountain, CO. The four-piece band consists of Frank Costantini on vocals, drums and percussion, Jonnie Law on lead guitar, Patrick Linfante on bass and Chris Todoroff on guitars and percussion. The band came together from very diverse backgrounds, they’ve held jobs such as Emmy winning TV director and best selling author, a touring metal band member, ski and surf instructor, and successful lawyer. The glue that holds them together is the desire to make the kind of classic hard rock that inspired them to become musicians.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us what brought each of you to music?

There are 4 of us and the answer is probably a little different for each of us, but we each just fell in love with it — it’s in our DNA. It rewards something in you that is already there. For me, Chris, it was just something that I always was drawn to — we had a piano in our living room and I think I wrote my first song when I was 5 or 6. I started poking around on it much earlier and was hooked in a minute. Frank has always been drawn to the Arts (he writes, directs, is a fabulous painter) and started banging on pots and pans when he was a toddler. Later, he discovered it was a great way to meet girls. Jonnie does everything well, and learned to play guitar around campfires in the California desert. Patrick has been playing bass and touring for a long time, having played in a metal band — but the first time we met him he played jazz for us (not just anything, Jaco Pastorius’s stuff). You could tell how devoted he was to music — it’s got to be in you to be able to pull that off.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to be a band?

We live up at Copper Mountain in the winter and knew each other — Frank has got a great space at his house to play. We started jamming, which led to playing covers, which led to wanting to do our own stuff. We were very intentional about becoming a band because we all had a taste of it before in one form or another and knew how rewarding it can feel. Only Pat had been on other albums and we all wanted that — we found out we love to create music as much as play it.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began music?

Gosh, there are a few but I like this one: Frank used to be a creative director at a big ad agency and was working on a project where he had to both fire a very famous rock musician (who shall remain nameless), and then bring in David Bowie, who he got to spend some really good time with over a few days working on this project, watching his creative process in action. Frank holds us to a really high standard when we are creating stuff, because he has worked with just some fabulous people across a range of disciplines. If you get to hang around great people, you elevate your game. And even if they are famous, if they don’t work, they don’t work.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you’ve made so far? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Ok, so we are shooting our first video (for Mad Bull which is coming out soon) and we get this idea of trying to put Frank’s dog Ozzie in one of the shots — we wanted him to pee on a snowman but he just wouldn’t do it. Now, Ozzie is a pro cause he is on a TV show and has done commercials, but he wouldn’t pee and also went freaking nuts over the drone the camera guys were using. He starts barking his head off and chasing the thing — meanwhile I’m freezing my backside off sitting in deep snow in a tree well waiting for a shot, Pat’s two stories up in a tree, the light is changing fast cause of cloud cover so everybody is stressed out, Frank’s yelling instructions (no one can hear over the dog), and Ozzie finally decides to relieve himself — on the tree I’m sitting against — and I’m stuck in the tree well. Jonnie and his girlfriend were supposed to handle the dog. Thank God for our film editor Michael Coe.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Finishing our Album and getting ready to tour. We’ve got a 5 song EP that is in the can and we are in the middle of releasing — we will be expanding that EP to an album and then getting ready to hopefully take all that on the road next year.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started doing music” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Chemistry is everything. If people don’t gel you can’t force it. We’ve all played in bands and sometimes want it so bad that you put up with people that aren’t nice to be around. Get rid of them, they are poison.

2. Everybody has to have a chance to contribute so that they own it — it was really important that everyone in the group feel that they own our music. If you don’t, you aren’t harnessing your full power. It’s like playing with the amp turned down.

3. Listen to diverse stuff — we always have cause we all like other genres, but you realize later how important diversity is in your influences.

4. Never give in to discouragement. Our pal Herman heard a lot of our really early raw formation playing together and joked about wanting his money back. Herman doesn’t want his money back anymore.

5. Don’t ever sit in a tree well in the snow even if your bandmates think it’ll look cool in the video.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the music industry to help them to thrive and stay motivated?

Perseverance — the worst thing that can happen is that you still get to make and play music!

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Rock and Roll never dies — irreverently speak the truth — we all need to hear it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Lance Secretan, who is one of the word’s best coaches, mentors, and best people. Frank and I, and now the other guys in the band, know Lance well. He actually introduced me and Frank over a couple bottles of tequila one night up at Copper Mountain. Lance’s advice is of course you can change the world — you gotta just do it. (It also doesn’t seem that hard with some tequila).

Brian Jones, our producer and the President at Bangworld in NY. We sent some initial tape to Brian and when he said he wanted to personally produce our EP we were floored — he has been such a great creative guide in making our record a reality.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to your journey as a band?

Love each other — that comes from a lot of people, including Lance.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Wow, there are two — Paul McCartney and Lorne Michaels.

Paul McCartney because of the combination of being just such a fantastic, prolific songwriter and performer, and seeming to be such a regular cool guy.

Lorne Michaels because he has created so many shows that use art, in his case comedy, to irreverently speak the truth. That’s Rock.

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