Kevin Chown has performed around the world with some of the best-known names in the music business, but at heart the Los Angeles-based bass player has never strayed far from his small-town roots.
Chown, grew up in the small town of Escanaba, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan, where his mother was a pianist, composer, church organist and teacher and his father – who still performs on his trumpet even though he is in his early 80s – was a conductor and band teacher at the local high school.
Kevin started his career at age 15, working professionally in the nightclubs and bars around town. Although his parents, two sisters and his brother were known for playing the music of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, Chown was in love with the rock and roll of Led Zeppelin, Rush and Van Halen. He spent every weekend in the live music hotspots of his hometown as well at locations across northern Michigan and Wisconsin, playing with the area’s best musicians, honing his craft and performing with people twice his age. As he sampled the life of a working musician, he was quickly hooked.
Chown moved to Detroit at age 18, a city where he could follow his bigger dreams and take advantage of all a musical hotbed like Motown had to offer. Although his initial focus was to study jazz at Wayne State University, from which he earned a degree in music, he never lost his connection to rock and roll, playing and touring with local luminaries such as Ted Nugent, Uncle Kracker, Martha Reeves and Little Anthony. This combination of the love of rock that he grew up with, together with the new knowledge and appreciation he had for jazz he learned in college are what led to Chown’s debut instrumental CD, “Freudian Slip,” released in 1996, when he was 25.
In 1997, Chown moved to the musical mecca of Los Angeles, Calif. For many years, he lived and worked in L.A. as one of the most in-demand session musicians in town, playing on other artists’ recordings, on TV and on movie soundtracks. He also continued to hit the road, touring with artists across America and the world, including a Japanese tour with Artension, performing as the bassist for an American USO tour, backing musicians while performing for the military in Iraq and Kuwait, and rocking the clubs in England and Germany with the band JKB, formed with his long-time pal Jeff Kollman.
Chown again connected with Kollman, the Edwin Dare and JKB guitarist, cowriter and long time friend, to see what else they could do together. At the time, Chown was the music director of the "Royal Jelly" show at the famous Forty Deuce nightclub, and he brought his long-time cohort on board to perform in the show.
In 2007, Kollman reached out to another friend, Red Hot Chili Pepper drummer Chad Smith, to form a new instrumental group that could play funky rock. Smith felt Chown would be the perfect bass player. Along with keyboardist Ed Roth, Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats was formed.
Chown’s relationship with the Meatbats’ most famous member is rooted in one of the things they have most in common: Detroit.
The Meatbats have toured America and Japan and perform regularly in L.A. They have released three full-length CDs: 2008's "Meet the Meatbats,” 2010's "More Meat” (both on Warrior Records) and 2012's “Live Meat and Potatoes" on Marmaduke Records.
Touring with Tarja on her "What Lies Beneath" tour, and after I met with her and her husband, Marcelo, in Los Angeles, I accepted. The experience has been incredible (and) her fans have been so amazingly kind to me. I've toured around the world to over 60 nations, playing with some of the finest musicians in the world. I am the bassist on her 2012 DVD ‘Act 1,’ recorded on our last tour, and I appear on her new CD coming out later this year called ‘Colours in the Dark.’”
Being on the road with Tarja for nearly three years inspired Chown to reconnect with his biggest dream – to be an artist in his own right.
Chown’s EP, "Light the Way," was released May 1, 2013. The music, rooted in the sounds of European rock, was inspired by the other famous artist with whom he has toured the world the last few years, Finnish singer Tarja Turunen.
“It has kind of a rock edge with a little orchestral influence and an inspirational lyrical structure,” he explained. “We wanted people to be inspired in a positive way. I wanted to have an inspirational quality for people to look at what life really means and to look at what we are capable of when we look out for not only our best interests, but the best interests of each other.”
He not only plays the bass on the EP, he makes his lead vocal debut and provides background vocals, keyboards, guitar and percussion. He also produced and engineered the EP and mixed it in his Los Angeles studio, The Groove Bubble.