ACF’s 2016 summer development intern, Henry Dykstal, conducted a series of interviews with our incoming cohort of board members. First up is Chris Osgood. After reading his interview, learn even more about him here.

1. How did music come into your life as something you wanted to pursue as your life’s calling?
As a kid in Third and Fourth Grade, I used to fall asleep listening to The Supremes, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and local bands like The Castaways and Stillroven with the transistor radio under my pillow. I was taking piano lessons, and seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show convinced me that girls liked musicians!

2. What is your history with the American Composers Forum, and how did you make the decision to accept becoming a board member?
I began to apply for ACF grants after I graduated from Hampshire College in 1975 and moved back to the Twin Cities. I became friends with ACF staff person Homer Lambrecht who recruited me as a panelist for the Composers Commissioning Program in about 1982. As I enter my twilight years and am now turning down a lot of opportunities to serve on Boards, ACF is one organization I would like to serve!

3. You’re a guitar player: what is your approach to the instrument, both writing and performing?
I usually perform standing up, but I find that I can record some parts better sitting down! Seriously, guitar players write music differently than people who write on a keyboard or other instrument because some notes are louder than others- Really!

Chris Osgood. Photo by Danny Amis.

4. You helped run the label that put out the first records by The Replacements and Soul Asylum, among others. What was that like?
My punk rock band The Suicide Commandos was to be the first release on Twin/Tone in 1977, but Blank Records/Mercury came along and swept us away! We had fun touring with label-mates Pere Ubu from Cleveland and playing/making friends with The Ramones- my two favorite bands of the period! I came back to work at Twin/Tone Records in 1984 just as The Replacements “Let It Be” was released. That was an exciting time. One of my fondest memories was making the UPS man cry when he show up in the afternoon for his daily pick-up. There were thousands of records to ship. He drove away crying, and we never saw him again. I was the producer of Soul Asylum’s 1986 album “While You Were Out” prior to their big signing with Columbia. That was a fun record to make!

5. You come from a rock background: do you think that affects how you see  your place in the music world at all?

The Suicide Commandos

6. How do you categorize yourself as an artist, and do you see any difference in the many hats you’ve worn throughout your career, be it as instrumentalist, composer, or producer?
I don’t categorize myself as an artist. Does anyone until someone else makes them? Of course the three roles of instrumentalist, composer and producer are completely different from each other. I prefer one at a time and (almost) never any mixing of them, except of course rock bands play the songs we write, usually. I love being an instrumentalist and getting bossed around by the composer or producer- Really! (Only if I delight them of course.)

I also have had a lot of fun over the years in the producer role- I’ve always tried to not be heavy-handed or intrusive and to try and coax the best performances out of people in the studio.

My real goal is to make them look back on the experience fondly and think they may have learned something. Every project represents another step in the career of the artist- it is not the end in itself!

7. What are some goals you want to bring into the American Composers Forum as a board member?
I hope I can bring the perspective of a pop musician that has made a life in music. Back at Springboard for the Arts, our motto was “It is hard to make a living as an artist, but you can make a life.” I spent eighteen years working with all kinds of creative people to help them do that, with some success!

The Suicide Commandos

8. What projects are you currently working on?
The Suicide Commandos are making our first studio recording in forty years. This is really fun. We tracked the bass and drums and guitar and vocal roughs last spring at Master Mix in Minneapolis before I went over to France. Dave and I have been tracking “keeper” vocals, my guitars, and in Dave’s case, percussion overdubs here. Steve is doing his vocal parts in NYC and West Saugerties where his studio is, and Mitch Easter, our friend who mixed the REM records, will do our mixes at his studio down in North Carolina. Fun!