Chiodos’ Craig Owens Talks ‘Devil’ Album
Chiodos are back with the new album ‘Devil’ and they’re ready to prove something again. There’s been quite a bit of change since their last studio album, as frontman Craig Owens has re-joined the band along with drummer Derrick Frost, and the group has added some vocal assistance with Thomas Erak. After touring to see how things would work out, the band forged ahead with the idea of pursuing new music.
Loudwire had a chance to talk with Craig Owens about his return to Chiodos, the band’s impressive new ‘Devil’ album and plenty more. Check out our chat below.
Hey Craig … Just want to congratulate you on ‘Devil.’ Great album.
Thank you! You heard it?
Absolutely top to bottom. Did you have any idea of what you wanted to do going into the studio for this album and how close did it come to your original vision?
That is an awesome question and the first time I have been asked that. Originally my vision for it — I didn’t really know what I wanted. It is hard to predict a Chiodos record. We all have such strong personalities within each song and they all represent different emotions and things like that. It is a very eclectic band. I don’t want to compare us to them because I don’t think we are nearly as good as them but it’s like sitting down and predicting what a Queen record would sound like. You just don’t really know, or what I would imagine writing a Queen record would be like. It would just be a free for all, you know. When we sat down and started writing I knew a couple of directions I wanted to go in musically.
Like ‘Duct Tape,’ I wanted to try an ambient hip hop oriented Peeping Tom ode to Mike Patton vibe on that track. I knew that one for sure. I knew that ‘3 AM’ and ‘Halo’ that I wanted to do one kind of very vulnerable song that was very honest and bright but dark lyrically. One song that was emotionally heavy and lyrically heavy was ‘Under Your Halo.’ Other than that we just tried to write a Chiodos record. You know, you just sit down and write a Chiodos record, it can’t be explained any other way, other than really a Chiodos record.
Your return along with Derrick Frost coming back to the band, it has kind of rejuvenated Chiodos. Even though you have a history with the guys, did it take a while to get back into sync or was it a natural evolution?
Basically it was natural because musically is never where we had the problems. It was communication and personal. Those things are still getting worked out. We are going to have to work hard to maintain our relationship and keep it evolving and keep it productive just like any relationship. I am, basically, married to five guys and in order to maintain those relationships it takes a lot of time and effort and most of all communication.
You’ve added Thomas Erak to your band. Obviously he has a history with The Fall of Troy as well but can you talk a little bit about adding another guy to the band that has a history with some lead vocals and how that has affected the overall process.
It is awesome. I love having Thomas in the band and I love the fact that he was a singer in his last few bands. It really helps me out when we play live. He can help me focus in places where I would normally have to cut it off because of breathing and things like that. He helps out a lot. Also with screaming, he can help me take it easy on my voice so I can perform better. It is awesome having him there and having him do that. He wasn’t as hands on with the record as I would have liked him to have been vocally. I wanted more of him but I think that he was just trying to find his comfort level with this group and find his role. I think with the next Chiodos record, if there is one, there will be more Thomas on it.
I’ve got to say ‘3 AM’ is a great song the start things off with. Can you talk a little about that track and how it came together?
I mean straight up I couldn’t sleep I was maybe two months out of rehab and I was working on my sleeping patterns and trying to fix that. I woke up and I was reflecting on life. Like any one that goes through a traumatic situation might kind of. I was thinking about The Beatles and I was thinking out their songwriting process because I like to study different songwriters to write differently. I was listening to ‘As My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and the lyrics in it and I was like, “It really sounds like this dude sat down with a guitar looked around him for what was happening and just wrote about it.” So that is what I did. I mean it really was ‘3 AM,’ I really was sitting on my couch in my place in Michigan that I no longer have. I am in L.A. now. I was in Michigan doing that. I heard the water dripping from the sink in the kitchen and I was like, “Why am I up and what is wrong with me? How can I make my life better?” That is when I really started tackling the moral standards for myself. That is what you hear in the song.
Some of the clever titles that you guys have — ‘We’re Talking About Practice.’ Big Allen Iverson fan or no?
[laughs] Of course, who is not a big Allen fan? First of all Brad and I are massive, massive basketball fans but with that being said what basketball fan is not an A.I. fan. I wish that he would have lived up to his full potential a little bit more but the dude is just great and no one can ever forget that press conference he gave about practice. I am definitely a fan of him and his crossover.
I dig that song as well. If you want to talk about where that song comes from.
Lyrically I messed around with idioms. Like devil’s advocate and the devil in me, things like that. I kind of reversed a lot of idioms in there. I just really wanted to do a fun play on words describing this long search for pretty much being happy making music. That is pretty much what that song is about and this constant search of trying to capture in your arms this things that is elusive. You just can’t grab on to it. So that is kind of the song. It was originally written completely on piano and it was one of Brad’s champion songs. Each song has a different champion in our band and Brad is champion in that song. We all sat down and he helped him get to where it needed to go. It was the best way to start of the record, that is why the UG intro goes into it. Yeah, we are stoked that that song works so well to be the intro to the new record. Lyrically it makes sense. Musically. I love that track.
