Norway’s H.P. Gundersen Joins RJ Chesney in Crafting This Rootsy Sound with Many Stories to Tell 

(April 5th, 2019)


January 4th, 2019 Los Angeles, CA – The story of the making of RJ Chesney’s Amateur Revolution begins with a phone call in September of 2015.  Chesney collaborator (and producer) Jason Hiller, called him with a proposition.  Norwegian producer, HP Gundersen and filmmaker Tore Rygh were in Los Angeles making a documentary about local singer-songwriters and wanted to film Chesney singing one of his songs. 


From the moment, Gundersen and Chesney met, they just clicked. They used Hiller’s Electosound studio in Beverly Hills and documented Chesney singing his song “Rest Now” off of his album, Prayers of a Wayward Son (2010). After HP went back to Norway, the two didn’t speak for a while and then he received an email from Gundersen asking him to collaborate on songs.  “I just didn’t know if I could collaborate,” explained Chesney.  “I didn’t write him back for several months and then finally I sent him four different lyrics.”  Over a period of 9 months Chesney would send Gundersen lyrics and he would send back a demo of each song as he composed the music. Chesney would listen to the demo, start to get a feel for the melody, grab his guitar, and find his way into the song as the singer. “I found the whole process super easy and super exciting,” he claims. 


The result is Amateur Revolution a 12-song album produced by both Hiller and Gundersen that was recorded in both Los Angeles at Electosound and in Bergen, Norway at Applecake Studios. “All my vocals were recorded live and pretty much we used just one single take,” said Chesney.  The album boasts musicians from both the USA and Norway and had RJ traveling to Norway to both record and play shows and his Norwegian band mates traveling to California to play to full houses.  The band even opened for Charlie Parr at Hotel Utah in San Francisco in the summer of 2017.  “The audience was mostly there for Charlie Parr,” admitted Chesney, “ but we were surprised to find a group of folks who had caravanned up from Los Angeles, just to see us!”


Although he is now an LA resident, Chesney has deep roots in the South, having grown up in Macon, Georgia and Biloxi, Mississippi.  There is a twang to his deep, sonorous voice and his music is for folks who like traditional mixed with a little ‘off the beaten path’—folks that like eclectic music that borrows from traditional, yet switches it up. Terry Paul Roland of No Depression wrote this about Chesney’s 2015 album, Angels Falling:  “If these songs were paintings, they would be Andrew Wyeth’s starkly beautiful American landscape work. These songs are landscapes of the soul.”


“It’s not easy growing up in the working class south as a sensitive child.” Chesney states.  At the age of 19, he moved to New York City to try his hand at acting. While living in NYC, he started to take an interest in folk and country music when a friend gave him a bagful of Emmylou Harris CDs.  That gateway led him to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams and more. “I was drawn to the great storytellers,” he said.  “I slowly started writing on my own and as I got older my writing got better.  Music saved my life.  It helped me to make sense of this crazy world we live in.” 


Amateur Revolution is Chesney’s 3rd studio album and it kicks off with a song dedicated to Abbey Lincoln, “Splendors of This Earth”.  “I worked at a café in New York and was playing an Abbey Lincoln cd when she walked in,” said Chesney.  “I couldn’t figure out if it was her for sure, but when she sat down and heard the music, she said, ‘There’s Abbey’ and laughed.” Chesney became close with Ms. Lincoln and she encouraged him to write.  “Abbey left a huge imprint on my mind, art and soul.  Plus, I will never forget her laugh. It was larger than life and full of heart.”


The song, “Da Mayor is On The Scene” is written about Chesney’s experience of leaving a small town in the deep south wanting to escape racism, only to find it happening in New York City.  “Rise Up and Sing” gives a sly nod to Pete Seeger and is a companion piece to the title track, “Amateur Revolution”.  “Amateur Revolution” was one of the final songs written for the album.  “Amateur Revolution is about revolution of the spirit,” said Chesney.  “The original meaning of the word Amateur in French is ‘lover, to love or one who loves’.  I mean what a beautiful word.  I plan on taking this word back as an expression of love.”


RJ Chesney has adopted the philosophy that you never know what is around the corner. “This whole project came from out of the blue and changed the course of my music and life.  I am just trying to be myself, to stay true to my own heart.  I try to be as honest as possible…and raw…there is something beautiful about imperfection.  I want to give folks something to believe in, to inspire the way I have been inspired by artists and everyday people that have enriched my life. This album is ultimately about not giving up on your passion.  Do what you love and love what you do.  Never give up on what you love.” 



Band Credits:  RJ Chesney- Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar/ HP Gundersen-Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Pedal Steel, Backing Vocals/ Henrik Paulsen-Electric Guitar, BV/ Jason Hiller - Bass, Backing, BV / Maesa Pullman-Drums, BV/ Heidi Torsvik-BV/ Chris Joyner-Piano, Organ, Accordion/ Marty Rifkin-Pedal Steel/ Kare Sandvik-Piano, Horns/ David Chelsom Vogt-Violin/ Jack Pullman-Jaw Harp, BV


For more information: https://www.rjchesney.com/