A 6-foot-7 renaissance man, Haskett is an architect by day, but is best known for being a singer/songwriter and nervous system for now defunct rock band the Brand Plastic. Next performances include the Midwest Music Summit on Friday, July 22 at the Marriot downtown. He will be performing his music and displaying his photography at the Harrison Center for the Arts for the "Art by Architects" exhibit starting July 29, 8 p.m. For more info visit www.myspace.com/chrishaskett.
Q: Being a performing musician and professional architect must be an extraordinary balancing act.
A: When the Brand Plastic was first getting their footing, I was staying out on weeknights in smoky bars till 2 or 3 in the morning and was expected in the office at 8 a.m. My co-workers never really took my music seriously. It was like, "Oh, you're in a rock and or roll band, that's neat." My first job was very corporate and they held my music against me, claiming that it was hurting my career and my focus, which was bullshit. It was the hours of drawing meaningless bathroom and stair details with their endless revisions that was stifling my enthusiasm for my job. Fortunately, I now work for a company that encourages my creative outlets and even helps me develop them; but the nights of playing late, weeknight gigs is over for me.
Q: Does the white-color day job hurt your cred or dull the romance of being a struggling artist?
A: No. If nothing else, shouldn't what I do enhance the mystique? Other architects turned musicians: Roger Waters, Weird Al Yankovic and both the musicians from the French duo AIR.
Q: Prevalent musical influence?
A: Fred Brown [now of Pravada, formerly with the Brand Plastic, Sewing Circle and Neena Foundry]. I've known him since I was 12. He was a constant source of inspiration as I was learning to become a songwriter. He's the whole reason I ever thought to pick up a guitar.
Q: At 27, do you feel the same momentum for music you did at 22?
A: I don't have the same energy, but I [also] don't feel I have as much to prove. I've definitely grown as a musician from playing countless numbers of shows in the past five years. Once you reach a certain point, it's the quality of the gig you play, not the quantity. I'm less afraid to try new things and have learned to embrace the qualities that make me a unique musician rather than dwell on the things I want or can't do.
Q: Architecture vs. music?
A: The older I get, the more the line blurs between music, architecture, graphic design, photography, etc. When it comes down to it, all creative mediums have similar design processes. I just enjoy creating. As long as there is room for me to grow at a firm and I get some creative control in architecture I will be satisfied.
Q: What killed the Brand Plastic?
A: The lack of identity, enthusiasm and soul is what eventually did us in.
Q: Did you immediately think about starting something new?
A: I missed the thrill, power and sheer loudness of performing with a tight backing band. I practiced with a couple different groups but nothing felt comfortable. So I've kept to myself and continued developing my own thing.
Q: Is there a foreseeable full-band project?
A: Yes, I've been toying with the idea of starting another band, but it will have to be put together on my terms. The events of the last couple years have made me hesitant of playing with other musicians.
Q: Tell me about being inordinately tall.
A: Mostly I tend to forget about how tall I am because it's just normal to me. I've been the same height since I was 16. Back then I weighed 140 pounds, which made me very uncomfortable about my appearance. I was extremely shy. Playing music and being part of a music community has slowly forced me to break out of my introverted shell. I'll tell you one thing though, after you hit your head a certain number of times, you learn to duck, regardless.