Interview: Josh Scogin of the Chariot on the band’s “weird” fifth album

May 16, 2012 by Bryne Yancey

Interview: Josh Scogin of the Chariot on the band’s “weird” fifth album

THE CHARIOT are something of an outlier in the post-hardcore scene in that their music is dynamic, thoughtful and aurally challenging while still maintaining a heavy enough edge so kids “not really into lyrics” can still mosh, too. From the sound of it, the band’s fifth album—which they’re currently recording and should be out in August—will expand on the eccentricities of 2010’s Long Live while providing more than enough gusto to fuel the band’s legendarily chaotic live shows. AP spoke to vocalist Josh Scogin to talk about the complexities of the new album, their loyalty to their producer and “getting weird with it.”

INTERVIEW: Bryne Yancey

How far along in the recording process are you?
JOSH SCOGIN:
We’ve been here for a little over a week and we’re pretty far along, actually. The last couple of records we’ve done, we’ve recorded them song-by-song as opposed to most of the time when bands record they do all of the drums, all the bass, all the guitars, etc. Doing it song-by-song, it’s just easier and more fluid for us—more natural. Other than vocals, we’re all the way done, so we’re actually more than halfway done with the record. We’ve only got a couple more tracks to do so I don’t know what we’re gonna do with all the extra time. [Laughs.]

How long did you plan to be in the studio?
We’re here for three weeks and then for one week of mixing. In the past, that’s how we’ve liked to work because if you get too much time, we start overthinking stuff and things don’t feel as natural or as impulsive as we’d like. But obviously, with too short of time there’s a chance you’ll start to agree to anything, so we try to keep it at three weeks to keep us on our toes and also to give us enough time to try things that we may not end up keeping.

Where are you recording?
Matt Goldman’s studio in Atlanta. Yeah, we always go with Goldman and probably always will.

Why is that?
At this point, he’s a good friend of mine—when I’m not on tour, I work here at the studio and produce bands and stuff. But ultimately, I just love the way he works. Our first record, Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, And Nothing Is Bleeding, it’s a really noisy record and it’s something a lot of producers wouldn’t want to sign their name to—it’s not like we’re showing him off by any stretch. But he’s always had the attitude of, “If that’s what you want to do, this is your record” and as an artist, it’s something I enjoy because I’ve worked with producers in the past that’ve been like, “Okay, you hired me for a reason. We’re here to do my ideas also.” [Laughs.] That always rubs us the wrong way, because while we’re open to new ideas, we always kind of know what we want to do.

Everyone sees it differently but as artists we feel—good or bad—that this should be our record. The producer should be there to help us with our ideas so with Goldman, he always has good ideas but is also always totally down with us doing weird, goofy stuff that may or may not be a good idea. There’s not that learning curve you might have with a new producer, like a producer saying they have a great idea and then mentioning a band you’ve never heard of or a band you don’t like. We have such a history together, and we hang out when we aren’t recording too, so it makes things a lot quicker and a lot easier.

You mentioned that you’ve been recording the songs one at a time, have you been recording them live as a band or one part at a time?
As of this second, we haven’t done any of them live. There’s always a part or two that we try to do live, just because it’s easier for some things. Every other record we’ve done, handfuls of parts have been done live but this one we’ve actually done it all track-by-track, like the more standard way of doing things. But we’re not done yet, and the songs coming up would actually be the ones that might be easier to do live, so we’ll see how it goes.

Long Live had squealing death-ray feedback, snippets of a 1960s a capella group singing radio jingles and an eccentric spoken-word aside. Will this album be heavier or even more obtuse than before?
It’s kind of funny, this one’s probably the weirdest record we’ve ever done. We’re always writing, but when we officially started writing for this record, we started it off with the idea of, “Let’s get weird.” We tried not to have any rules, tried not to have any borders or boundaries but even the little ones we did have, we threw them out the window. Then when we came into the studio, the first thing we told Matt was, “Let’s get weird with it.” [Laughs.] We just want it to be interesting for us—not that our other records aren’t—but it’s very eclectic and a very different record for us. The energy and high pace is still there but it’s always a building process.

With Long Live, we were very impulsive. We’d come in with a finished song, but if we felt like something could be better, we’d change it and never look back. With this one we took that to the next level—we came in almost knowing that these songs were going to get more different, and as we played them and practiced them for weeks beforehand, over and over, even though no one else had heard them, we started to get bored and tired of certain parts. So when we got into the studio, it’s only natural to start feeling bored toward a part or being open to changing things, so that’s where it opens the door to get weird with it and bring something interesting to it that brings our attention back to it.

We always kind of joke that we’re all A D D, especially in this generation, and I feel like we’re the same as everyone else. The more we play it—we’ve now heard these songs thousands of times--we start to go down these paths where we don’t know where it’s going to go and we don’t know if it’s going to sound good, but at the end of the day, at least we went down that path to see what happens. Being impulsive like that has always been a strong suit of ours and something we enjoy doing, because when you hear a final product—especially doing it song-by-song—it keeps it fresh for us, and when we’re about go to that tour where we’re going to be playing new songs, it’s still as brand new as it can be.

This is guitarist Brandon Henderson’s first record with the band. What did he bring to the table and how has he adjusted?
He’s awesome. He’s definitely a more complicated guitarist than we’ve ever dealt with, he’s written a good bit of three to five of these songs and it’s probably some of the more technical stuff the Chariot have ever done. We’ve always kind of kept it pretty simple—our songs all have pretty basic chord structures, but he’s bringing an element to the band that’s never been there before, and I’m excited to play these songs live and see if we can pull them off. [Laughs.] The songs are some of my favorites we’ve ever had, and the intensity level just went up a notch with how crazy some of these guitar patterns are.

How many new songs will you be playing live on the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour?
I would imagine just for our own sake we’ll play at least one, but I think we end the tour before the record comes out and if that’s the case, there’s no point in playing more than that, especially with just a 30-minute set every night. alt

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