Chimaira are one of those bands that are riding the fine line of being
underground metal heroes and reaching commercial success. Being linked
to the supposed New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement and landing a
slot on Ozzfest, it's clear that their perseverance is certainly paying
off. Metal Update landed a face to face interrogation with vocalist Mark
Hunter and cleared up how he became Metal Moses, the fiery filming of
"Down Again", and who can drink the most in metal.
METAL UPDATE: Your latest record 'Impossibility Of Reason' has been out
for over six months now. How have sales and response been compared to
the last record?
MARK HUNTER: The response is greater. We're selling twice as many as we
were at this time with our last record. Everything is very positive and
on the up and up. We couldn't be happier about everything.
MU: Roadrunner sent you guys back in the studio after the completion of
the first demo take for this album?
MH: Sort of. It was sort of a misunderstanding with the way this
journalist worded everything. But basically we had written 8 of the 13
songs, and when Roadrunner first heard them they really didn't like
them. We're like, "Hey, we're not done writing. Let us give you the
album as we see it." We wrote the extra songs that we were going to
write anyway and delivered the album like, "This is the sequencing. This
is how you're supposed to hear it." And then, "Oh, now we understand
what you're doing." We never scrapped any songs or anything like that.
The only song we scrapped is the song they love the most.
MU: Oh really?
MU: Wow. How'd that work out?
MH: Who knows.
MU: I understand you do some writing of the music too.
MH: Yeah, definitely.
MU: Are you originally a guitarist?
MH: I started out playing drums when I was younger, but then when I was
learning how to play the drums on the songs that I liked, I was like,
"Guitars are way cooler." So I picked up the guitar and I was always a
guitarist in the bands I was in growing up. We fired our singer in this
one band, and I was like, "I'll try it," and then I got stuck with
singing for the rest of my life.
MU: How does the writing process usually work?
MH: It'll either be me or Rob or Matt that'll have a riff, and we'll
just kind of take it from there. Either I may come to the rehearsal
space with an entire song written, or Rob might do that, or Matt. And
then everyone else will put two cents into it or someone will be jamming
in the corner and we'll go, "Hey, what's that?" There's really no set
MU: The song "Cleansation" appears to be talking about someone in
particular. Could you elaborate on that?
MH: The fans that really read into my lyrics on the last record, they
are very bleak and depressing and they were wondering where it is gonna
go. The first song on this record I wanted to be a continuation from
that, but also show that everything is evolving and here's where we are
going with this. The whole record's theme is going to be standing up for
yourself and not being picked on and taken over. When in doubt, knock
'em out. So it's not at a specific person. It's a generalization.
MU: Is there a common theme to the lyrics on the new album?
MH: Yeah. Basically I took rejection, revenge and repercussion. The
three R's. It's real easy to say. Basically you take something that
happens to you. What are you going to do about it and what's going to be
the outcome? If I took personal reasons, maybe our band was rejected,
maybe this record is the revenge. Let's see what the repercussions are
going to be. So that's the personal aspect of it. We try to leave it
vague so whoever listens can say, "This is about my dad. . ." or "This
is about my boss. . ." or whatever. . .
MU: Explain the fiasco that happened during the filming of "Down Again".
MH: The director for the video had this idea, since our record was all
white. He said, "Let's put you guys in this tomb of gauze." Gauze is
very flammable, which we found out. Basically he was moving a light
fixture and it exploded. A spark - a little tiny spark - hit the gauze.
In ten seconds the entire set was on fire. And this is weird because it
looked so similar to the Rhode Island thing, but it was not very late
after that. I remember seeing the Rhode Island incident on TV in
England, and we were like, "Why are they staring at the fire?" And as
soon as our set caught on fire, everyone's like this (makes staring
face), just staring at it. Everyone's like, "Get out!" So, it was a
pretty scary situation. The coolest thing about that was that as soon as
we got outside, James Gandolfini was out there, he plays Tony Soprano,
so we got to hang out with him.
MU: What did you do? Did you have to postpone?
MH: Yeah. Two days. Then we kind of scrapped the ideas that we
originally had planned and just tried to put something together. I think
that for what happened the video came out great, for all of his ideas
basically being shot down. So we just kinda had to make a performance
video. It's not what he wanted to do but he had to make do.
MU: You've been a pretty hard working band, touring your asses off. What
have you learned from the bands that you've toured with?
MH: You learn something different from every band. We were just in
Europe and sometimes you want to learn how not to treat a band. Or some
things we didn't like, so we make sure we'll never do that. Or maybe
something a band did to us that was really cool. And be like, "Let's do
that to this band." There's all sorts of things. I always like to watch
the production of everything - how bands' roadies will work or their
sound person or their lights. I like to look at that and get ideas for
our own band. Do this like this, a little bit differently. It's always a
blast to make friends, and each band is always feeding off of each
other. Like, "Oh, that band does that really cool. Let's do something
MU: What bands that you've toured with have helped to inspire your
MH: I would probably have to say the main one would be Slayer, just
because we were so inspired by how tight they were musically every
night. You could listen to just Kerry from the monitor, and you would
just hear his riffing. There wasn't one mistake - not even a slight one.
