MusicIncider: Let’s begin with some background info, how long have you been in Chimaira?
Chris Spicuzza: I’ve been in Chimaira, since November of 1999. The band started in 1998. Members have come and gone, and the final line-up was solidified in June 2001, when we got Matt [DeVries- rhythm guitar]. From then on, this is how it’s going to be, we’re going to have this line-up… until the end, I hope.
MI: The first time I heard of you guys, you were playing on Farmclub.com, tell me about that whole experience.
CS: We were an un-signed band at the time, and we were trying to get anything for exposure, and this nice lady, Marcy Jacobson went and saw us play at the Continental, in New York City, and she was a Farmclub rep. She liked our set, and thought we had a pretty good stage presence and a great set. Months later, we just get a call, and they’re like, “Oh, you guys want to do Farmclub?” and the next thing we know, three days later we’re on a plane to L.A. and they picked us up in one of those nice vans, and drove us to our hotel, and we basically just got pampered like rock stars. We were un-signed and used to living on floors of hotel rooms, and just living like shit, so it was amazing, just to be so pampered and treated like gods. As for as the actual show goes, it was interesting, it wasn’t like a real crowd. It was more like strippers, and dancers, it was totally not like a rock show. They just hired people to dance for you. That was kind of corny, but other than that it was awesome. Free alcohol, free food, and everything.
MI: How long after that did Chimaira get signed to Roadrunner Records?
CS: After that, we were stuck in a contract with our indie label, so we were supposed to sign right after, but we didn’t. It wasn’t until like, March of 2001, that we signed the record deal, and then two weeks later, we were out in L.A. recording. So, it was a pretty annoying five or six months, waiting for our indie label to release us, so we could get signed, now we’re here, so everything’s great.
MI: Chimaira released “Pass Out of Existence” in 2001, with Roadrunner Records, but shortly after that Jason [Hager-rhythm guitar], one of the band’s co-founder’s, left the band… what happened?
CS: He started a family, God bless him. He got married, and had a kid, and he wants to be there for his kid, and that’s the best thing you could do. When we started off, we were not making money to raise a family, so to do what he had to do, he had to be home, to raise money for his kid, and he’s doing it. He started a new band though, and it’s a metal band, just like we would expect. You’ll probably hear about it, a few months from now. He’s just starting it off, and getting the band together, but he’ll have something recorded by the end of the year, I guarantee it.
MI: Since the release of “Pass Out of Existence” Chimaira has been a touring machine. What have you gained from your experiences on the road?
CS: Nothing goes right [laughs]. We always have problems with vehicles. We learned to just suck it up, and deal with what happens, and when something goes wrong now, we just say it’s, “the Chimaira Curse,” and that’s it. We just start laughing, and then go on. Just like the other day, a bus accident. We figure with a bus now, that we wouldn’t have to worry about accidents or anything going wrong, and the first fucking week, something goes wrong. Basically suck it up, and go with the flow, that’s what I’ve learned.
MI: Didn’t the tour bus you had last year give you trouble too?
CS: RVs. We had vans, we blew up our van; the transmission. We were pulling a huge trailer, and it was way too big for a van. We were touring in that van for four or five months. By the end of the tour, it was just dying. Actually, the transmission caught on fire, and then we went to an RV, and we broke three or four RVs. They just kept, fucking falling apart. Finally, the last straw was on our headlining tour, we got stranded at like 5:30 in the morning between Georgia and South Carolina. It was the fucking worse thing ever, and that was after four weeks of the RV breaking down, every week, and this was the last straw. So since then, we’ve been trying to get our own bus, even if it takes our own money. Thanks to the “Chimaira Curse” with our transportation, no matter what, something will break down.
MI: There was also an accident on the video shoot as well [on the set of the video for “Down Again”]?
CS: Yep. That’s another part of the “Chimaira Curse.” We were shooting our video, and the whole set is made out of walls, wrapped in gauze. We had shot for five hours, and they took apart one wall, and were setting up to do dolly shots, which is when they have the camera on the side, and they drag it along a dolly. We were on our lunch break, and all of a sudden we hear, like a light breaking or something. The next thing you know, we hear guys screaming for fire extinguishers, and we all look over, and the whole set is on fire. In a matter of two minutes, our set was gone. We had to wait two days, and they sort of re-built the set, and we had to re-paint the studio, but we changed it, we did it with gauze. What they did was they used half gauze, and half wood, and that was basically done black. The video came out great. I’m happy and proud that Paul[Brown-director] stuck through it, even though his studio got ruined, he sucked it up, and he made it happen, and I think the video turned out great.
MI: When can we expect to see the video?
CS: I’m not sure when if it’s going to be on Uranium, Much Music, and MTV2. I think it will be, but I’m not sure when it starts playing, but it’ll be on the internet May 9th. The Friday, before the record release.
MI: With the success of a major label debut, and over 10,000 copies sold of Chimaira’s independent EP, “This Present Darkness” you guys have accomplished so much, in such a short time… going into the studio this time around, what was the focus for Chimaira?
