I was afraid of working my life away in a job that I didn’t love, and that fear turned into courage to chase after this dream.
Sometimes it seems like singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen. They all have their acoustic guitars and their heartfelt lyrics of heartbreak; they’re just so earnest. Newcomer Christian Burghardt is different. He’s got a pop sensibility that many of these folksters lack. He’s got lyrics to which real people can relate, and a voice that real people can admire—i.e., it’s not like that generic singer-songwriter to which we’ve all been overexposed. After the release of his Kemosabe/RCA Records debut EP, Safe Place to Land, he’s been anything but idle. Following summer dates with Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw, Burghardt’s hitting the road with Phillip Phillips this fall, delivering shows that are more than just a guy and his beat-up guitar.
When did you write your first song, and what was it about?
The first song I wrote by myself and recorded was called “Ready for a Change,” and it was about being bored with normal life and wanting something completely new and different to come and change everything. It had good intentions, but I was young and still hadn’t discovered my sound yet.
It’s funny how what seems like disaster, such as your college football injury(ies), turns into a golden opportunity. Did you realize this right away, or did the athletic setback(s) at first seem like the end of the world?
At first, I was pretty down about the whole injury thing and being cut from the team, but I was a walk-on and it did make sense, given the fact that I did not undergo surgery and had permanently lost a lot of my foot speed. Because of that choice, I knew I was never gonna be able to play competitively again. In the first several months after the injury, I was definitely in a rut emotionally and kinda had to rediscover myself all over again. Songwriting, playing guitar, singing, and recording took over my life from that point on, and shaped who I am today.
What went into the decision to ditch the safe and stable route and go into music full time? Is there a fallback plan? (Side question: Did you finish college, or dive headfirst into the crazy world of entertainment?)
I was and I still am in love with music, and I knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life from the moment I recorded my first song. I was afraid of working my life away in a job that I didn’t love, and that fear turned into courage to chase after this dream, with no regrets or restraints. I was always going to school and working part-time jobs, keeping some sort of a loose back-up plan in place in case everything fell through.
Which musician’s career do you most want to emulate, and why?
As a songwriter, I look up to many other artists like John Mayer, Chris Martin, Amos Lee, and so many others, but the most influential one would have to be Jon Foreman of the band Switchfoot. His soaring choruses, musical originality, and unique raspy vocals changed my concept of what a great song is, and continues to influence my music today. If I could emulate his prolific writing ability, or even come close, that would be pretty amazing
What has been your favorite city to play thus far, and why?
My favorite venue thus far was The Best Buy Theatre in NYC because of the crowd response and support. I’m obviously a newcomer to the scene and 99 percent of the people at that show had never heard my songs before. To see them clapping along with my songs and cheering me on in between songs was a “goosebumps” moment for me that I won’t ever forget.
Let’s debate: I say that Denver is a better microbrewery city than Portland. What is your rebuttal?
I would have to disagree, being born and raised in Portland. I have friends who brew beer in Oregon who are considered some of the best. Their passion for crafting beer is as fierce as my passion for songwriting. We Oregonians are just known for taking great pride in our craft beers. I just don’t think you guys can compete.
Hmm. I don’t know, Christian. There’s a Great Divide Yeti with your name on it when you hit Denver. | Laura Hamlett
Tour dates with Phillip Phillips:
09.12 | Eisenhower Hall Theatre, West Point NY
09.14 | Lincoln Theatre, Washington DC
09.16 | Best Buy Theater, New York
09.18 | Shippensburg University, Shippensburg PA
09.19 | State Theater, Cleveland
09.23 | Stubb’s, Austin
09.26 | Lloyd Noble Arena, Norman OK
09.27 | Houston Arena, Houston
09.28 | Mahalia Jackson Theater, New Orleans
10.01 | Paramount Theatre, Denver
10.03 | Tyson Center, Sioux City IA
10.04 | Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, Kansas City
10.05 | Hartman Arena, Park City KS
10.07 | Majestic Theatre, San Antonio
10.18 | Central Washington University Ballroom, Ellensburg WA
10.19 | TRAC Center, Pasco, WA
10.21 | Comcast Arena, Everett WA
10.23 | Adams Center, Missoula MT
10.24 | Theater at the Brick, Bozeman MT
10.25 | Taco Bell Arena, Boise
10.26 | Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene OR
10.28 | Burns Arena, St. George UT