Exclusive Interview: Craig Owens reflects on his Warped summer and what’s next musically

July 15, 2011
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It’s been just five months since Craig Owens reasserted his claim in the “über-frontman” sweepstakes with the self-titled release by his new outfit, Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows. That album was only the beginning of the work for the former Chiodos vocalist. Since then, the band—which also includes guitarist/synth-op Matt Good (ex-From First To Last), guitarist Nick Martin (Isles & Glaciers, Cinematic Sunrise), drummer Aaron Stern (ex-Matchbook Romance) and bassist Adam Russell (Story Of The Year)—co-headlined the Spring 2011 AP Tour, then hopped onto this summer’s Warped Tour for a full run. Yet somehow, Owens has also found the time to play a series of intimate solo acoustic shows, post new music on his Facebook page, hit the studio with hip-hop artist Jon Connor for upcoming remixes and announce a new film-related endeavour. AP checked in with Owens regarding these projects and more during a day off from Warped in Indiana, where the singer—who’d been wading through paperwork all afternoon—was happy to oblige.
Interview: Brendan Manley

How's Warped Tour going so far?
Warped Tour's amazing. It's been ridiculous. We released a record in February, and to play main stage and pack it out the way we have been, and have the support we've been getting, we're just really, really thankful and lucky to be in the position we're at, and we're just really excited to play each and every day.

Before Warped you co-headlined the AP Tour. How was that experience?
It was amazing…absolutely amazing. It was our first time touring the U.S. in full, and this is our second time now, on Warped Tour, so it's really amazing to have all of these people continue on with this journey. I feel like they never really left my side, and I feel very thankful and very blessed to have everything that I have. It's still only the beginning for D.R.U.G.S.  

How's the band jelling as a live unit?
Oh, amazing. It couldn't be any better. When I was putting this band together, I was not only paying attention to musical ability and how I get along and musical tastes, but also how they played lived. I chose the people I thought had the best stage presence. I think live is where we bring it. I think that live is pretty incomparable. We just go in and we kick it, and it's really something that's unmatched, I think.

What have Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows been up to otherwise?
Basically, we’ve focused on Warped Tour for a bit, and afterward we go to Australia; we're going to hit Soundwave. We're going to do a lot of overseas touring, and then we come back and we have a really big tour in the winter that I can't disclose yet. We've been busy pushing the single [“Sex Life”] on the radio a ton, and we’re coming up with a new plan [this week] for a new single to push. We haven't exactly decided on what it's going to be yet, but as of [this week] we'll have a whole new plan for coming out, and coming out strong, just to keep this record going.

You posted a new track, “Bibles & Badges,” on your Facebook page. Where and when will that song be released officially, and does it encapsulate where you’re at right now?
That was a song written during the time when I was writing the D.R.U.G.S. stuff. We wrote 50 to 100 songs…We really wrote a lot of material, and I just wanted to share it and give it as a gift to fans, like, “These are the songs I've been sitting on for a little while, and it's kind of more for the insomniacs.” It's not really a D.R.U.G.S. song, and it's not really a solo song. It has Aaron [Stern] from D.R.U.G.S.  playing drums on it, and Matt [Good] from D.R.U.G.S.  remixed it, so it's not too solo.

We like to stick together, to keep it in the family. With that song, I just really wanted to give something to the fans…give them something I've been sitting on that I thought they'd enjoy.

You’ve been playing some solo acoustic shows lately. How have those been going? Are more planned?
I'm doing a few more solo shows coming up, but that's just for fun. You get so lost in this big Warped Tour setting that you forget all about the 100-to-200 cap rooms with the intimate settings, so I like to do different things—no microphones, just get 100 people in a room and really connect with them for a few hours. Each show has been two hours long. I have three more of those, and I'm going to do one more in my hometown, and that's it for the year for the solo stuff. Right now, I'm just trying to focus on D.R.U.G.S.  and keep this record cycle going for us.

[The acoustic shows are] just a good way to connect, a good way to play a lot of songs [fans] haven't heard in years, some of the reasons they started liking me in the first place, and it's a really good way to put it into a more intimate setting with my fans, as opposed to thousands and thousands of people.

You recently tweeted you were in the studio doing some stuff. What's the scoop on that?
I was working with my good friend Jon Connor. He's a rap artist out of Flint, [Michigan]. He's really talented. He did something on one of our remixes that we're going to have coming out, and he asked me to be on his record. Also I have something I'll be announcing [this week] that is pretty big for me personally. It's a really huge opportunity: some new career stuff I'm going to be doing, and if it goes the way I want it to, then hopefully it will be a new path for me. [Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before Owens announced he was leaving Warped Tour for a few days to film a movie.]

What prompted you to work with Connor?
He's a guy that's been working really hard for five years. He's definitely my favorite rap musician/hip hop artist. He's a real guy, he's been working really hard, and I really believe in him. He's getting big looks from a lot of people now, and I really think he's one of the next that are going to come up. We've just been working together and hanging out, and we're like long-lost brothers, so it works out really well. We've been having a lot of fun working on music and just hanging out, getting to know each other. He's a good dude.

Are the jams something he’s putting out on his end, or will they be released somewhere under the D.R.U.G.S. banner, too?
I think [Connor is releasing music] in September, and we also are going to be releasing something. We redid [“Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm”], which is one of our tracks on the record we released in February, and we're going to release that at some point—the release of him rapping on that—so it's really amazing, we're excited. He came out to a few shows on SXSW, Warped Tour and an AltPress date, so he's come out and done a bunch. So we're excited.

What else is coming up in the next few months?
We're going to be going home for I think a month right after [Warped Tour] and we're just going to hang out and maybe write a little bit and kind of do our thing before this huge international run. I think we'll be touring internationally for two and a half months, so the band is really focusing on our international crowd, and after that come back and run through the U.S. on a tour that I'm excited about, but can't say anything about just yet.

So the international run is in the fall, before the big U.S. winter tour?
Yeah. We're doing Soundwave Revolution with Alice Cooper and Van Halen…all those bands. It's going to be really, really awesome. I'm really excited about that. After that we plan to go back to Europe. Nothing's set yet—we have a few options— we just haven't decided exactly what it is we're going to do just yet.

How’s life treating you otherwise?
I'm just happy now. I'm happier now than I've ever been. Since Warped Tour started, I've been getting a lot of amazing Twitter responses, stuff like “the king is back,” “played like you did in 2007″…They've never seen me happier or healthier, and that's just because of my change of lifestyle. I changed everything I was doing. I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to be the best “me” that I possibly could be, and that involved changing my lifestyle. Now I work out a lot more, I'm happier, I'm healthier, I changed my diet, and I've been sober for a long time now. I've got a lot to prove, so we're going to prove it on this tour.

Written by Brendan Manley