It’s not uncommon for bands to throw a preview track out there to get fans excited about an album but what you guys are doing with the instant gratification campaign is pretty awesome. Six new songs coming off of the record early. Can you talk a little about the decision to unleash so much of your music early and get it out there for fans to listen to?
Yeah, let’s just be honest and straight up, records leak. We were hoping that 1) Not everyone knows that I’m in the band again so we wanted to get that across. We also wanted to get across the fact that we are making new music, we wanted to give it time to breathe. Most of all we have dedicated fans that haven’t heard new music from us since 2007 with this lineup with the exception of Thomas. We owed it to them to get them new music. We did it for the fans and the fact that records leak.
We are hoping that six tracks will be enough to where people will at least want to purchase the record when it comes out for the last six. Maybe if it stops a couple of people from downloading then so be it. With the Internet, you have content and loads and load of content. Putting only two songs out there and expecting people to be fully excited about a record is misleading and it just doesn’t seem like it works with the day and age that we are now living in.
I know you guys are shooting quite a few videos for this record as well. If you want to talk a little bit about your favorite video that you have shot or that you are going to shoot for this record.
Of course. Well, we viewed it a little different than maybe the general public would. Again, Internet, this is the easy content. We wanted to go above and beyond, above and beyond what is normal but in that Chiodos way. We are creating visual partners for every single one of the songs and only like 2 or 3 or maybe 4 of the tracks will have actual music videos. So, we shot ‘Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now’ and ‘3 AM’ recently, we are hoping to do two more. Those will be out fairly soon but in the mean time we are going to continue to go out with these visual companions, these partners for the release of the songs.
We did that because straight up YouTube is the number one place to go find music statistically and that is where you get music these days .We know that and we didn’t want the songs to go up with the album title and the album art and the picture and nothing matching it. We wanted to try to control the content a little bit more. We wanted to add an above and beyond artistic point of view on top of it. We had our friend Kyle Thrash throw together some videos and he really took the reins on it. We gave him some suggestions, vibes and we nit-picked them a little bit as they came in. We just wanted to make sure that we had videos that matched every single one of these songs. When you go back and listen it has a visual partner. When you are showing it to someone they don’t just have to sit there and stare at the album art on the video. The opportunity is there for more art so why wouldn’t we be more artistic.
You’ve got the Devil Dance Tour coming up and this record sounds like there are a lot of songs that would go over well live. How much do you consider the live aspect of things when you are putting together the music?
We focus on it a lot. Specifically with heavier songs. That can help shape and take us down this path or that path and we can decide what it is we want to do next. I would say that it is very noticeable and definitely something we talk about and relevant to how we write song but it isn’t the end all. We do things that you wouldn’t do live in the studio and we didn’t ignore those moments either.
The ‘Devil Dance’ is going to be awesome. We are so excited to get out on tour. We started already touring now. We were just through London yesterday to Corpus Christi, TX where we start the campaign the first three weeks of tour up until the record release and then the Devil Dance Tour starts. I’m just excited to get out and play these new songs for people.
Also on this tour Emarosa, Hands Like Houses, Our Last Night, ’68. Can you talk about any of those bands and maybe your thoughts on your support acts?
Yeah, we chose them on purpose and for reasons. They are all out there delivering a real honest message, a genuine message. That is that they are themselves, they’re not trying to overcompensate by being busy with their fans or their image or they are not trying to overcompensate by shock appeal or anything like that. They are real artists that are out there making real music that isn’t covered up with any electronic influences and things like that. Not that electronic music isn’t real but I am talking that these are guys with guitars, rock music without too much outside influence. We wanted to deliver a nice organic real tour. Hopefully that connects with kids. It represents who we are as well. Our picking those bands was a big deal to us and we didn’t do that lightly. We are excited about where that leads us for the future.
Right on. Chiodos are hitting the road, the record is coming out. Anything else on the horizon that you wanted to add?
Yeah. I just want to say that I am really thankful to be back in Chiodos again. I know that I have been inconsistent as far as my career goes for an outsider perspective and I am looking to change that and right those wrongs. I want to thank everyone that has supported Chiodos for so long. I hope that they’re going to stand by us and come down this new journey with us. We really do have some of the most intelligent and thoughtful fans. I am hoping that they stick by us and support us through our new musical endeavors.
Our thanks to Chiodos frontman Craig Owens for the interview. Be sure to check out the band’s ‘Devil’ album, hitting stores this week. You can order it via iTunes or Amazon. And look for the band on tour. See their dates here.