CHELSEA GRIN

Does “bru­tal” have a limit? Chelsea Grin don’t seem to think so. The Salt Lake City six-piece out-heavy them­selves on their third ef­fort, Ash­esToAshes. By Brendan Crabb.

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In Salt Lake City they like their death­core with a side of Paramore.

Af­ter bru­tal­is­ing Aus­tralian au­di­ences at Sound­wave 2013 and while sup­port­ing our own home-grown he­roes The Amity Af­flic­tion, Chelsea Grin re­turn with their third record, Ashes To Ashes. The Amer­i­can death­core sex­tet’s new of­fer­ing is heav­ier than a bag of span­ners on Jupiter, a tor­rent of taut metal­lic fury, off­set by flick­ers of melody and hefty beat­downs. While hit­ting the road as part of the US leg of this year’s Vans Warped Tour, vo­cal­ist Alex Koehler gave the low­down on their new disc, not be­ing afraid to chan­nel pop mu­sic, and just how heavy ex­treme mu­sic can be­come.

Did the song­writ­ing or record­ing process for

dif­fer much from pre­vi­ous al­bums?

To Ashes

Yeah, def­i­nitely. This record we went about it

Ashes in a way we’ve never gone about any­thing. We all kind of, even our drum­mer Pablo [ Viveros] wrote his own songs, Ja­son [Richard­son, gui­tar] wrote his own songs; Dan [ Jones, gui­tar] wrote his own songs. Then we all came to­gether and made the fi­nal prod­uct, and then I put lyrics and vo­cals to it. We just wrote it with a bunch of dif­fer­ent gen­res in mind. There’s 15 tracks on the al­bum, so were try­ing to make it en­ter­tain­ing all the way through. Like we weren’t try­ing to write the same song over and over again; there’s def­i­nitely a bunch of dif­fer­ent styles with this record. But re­ally heavy shit, re­ally up­beat shit, there’s melodic stuff; there’s a cou­ple of songs that are a lit­tle softer. With 15 tracks, there’s a lot of room to ex­per­i­ment, so we def­i­nitely took ad­van­tage of that. We have a pretty solid writ­ing process, but when it comes to the lyrics, I write all those.

How did you tackle pen­ning the lyrics on this record?

This al­bum, lyri­cally, it’s just more so writ­ing about real life. When I started writ­ing lyrics for this al­bum I wanted to write some­thing that people could take in, and re­late it to their per­sonal life. So ev­ery lyric on this record has ei­ther been some­thing I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced on a real-life ba­sis, or been di­rectly in­volved with, with close friends or fam­ily. I re­ally wanted people to latch on to this record and re­late to it on a per­sonal level. It def­i­nitely makes it a lot eas­ier when you’re writ­ing about some­thing that means a lot to you. It’s a lot eas­ier to get into live, and be able to scream it and ac­tu­ally mean it.

Is the new track “Sell­out” tak­ing a jab at any­one in par­tic­u­lar?

Yeah, def­i­nitely. It’s not so much about one per­son in gen­eral; it’s just about a few dif­fer­ent people. Like

when you’ve been in the mu­sic in­dus­try as long as we have, you en­counter friends that turn shitty on you out of nowhere and that kind of thing. I’m not go­ing to say any names, but it’s just about shitty friends more or less [ laughs].

Which death metal bands im­pact on your writ­ing?

This band has al­ways been re­ally heav­ily in­flu­enced – at least on the death metal side – by The Black Dahlia Mur­der and Through The Eyes Of The Dead and bands like that.

Do the band mem­bers lis­ten to much early death metal as well?

Well, when we were younger we def­i­nitely lis­tened to a lot of heav­ier shit all the time. But nowa­days we lis­ten to any­thing from The Black Dahlia Mur­der all the way through to Paramore. We take all that and put it into our mu­sic. When it comes to struc­tur­ing and stuff like that, we turn to bands like Paramore, like big­ger bands, and we try to struc­ture our mu­sic like they struc­ture it, while bring­ing a heavy death metal side into it. Try­ing to in­cor­po­rate cho­ruses and re­peat­ing parts, but at the same time be­ing heavy. It’s al­most like bring­ing a metal side into the pop struc­ture. Al­most, you know [ laughs]. Just be­cause you struc­ture your mu­sic like that doesn’t mean that it’s like sell­ing out by any means, it means that you’re grow­ing up, you’re be­com­ing more ma­ture with your mu­sic. There’s a rea­son why pop mu­sic is struc­tured that way; it’s be­cause that’s the way songs are sup­posed to be struc­tured. When you do that stuff with your own band, it’s just writ­ing songs. It’s writ­ing mu­sic the way it’s sup­posed to be writ­ten. It’s still gonna be catchy, and you can put what­ever genre you want into that mix and it’ll still work.

The to­ken line nu­mer­ous metal bands will utilise when pro­mot­ing a new re­lease is that it’s their “heav­i­est” or “most bru­tal yet”. How­ever, some crit­ics and mu­si­cians have sug­gested there must be a limit of heav­i­ness that ex­treme metal acts are even­tu­ally go­ing to reach, even if such a marker re­mains un­def ined at this point. Do you agree with that state­ment?

Oh man, I think that is very false. Be­cause you look back in the day, bands like Iron Maiden and Me­tal­lica; that was con­sid­ered the heav­i­est shit ever. Back then that was metal; that was the heav­i­est thing pos­si­ble, and you look now, it’s bands like us, Whitechapel and Sui­cide Si­lence. That is the new heavy, so I’m 100 per­cent pos­i­tive that 10 years down the road there’ll be a new kind of heavy that will just be so ridicu­lous, you know what I mean? It will al­ways evolve; there will al­ways be some­thing cra­zier and cra­zier. You can’t re­ally say, ‘ This is the

heav­i­est thing ever’ be­cause there’s al­ways go­ing to be some­thing that will trump that [ laughs]. With our band, we’re al­ways do­ing the re­ally ag­gres­sive riffs, the re­ally heavy break­downs. Our whole new record is in G, as far as the seven-string songs go, and then we have a cou­ple of songs that are on eight-strings, which the tun­ing is just the stan­dard eight-string song. We def­i­nitely in my opin­ion stepped it up on the heav­i­ness as op­posed to our older records, just by dif­fer­ent tun­ings. This is the first record we’ve dab­bled with eight­strings and stuff.

Shift­ing topics – when can fans ex­pect to see the band re­turn to Aus­tralian shores?

Sooner rather than later. It all just de­pends on the new record. We have Warped right now and have a cou­ple of plans af­ter­wards, and other than that we’re keep­ing it pretty open. It just de­pends on what our new record does, and we’re just go­ing to go from there. Both Sound­wave and the tour with The Amity Af­flic­tion were fan­tas­tic. I es­pe­cially liked the one with The Amity Af­flic­tion, ‘cause it was the first time we were able to come to Aus­tralia on a nor­mal tour that wasn’t like a fes­ti­val-style tour. Those guys are awe­some, so it was great. They kill it, and they gave us the op­por­tu­nity to play in front of all their fans out there and what I thought was re­ally re­cep­tive and re­ally cool. So hope­fully when we go out there our­selves on an­other tour, it’ll be just as re­cep­tive and awe­some.

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