The Chariot

Interview: The Chariot – Josh Scogin

The Chariot – David De La Hoz

Do you still see a lot of room for experimentation within the realms of who The Chariot are? ‘David De La Hoz’ is a great example of what you were capable of doing in just one song, so do you have ideas that will allow you to keep your music still feeling fresh on this new record?

We do try to do something on every record we release. We try to not think of ourselves as a heavy band but more so as an artist; we don’t want to restrict ourselves to that heavy tag. At the end of the day we’re always going to have that high energy because that’s what feels good to us when we play live. I mean we could do something as simple as our second record ‘The Fiancée’ when we had Hayley perform on it, that changed the mood and the direction of the song and that is how easy it can be. We’ve had banjos on our record and we’ve had harmonicas, we always just want to try something that is different or would be seen as obscure for us. If we ever need to come back to what The Chariot would do, then that’s what we’ll do. We’ve always thought “what would The Chariot do here?” and then try do something completely different. It is natural for us to write music as The Chariot, we can always come back to our core sound. There are a couple of new songs that I’m really excited about because they have a very different feel to them. There’s a song that is influenced by Ennio Morricone who did a lot of the old Westerns so this record is going to be very interesting but then again I feel like we try and do that with every record. We just have to open those doors and step through them, don’t go back, just keep moving forward.

Who will be producing this time around, will it still be Matt Goldman or will you take control as you do it when you’re at home?

Oh yeah Matt Goldman will still be there.

What’s the relationship with Matt as you have worked with him on every album now?

[Laughs] Well our first record, ‘Everything Is Alive[, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, and Nothing Is Bleeding’], is all over the place obviously and when we did it, I was just in a completely different frame of mind. I have no regrets but I was in a different frame of mind and I was like “oh all this “punk rock music” is polished and fake, it’s just copy and paste, copy and paste, none of it is real!” So I said that we’re doing our album live, in the studio and we’ll do each song in one, two, three or maybe four takes, whatever take is the best, that’s what we would be using. That was my mentality, what I said was happening and this is how we were doing to do it. Matt Goldman then turned around and said “I think that’s a bad idea but I’m here to do your record and if that’s what you want to do, then that’s what we’ll do” and from then on I was like “we’ll always work with this guy” [laughs]. He’ll tell you what he thinks is a good idea and what’s a bad idea but at the end of the day he is not there to do Matt Goldman’s record, he’s there to do our record and I think that is what makes the best kind of producer. Some bands need that producer who is there telling them “you’re here to do my record” but we’re not one of those bands, we want to do what we want whether it is good or bad so that when we look back on it, whether it worked or didn’t work, it’s our record.

Since then I work in the studio a lot as I produce a lot of bands and we’ve become close friends, he lives in our hometown and when I’m not on tour I’m up there working with him so there is a great relationship. It also saves us having to go through that learning curve of trying to work out what this producer does good and bad and they don’t need to go through a similar one with us. We’re not the easiest band to work with because when a producer signs their name to a record, they want to be able to show it off. Producers want to go around and say “listen how tight this is, listen to how polished this is, listen to what I got them to do” and we’re not that kind of band, you’re not going to want to go around showing The Chariot off to your other producer friends [laughs] and trying to tell them “listen to how polished this is” and “listen to what I made them do” [laughs]. We’re easy going but I still don’t think we’re the easiest band to work with and with Goldman it’s like clockwork now, everything flows so well and that’s how I like it.

Josh ScoginWhen you talk about the learning curve with a producer, how have you handled, and the same with Matt, the learning curve of bringing in new members and adapting to work with them because you have made a lot of changes over the years.

Yeah it has been weird as we’ve had quite a few now but we’ve never had to hold an audition. As soon as someone left then there was always the natural obvious choice to replace them. A lot of the time it has been like “you have been on tour with us doing our lights and you play guitar, you’re already a good friend and this guy just quit to get married so do you want to play?” I feel like we have been blessed in that way just to have someone there who is a natural choice. Line-up changes can be very crazy and also destructive as you go through that process of re-learning songs with them and making sure everyone is on the same page mentality with the live show and the recording, but for us it has been awesome because of that natural move. With this line-up I think the changes have always been an improvement, even just with personalities, we’ve always been friends and we never have to go through that learning curve. If it has ever felt like a job then they would be better leaving to go get a real job because there are easier ways to make money but it’s never felt that way between us, we’re all enjoying it and the friendship makes it even easier. We’re still technically paying a lot of the bills as we enjoy ourselves [laughs]. As long as most of them get paid then we’re fine [laughs].

You’ve had the benefit of doing this for about what, 15 years now? Is there anything you still feel you need to achieve either with or without The Chariot or do you think this current level of happiness you have with the band fulfils you?

For me the goal is to play shows and I’ve done that for a long enough time now that if something were to stop me, I’d be thankful for what I have been able to do. Look at the genre we’re playing, we’re not trying to win a Grammy or be in the top 40 or have a gold record, that’s never been a thing for us so that makes for a very satisfactory life. We get to play shows and if it is a packed show then that’s awesome but if it’s not, we’re still playing shows and that’s the ultimate goal. I just want to stay on this train for as long as it will take me but I can’t tell what is going to happen with the music industry, I can’t tell what is going to happen with the record labels or if people will like or dislike our band, that’s all unknown to me and everyone else. We love travelling and straight after this we’re going over to Russia so that is amazing that we can turn round and say we’re going to Russia. There is no real goal of being together for ten years, it is more the simple things of being able to play shows, travel and meet people. This is my main job but if I had to go home and get a real job right now then I wouldn’t see that as a failure because I’d take that money from that terrible job and then go out and play shows, put it into the thing that I love. Yeah I might not be able to tour the world but I’m still going to go out there and play shows when I can and then I’ll come home and work my job again. No-one should set themselves an unachievable goal in life, my primary goal was to go out and play shows and I’ve been doing that since 1997 or 1998, so set yourself something that you know you can achieve and you will enjoy life. Your life will be very satisfying and you can look back on it with no regrets.

Do you think having your solo project [A Rose by Any Other Name] as another avenue of expression other than hardcore keeps you fresh?

Yeah as an artist it is very satisfying to be able to do both. The Chariot is my comfort zone and even though we’re trying to expand those boundaries at all times, it will always be a big comfort bubble. My solo material brought on a whole new set of challenges with it and I’ve done a couple of tours on it but it is a whole other world. You don’t have the screaming guitars and the feedback and stuff, but the challenge as an artist is very thrilling and I need to see where I fit in with that and to see if I can make it something more than I appreciate and enjoy. I do enjoy it but trying to push that envelope as an artist is very challenging when I am coming so far out of my comfort zone. I do enjoy a challenge and I never want to grow complacent of what I’m doing and become stagnant as an artist because it will eventually become boring and just about the money.

A Rose By Any Other Name – Unfather

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Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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