Anne Fullerton | 6 December 2010

We chatted with Girls frontman Chris Owens about growing up in a cult and Taylor Swift’s latest album.

How did you guys meet?

I moved to San Francisco in 2005 and I met JR pretty much right away. We were just friends for a long time and it was something like two or three years later that I started writing songs. I wanted to record but I didn’t have equipment and didn’t know how to record. I knew that JR had some experience so I asked him to help me and that’s how it started.

How did you end up in San Francisco?

I was born and raised in a religious cult called the Children of God. I just basically didn’t really enjoy myself in that group because I was always told what to do. It was pretty strict, just studying the bible a lot and moving around. I lived in plenty of places but I guess I got to travel a lot, which is nice. In retrospect I got to see the world.

I left when I was 16 because that’s when my mum let me go live with my older sister who’d left before me. That was 1996. I was living in Slovenia and she was living in Amarillo Texas. I lived there for a while and then I moved here [to California].

What music were into growing up?

I was raised in a Christian home so I wasn’t supposed to listen to music. I would watch musicals, that was the only music I knew for a while, standard classic show tunes. And then when I got older I kind of got into ‘60s music and when I finally moved out on my own it was the ‘90s and I listened to alternative rock.

When did you start playing music?

I played guitar as a kid. A lot of people played music in the house I grew up in. It was a very normal thing to do, we’d play guitar and sing Christian songs.  After I left, I learnt to play classic songs, folk songs and stuff like that. At first it was just Christian music but it was kind of hippie Christian music, more like folk music from the ‘60s. They were all ex-hippies so the music was all old hippie music.

Can you see that coming out in the music you make now?

Yeah, for sure. It influenced my songwriting and the way that I play guitar, it’s pretty basic, simple stuff. That’s just what I knew how to play so I guess it came out when I was first trying to write songs.

What was the first album you ever bought?

It was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by the Smashing Pumpkins.

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