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Interview: Chimaira

Chimaira
Questions Answered By Mark Hunter (Vocals).
10/08/01
Interviewed by wookubus

Related Links:
Official Website
"Pass Out Of Existence" Review
"This Present Darkness" Review

PRP: Things have definitely changed since we last talked, you've gotten signed, recorded and released your debut and subsequently hit the road with a handful of respected bands already, how has the step up been so far?
Mark: There are no complaints what so ever. We are having the time of our lives. Not many people get to see and experience the things we do, so I feel blessed.

PRP: Though "Pass Out Of Existence" has just recently landed in stores, the album originally leaked throughout the internet community in mp3 form many months ago and unfortunately, there was a fairly negative opinion towards it from some of your fans. How do you feel about this and is there anything you would like to say on the matter?
Mark: I don't care that it leaked, we write music to be heard. Who is to say we did not leak it ourselves. As for the reaction, you are speaking about 1/10th of our fan base, and although it upsets us, it is also very understood. I am the same way when I purchase records, I'm all negative and say they are horrible or whatever... Then next thing you know it is my favorite record. I also think a lot of people are just sick of hearing all this hype about us... Which ironically comes from the same people. You never hear us trying to hype ourselves up by saying shit like "we are the best, or we are the heaviest."

PRP: You enlisted Mudrock to produce the new album, a man who had taken a keen interest in working with you before you even got signed. How was it working with him and are you happy with his contributions?
Mark: We are all very happy with how the experience turned out. Mudrock was exactly what we were looking for. He let us make the record we wanted to make, and that was the most important thing we needed. I did not want some producer to try and change us, all the changes we made were our own ideas.

PRP: The new album is definitely a lot richer in terms of range and perhaps even a bit slicker production wise. Although the addition of a larger recording budget is a noticeable factor, what would you say motivated the band to progress in such a direction?
Mark: We are all fans of well produced records. We wanted our record to sound good and natural. We didn't spend a lot of time making this record, and most of the songs on it were done in one take. Also, we didn't have that large of a recording budget either. We spent about 1/3rd of the amount of money most major label bands spend to record. I disagree with you though, I do not feel the record is slick in anyway. We spent less time getting tones on this record than we did on our EP.
PRP: Fair enough.

PRP: A few tracks on "Pass Out Of Existence" find you dabbing in melodic vocals, something which likely caught a lot of your long-time fans off guard. Has this been something you've always wanted to achieve with Chimaira? Perhaps broaden out into more melody and what not in the future?
Mark: I've always wanted to incorporate more singing in our music, but on the EP I was lacking the necessary confidence in my abilities so I opted to have friends do the melodies. However when studio time for "Pass Out Of Existence" was in action, Mudrock helped me build my confidence to a level I was both comfortable with and proud of, for this I am very grateful. As for the future of my vocals, I'm not able to speculate at this point. It's funny though that you say the vocals on "Pass Out Of Existence" caught a lot of fans off guard... Interestingly enough it was those same fans who said they wanted more melody in our music.

PRP: The new album contains a lot of structural changes to the older material that is present, something which a few of those who had heard the older versions have generally objected to. Are you entirely happy with the newer versions of the older material or are there a few tracks where you still prefer the demo versions?
Mark: I am happy with every song except "Let Go"... I feel it is way too slow right now. That song sounds better live, it sounds 1,000 times better than the demo. When I compare our demos for this record to the new versions I laugh at the demos. We probably won't be so giving anymore in the future with our songs if this is what is to come of it though. What I mean is that we probably won't be releasing all of our demos next time around.

PRP: A lot of the lyrical content on the new album is written quite personal to you and is also written in a very violent nature, do you find it necessary to express yourself this way?
Mark: Everything that I sing about is something that I have gone through in some point of my life. I do not see any of it as being violent in any way.
PRP: Well, lyrically, with terms like cunt being used and such, its quite vivid verbal imagery.
Mark: I look at my lyrics and see them as positive therapy. I can't count how many people have told me that I have saved them in one way or another. The lyrics are based on my personal experiences but they are also meant to be open for interpretation by the listener, so that they can apply their own experiences to them as well.

PRP: Well, aside from your vocal duties, you also played guitar on "Abeo" and "Jade", do you see yourself branching out into guitar more in the future?
Mark: Definitely. "Pass Out Of Existence" was a collective effort between Rob and me. I wrote the music for approximately half of the songs, but Rob actually played them for the record because he is a better guitarist than I am. "Abeo" was a spontaneous song that we recorded during a very emotional period for me while in the studio. "Jade" was more of a personal project I had envisioned. That is why I tracked those songs.

PRP: Of all songs on the new record, which one would you say sums up what Chimaira is currently trying to achieve as a whole?
Mark: "Sp Lit".
Mark: Need I say more?
PRP: Haha, nope, that pretty much says it all.