It was like, "How are you doing this for two hours?" That's what was
really a big inspiration - how tight they were musically. Fear Factory
as well. They were so flawless every night. And they're playing very
technical stuff so it was like, "Oh man. Let's go home and practice."
That was the mentality.
MU: How was Ozzfest?
MH: That was amazing. We had the time of our lives. We'd been wanting to
do it for so long. So, the first day we got on there, we put 10 years of
whatever into it. This was our dream since we were kids. Let's go up
there and kill it. It was very helpful to us, where we were in the time
slot, being as heavy a band as we were because we were sandwiched in
between radio bands. That was just great for us. There was like two
radio bands, us and then two radio bands. They'd been bored to tears
from these radio bands, and then we come on and it's like, "Oh shit.
Let's mosh and have fun."
MU: Tell me your best Ozzfest story that you've got.
MH: Obviously, I won't bore everyone by saying how fun it was to play. I
guess the craziest thing I saw was our guitarist Matt and the guitarist
from Killswitch Engage, Adam, decided to - along with the guys from E
Town Concrete and Cradle of Filth, as well - decided to get really drunk
and steal a golf cart and cause about $8,000 damage. At one point I saw
the golf cart in the air, and then I saw it on its side, upside down.
That was probably the biggest memory.
MU: What do you think about being linked to the New Wave of American
Heavy Metal movement?
MH: It's a pretty funny story.
MU: Did it all start off from a journalist?
MH: Sort of. When we were on tour with Slayer, we were making new
t-shirt designs. I'm a big Iron Maiden fan so I'm like, "We'll have to
make our shirts in the Iron Maiden logo." Since they were the New Wave
of British Heavy Metal, I could put the New Wave of American Metal -
paying homage as a joke - copyright infringement, whatever you want to
call it. As we're making this record and this and that, someone must
have saw it, and brought it back and rekindled it or whatever. So, a lot
of people have asked, "Do you think you're cocky or something?" I'm
like, "No, it started as a joke, and if the press wants to put us in
that category, great." Metal Hammer did a really good story and had
bands like us and Shadows Fall and Lamb of God in there, and they throw
Killswitch in the mix. I think that's really cool because I think the
bands are all very different, but it seems to be a breath of fresh air.
Even if they haven't been noticed and they've been around, it's great
that they are finally getting recognition. All of our bands seem to get
along really well, and it's great for the Europeans because the European
metal bands have been kicking our ass for quite some time. I guess if
you want to have something like that, I'm glad to be considered a part
MU: It's definitely a silly term or movement.
MH: At the same time it's like, let's do it.
MU: It makes sense in a way, because there sort of is a new wave. Tell
me how the Metal Moses moniker came about?
MH: We were recording our record and this journalist came by, and in the
beginning it says I look something like a metal Moses. We're in
Cleveland, so I split the crowd in half and had them charge each other
and this kid comes up to me and says, "Yeah, Metal Moses - parting the
metal sea." And I'm like, "That's gay." But at Ozzfest I was saying it
every night. It's a funny story to give the kids a laugh. It was so
funny when I heard it. I'm like, "That's the most stupid thing I've ever
heard." Then it was like, "Ding ding ding. . . I can say this on stage."
MU: So you haven't officially and seriously accepted the name?
MH: No. It's all in good fun. We were on stage and just wanted to
entertain people and make sure that everyone leaves the show happy and
feels that they've got their money's worth.
MU: You guys are serious drinkers, correct?
MH: There's some that are pretty serious sleepers. But yeah, for the
most part we're getting there. We're getting pretty good.
MU: What is the drink of choice? Different for everyone?
MH: It's always being surrounded by Jagermeister, because luckily we're
endorsed by them. But if we run out of that it's whatever the club
supplies us with.
MU: Out of all the bands you've toured with, who can drink the toughest?
MH: Slayer. Slayer and Soilwork. Those guys in Soilwork, we would be
with them all the time and they would start at 8 in the morning and stop
at 7:30 the next morning. How are you drinking this much? They're out of
hand. Slayer will drink, and they'll be drinking all day and all night,
and you would never even know they're drunk. They don't even change
their personalities. That's hardcore.
MU: Name three favorite records of 2003.
MH: Soilwork 'Figure Number Five'. I really like the new Deftones
record. Black Label Society's new record.
MU: What are some future plans for the band?
MH: As soon as this tour is over, we're taking a nice break and we're
actually going to start writing some music while we are at home. We just
don't want to tour at the moment. So we'll keep ourselves busy writing,
and in February we are going over to England and a couple shows into
Europe as well. We'll see what happens when we come back from there, but
I know there's talks of Japan, Australia, doing another big tour in the
States. When we go home to write and record, we'll be re-releasing our
EP that's very hard to find and package it along with a DVD.
review of Chimaira 'The Impossibility of Reason'
Interview: Scott McCooe [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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