A Conversation with Craig Owens.
Chiodos, their rise and fall was the story of legend but their saga didn’t end there. In 2012 Craig Owens made a triumphant reunion with the band that would turn out to be the beginning of a new chapter. 2013 saw them headlining the Vans Warped Tour to massive crowds each day and their fanbase began to grow even quicker than it did during their early years. Now they officially back with the release of their new album Devil and their support tour the Devil’s Dance Tour. Sight of Sound had the chance to sit down with the man behind Chiodos himself, Craig Owens, before the show in Lancaster and this is what he had to say :
Sight of Sound : I know this is a tough thing to ask so early in a tour run but how has it been so far?
Craig Owens : Amazing, first of all there is people at our shows. Which is awesome, I’m thankful. People like the new record, I’m thankful. Man, straight up I’m just happy to be making music for a living and I just love what I do. I’m really appreciative that people care.
Yeah I can see that, it has been just about two years since your reunion with Chiodos and it has been nonstop since then for you. A short run following the reunion announcement, Warped Tour, and now the Devil’s Dance Tour. No rest for the wicked right?
Yeah we just did like weeks. A week here, a week there. This is actually our first headlining tour since we got back together.
That’s exciting and it is even better because like you said people like the new album and really excited to see the songs live.
Yeah man it is crazy.
If you look on iTunes right now you can see review after review from the fans saying how much the album means to them and how much they love it for their own personal reasons.
That’s awesome, that makes me so happy.
From what I saw 3:AM appeared to be the fan favorite right now, any thoughts on that?
That’s crazy to me, I didn’t expect that I thought we would get a little bit of backlash from that track.
It is certainly different for Chiodos but that isn’t a bad thing.
I think its evolution.
That is a great way to put. Devil has a whole seems like an evolution and a rebirth of Chiodos in a way. The production quality is superb, the sound is matured and there is a level of honesty on every track.
That is what it is, so it is good it sounds like that. We didn’t try to say this is Bone Palace Ballet 2, we didn’t try to say we need to do All’s Well That Ends Well 2, we didn’t say it has to be a combination of both of those. We just make music we want to hear because we are all fans of music and it comes natural. We didn’t try to push it, if you push it that is when people start think it sounds weird.
Did you start the conversation about making a new album start shortly after the reunion?
Yeah, well a few months after the reunion. We just really wanted to play shows. I was doing D.R.U.G.S. , I was with the band and I didn’t plan on going full force. There were talks of a Chiodos record but I didn’t expect us to do it. Then we saw how much people cared, fans really make a difference. You show an artist that you care and then all of a sudden it comes to fruition. So we started writing about 5-6 months after we announced we were getting back together for the shows.
Just like you said before, you didn’t rush it. Things just fell in place at the right time for creation of Devil.
No, no rushing at all. The state of music bums me out a little. Not because there is a lack of talent because there is more talent than there has ever been. But what it is, in order to make this passion, the passion of music, your job and what you do for a living you have to tour. I think touring has taken over whereas in the past it would be two years to write and make a record with six months or three months of tour. Now it is two years touring on a record with three months to write it and record.
It is interesting you say that because Devil feels like an older album so to speak because you can play it straight through and every song has purpose and conversation with the tracks around it. Fans can also take something away from it at the end of listening, so many bands today are pumping out albums with 2 or 3 real tracks and a lot of filler.
Thank you, I think a lot of it specifically in terms of the producton quality is what we wanted. There is nothing on this record that is fake. Nothing. The harps, the violins, the french horn, the champagne glass breaking, the tap dancing, nothing on it is fake. I think because of that it allows for emotion to come out through it. This raw emotion that you feel and that has been forgotten in a lot of this genre I think, the alternative genre that is. I think a lot of it is either highly EDM influenced with samples and electronic beats behind it and everything or these fake violins with this fake vibe and these over auto tuned vocals. This is real, this is straight forward, this is vulnerable and honest and I think that sets it apart.
There is a level of openness in the songs on Devil though. People can interrupt the lyrics how they want and adapt it to their own story or life. You can sense that you have an overlying meaning but it isn’t overbearing to the listen, how were you able to achieve this balance?
That is one of my favorite things about music. It is important to leave some room for interpretation but at the same time still get your point across. It is a fine line and it is difficult.
During the writing process did you guys ever become too critical of your own work? I know sometimes it can be hard to pull off of a track and sometimes you become your own worst enemy. How far from conception to final track did these songs travel, are these close to the first drafts?
