Pictures : Olga Kuzmenko
Interview by: Alan Daly
Alan: Welcome back to Dublin. You’ve been here a few times already. I wasn’t here myself, but I noticed you played two dates in a row here in Dublin with Asking Alexandria in 2013. That’s unusual. How did that come about?
Chris: Thanks. I guess those things come about when they put one show on sale and it does really well, then they add a second date, or they can pre-gauge if it’s going to be a big show, and do it anyway. My best guess was that they wanted to do two nights because to do it in a really big venue, they might not have sold the venue out so they did two nights in a smaller venue.
Alan: I guess I was curious if they had split it into an all-ages show and an over-16’s show.
Chris: We just did that in Australia actually. We’ve never done it before. It was two separate shows for two different age groups. It was odd but cool. It makes sure everybody gets a chance to see the show.
Alan: What differences did you notice between those two shows?
Chris: It was funny because, with the younger show, the fans were more dressed up and painted up and ready to go. Then with the older crowd, there was a bar and they could drink so it gets a little rowdier as the night goes on. You can watch the crowd get into the show a lot more. The younger fans are ready to go right off the bat. The 18+ shows it takes a couple of songs when they get some drinks and then it’s awesome.
Alan: Last night you were in Belfast for the first show of this tour. How did that go?
Chris: It was good. We hadn’t played a show since Halloween night actually. And usually, when we have that kind of break and come back, we’re a little rusty. There was some dust to brush off, but it didn’t feel like we were off for that long. On the crowd front, they were great. With the Ireland shows, we didn’t announce them at first, and we knew we were going to come, but the fans didn’t. So the demand was like “You need to come back to Ireland”. And we always do, but it was really cool to see them not know but really demand it, and then, boom, we gave it to them.
Alan: I saw you played Chop Suey! Last night. Have you got any special treats in store tonight?
Chris: We try to change our set every day now. Now that we have four albums, we don’t want to keep the exact same setlist. Of course, we play the songs with the music videos and the fan favorites and stuff, but we’ve been trying to rotate two or three songs a night. We are going to play Chop Suey! again tonight, but it might be the last time we play it for a really long time. We’re going to take a break from it just because we feel like people are bored of seeing us cover it. So today might be the last one.
Alan: You’ve played a lot of cover songs live and on some tribute albums, but you’ve never included any in your studio albums. Is that a conscious decision?
Chris: It’s just never come about. We did an official recording of our cover of ‘Du Hast’ from Rammstein for a compilation album. We did an official recording of a cover of Rob Zombie’s ‘Dragula’, but the only real serious one was the ‘Du Hast’ one. My favorite cover that we’ve ever played is ‘Mother’. We’ve covered Danzig a few times before, and I wish we had that one on some sort of recording. It’s fun. Most of our fans only know one word of it, but it’s funny because at least that one word, they’re really loud and we are big Danzig fans so it’s cool to play it.
Alan: You missed out one really obvious cover… Metallica! Did you get any choice on which track to record?
Chris: Oh yes! We did record that [‘My Friend of Misery’] for the Kerrang! Album. I can’t believe I forgot that! That is one of my own personal treasures of the band. I loved covering Metallica. They are the reason I started playing music, to begin with. They were the earliest influence on my musical career and life, and it was so cool that they asked us to do it. They did present the song though.
Alan: Were you happy with the choice?
Chris: Yeah. What’s funny about it is that I’ve always loved that song because I thought it was one of those sleeper, dark horse tracks on the album that is really great but doesn’t get a lot of recognition on the album.
Alan: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s underrated too. Moving onto Graveyard Shift, the first thing I wanted to ask you about was the fan competition you held to design the album artwork.
Alan: It sounds like you almost regret it?
Chris: Sometimes I do, man!
Alan: You must have been inundated with entries.
Chris: The entries were great. The entire process was good up until we actually announced the winner. I guess I kinda underestimated how fans were going to react when theirs didn’t get picked or when their friends didn’t get picked, and it just seemed like what was supposed to be something that brought fans together ended up making fans argue with each other and a lot of them being upset with the band. That was something I didn’t really expect to come out of that.
Alan: The internet is wonderful for making people jealous and fight.
Chris: Thankfully it didn’t last that long, but I was quite disappointed in a lot of our fans’ reactions towards it. They know that. I think I’ve made it known that I wish people were a bit nicer to one another. But we got an album cover out of it that we really like, and we think it spoke well for what we were trying to do with the album.
Alan: Were there any particular entries to the competition that you really liked that you couldn’t use for copyright or censorship reasons?
