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Craig Owens Talks New Album, Breaking New Ground & How Chiodos Survived A Changing Music Industry
Chiodos take their heavy ways to another level on fourth album Devil. In the middle of a scene that was increasingly turning towards more Indie and hipster orientations, Chiodos found themselves in a crisis. Sensing painful frustrations and personal rediscovery with its allusive microcosm of an album title, this Michigan act was periodically stifled while recording their new album. Their 2010 effort Illuminaudio was hailed to blast out commercially, but such pressure crippled the band musically and personally. The band struggled with its direction, trudging through weighed emotion, but Devil was the genre changing outcome. Frontman Craig Owens spoke with Jason Pettigrew about his headspace during the making of Devil, and how he’s feeling a lot better in his own skin these days.
How’s life in Chiodos World?
It’s awesome. It’s crazy.
You say it’s “crazy.” Did you imagine it would ever be this good?
Absolutely not. We’ve never gotten along as well as we are right now.
The time spent apart and the distance seems to have been great but you also have that personal relationship with keyboardist Bradley Bell that you really don’t have with anyone else in the band.
Yeah, Brad and I are definitely closer than I would say the other guys and I are, but it’s something that I’ve really made a point to work on, you know? While out on the road, I’m making an effort and taking interest in what other band members do.
I remember asking you at Warped if you thought this gets easier, and you said no because the band have to constantly prove to people you’re just as valid as ever. Did that situation somehow influence the making of this record?
We’ve always been good at the music thing, man. The music thing was fine. That’s the only thing that kept us together for years. Playing on stage and making records and things like that—that was fine. It’s a much more pleasant experience this time around, but we were always good at that. As far as chemistry and things like that, it all comes down to rebuilding the personal [relationships]. But we picked up right where we left off musically.
Do you feel that the band can do anything they want without anyone’s pre-conceived notion of what Chiodos are “supposed” to sound like in 2014?
Yeah, we can do anything we want. When we’re around one another in the rehearsal room, we’ve always thought, “We’re Chiodos; we can do whatever we want musically,” because we’ve been so consistently random. I think only Bone Palace Ballet was the focused idea. It was still very eclectic, but at the same time, it was all dark, and a bit heavy. On this record, you’re gonna hear anthems and you’re gonna hear the heaviest, darkest stuff we’ve ever done. It’s a well thought-out record, but if you played track two to track nine to somebody random, they’d be like, “This is the same band?” But no, we don’t stop ourselves. We make whatever sounds good to us and whatever picture we see, we try and paint it the best that we can. We never really will say, “This band needs to sound like this, otherwise; we won’t succeed.” Because first of all, success is just relative, really. It really comes down to if you don’t love it, it’s not going to work. That’s what it all comes down to—not how heavy, soft or poppy or anything like that.
When fans approach you to express their appreciation for Chiodos, what are the aspects of the band people really gravitate toward?
What it comes down to is if there’s true soul to the music. I can’t control what style of music our fans like; it’s ever-changing in human beings, and that’s something else I’ve noticed. But I think the commonality from fans is they relate to the soul of what it is that we do. I think it makes them feel. As artists, that’s our job: to make people feel, and to do that through honest interpretations of our own experiences. A lot of our fans early on were thanking us because we got them into screaming music. It wasn’t because we were screaming and they just happened to like us. It was that they listened to us, they connected, then they learned to love that. I think that’s something we have that isn’t ever going away. I think it’s an honest approach in the soul of Chiodos, and it comes from all of the band members; honestly wanting to be there, honestly wanting to make the best music we can, and not really thinking too much about genres or specifications that will limit us. If it’s honest and true and the soul comes through it, then we’re okay playing that and good things will come from it. That’s a lot of the reason why I missed Chiodos—I missed the soul of it.