No, these are like the 18th draft. That is me over starting it but it is the 3rd, 4th or 5th drafts for some of them. I think the record is perfect as it is. I wouldn’t say it is a perfect record but I think the songs are perfect how they are.
It is as close to perfect as it gets for a record honestly, everyone is always searching for the perfect record.
There is no such thing, it is all about where it hits you in your life, what it is you’re listening to, what it is that you need, what emotions they bring out of you, what it is that they inspire you to feel and think, so the perfect record is all about timing.
The timing for Devil is a perfect example. You have all been through various walks of life leading up to this album, you’ve all matured and your fans have all matured too. Is it surreal to see all the older fans in the crowd alongside the new faces who are just finding out about Chiodos?
It’s crazy man. It’s funny too because when we first started getting big in like 2005-2006 it was all these really young kids and other bands would kind of make fun of us for it. I think we’re the ones laughing now because these fans are still into music and it is amazing to see them out and I really hope that this record crosses into the younger generations. I would like to show them some real, honest music.
Chiodos is crossing into new genres right now in a way too with being you guys being on some mixed rock genre festivals such as Welcome to Rockville coming up early this summer. Tell me about how that came about because it is a great way to introduce new audiences to your music who might not come across it otherwise.
We are doing that with Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, and Rob Zombie. Hopefully we can get some more people, you only really know what you’re shown right? I can’t tell you how many fans have come up to me and said that they didn’t like screaming in music before the met my band or heard my band. Back in the day it made sense because not everybody was doing it and it was so new. So it makes a lot of sense for us to do these and I think that we can take a lot of mainstream people and show them some real rock music. We aren’t trying to do anything, we just trying to show everyone us and try to have fun doing what we do.
I’m sure it will be just as great as your headliner tonight, so let’s change the pace a bit. Let’s talk about this vinyl for record store day. How did the decision get made to put these two songs on the disc?
Well we have a handful of B-sides from Devil, a lot of B-sides from devil maybe like eight or something but this is just two of them. I think it was a vote via email with the band of which songs, specifically we wanted R2Me2 because of the fact that it is how we feel about the music industry and what better day to put it out than Record Store Day. So it’s that and Let Me Get You a Towel, which is one of the first demoes that we recorded for Devil. It’s something that Brad specifically championed, he really wanted to do something special for Record Store Day. We all did but we didn’t know what and he worked with our management and made this happened. We all kind of dove in pretty aggressively and what you get is this limited edition 7-inch vinyl which is pretty cool.
I saw that you also released Devil on color vinyl as well, a wise choice for the every growing auidence vinyl collectors out there.
I think white is at Hot Topic and red is what we sell at the shows. Vinyl is going to supersede completely CD and everything. It is the way to get music out right now.
Yeah it is crazy that they are making such a comeback. 2014 seems like the year of the comeback across all things. Got anything you want to push right now to the fans to go check out?
We will be releasing a video for Ole’ Fishlips is Dead in a couple weeks so I encourage people to check it out when it gets released.
Hearing you say that makes me think of one last question for you before we part ways here, before the album came out you released a whole bunch of incredible Youtube videos with bizarre yet totally awesome footage. How did those come about?
The vignettes, that is what I wanted to do. I can’t just say it was my idea but I definitely championed it and pushed and pushed and pushed. Youtube is the number one place to listen to music. That is what people want and we just wanted to go above and beyond. In this day and age the name of the game with the internet is content and we wanted to give vignettes as opposed to just our album cover. Staring at an album cover 3 to 4 minutes is dead. We gave it to our friend Kyle Thrash from Philadelphia. We said this is the kind of vibe we want, use stock footage and make it happen.
Pretty awesome idea in all honesty, so what are your upcoming plans? Chiodos is on tour now for quite a while on the Devils Dance Tour 2014 but will we see you sometime this summer?
Yeah, we are doing another tour in the late summer but I can’t say it yet. I don’t want to get yelled at, there is an exciting tour that people are going to be surprised by but also excited for.
Great, cant wait to see that announcement.
Come out to a show and experience the Devils Dance Tour for yourself, Chiodos new album Devil is available now at all retailers for purchase. Sight of Sound would like to thank all of those personally involved in setting up this interview and we would also like to thank Craig Owens for taking time out of his day to sit down with us for this exclusive.
Exclusive Photo Gallery from Matt Christine Photography :