Last week, blistering metalcore deconstructionists the Chariot made the decision to disband. The fearless Atlanta-based outfit brought power, noise and a great sense of arbitrary randomness over the course of five albums, 10 years and a fiery stint on this year’s Warped Tour. Fans will have one last chance to experience the band’s mania when the Chariot embark on their farewell tour with Glass Cloud, Rebuker, Birds In Row and To The Wind beginning Oct. 10 in Columbia, South Carolina.
In this exclusive interview, Jason Pettigrew speaks with frontman Josh Scogin about the band’s decisions, accomplishments and why Glass Cloud can get their ass handed to them in dodge ball.
I know it’s been 10 years, but really, it felt like the Chariot were just getting started. What happened?
JOSH SCOGIN: Nothing happened in the sense of… [Pauses.] I don’t know: I guess everyone wants to hear a really gnarly story, but sometimes you just feel like, “Man, this is the right time.” There’s never a convenient time—well, I guess there is a convenient time, but it’s a place that no artist wants to find themselves. There’s never a convenient time where it’s like, “Oh, there are no tour offers, no tours lined up [and] there’s nobody wanting another record,” you know what I mean? At the end of the day, it just felt like the right time.
We were on Warped Tour having a blast, and we got to discuss some things in the band. I hate the imagery of “rest in peace” and the imagery of dying, and I like the idea of maybe it’s more like crossing the finish line. It’s more like we’re hanging our hats up exactly when we want to before it’s too late and everyone’s like, “Oh man, they should have done that, like, four years ago.” I feel like the Chariot were never supposed to outstay our welcome. We got to do Soundwave at the beginning of this year in Australia, and we got to do Warped Tour this year. Warped Tour has been something we’ve been trying [to do] for the entirety of our band, and we just felt like what a great time to step away. There’s a difference between standing on top of that mountain looking over and being like, “What a great time to cross that finish line.”
Or maybe just the friendships were done. Like the idea of “If I have to be in the van with you for one more day I am going to stab you in the throat.”
Exactly. We’re all best friends still. Hopefully that video we posted helps portray that. We wanted it to somehow feel not so [much like] this was forced upon us by circumstance, hating each other or anything like that. It’s much more of an accomplishment, and I felt like, to me, 10 years is the perfect time to be like, “Hey, we did what we came to do,” and I felt like we’ve done that. As far as getting into the business side of [the band], contract-wise we were free agents again, and we were shopping around new labels. We were like, “You know what, the moment we sign anything or do anything, that’s going to be another couple of things.” Everything kind of lined up. I feel like I’ve sort of lived my whole life based on my gut instinct and what I felt [was] my path and what I was supposed to do, and I feel like every one of us feels the same way.
As far as the band being immersed into the communities of hardcore, metalcore and even the designation of Christian faith, did you experience backlash? The Chariot never played by any implied hardcore/Christian metalcore rulebook, so it would seem that some folks would deem you “too weird” or “not real.”
It wasn’t anything that was big enough for us to ever really wrap our heads around. It wasn’t like “everybody hates this,” but there were definitely the times where—and I take this as a compliment—a lot of times people will be like, “Honestly, the first time I heard it, I hated it, and three years later I love it, and now I can’t get enough of it.” That’s a very interesting compliment to me. I’m a fan of things that take an acquired taste. In the very beginning, we just didn’t fit in [to a scene]. “They should do this. Why is the frontman not doing mosh calls? Why is he not telling everybody to kill each other?” I never did mosh calls, and I never told people to beat each other up. Because as a person who loves music, and loves to be in the audience and watch bands, I never appreciated that myself. I always just enjoyed watching the band: Just because I’m not moshing, doesn’t mean I don’t like your band. I love your band: I love it so much, I just want to watch. There were a lot of times we would tour with bands who would call us out on that. Other bands would be like, “You just never say stuff like that.” It’s not really my personality first of all, and second of all, you can do what you want to do. I don’t care if… Well, in fact, I don’t want you to beat each other up. I don’t care if you jump around.
I believe in a smart audience. I believe they can see through that cookie-cutter, “Oh every day is the same exact show, and every single day is the same exact whatever.” For us, the last three years of being in a band, we didn’t even have set lists: Warped Tour was the first time we had somewhat of a set list. We hadn’t had set lists in the past several years. The only thing that’s the same every single night is the band. It’s a totally different crowd, totally different venue, totally different lights, totally different atmosphere–the weather outside, the city, the state. Every day you feel like a different crowd, and maybe you feel like, “Oh, let’s start with this song.” That mindset is just so much more fresh, and keeps you on your toes. I feel like with a generally smart audience, they can appreciate that—even the train wrecks. We would talk to bands that perform to a click every night and have the same intros and everything, and they’d call us absolutely crazy because we would have train wrecks from time to time. To me, those are fun. Those are the ones where you have to figure out how to make it not feel like a train wreck.
There also could be the criticism where the band, after 10 years in, had nothing left to rail against. Did you feel like it was a last crusade? Was there an undercurrent that the chemistry of these players did as much as they could do at this point?
It definitely did not. I feel like half the battle, half the discussion of us thinking should we wrap it up was based around the idea that we just did Soundwave in Australia, we just did Warped Tour—if anything, we might be bigger now than we’ve ever been. Arguably, you never know. At the end of the day, we were at a very comfortable spot as a band. We’re always writing. We’re always putting songs together just on our own, and then bringing them together. We already had a couple tracks that were starting to manifest themselves. Could we have written another record? Yes, easily. Would it have been better than One Wing? Who knows? That’s not necessarily a goal we’ve ever strived for. At no point in time did we feel like, “This is it–we can’t get any better than this.” I felt like wrapping it up and crossing this finish line enabled us to say, “Hey, this isn’t for a lack of fire.” I feel like we’ve climbed that great mountain, we had a chance to see it clearly, and it was just the perfect time to wrap it up and lay it down.
So, now what? Are we going to see four new bands now?
I don’t know. I don’t believe so. It’s funny because we haven’t really talked much about [it]. I know our guitarist Brandon [Henderson], he’s married and he has a really good opportunity for a job and a career move that’s going to give him a very comfortable life. He’s definitely going to take that route, and I feel like he should. I feel like some people are going back to college. I’m going to keep doing music. I have my side thing, A Rose, By Any Other Name, that’s been going a little while, but I’m going to do a new thing, as well. Obviously, it’s all in the very early stages.
Last question: If the Chariot were to play dodge ball with Glass Cloud, who would win and why?
Oh man, what a tough question. Probably Glass Cloud because we’re not… Well, no, actually the Chariot. Brandon is an absolute psycho, and if you even act like you’re going to hit him with a dodge ball, he would go bonkers on everybody and wipe them out. I was about to say the Chariot isn’t the most athletic bunch, but then I thought about Brandon playing dodge ball and how I would never want to be on the other side of that. So I’m going to say us strictly based on Brandon Henderson. alt