PRP: Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter made a guest appearance on the track "Rizzo", how did this collaboration come about?
Mark: I met him in L.A. sometime last year. Turns out he was turned on to us by a mutual friend. Yes, that means he actually liked our band, so when we were recording we saw him almost every night and he kept telling us he was going to come down and jam. We never thought he would do it. It is an honor for us to have him on the record, we are all huge Deftones fans.

PRP: While recording the album, it was said that you spent some time with Mariah Carey, who was recording her new album nearby. Do you think the time she spent with you in anyway directly affected her recent nervous breakdown?
Mark: Without a doubt, I am more man than even she can handle.
PRP: Haha.

PRP: It was originally said that the band was planning to work with Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares on the album, but this never came to fruition. Was this due to conflicting schedules?
Mark: Yes, they were recording and Roadrunner was still dealing with our lawyer. It sucks, but at the same time I am glad, a few people think we sound like Fear Factory, I can't imagine how it would have been with him doing the record.

PRP: Well, if Dino was to face your bassist Jim in a pie eating contest, who would win?
Mark: I can't answer that bro, I will get in trouble either way.

PRP: Not long after finishing up recording the album, the band was forced to part ways with guitarist Jason Hager. Was this an uneasy period for the band and how has your relationship been with him since his departure?
Mark: The only thing that was hard was teaching the songs to Matt. He caught on real quick, but we had a very short amount of time to do it. It sucked to loose Jason, but at the same time it was easy to get over it. We see him every now and then, and I hear he is having a baby boy.

PRP: So how have things been working out with Matt since?
Mark: Matt is great. We have a lot in common with him, and he is the first member of Chimaira to get laid just because he is in Chimaira. Hahaha, all of us are basically married, so he gets a great selection of pro ho's to feast upon!

PRP: Speaking of which, you've been touring extensively lately and its been rumored that you guys have become banned from a few venues so far for your actions at live shows, one of which was apparently a near riot. Any comments on this?
Mark: All of that is internet hype. We are not banned from anywhere... Anymore that is. We have had problems with security guards and idiot kids hurting our fans, so we start some shit... But as far as I know we can play wherever we want.

PRP: Your side project, The Demonic Knights Of Aberosh gained a certain degree of infamy online. Will we ever see a live set performed by the band or have they been shipped back to the dark recesses of Norway?
Mark: Your inquiry shall be your demise, only the blood of the serpent can repent for the time spent in the wallowing pleasure palace.
PRP: Haha.

PRP: You were working on a song with SW1TCHED awhile back, did anything ever come to fruition from this?
Mark: I wrote some guitar riffs with them, but nothing came about. I doubt we will have time to finish it.

PRP: Switching gears, your record label Roadrunner Records has had its fair share of bad press over the years from bands and former employees. How has your experience been on the label so far?
Mark: Roadrunner treats us great. The bands that give them shit are usually the ones that made bad decisions for themselves; subsequently causing them more and more problems. They use Roadrunner as a scapegoat to explain their own fuck ups. I do see a lot of problems at the label though, for example, digipaks.
PRP: Yeah, those tend to get fans feeling a bit cheated.
Mark: I feel the same way, I am a fan of a lot of Roadrunner bands and I hate having to buy the record more than once to hear the extra songs.
PRP: Will you still be saying that when they release a Chimaira digipack?
Mark: I can't wait for the Chimaira digipack... Ka-Ching! No seriously though fuck that, I will fight that very hard, shit you can't even find "Pass Out Of Existence" in stores anyway... No point in making the digi.

PRP: The internet has definitely played a big part in exposure for the band, do you still find it necessary to talk with fans online when you get the chance?
Mark: We really love our fans, we still hang out after the show with them, actually even during the show most of the time. We get online as much as we can, it is hard to be online a lot with long drives and such.

PRP: Its been said that a video for your first single "Sp Lit" is in the works, has their been any progress on this?
Mark: It is still up in the air, I want to make sure we can do it right if we are going to do it. Roadrunner seems to think it will be a good idea.

PRP: Its been rumored that you guys may be hitting the road with Slayer in the future, any other prospective tours in the works? Mark: Not at the moment, we are really hoping to tour with Slayer though.
PRP: I once read an article that said it was a personal goal of yours to tour with them. Does that still stand?
Mark: Yes, very much so. I have looked up to them since I was 8 years old.

PRP: Winding down, what do you see in the future for Chimaira?
Mark: We just want to tour and write the music that makes us and our fans happy, less bullshit, more metal.

PRP: That's about it, any shameless self promotion, shoutouts or fuck you's?
Mark: I just want to thank all the people that have supported us, and really helped get us to where we are today. You know who you are, and wook I thank you for helping us with everything. You are one of the main reasons we are signed and doing so well... Thank you.

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