October 8, 2014 Interview – Craig Owens of Chiodos
Sometimes time away from the things we love most is the best decision to make. For Michigan band Chiodos, the journey of success has been long and full of detours and roadblocks over the course of thirteen years. After a mutual parting with friend and vocalist Craig Owens in 2009, fans thought it was the last they had seen of the classic line-up which brought the blistering albums All’s Well That Ends Well (2005) and Bone Palace Ballet (2007) which helped the band dominate the extreme music scene. With a twist of fate, two and half years later Owens returned home to Chiodos, sparking a storm of excitement all around them and with new record label Razor & Tie releasing their first album in four years titled Devils in early 2014. Now reunited and touring extensively, the band show no signs of slowing down as they look into the future. Recently we sat down with Owens for an honest, personal look at his decision to rejoin Chiodos, their new album, the bonds he shares with bandmates, love for music, horror movies, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Chiodos has traveled an interesting road. The band broke onto the scene with your debut album All’s Well That Ends Well in 2005 and then in 2007 Bone Palace Ballet was a huge leap forward for the band with the album reaching peak positions in charts as popularity grew. After a three year break from the band you are now back as lead vocalist. Tell us a little about the journey of the band over the past thirteen years?
Craig Owens – Oh man, that is going to be kind of difficult to do in just a few sentences. Well it started with the four of us in High School. We just worked really hard and played locally as much as we could. We did six or seven do-it-yourself tours, working as hard as we could. This is before that whole blowing up on the internet thing was really happening. This was right before the MySpace Page thing. We just worked really hard and released our first full length in 2005.
We toured a lot and things picked up and it just kept going up and up, but as the success was happening we were really young and on the road and not able to go home and process anything that was happening or what we were experiencing. Naturally what happens is what happens to a million bands; you have conflicts and lack of communication. We decided to take a break kind of at our peak. We spent three years apart doing other things and it was really necessary I think. When we came back together it was like walking into a room of old friends but not completely forgetting the past and not carrying it with you everywhere you went.
CrypticRock.com – You learn from mistakes in the past and obviously remained active in your time away from the band as you did other projects, as everyone else did. One can imagine with new experiences you mature as a person as well as friends and musicians. What inevitably was the turning point that prompted your return in 2012?
Craig Owens – To be honest, I just spoke it out loud really and that is all I really had to do. I made a joke to my manager, who was managing just me at the time, and she said if I could make one record what would it be. I said jokingly, “The next Chiodos record.” All I had to do was just speak it out and a few weeks later we were talking about it.
CrypticRock.com –That is pretty interesting. It has obviously worked out now that your back in the band and you guys have recently release your fourth studio record Devil back in April. The record is the first in four years and marks your return, as well as Derrick Frost on drums. What was the writing and recording process like for this new record?
Craig Owens – It was a bit more involved. We had not toured very much. We just kind of went in and made a record together. I think the record probably would have sounded a little different had we been just off tour. Everyone got to touch the ball and champion different songs and put their two cents in. It was a much more collective experience this time.
CrypticRock.com- Right, the record has been received very well. It has been out a few of months now and it also sees a level of growth in the bands style and sound. Do you feel that this album is most representative of the sound you have always envisioned for the band and how vital is the progress to you when creating music?
Craig Owens – I do not really thinks so. It is like we matured but it was not what we really wanted it to be; your tastes change, what you like changes. We are just fans of music first and foremost. We made what we wanted to hear back then, we make what we want to hear now and it is just different.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, like you said, as you get older your taste in music changes and usually broadens. Sometimes as a fan of musician and a fan of music you open yourself up to things that you may have not opened yourself up to when you were younger. Now with this new record complete and out, obviously it is impossible to predict the future, but what direction could you see the band going in from here?
Craig Owens – Musically, I would say that we are probably going to make a heavier and more experimental record next. I think that this one was really focused and structured almost to the point of a fault and I completely back the record still. I love it but I think that we thought of ourselves kind of in the lines and that we could push the envelope even more so than in the past with this next pass. I guess that is what I can see musically.
CrypticRock.com- So it is kind of like starting fresh again for yourself and Chiodos. Considering that the lineup is essentially the original configuration with the exception of the new lead guitarist replacing Jason and Thomas, after working together all these years and having been through so much together personally and musically, what do you think has been the key to your friendships and keeping that chemistry together?
Craig Owens – Well, I think communication is the really the best way to keep any sort of friendship intact. You just need to communicate, whether its positive or negative, and be able to learn and respect the differences you have with other individuals because we are basically living with each other for nine to ten months out of the year. I would say communication, I think that is key.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, of course, you need to be able to communicate when you are on the road regularly. Naturally you will to get on each other’s nerves, especially in close quarters, that is just human nature.
