Latest release: My Damnation (3Wise/Sony)
Band site: www.chelseagrinmetal.com
Aside from working on their next studio album, American brutalisers Chelsea Grin will bring a mighty heavy edge to this year’s Soundwave Festival. They’ll also play two select side shows with Of Mice & Men and While She Sleeps. Vocalist Alex Koehler spoke with Loud about being proud of being dubbed a deathcore band.
Q: Is the band writing much material at the moment?
A: Yeah, we put out a five-song EP right before Warped Tour, just to have something fresh to do a tour like that. We’re currently working on a full-length right now; we’re just taking it slowly, but surely. It’s going pretty good. Our guitarist Dan (Jones) has like four songs, which are kinda the blueprints, like they’re songs, but they’re subject to change, just to work our way into it. Our other guitarist Jason (Richardson) has a song he’s been working on, and I think even Pablo (Viveros, drums) has a song. So we’re just kinda writing our own thing and then we’re gonna come together and try and make an album. That’s pretty much how we’ve always done it. When there’s too many cooks in the kitchen it’s never good. But when each member writes their own thing, comes together and we put our own little style into each song and make it a little bit different, it’s a lot easier that way. We like it, and it seems to have better results as well.
Q: Where do you envision the next album headed compared to your first two LPs?
A: Well, our newest EP was kind of like a step in a new direction for the band, and we’re just going to keep furthering that with our new album. Just kinda breach new boundaries that we haven’t really crossed before and try to experiment with other sounds, while at the same time keeping the old Chelsea Grin sound that the fans have known and loved.
Q: It’s always a fine line between injecting enough new elements to keep things fresh and experimenting too much and risking alienating a large section of your audience.
A: Oh yeah. There’s nothing wrong with expanding musically, but if you go from one album to another and the sound is so drastically different that it doesn’t even sound like the stuff that you put out before, we’ll make some fans pretty mad and disappointed (laughs).
Q: Fans also have greater means to express their opinions these days too. Do you tend to go online much and read what the fans think of new material or a show that you played?
A: I think honestly, especially with YouTube, a lot of people that put hate on that are people that weren’t even fans of the band in the first place. They’re just people who troll YouTube, sit behind their keyboards and find different stuff to talk shit about. I think for the most part the people that actually are fans of us and have been fans of us for years appreciated the new music we’ve been putting out. Kids are singing along to our new songs live, so I feel like it’s got a really good reaction.
Q: It seems like a lot of videos featuring deathcore bands tend to cop plenty of flak on there, too. That’s a genre you’ve been heavily associated with – how does that sit with you?
A: We’re one of those bands who kind of embrace being called deathcore. What we want to do is take that genre and like push it higher. We want to be the “deathcore band” that can pull off being ridiculously heavy, and still throw in some melody every now and then. Throw in some singing and do some crazy stuff, all while being insanely heavy.
Q: It’s interesting to have that attitude, because a lot of bands I talk to who are given that tag tend to try and sidestep it.
A: Yeah, I’ve heard of a lot of bands that if someone refers to them as deathcore it’s almost as if they get offended, you know what I mean? But with us, we started off all really young and we kinda embraced the deathcore. Now we don’t even care; if someone wants to describe us as metal, deathcore, hardcore, we’re just like, ‘whatever’, because there’s so many different sub-genres that we don’t really care (laughs). I love really heavy, aggressive writing and some of the others like to throw a little bit of melodic stuff into it. But I like to focus on every aspect. Like, we’ll make this part of the song really aggressive and heavy and then we’ll throw in a chorus here and here to kinda lighten it up. Then go back into the aggressive style, just change it up a little.
Q: Where do you the majority of your influences come from – is it primarily deathcore bands, or does more traditional death metal have an impact on you as well?
A: I think that what makes our band capable of writing such different music for a deathcore band is our influences are definitely way beyond deathcore and even metal. We listen to everything; every aspect of every genre is kinda like what we try to put together in deathcore. We’ll try to take a structure from like a pop song and styles from everything else and kind of put it into our own thing. We study every other type of music; we don’t just listen to one type.
Q: What are your tastes like death metal-wise, though?
A: As a band I think we’d all agree that The Black Dahlia Murder, as far as a metal band goes has been a huge influence on us. Through The Eyes of the Dead was awesome. And growing up, of course we looked up to bands like Suicide Silence and Whitechapel. Our guitarist Jason’s more of like a tech-head, he listens to all that crazy, sporadic death metal stuff (laughs).
Q: What do you think of the segregation that seems to have occurred within death metal? You have your deathcore crowd, as well as your more traditionalist audience it seems. Do you seek to break down some of those barriers?
A: I think with us, one of the reasons that we’ve had so much success is we’re a heavy band and metal-heads will listen to us and all that. But at the same time, we appeal to a lot younger of a generation as well. A lot of younger kids will listen to our music, and they like it. We can go on tour with a band like Asking Alexandria and be totally fine, we wouldn’t be out of place.
Q: Have you wanted to do more touring with “traditional” death metal bands and potentially reach a whole new audience?
A: We’ve kinda tried to shy away from that, because the way we see it, we always strive to do tours where every band is kinda different. As a kid, I don’t really want to go to a show and see the same band five different times over. It’d be cool to go to a show and listen to like a post-hardcore band, then a pop/punk band and then a really heavy band. We feel like the more variety in the shows in the bands we tour with make for a better draw and ultimately you gain more fans, because you get to play music to all these different types of people. We kinda want to be like the heaviest band on the tours, you know? We want to do tours with, like I said, different bands and we strive to be the heaviest band. So when we get on-stage and start playing our music it’s like an eruption in the crowd.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: I think I’m better at saying famous words on-stage when I’m in the moment. I’m excited to come to Australia and be a part of Soundwave, and it should be a lot of fun.
Chelsea Grin plays the sold out Soundwave Festival in February/March.
You can also catch them with Of Mice & Men and While She Sleeps on the following dates-