Christopher ‘Conquered’ first full-length album


Kari Terzino

 Christopher the Conquered is scheduled to perform at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., June 16 to support his first full-length album

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Iowa native Christopher Ford began writing music 10 years ago as a way to express emotional experiences.

Known for his boisterous, comedic and improvisational live performances and raw lyrics, Ford—better-known as Christopher the Conquered—has already played 600 shows in 2016 across Europe and the United States. He also took part in the Sofar Sounds Midwest Tour from April 21–24. 

His first full-length album, Giving Up on Rock & Roll, which he describes as a “gospel-inspired theatrical rock ‘n’ roll album” that showcases his musical progression, will be released by Maximum Ames Records on May 13. The album’s title track was released March 4, 2015, and has more than 70,000 plays on SoundCloud, as of press time. 

The Chronicle spoke with Ford about his performance style, his new album and unforgettable touring experiences.

THE CHRONICLE: How did you choose your stage name?

CHRISTOPHER FORD: It’s the opposite of what people would expect. The point of it is to give people an idea of what they can expect from my songwriting or performance—that it’s going to be something twisted, satirical and witty, imbued with a touch of humility.

What is the story behind the title track, “Giving Up on Rock & Roll”?

I wrote the song in response to my dissatisfaction with the way I had happened to stumble along in my artistic career so far. There’s never a clear vision of my goal artistically, like what impact I want to make or what’s the purpose of each song. This album is the first album of my now “purpose-driven artistic career,” and that was the first song I wrote in response to not doing it for selfish reasons but trying to consider the energy and time of the listener. It’s about liberating yourself from the life you stumbled into because you didn’t have a direction until you found a direction.

What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened while performing?

I had a guy in Germany that came up in the middle of a song, and he wanted me to play “Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley, and I was like, “I don’t really know the words but you can sing,” and I gave him the mic in the middle of the song, and he sang a capella the entirety of “Kentucky Rain.” I don’t know if it was cool or not, but it just was what it was.

You stand on pianos as part of your on-stage improv performance. Have you ever fallen?

Generally no, but it probably happens one in a hundred shows. I really like to make each show exist in the moment by pulling on the experiences of that day to create the show. Live performance in the world is the only way in which we can engage in art that is truly dynamic. Just getting up and playing the song really seems like a waste of time. I know that could come off as a plight on artists that do that—it’s not, but for me, it feels like there is so much more that could be done with it. Even if you fall off the piano or it’s a little awkward, at least it’s very real.

How was the Sofar Tour experience? 

Because of [Sofar’s] priority on creating an engaged experience, it worked really well for what I’m trying to do with having a presence sort of performance—it’s basically the best possible scenario, especially when I am performing solo. I could live my career playing those kind of shows.

How does your performance style connect with the audience?

So many people are quite lonely. I don’t think it has to be that way. We have a world in which we have a lot of disparity and people scrambling and fighting for success to make money and get food, shelter and everything else. Whether you have a fortune in the first world or spending your time fighting for success or the misfortune of fighting for food in another part of the world, I think our time has so much energy is wasted in our lives right now. In my experience—this is part of Giving Up on Rock & Roll—after years of striving for this “whatever,” the work never ends. There is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the rainbow is really beautiful.

Having a present performance is about bringing people into the moment, out of their heads  and just living with reality for a minute. I like to think it can encourage others to do the same, and I like to be a catalyst for people expressing themselves. Self-expression [and] creating art [are] great [tools] for getting the most out of life.


 Christopher the Conquered is scheduled to play at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., June 16. For tickets, visit