Chris Higgins
Chris Higgins

When Chris Higgins was a student at Orange High School, some guys asked him to be in their rock band. He told them he didn’t play any instruments.

“They said, ‘That’s OK, we don’t really know how to play anything either. We’re just going to play.’”

With that simple philosophy, he was in. And before long, he learned how to play guitar, practiced every day and “got the fever.” “

I started realizing that rock music just made me feel awesome,” says Higgins. “It would lift my spirits—that type of thing—I loved it. I just wanted to rock out in front of people.”

That feeling of liberation and joy has underlined his musical journey—one that has evolved through several phases. After college, Higgins went on tour with The Offspring, one of the most successful rock bands to ever come out of Orange County, as a member of the road crew. Even during that first tour, he performed with the band on certain songs.

Eleven years later, he made a distinct turn in direction, becoming a worship leader and the Director of Contemporary Worship and Music at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Old Towne Orange.

He now works for St. John’s in another creative capacity—he handles all digital media and visual communications—and is on a new musical path as a member of another OC rock band: WANK.

WANK’s music reflects a blend of influences—ska, reggae, punk, pop—and their songs are “really fun and catchy,” says Higgins, who plays guitar in the four-man group.

The lifelong Orange resident, known in the rock world as Higgins X-13, was with the Offspring from 1994 to 2005. The hard-rocking group churned out a string of radio hits, including “Come Out and Play,” “Self Esteem,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).”

The Offspring had originally formed in Garden Grove about a decade before Higgins came aboard. During his time with the band, he handled a variety of roles, including running the group’s Orange County studio, producing demo recordings of its upcoming albums, serving as stage manager and providing backing vocals on several albums. On tour he began as part of the road crew, but also provided what Higgins calls “stunt vocals.” Over the years he transitioned into a band member, playing percussion, backup guitar, keyboards … all of the “extras.”

Touring with the Offspring and playing packed concerts around the world was an incredible experience, he says. “I was totally performing my heart out, and it was super fun.

I was doing what I’d dreamed of doing as a kid. Rocking out and getting crazy with thousands of people cheering.”

He left the band for a combination of reasons—one of them being that he married his wife, Susan, at St. John’s, began attending services there and then experienced a kind of spiritual transformation.

“I started walking as a Christian,” says Higgins. When offered the music position at St. John’s, he embraced the opportunity. For several years, he led the worship band for Sunday services.

These days Higgins draws on his art and design skills in his work at St. John’s. (He was an art major at California State University, Long Beach.) He handles the church’s graphic design, web design, social media, print work, banners, posters and advertisements. “Pretty much anything you can think of in terms of promoting events and communicating information,” he says.

His creativity and professionalism have been a great asset, says Higgins’ friend and colleague, Reverend Michael Hayes.

“In the past eight years, I’ve seen him unite our visual communications to a uniform look and feel that is St. John’s,” says Hayes, the church’s Minister to Adults.

“Chris has a lot of passion, a lot of heart and a deep love for God,” he adds. “He wants whatever we do to communicate to people in a powerful way.”

Higgins joined WANK in 2017. The band, which scored a radio hit in 1998 with the song “Forgiven,” took a long break before reviving the group a few years ago. When the band members started looking for a new player, they thought Higgins would be a perfect fit.

“He’s a great vocalist and he’s got tons of experience [playing] live and in the studio,” says bassist/lead vocalist Bobby Amodeo, who has known Higgins for years. “And he’s a great all-around guy.”

WANK, which is scheduled to perform July 20 at the Slidebar in Fullerton, will record several new singles, as well as shoot a music video, by the end of August, and then release a full-length album by the end of the year, says Amodeo.

For his part, Higgins says he’s relishing rocking out again.

“I just love nailing the backup vocals,” he says with a smile.

For more information about WANK

Article Published in the
Jul / Aug 18 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Photo by Daniel Reyes
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