Josh Scogin Talks ’68’s New Album
Last summer, music headlines were made when it was announced that The Chariot would be breaking up shortly after the Vans Warped Tour. With rabid fans across the country, many fans across the country were left wanting more from the band. From the ashes of The Chariot rose vocalist Josh Scogin‘s newest project, ’68, consisting of himself and drummer Michael McClellan. The band has remained largely a mystery for their short existence, although they’ve managed to score support slots on some of the larger tours this year (including Chiodos’ Devils Dance Tour earlier this spring). We got a chance to sit down with Scogin to talk a bit about the band’s upcoming debut album, slated to be released in early July.
SOS: Our first question is pretty obvious: you guys have a new album coming out titled, In Humor and Sadness that’s set to drop on July 8th. Could you tell us a little more about it? Are you especially excited about anything?
Josh Scogin: Well it’s our first record so I’m real excited about most everything about it. For me you know I did The Chariot for about ten years, so for me one of the most exciting things is just to have it out and to have that sort of mystery kind of out of the way, you know? We’ve done a couple tours now and for the most part you know people just don’t know what to expect because they don’t know what’s there with the songs or any of that stuff. Which, as an artist I kind of enjoy the audience not having any pre-conceived notions to go before me. That’s kind of nice having that blank slate, but at the same time you know it’ll be nice having people able to sing along if they want or at least know where the song goes and different things like that. That’s very exciting.
Because you’ve actually had opportunities to release debut albums in the past, like you did with The Chariot, I’m sure it changes the experience of releasing a debut album with your new project. What kind of impact do you hope to have with In Humor and Sadness?
I mean nothing big. I just hope people enjoy it, you know? I’m not really the type of person to set goals, per say. I’ve never been in a band where we’re like “Oh I hope this one goes gold,” or anything like that because obviously I don’t write music for that. It’s not really for the masses. So yeah, more than just goals-based, I always just enjoy the journey and the process. I’ve done debut records before and they’re just exciting in general. It’s just the first thing and it kind of lays down the base foundation you know? So I don’t really have any expectations or hopes outside of those as an artist. I hope people enjoy it and want to listen to it. Maybe it can be therapeutic in some way?
You guys already released a single off of the album titled “Track One.” It seems fairly inevitable that people are going to compare ’68 to The Chariot for a long time considering your tenure in the band. When listening to the single, it’s obvious that a lot of the same influences are present. It’s also pretty clear that you’re pushing in a bit of a different direction from The Chariot. When it comes to ‘68’s new album, do you think your history with past bands has pushed you to go in a different direction?
Yeah. Obviously I wrote a lot of the songs for The Chariot. Up until the last album, I wrote a majority of the songs. Obviously I’m only one person so there are going to be some similarities. I can only do so much with my voice you know? But I mean I think if you listen to the album as a whole it feels very different. To me if you listen to the album as a whole it’s night and day different from The Chariot. Obviously any part of any song, had I written it back in The Chariot, I wouldn’t have hesitated to put some of this in there or something. With this project I kind of went about it in the same way. I wrote music that I wanted to hear and that I would enjoy performing night after night. Obviously I think it’s just being a new project and stuff it’s going to be different but there’s bound to be similarities as well. To me at least, I do think that if you listen to the album as a whole it is night and day different.
Do you think that the differences that you described were a result of a desire, not necessarily to distance yourself from your work in The Chariot, but maybe to explore different influences that you didn’t feel you could while in The Chariot?
Yeah, for sure. Even in The Chariot I never wanted to write the same album twice. I didn’t want to be The Chariot Pt. 2 or anything. There’s a whole different vibe and mentality. The live show is in some ways similar but it’s very different. Obviously there are only two guys on stage. Everything is different. When the idea came in my head about this new project, like “what’s it gonna look like, what’s it gonna feel like, what’s it gonna be like,” you know I enjoyed the process and journey of just completely flipping the script you know what I mean? Two piece instead of five piece. I’m playing guitar instead of having the freedom of running around singing. Just the entire process I really enjoy. I don’t know, I find beauty in the struggle you know? I enjoy challenges and I Want to keep things fresh. It makes it beautiful in a way. For me, performing sometimes nearly 300 shows a year, it’s something that keeps things fresh and keeps things from getting stale or mundane. That was the main thought process when starting this. I could have done another five-piece, and musically it could have been similar to this or The Chariot, but I really enjoyed the thought process of “let’s go entirely left field,” you know, for me at least?