CS: With the second record, “Pass Out of Existence” that was like three years of music, written, over time and being tossed around. Riffs taken from old songs, and just three years of music put into that record. With the new one, we had to start over, and touring with a lot of bands like Fear Factory, and mostly Slayer, it was like wow. We just want to be like a band of that status, we want to be the next Slayer. We just wanted to step it up, and that’s what we did. We locked ourselves down, in a hot-ass practice space, for three or four months and just wrote, every day. We were definitely more focused this time, and we were more level headed. The last record, we thought it was going to be easy. Put a record out, and it’ll be blown-up or whatever. Not this time, we know that we have to work hard and sweat it out, and hope that we do well. It’s definitely a focused record, and this time it was a collaboration of everyone. It wasn’t just two guys, like the last time it was mostly just Mark[Hunter-vocals] and Rob[Arnold-lead guitar] writing everything. This time it was everyone, so it was real cool.
MI: On the last record, Stephan Carpenter[Deftones] was brought in as a guest on “Rizzo.” This time, did you have any guest appearances?
CS: No. Not one. We wanted it to be Chimaira, and that’s it. On a b-side, we did have a bunch of friends, we had one those Biohazard-gang style choruses, where everyone like screams you know, and that song’s called “Army of Me,” actually it’s now called “AOM” because “Army of Me” is also a Bjork song, and so people kept thinking it was a cover, but it wasn’t. So, we just had a bunch of friends, and I guess you could call that a guest appearance, but that’s it.
MI: You’re now back on the road, with Lamb of God, Atreyu, and 18 Visions, and you’re new album, “the Impossibility of Reason” hits stores on May 13th, how have the fans on this tour reacted to the new material?
CS: Good. Huge response. One of the last songs we play, is “Pure Hatred.”
The chorus is pretty simple, and Mark gets the whole crowd on it, and they know
the chorus by the second time he says it. It’s fucking awesome, to have
a brand new song, that isn’t even out in stores yet, and hearing the whole
crowd sing the chorus… fucking awesome.
MI: Listening to the new album, I noticed the vocal harmonies on “Down Again” kind of have an Alice In Chains vibe, was that intentional?
CS: Mark is a huge Layne Staley[Alice In Chains’ front man, who died in 2002] fan, and it was kind of a tribute to him almost, because he’s gone now, and we wish he were here. That’s just how it comes out of Mark, even on the last record, he kind of had that vibe. He’s a huge Layne Staley fan, and he really loved the style, and he just put it in with his own, and that’s kind of how it came out.
MI: Chimaira have been dubbed, “the New Wave of American Heavy Metal.” What does the band think about that?
CS: It’s an honor. That’s a big title to have branded on you, and our label seems to really back us on it, and I hope that we can hold up to it, you know? We’ll see when the record comes out.
MI: “The Impossibility of Reason” was co-produced by Mark and Rob[along with producer Ben Schigel- front man for Switched]. Having two of your fellow band mates double as producers, what did it do to the recording process?
CS: Actually, on the last record, Mark had a lot to do with producing too. He was basically almost a co-producer too, so it was almost the same thing, twice. Basically, they just sat there the whole time in the studio, day and night focusing on making the record better. Just making sure our producer was going in the right direction, and not leaving in just the producer’s hands. We really wanted to have it be our own, and it came out good. If you’ve heard it, it’s us, it’s Chimaira.
MI: This tour goes on for about another month, before ending in Virginia, after that, what’s in the future of Chimaira?
CS: We’re going to Europe with Spineshank. We’re doing the Download Festival. It’s a huge festival, with Iron Maiden, Deftones, and more. We’ve never played in front of crowds that big. The Spineshank tour goes until the end of June, and in July we come back, and then jump on tour with In Flames, for about three weeks. There’s no tour dates for it yet, but we have it confirmed. After that I’m not sure.
MI: After In Flames, are you going on a headline tour?
CS: We’re not really sure, we have to see what’s going on. The summer tours may still be going on, so we may just do a few small dates, and if Ozzfest would ever happen to call us, then we’d be more than happy to jump on it.
MI: That would be good. I think you guys would do well on there.
CS: Who knows, maybe next year. We were hoping to play this year, but it didn’t
MI: A few months ago, I found an online petition to get you guys on Ozzfest, it had quite a few signatures on it.
CS: Right. Its really cool that all those people wanted to see us on Ozzfest.
MI: Between recording, and touring, what do you do when you have “down time?”
CS: At home, we spend time with our families, girlfriends, and friends. I stay on the computer all day long, I’m a nerd. Mark loves movies, and a few of the guys have day jobs, I won’t say though, because they’ll get embarrassed [laughs]. That’s about it, when we’re home, we have to still make money. Other than that, when we’re not on tour, we just hang out with people all day, and play video games. Nothing too exciting, we’re not like, “party animals” by any means. We might get drunk a few nights, but we’re not like Motley Crue, or anything. You can’t even touch that.
MI: If there was anything you wanted to say to the public what would it be?
CS: Check our record out, give us a chance. You might love it. If you didn’t like Chimaira before, there’s a good chance you may like us now. We’ve stepped it up, and I think we’re a stronger band now. I hope everything goes well, and I just hope you guys check out our record.