Several weeks ago, One Wing, the Chariots fifth album and first for Good Fight’s distribution deal with eOne Music, was released. The album sold almost 5,000 copies in its first week, great for a band as non-commercial as they are. Shortly before the album was released, Metal Insider contributor Tim Hager caught up with singer Josh Scogin at eOne’s Manhattan offices to discuss the new album, the band’s revolving door lineup, and the chaos that ensues at their live shows.
Chariot’s always changing their line-up. How long does it usually take the new members to get the flow of things on stage?
Josh: Actually, we’ve had very good luck with the amount of member changes we’ve had. It’s never been random auditions.The guitarist in our band now for several years, was in another band prior to that we went on tour with a long time. He’s known us and been with us for so long that we don’t have to go through the sort of learning curve of getting everyone sort of like minded on what he needs to do. As many times as we changed and stuff like that, it’s been good. We’ve had a lot of good luck with that.
Is there any reason the lineup’s changed so much?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m a douchebag. It’s always random, ya know. We tour a lot, and I think the initial concept of touring a lot, people really love the idea of but the reality of touring a lot i’s not for everyone. But it is always random. It’s either this guy’s getting married or doesn’t want to spend all of his time on the road or that guy is like, wanting to do another project or whatever. We kicked out our very very very first drummer ever, and that was the only person we’ve ever kicked out. Everything else has been completely their own person, their own sort of journey that they wanna do. It always isn’t very pleasant though.
So you’re going to be touring with Every Time I Die and and letlive, which is pretty awesome. What’s it like touring with those kinds of bands that just have constant energy like you do?
I don’t know about every band, but I mean, touring with Every Time I Die’s the best. They’re the best dudes. I’ve known them since back in the Norma Jean days, when we actually did a tour with them. Letlive, we’ve only met ‘em a handful of times, but we got along really well with them. And then Kills and Thrills as well. We got along with them really well. This is probably one of my most exciting tours that I’m looking forward to in a long time. I enjoy every tour, but this one is gonna be something special, ya know. Like, good dudes, good music that I’m actually a fan of, good shows, ya know. It’s all around gonna be really good time. Everyone seems to be pretty excited. So I’m definitely looking forward to it.
How difficult is it to book tours like this? With videos of you on YouTube, they’ve gotta know what’s coming.
We never had problems or troubles until we went down to Australia for the first time and a couple things happened. The short version is really nothing happened but this one guy got mad and pulled the plug and we didn’t break it, but this bowl of pears had fallen over and broke and he freaked out about it. It’s a long story, but he cancelled the show, pulled it on our third song in. He e-mails everyone on that Australian tour saying we’re disrespectful and we break things. From that day forward, we have definitely had to challenge people.
We just did the Scream It Like You Mean It tour, and the tour manager, who’s an awesome dude that I had never met prior to the tour e-mails me and says “hey, we’re sharing backline. Is it gonna be ok?” I’m like, ‘of course it’s gonna be ok. I’m not gonna turn around and be disrespectful or anything.’ We’re not out to be rude, we’re not out to be disrespectful to anyone else’s stuff. We’ve never broken anyone else’s stuff, besides a mic stand or something, but we always pay for it and thankfully no one’s ever gotten seriously hurt, even ourselves. But I hate that that precedes us because it’s not… I enjoy the idea of freedom and what that can look like but I don’t enjoy the idea of people thinking that we’re just ruthless, disrespectful hooligans trying to just break something just for the idea of breaking it. We don’t have the money to break anything. It’s just sometimes when you’re being free, something happens and you gotta then deal with it the next day.
So on that topic, what’s the craziest thing that’s actually ever happened at a show?
Well yeah, there’s some things that I haven’t seen or I have seen. Our guitarist jumped of this really high thing – I didn’t technically see it – but after the show when your adrenaline was not pumping and when all the kids and people were gone, you look at this thing, you hear about your guitarist jumping off it and you’re like, ‘what are you thinking? Your mom would’ve killed me.’ We’ve had a few stitches here and there on ourselves. Our guitarist broke his tooth in half but we got it replaced after a few days. I’ve had chipped teeth, but it’s good considering that I’ve been doing this for, I don’t know, forever but The Chariot since ’04. At the end of the day, it comes with the territory but thankfully they have been few and far between.
Cool. So has the Chariot been like this since day one or when did it evolve into what it’s like now?
