Chris Rene says his Sunday night show at the Catalyst will show his audience things they haven't seen from him before.
He'll play guitar and showcase material from his unreleased new project. He'll also team up with locals who have been with him from the start, including his sister, Gina Rene.
The show is 8 p.m. Sunday and tickets are $19 in advance and $23 at the door. A portion will be donated to Janus Rehabilitative Services. Buy tickets here.
He's played benefits for the agency before and also contributes to Grind Out Hunger, the food bank spinoff geared to the younger community.
The 30-year-old third place finisher on the TV singing contest X Factor has broken out in ways that sometimes the winners of the show don't achieve. He's released an EP and is working on a full length album. His song "Young Homie" got national radio play.
Unlike American Idol, candidates on X Factor write their own music, something that has distinguished Rene. He's got a knack for a catchy tune with meaning. It's likely hereditary: his grandfather Leon Rene wrote "Rockin' Robin," a hit for the Jackson 5, among others.
The younger Rene's life is also at the center of Santa Cruz's biggest issue: how should the city treat its homeless drug addicts? While some argue that they are nothing but repentless criminals, Rene is an example of someone who was living on the streets and was saved by rehabilitation services and is a role model.
Patch caught up with Chris as he was leaving a friend's home studio, working on new music. He is recording rough tracks and would like to take it to L.A. and work with Pharell from the Neptunes, among others.
PATCH: How does it feel to be back in the studio?
Chris: I love recording. I love creating. I love being in the studio. It's like my second home. The stage is my first home. The studio is my second.
PATCH: What's the new material like?
Chris: Some of it is very inspiring and meaningful and some of it, musicwise, beatwise, is very current. A little bit pop, urban, and it's really...this beat on one song I'm working on is nasty and it's wicked and makes you want to jump around like an animal.
PATCH: Are you writing the material?
Chris: Yeah, I'm a'writing.
PATCH: Will you play it at the Catalyst?
Chris: I don't know if I'm supposed to give this information out, but this show wil be different. I'm going to be playing around with some stuff. And I might play some stuff you've never heard before. It's going to be beautiful.
PATCH: How do you feel about playing the Catalyst?
Chris: I remember back when I was 14 and 15 with my brother and my best friends and we would play with our band called Diversion and I remember rocking out on that stage back in the day and being like, man I love this so much, I don't ever want to stop.
Then my style changed and it just really makes me happy that there will be a lot of people there who know it's really natural for me to just go off and rock out. I love it so much.
PATCH: I saw you messing around with James Durbin at the Warriors game. Have you thought about recording together?
Chris: I'm supposed to have a talk with him. I have to give him a call back. I think that would be super cool, to do a song with him.
PATCH: The city council has been talking about what to do about drug treatment and the homeless. Half say close the treatment centers and run the people out of town. The other half says you have to be compassionate. You've been at the bottom and now are at the top. What do you think?
Chris: Man, it's...that sucks. Support is the best thing any person can have. I don't know about the homeless people on the streets, what they did to get to where they're at today, but I know that everybody has problems, everybody needs help. So providing the help, if we can help them in anyway, then we should. When I see someone standing on the streets begging for money, I always have change in my car to give them something. I was there and I know what it's like.
PATCH: You are an example of how someone can turn their life around. What would you tell people.
Chris: You never know what can happen when a person gets the right kind of help. It could be counseling, hanging out with them, getting to know them, giving them a sleeping bag, stuff like that. I want to be part of the solution.
It was recovery that lead me to everything. It was that journey from the dark into the light. That's what it is.
My job is to inspire people. I want to inspire kids. If this song I'm writing helps that kid be a better person when he grows up, that's my job. That's what I want to do. There's this song on my new CD, called It's Going to be OK, it talks about suicide and drugs and weed and being sober and barely hanging on and it says it's going to be OK. That's what I want to say.
PATCH: What songs inspired you?
Chris: Sings a great version of Bob Marley's Could You Be Loved? That's what inspired me. Bob Marley and Eric Clapton and all them cats.