Chris: Oh man. This is the next funny story to add to why this was so complicated. We kinda had a very intense decision-making process between two different covers, and it ended up where we were hanging onto this one that got submitted very early on and it always ended up being in the back of our heads. I was the one that brought the one that won to the attention of the other guys, because it kinda just got overlooked by them at first, and I was like “This one, this one, this one”. And they ALL liked a different one, and we ended up choosing the other one as the runner-up. And what happened was someone took an album cover from a different band and changed it so much to where… I mean I’d never seen the original album cover from the other band before finding out… But someone had changed it, but it was complete plagiarism and submitted it. We really liked it and we had no idea that it belonged to another band, and all the other guys were ready to pick that one. So holy fuck, could you imagine if we did, and didn’t know? So that’s another reason why that whole process was scary. When we did find out that the person had plagiarised the image and it belonged to another band, that was stressful. But it was a really interesting process from the start.
Alan: Yeah, that’s dangerous territory to be in. Obviously, you offered generous prizes to the winners and runners-up. Did that work out more or less expensive than commissioning your own artwork like on other albums?
Chris: I can’t remember exactly what we paid for the artwork for the first full-length album artwork, but I think it was probably around the same. Reincarnate and Infamous were a little bit more expensive because they had a lot more detailed photography where we needed a set and props, so it kinda fell right in the middle I think.
Alan: Obviously you’ve been touring for a few months since releasing Graveyard Shift, so how are the new tracks going down live and what’s your favorite to perform?
Chris: It’s been going great. We feel like this album comes to life more live. I really love the album when I listen to it, and I think yeah, this is everything I wanted it to be. And then when we play it live, I think it’s a special thing to see the songs have an extension offered life through the live format. That’s something I really loved about certain songs of ours in the past. Not every song does that, but on this album, they all seem to. At least for me. I really like playing ‘Voices’, because I feel like when we play it the fans connect with t. It’s a really personal, deeper song for a lot of fans and there’s that connection live that you get to feel it on a different level.
Alan: Have you played all of the tracks from the new album live yet?
Chris: As of this tour, we will. We have two left that we haven’t played live yet, and we’re going to introduce them throughout the tour.
Alan: That’s something for fans to look forward to so. You’ve got some really dedicated fans. What’s the most intense or craziest thing that you’ve had a fan say or do?
Chris: There’s been quite a few. The answer that’s freshest in my mind is what our guitarist Ricky said recently. Any time we ever go through Brazil, it’s wild because they treat every band like they’re the fucking Beatles or something. They just bombard you. There was a time we were in Rio or São Paulo, we got out of our bus and we had to walk around the bus and into the venue through a barricaded area, and every one of us had clothes ripped off or hair ripped out of our head. It was fucking wild, and it made me think “how did bands like The Beatles get through this every day?”. These people seemed like they were trying to kill us even though they weren’t. So that was a wild experience to put your life into perspective.
Alan: What current bands would you compare yourselves to, in order to track your own success and direction?
Chris: I feel like the best answer to this would be a lot of the bands on the Warped tour, even though we feel we have extended outside of just the Warped tour realm. You know we have rock radio play and we’ve done a lot of radio festivals but we still feel like we identify with the bands we spent so much time growing up with on Warped Tour. There’s a lot of them. We’ve never really been close with the dudes from Black Veil Brides or anything like that, but we’ve definitely been side-by-side in getting a lot of the same shit and a lot of the same criticism, and kinda fighting tooth and nail to get through and make a name for ourselves, and obviously BVB have quite a name for themselves. We’ve been touring with Asking Alexandria since their first US tour. I think both of those bands are a little bit more popular than we are, but we’ve grown up with both of them around the same time, and we look at that like we’re kind of a trio and that we all are from the same time period.
Alan: It’s no secret and it’s fair to say that you’re influenced and inspired by Marilyn Manson. What would be your favorite Manson album or track?
Chris: Yeah. My favorite album is absolutely The Golden Age of Grotesque. I just think that there’s something about that album that was just so ahead of its time. I’ve never heard anything else like it before or after. It’s a really awesome blending of styles together. I hear a lot of hip-hop influence in a lot of the songs, which is odd to hear those two genres, but he did it so well. The lineup of the band with Tim and John 5 was amazing. Anyone song? I feel ‘Use your Fist’ is a great song. I really like ‘The Nobodies’. That song has huge meaning for a lot of people that have grown up in this world and have endured a lot of pain and suffering internally for choosing to be who they are and feeling neglected and left out. There are a lot of great songs that have a lot of impacts and have definitely inspired me throughout my career.
Alan: You’ve worked with Jonathan Davis and Dani Filth on your studio albums. Have you ever reached out to Manson to collaborate with him?