Yeah, there’s always been a sense of freedom, it’s nothing we’ve ever talked about. We just sort of wrote music that pushed that. I sprained my ankle really really bad one tour and that was the hardest thing in the world, to stand still. That was the challenge, like I can’t move because it would just keep getting worse. But we write music and even the lyrics I write, they’re meant to push us, in the best way possible. So it’s always been a sense of freedom but whatever that looks like per member, per show, per ya know the evolving ya know, I mean that’s something that I can’t sort of put my finger on. Going back to the revolving door of line-up changes, I don’t know how I always end up with people that have been like-minded in that, but it rules to know that I could look like a complete idiot up on stage and no one’s gonna judge. You can look back through the power of YouTube and be like,’ oh cool I was an idiot.’
What kind of set list will fans be able to look forward to on the tour?
We haven’t even really had that discussion yet, but I would believe we’ll probably play a lot of new stuff. We’re on our fifth record now so it’s very difficult. You get a thirty minute time slot. It’s like, ‘how am I gonna fit five albums in this?’ So we started doing a lot of medleys. Play half of this song and half of this song into half of this and half of this. So what sounds like one really long song to someone who maybe doesn’t know our music will know that was like, four songs that we pulled from. At the end of the day, we’re more than excited about our new stuff. It’s just the nature of the beast is we’re gonna have to drop some stuff. It’s a good problem to have, to not want to drop any songs, but we have to. That becomes the challenge, how can we sort of rewrite it or fit together to be able to fit it all in.
Matt Goldman produced all your albums. What keeps bringing you back to him?
[laughs] Matt rules. He’s a personal friend of mine and now he’s a friend of the band’s. He’s been around since day one. A lot of producers, they’ll have this thing they do and whatever this thing is they do, they stamp each of their bands with it. With him, he’s cool cause he doesn’t have that one thing, that one niche, he’s very versatile. He’s very able to be like, “ok what are we gonna do different?” He lets us do any stupid idea that we want, anything that is just out of the ordinary. He’ll let us try it. He’s cool. He lets us record our record. He guides that versus a lot of producers in the world they’re like, “ok, you’ve done your thing now I’m here and I’m gonna do what I feel like I should do with y’alls music.” That wouldn’t go very well with us. There’s no learning curve with him. I think we’ll always go with him, he’s great.
Were you trying to do anything a little bit differently for the album?
We didn’t set forth to do anything, we just started writing and let the songs guide us. Artistically, you’re always trying to open those doors and break down the barriers and walls. So I feel like we’re more comfortable now with each other, we’re better musicians than we were before, we’re more cultured in our world and we’ve lived longer. Hopefully with every record we’ll be able to say this but I think that’s why it has come across as sort of the weird one for us. At the end of the day, we’ve done the heavy,-fast paced, energetic feedback-driven thing and we’ll continue to do that but it helps us to have those dips, the journey, the highs and the lows alike. I feel like with this record, One Wing got to reap the benefits of all the previous records, the successes of those records and the failures of those records. Things that we’ve worked on for months and then at the end of the day we just drop cause we didn’t feel like it was good enough or whatever. Those are not failures for us because they help us to do that next thing that much more. I feel like One Wing is a benefit of all those ideas and stuff coming together.
So what comes first, vocals or music?
We’re always writing. It’s fun, so why wouldn’t we? We already have a couple ideas for whatever the next record’s gonna be. When we come together to write, we have just a pool of things to choose from and like to challenge ourselves. Like ‘can you make a song that’s just piano and vocals and feel the same passion with it stripped down,’ Obviously with The Chariot, there’s feedback, energetic drums and screaming guitars. So, that was the challenge and as with many challenges in the past, we’ve gone forth and deleted ‘em because we just didn’t feel like it worked or fit but with this one, we were very happy with how it turned out and stoked on the whole idea and I think there’s a lot of that on this album. Lyrically, I don’t want to say its the opposite, but it’s very different. We spent all this time on music, we’ve been writing it for near two years or whatever time the record comes out then all of a sudden, boom, I gotta write all the lyrics for these songs and I have a pool to choose from but they’re very sporadic, sometimes they’re more stories than they are the lyrics for songs. The lyrics are very specific timestamps of my life and what I was going through at the time whereas the music can be very, very broad and I think that helps keep the music very different because we wrote some a year and a half ago and we wrote some yesterday for the same record or whatever the case may be. It’s interesting how they sort of collide.
