Q&A with Craig Owens of Chiodos

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Having been part of the music scene for over a decade, it’s no surprise that Chiodos seem to be more self aware and on top of their game than they’ve ever been. With the release of their newest album, Devil as well as Craig Owens fronting the band again, they’re making a point to reconnect with old fans, as well as forming bonds with new ones. And the best part about it? Unlike most bands that have been through splits, member changes and the occasional drama, they’re willing to address it, even making a point to thank their fans halfway through their emotional and energetic set for sticking with them through thick and thin. And from the looks of it, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Photos and interview: Shannon Shumaker

 

So, you’ve been at it for about a month now, how’s tour been so far?

It’s been awesome. We’re connecting with a lot of Chiodos fans, old and new.

 

Do you notice any differences between the older fans and the newer ones?

Not really, it’s kind of meshing together. Bone Palace was just as big as All’s Well, and that was like seven years ago… So yeah, I think a lot of those older fans are stoked on Devil, too. It’s not too awkward, but there are definitely fans of all ages for sure.

 

When you guys went to record Devil, did you have any goals in mind? Or did you just let it flow?

We wanted to make the best record possible. We wanted to make music that we wanted to hear. We’re fans of music first and foremost and we just wanted to make a record that we were proud of - something timeless, something not too focused on the instant gratification of winning fans over. We wanted to do something that we were really proud of for years and years.

 

Was there anything that you really wanted to try with this album or anything that you wanted to stay away from in particular?

No, not really. I don’t really think this album sounds that different. I mean, it’s really progressive… It was a bit more focused. It’s not like I’m screaming over random parts in every single song. It’s like… there’s a heavy song and then there’s a poppy song.

 

The songs have a purpose.

Yeah, exactly. It’s not just screaming for screaming because I’m young and angry.

 

Coming together after a few years apart, did you get a chance to look at things from a different perspective, that maybe you didn’t when you were younger?

Yeah, because I’m completely different. I mean, we started Chiodos in 2001 and that was when I was a junior in high school. So we paid our dues for a lot of years and then we found success and I don’t think that any of us were really prepared for it and I don’t think that our management at the time really allowed us to process what it was that we were going through because we were so young. And I think a lot of that has less to do with them and more to do with the music business in general, because touring is where people make their ends meet. So keeping us out on the road for so long at such a young age didn’t really allow us to go home and process or really get any perspective on what it was that we had done. We were just out and aimlessly working toward something, so I don’t think that we were really able to soak it all in as much as we wished we could have, and I think that eventually lead to our demise in 2009 with the split. Because we couldn’t grow at all. We couldn’t grow up because we didn’t have time to.

 

It’s hard at that age to know exactly what you want.

I don’t think anybody ever really knows what they want. But yeah, it’s hard not to fall into old habits, either. Even though I’ve been doing this since I was seventeen, eighteen years old, I still have to remind myself that I’m really lucky to be able to do what it is that I do and remain grateful. Old habits pop up every now and again, but I’d say that we’re more focused now than ever before. We know what we want to do. 

I think everybody has their own goals and reasons for being here, but now we’re respectful of that, whereas before if your goal didn’t match my goal, then we would battle. It’s the arrogance that comes with youth where you think you know everything.

 

You said you catch yourself falling back into old habits, how do you stop yourself from doing that?

I think it’s less about me, and more about the group. Personally, I think I’m doing awesome at avoiding old habits. But it’s just about being conscious of your decisions and being able to think about what it is you’re experiencing before you just emotionally jump into one thing or another. Little things throughout the day just keep you in check. 

I would say that communication has always been Chiodos’ inner biggest problem because half of us are over-confrontational and half of us are passive-aggressive (hold it in, resent and explode) and the combination of the two without any communication only leads to explosions and people over voicing and people not voicing at all. The worst old habit that we fall into as a group would probably be lack of communication, but I think that we’re better than we’ve ever been as a band. Not in overall morale like rainbows and puppies and stuff like that - we still have problems - but as far as communication goes, that’s something we’ve really been working well on.

 

Having been around for so long, is it hard to stay relevant in the scene, or is that something that you don’t really worry about?

The key to success is reinvention. We’re artists. We’re fans of music, but we’re also artists and I think as an artist you always want to push yourself. You never want to do the same thing twice. I mean, if you’ve ever listened to a Chiodos record, you can’t tell me that two songs really sound the same. It’s no different on Devil and it’s no different now for us. 

As artists, we’ve always been fearless and willing to push our boundaries, to be eccentric and chase our creative visions. So within that comes reinvention. 

 

You’re constantly growing.

We’re products of our own influence and our influences change and we do with them. 

 

So, since you’ve been in the scene for quite a while, is there anything in the music scene that you don’t like that, if given the chance, you would change?

I don’t really know. I kind of like things the way they are because it allows be to be myself and stand out.

It kind of bothers me a little that, some frontmen and people that are in the spotlight, I feel like these days they’re either super Disney or they’re intentionally offensive. I guess I would appreciate a little more real coming through. 

One of my biggest goals as an artists is to not become that old jaded guy because it’s really unpleasant to be around. I think that’s the complete opposite of what it is that I started for. I remember growing up, hanging out with some of my idols and they became that type of person and I made a promise that I would always just be thankful for this and welcome new things. The last thing I ever want to do is become that old jaded person because they’re just so unpleasant to be around.

 

And that’s disappointing from the fan’s perspective, too.

What happens is that ends up bleeding over into the art and you end up making songs intentionally at people and that seems contradictory to the reason to make songs.

 

Thanks for sitting down with us! Would you like to add anything else?

For anyone reading, thank you very much for supporting Chiodos. We recognize that we’ve been inconsistent throughout the years and our ups and our downs, and we’re here to reconnect with all of our fans. Hopefully we can earn your trust back, and thank you so much for even caring or listening or thinking about us at all.