Chris: We only reached out to him one time. We did an award show in the States for Alternative Press. They do a yearly awards show, and they asked us to perform and they asked us if we wanted to perform with anybody. We had never reached out to Manson before because it’s just one of those things. Do you really want to bring your heroes and your idols that close or do you want it to just stay inspired by these people and not try to include yourself in their works? We just thought it would be really cool if there was a moment where we were able to do something together and perform for people to see the two together. It’s no secret that people either love or hate the band for reasons that have to do with our influence by Manson, and we thought it would be really cool if he was willing to perform with us, then that would show people that it’s ok to like multi-generations of music that sound similar. But it ended up where he was going to be on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins at the time, so he wasn’t able to do it. But from what we heard, he was interested, which was awesome. But we ended up doing it with Rob Zombie which was another massive top-tier influence for us, so it worked out for us either way.
Alan: Is there anyone else you’d like to collaborate with, alive or dead?
Chris: The list is huge, but at the same time the list is running out because there are so many people that I would love the chance to work with. We’re all very very big fans of the band HIM, so the vocalist Ville Valo would be really awesome. We’re hoping to make that happen someday, where when the right song comes along, we’ll ask. Davey Havok from AFI would be the other one. Our band, very early on, was rooted in our interest and love for AFI, so those two would be great.
Alan: You use a lot of wordplay in your lyrics, which is something done a lot in the goth/horror metal genre, like Manson and Wednesday 13. Is that something that you have to sit down and think hard about or does it just come to you spontaneously?
Chris: I’d say it’s half and half. I think it’s all about how you approach it. If you try to seriously do it, it’s not as easy. Sometimes you need a line that you are really trying to get out and then it gets a little complicated. But sometimes you’re just sitting there and you’re treating it like it’s no big deal. You’re trying to have with it, and it just comes [clicks fingers]. It’s just all in the approach. I’ve had it both ways, where I have to sit down and really think about what I want to say and how I want it to be said, and then others are meant to be ridiculous and not taken seriously, so it’s a lot easier to write those, when you’re just trying to create something fun and entertaining without the level of pressure on yourself to create exactly what you want to say in a serious manner.
Alan: I was wondering if you’re familiar with the Cranberries?
Alan: Did you hear the news that their singer Dolores O’Riordan passed away sadly yesterday?
Chris: I can’t really say I’m a fan of the Cranberries. Obviously, I know the hit (‘Zombie’). I just never really got into the band as a dedicated fan. Regardless of who it is, it’s always a bummer to see any legendary artist pass away, especially at a younger age. I feel like that’s happening more and more now with Chris and Chester last year. It just sucks. But at least these people have left a brilliant legacy behind and have made a lot of people really happy with what they chose to do with their art.
Alan: Another big news item recently is the recent release of the Polish band Decapitated after being held in the US for months on charges of alleged gang rape. What do you make of the whole situation and would it make you think twice about who you bring onto your tour bus?
Chris: Oh yeah. Obviously, it’s not the same as when you think about the Randy Blythe situation or even if you go all the way back to the West Memphis Three where people are always looking for a way to take this alternative realm of people and hold them captive, whether it be physically or another way. And now with the world shifting where all of these sexual assaults are coming out more and more, we’ve never been a band who bring anybody on our bus. A bunch of us have our girlfriends on tour with us. I believe that we’ve all been really smart about all those types of aspects. It’s a bummer to see when it happens and bands are really doing what they’re being accused of. Or in their case, I think the last thing I read was that they were let out and the story was proved to be false. I guess I don’t entirely know the story, but I think it was said to be false and they were released.
Alan: Well, who knows what went on exactly…
Chris: I think right now, the safest bet is just to stay away from it. It’s starting to get to a point where unless you have physical evidence of anything being consensual, just stay away from it. But obviously if you’re not a shitbag, then you probably don’t have to worry about it as much because you’re a respectable person and treat people with respect, and in that case, just keep being who you are and be a gentleman about it.
Alan: So tell us what’s in store for Motionless In White in 2018.
Chris: We are starting with this tour, and then we’re doing another US headliner right after this. It doesn’t ever feel like we’ve done the true big headliner that we’ve always wanted to do, and now we’re taking advantage of that by doing it over here. We already did one in the US and Australia. We’re going to do another one in the US in all the territories we didn’t reach last time. And then we’re actually going to start working on a new album. We’re not going to wait as long as we did last time, just because we don’t want to be behind the eight ball with writing music this time. Getting caught, having to be on tour with it and dividing the attention. So we’re going to start working on it, do a tour in the Summer, and keep working on a new album. In my perfect world, it would be ready in Spring or Early Summer of next year. We’ll tour a few times throughout this year, work on writing, record it and then start releasing songs in the Spring. But as fans know, my perfect world ideal release situation didn’t exactly happen on Graveyard Shift. It got pushed back for a lot of reasons, between touring, personal issues, family issues and then it just seemed like everything kept stopping the momentum and we’d have to start back up again, and then Roadrunner made the decision to push it to May. It is what it is and it came out and all is well.
Alan: Ok, I think that’s all we have time for. Thanks for chatting.