As a Christian band, I feel like you guys never really force feed your beliefs to the listeners. How do you feel about bands that take that approach towards their music?
I don’t ever know what “Christian band” mean. For me, I’m a Christian and I’m not ashamed of that. There’s very strong reasons why I’m where I am but I don’t know how that big umbrella can be over an entire band. That description or title is a very strange one because when a band runs with that, it’s very odd to me cause it doesn’t come up with any other religion. You don’t think of like, The Killers as Mormon rock or something. It just never comes up. For me, my spirituality and where that comes from is a very deep and personal thing that I truly believe in, but it’s not a blanket you throw over an entire genre or entire band. I know for a fact these atheist kids covered one of our songs. That’s a perfect example of like, ‘so now what is it?’ I’d like to think in a perfect world we can just like hang out and be like, ‘I like your music, I don’t like your music, done.’ I never bring it up or go out of my way to put it on anything. But having said that, if someone asks me the question, I’m not gonna deny it. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone but for me, being a believer, there’s a very scary thing about throwing the name “Jesus” out and reeling in dollars. That’s a touchy thing that I try to steer clear from. But who am I to judge? I’ll leave that up to God. But going on certain labels or going on certain tours or playing certain festivals, I think will sort of group you into that. That’s where I stand and no judgments on anyone who believes or disbelieves.
Good Fight recently signed a deal with eOne. How much do you concern yourself with what’s going on with your label?
I concern myself a lot with it because it’s very much connected to us. Having said that, the E1 deal’s been very beneficial for us and it’s been a very nice, friendly thing and I’m not just saying that cause we’re sitting here. To be quite honest, I had a very long talk with Carl at Good Fight and he told me this was happening. It was kind of after the fact and I was like, ‘yo, one of our things in going with you was I could call you and you’d say yes or no and I’d hang up the phone and have an answer.’ I’ve been in other situations where I’d call the guy, they’d say ‘let me check’ and they’d hang up the phone and call another guy and that person has to call a guy or whatever and I’d get a “no” and that’s like, three weeks later. I’m ok with a “no” but now its three weeks later. We’re a very hands-on band and we handle most of everything ourselves so it gets very difficult when you throw us into this big, huge corporation of yes or no sir all the way up the chain. I was very concerned, to just be completely frank, and I told Carl that. Having said that, it’s been very enjoyable and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened for us. It’s only been good so far and I think the record’s gonna reap the benefit of that.
What do you think of Spotify? Being the kind of band that you guys are, were you always open to pirates in trying to push the music out?
I love Spotify. I’ll probably get crucified for saying this in this building, but when the whole downloading illegally thing started really taking off, our band really reaped the benefit. We’re not for the masses, we’re not for everyone. There’s not a lot of people that like our band or a band as aggressive or as stressful as us and that’s fine, we’re not writing pop music. So to expect someone to take a chance and drop twelve bucks or eight bucks on a record at Best Buy or whatever, when you can’t find it at Best Buy, who are you to say they should do that? But, you can go to Spotify. Prior to Spotify, you would go online and download it for free and then you either like it or you don’t. If you do like it, you’re gonna go to a show or buy the next record or you might tell your friend about it and they’ll but it or whatever.
I know a lot of people that will absolutely disagree with me and hang me for even saying it, but I feel that with the internet and making it so easy to have a free album, benefits a band like The Chariot, because it’s not like we were selling gold records in the first place, it’s not like we were writing that type of music, so who cares? I know who cares, it’s the labels. I have the utmost respect for good labels. But you asked the question to me and for me, I think our band has reaped the benefit of kids being able to get it so easily. To expect them to get in a car, drive to a place, not find it, drive to another place, find it, spend the money and then not like it, if that was the case, nobody’s gonna do that; take a chance. If you’re Top 40, they have MTV pushing it, they have radio pushing it, so they know they’re going into the store to buy it. I think these things help a band like us and I also think that our shows are much, much bigger than they would be without it. I think it is causing a shift in the music industry which has been going on for quite a while and I think that once the old dinosaurs are moved out and whatever the new sort of system is in place, we’ll all be good to go. But it’s just a matter of what that’s gonna look like. For me, our shows are much, much bigger and I think we have a lot more people that know who The Chariot even is because of such things.