Christopher Owens baffled (and, in some cases, enraged) the music world this past July when he announced his departure from San Francisco outfit Girls, then riding high on the release of their acclaimed second album Father, Son, Holy Ghost. He cited "personal" reasons in a series of Tweets, and soon after announced a modeling gig for Saint Laurent Paris and later the release of his debut solo effort, Lysandre, which he's now performing on tour. But he never fully addressed the dissolution of his former band... until now.
In the new cover story of Fader, Owens discussed his reasons for leaving the band when it was at its peak of popularity and artistic output.
"It was my choice," said Owens, who was visiting his sister in Chicago when he announced the split on Twitter. "At the same time, that doesn’t mean that it was something I did without reason. The band—conceptually, the band Girls—kind of never really came together."
"I've had people send me articles, 'Christopher broke up Girls to go model,' just ridiculous things," he explained. "That's ridiculous to me ... and people tell me, 'I'm really sad about the band breaking up,' like they expect me to not know what that's like. Which is crazy, because I'm the person who's the most sad about the band breaking up."
Owens said that part of the problem was the ever-changing lineup--he and JR White were the only permanent members--which constantly forced the band to train new members during their little down time between exhaustive tours, instead of progressing as a solid unit.
"I added it up once and something like 21 people had played in Girls, over two albums and one EP. That's extremely frustrating and doesn't really show that there ever really was a band, in my mind," Owens said. "It's not anybody's fault; it's just the way it worked out. The anticipation for live shows and for us to be a band was so big and went so fast that that was the only way that we could do it. We could never spend the time to make a band, and that was a bit of a mistake, in hindsight."
Owens added that other factors contributed to his departure, including the expiration of Girls' record contract with True Panther Sounds, and White's growing desire to produce (White planned to spend August and September producing Brit rockers Spectrals). He also said that not everyone involved was pleased with his decision.
Another interesting nugget: Ryan McGinley, who shot the cover portrait for Lysandre, filmed Owens' debut solo concert in S.F., where he played the LP in its entirety with a new band. Owens hopes it will someday be a classic concert movie: "I want to make something that 10 years from now people will watch, like the Beatles playing on the roof," he said.