With that said, how did being a two-piece band, how did that affect the writing and recording process for you?
Well there’s definitely less cooks in the kitchen! Which, at this point in my life, is something that I enjoy a lot. Obviously no offence to anyone that was in The Chariot, but it’s just different. Ideas get done so much faster that you have time to play around with other ideas. So in The Chariot, as awesome as everyone was, the nature of the beast is that you have to sell an idea to someone. You have to convince the four other board members, as they were, that this is gonna be cool or that this is gonna be a great idea. Sometimes people get it, sometimes they wouldn’t. With this, all of that time spent trying to do that is out the window. Be it a good idea or bad idea, it’s going in the record. If I have the idea and it’s something I want to do, immediately or within the hour we’re doing it. So again, I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, sometimes it’s both. Recording-wise it’s definitely something that has pros and cons. One of the big perks that I enjoyed was that instead of that time spent trying to convince someone even what the idea is, or trying to convince someone to shoot an entire video in one take, or shooting two different videos and play them together. To explain all of that to someone when it’s just an idea that I had…. You can spend that time doing other things which at this point in my life is something that I find a lot of joy in. I like spending time playing with pedals or trying different amps and just having fun. It snowed a lot for some reason when I was in the studio this year so we were able to go outside and sled. It’s a lot different but I like it.
The album hasn’t dropped yet but do you have any favorite moments you’d like fans to look out for?
I don’t know. Nothing really stands out. I mean there’s definitely some highs and lows in the album. There’s definitely some sort of stuff that people are gonna be more familiar with but there are definitely some beautiful sort of lows in the album, where the whole song is a song that I sing or predominantly clean guitar the whole time. Obviously in The Chariot we didn’t have clean guitar, it was always heavy. I think instead of more specific moments in the album, I think it’s the whole album that I can’t wait to see if people digest well or if people are not into it, which is totally valid. I mean if someone loved The Chariot for what it was and what we were doing; it’s very likely that they could not be into this. It may not be their cup of tea because it’s different. But for me, the album as a whole is really just a beautiful roller coaster, where there’s extreme moments and then the exact opposite where it’s very stripped down and basic. I enjoy that because it’s fun to perform and record. I think the whole thing as an entity of itself is what I sort of can’t wait to see people’s reactions to it or hear what they think.
Because you’re doing something different and you’re making things that maybe fans of your older work may or may not be into, did you get at all nervous when writing this album or do you think you’ve really embraced the risk-taking aspect of writing new music?
I mean I’d be lying if I said that the thought didn’t cross my mind that “man, this could be it,” and people might just hate what I’m doing. Maybe people were just into The Chariot because it was so extreme sometimes in nature. But I had to go into this album the same way that I went into every album. I don’t know what people are going to like, I don’t know what labels are going to like, I don’t know what managers are going to like, you know? So I had to write from the heart and from my own experiences and where I’m at as a person right now. To me I know there’s people who make a real good living writing what people are going to like but that’s not what I’ve ever done because it’s way too much of a stress to try and assume what people are going to like or not like. So if that thought crossed my mind I’d have to immediately squelch it and write from the heart because I want something that, two years from now when I’m performing the song, I’m going to need to enjoy it. But now that it’s recorded and written and about to be out, the exciting part is wondering if people are going to enjoy it or like it. I want to know if people are going to find in it a place to call their own. In the moment in the process, it’s way too stressful to assume that I know the formula or science to what makes music sell mass millions. For me it’s just as long as it’s something that I feel a connection to that hopefully people will see through that and see that it’s real to me. So hopefully people enjoy it and we can start this journey together.
You can check out the band’s first single “Track One” on Soundcloud below and pre-order the new album on iTunes here.