Craig Owens – Yes, totally, as long as you except that and realize that the person next to you is only getting on your nerves because you have been around them for nine months. Then you can kind of just accept that; I think it is much easier instead of just holding in that resentment for them and carrying it everywhere you go.
CrypticRock.com – That makes perfect sense. As you had mentioned, being on the road nine or ten months out of the year and partaking in some heavy touring in 2014 in support of the new record, you have gone through a few touring cycles thus far. How exciting is it for you to be back on stage and playing this new material in front of fans like this?
Craig Owens – It is really exciting. It does not feel like I really left to be honest. It did when I was living it, but the moment I stepped back on stage it did not feel like things were distant. I did not feel like I was getting any sort of cobwebs out. It felt natural because I had done it so many times. The muscle memory was there. Everything was there.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds like everything is really clicking. Would you say that this time around you almost have a deeper appreciation for it than you did when you were younger?
Craig Owens – I do not think so. Some days I would probably tell you different but today I do not think so. I was always really appreciative of being able to play music for a living, doing what we do. I have always loved our music. I was always proud of it and I stand behind it. Back then I felt that way and now I still feel the same way. Maybe time has allowed me to conceptually understand the meaning of it; the profound what it is that we did a little bit more. The music itself I have always been proud of. I have really enjoyed playing.
CrypticRock.com – That is what matters most. As you mentioned earlier about getting older and different perspectives on music. What are some of your personal musical influences?
Craig Owens – I like artists that focus on art; like the Jack Whites of the world, the Trent Reznors, the Mike Pattons. They just do all art all of the time. You know that they are not worried about becoming as big as they can in one band or anything like that. They just want to make art and that is how I am. I do not care what a label wants to stamp on and brand, I just want to make music. I want to do it with my friends and I want people to like it. A combination of all that leads me to all of my influences, which are individual in their names.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, there are a lot of artists out there like that. One that comes to mind for is Radiohead which continue to push their limits and never lose their fans over the years.
Craig Owens – Yes, I know and that is like a dream; to do something like that. I definitely wish we could get that because all I really want to do is to be able to make a living off of making art. That is all I really care about.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great dream to aspire for. As you had mentioned earlier Chiodos came on the scene before the whole social network thing blew up. So you have seen the best of both worlds and obviously the band now has more opportunities to be exposed. I also think that things are also much more fragmented now. That is also harder for an upcoming band to get more exposure because of all the fragmented blogs and social networking. What advice would you have for a young band coming up?
Craig Owens – It would not have anything to do with that. It would have to do with any source of radio. It would just be about the music. I would say just make the music that you want to hear. Do it for the right reasons and it will be good.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, following your artistic vision is essential. What matters most is as an artist you of course want to please the fans, but you also do not want to be pigeonholed into something you do not want to do.
Craig Owens – You are never going to be able to please all of them. You do what you do. They were there in the beginning and they will either follow you or they won’t. People grow, you cannot cater to all of them. It just won’t work.
CrypticRock.com – Very true. My last question for you is pertaining to horror films. CrypticRock.com covers music and horror films. What are some of your favorite horror films?
Craig Owens – We named the band after Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988). It is so hard to choose, I would have to break it down into sub-genres. From Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) to The Shining (1980). I am a massive Rob Zombie fan so House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devils Rejects (2005), then it also goes to Fright Night (1985) and the cheesy ’80s horror movies. I am a massive Horror movie fan so that has influenced our sound quite a bit I think. I literally watch every one that comes out.
CrypticRock.com – That is great. You mentioned Fright Night, a lot of the films we have mentioned have been remade throughout the years. Many fans grow attached to these original films. How do you perceive the remakes of these films?
Craig Owens – Some of them are good. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) remake will never match up, but I like it. I thought it was good, just a little bit different. You can never recreate the nostalgia that comes with it the first time. I remember the first time I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) with a bunch of friends over at a sleep over and one of the girls’ dads came down with a chainsaw and started it up. I can’t recreate that nostalgia, like when you listen to a song at the right moment and at the right time. It is kind of unfair to judge the movies completely. I thought the new one was pretty good. Sometimes it is just hit or miss I think.
I like remakes though; new stories, new generations coming out. It is also cool seeing the new graphics, the sounds and the new colors coming out. I do not know what the next David Lynch is going to be or the next Eraserhead (1977) is going to be. The potential is through the roof because of what people are doing now.