CHIODOS are currently in the studio with producer David Bottrill (Coheed And Cambria, Tool, King Crimson) recording their fourth album, their first for Razor & Tie. Frontman Craig Owens spoke with Jason Pettigrew about his headspace during the making of the currently untitled album, and how he’s feeling a lot better in his own skin these days.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part of our In The Studio interview with Chiodos keyboardist Bradley Bell.

How’s life in Chiodos World?
It’s awesome. It’s crazy.

You say it’s “crazy.” Did you imagine it would ever be this good?
Absolutely not. We’ve never gotten along as well as we are right now.

The time spent apart and the distance seems to have been great but you also have that personal relationship with keyboardist Bradley Bell that you really don’t have with anyone else in the band.
Yeah, Brad and I are definitely closer than I would say the other guys and I are, but it’s something that I’ve really made a point to work on, you know? While out on the road, I’m making an effort and taking interest in what other band members do.

You guys are working with producer David Bottrill, who has overseen records for King Crimson, Tool and all sorts of art-metal acts. What’s the experience been like?
The experience has been a positive one. He’s got a lot of great ideas: He’s big on structures, and he’s big on certain chord changes. He just brings a great, fresh outside perspective, but I think that the best thing he’s brought so far is his work ethic. We did the first 13 days of pre-pro, and we worked every single day since we got there—around eight-hour days—and in a positive, motivational way.

Is he pulling things out of you that you really didn’t expect to have?
I don’t necessarily know because I haven’t worked with him in the vocal booth yet. What he brings out of the guys is definitely in a positive, show-me way. I think a lot of it has to do with structures. We’re known for being random with our music and taking left turns: I think he’s trying to either bring that out or just voice his opinion. Sometimes we accept it, sometimes we don’t.

Looking back on this past summer, how did the Warped Tour experience change the band? How did you make sure that you wouldn’t fall into old, bad habits?
I think it comes down to trust. There are still hard conversations that need to be had in the band. We haven’t all sat down in a room and said, “You did this, and you did this.” We haven’t really done that, so I think that will probably need to happen, at some point—just so we can accept it and move on, you know? I think we’re just learning how to trust one another again; learning how to communicate. I think that’s what Warped Tour did. It showed everyone that we’ll all show up. We needed to know that we’d be able to live in that space and that we’d be able to have fun doing it, and that everyone would show up, play well and do the signings.

Even as far as just hanging out goes, just having conversations and communicating again. You have to rebuild a relationship after a few years. After it gets dragged through the dirt as hard as ours did, I wasn’t just ready to open-arm-hug my brothers like it was some sort of movie. It’s still a cautious experience for me.

I remember asking you at Warped if you thought this gets easier, and you said no because the band have to constantly prove to people you’re just as valid as ever. Does that situation somehow influence the making of this record?
We’ve always been good at the music thing, man. The music thing was fine. That’s the only thing that kept us together for years. Playing on stage and making records and things like that—that was fine. It’s a much more pleasant experience this time around, but we were always good at that. As far as chemistry and things like that, it all comes down to rebuilding the personal [relationships]. But we picked up right where we left off musically.

Do you feel that the band can do anything they want without anyone’s pre-conceived notion of what Chiodos are “supposed” to sound like in 2014?
Yeah, we can do anything we want. When we’re around one another in the rehearsal room, we’ve always thought, “We’re Chiodos; we can do whatever we want musically,” because we’ve been so consistently random. I think only Bone Palace Ballet was the focused idea. It was still very eclectic, but at the same time, it was all dark, and a bit heavy. On this record, you’re gonna hear anthems and you’re gonna hear the heaviest, darkest stuff we’ve ever done. It’s a well thought-out record, but if you played track two to track nine to somebody random, they’d be like, “This is the same band?” But no, we don’t stop ourselves. We make whatever sounds good to us and whatever picture we see, we try and paint it the best that we can. We never really will say, “This band needs to sound like this, otherwise; we won’t succeed.” Because first of all, success is just relative, really. It really comes down to if you don’t love it, it’s not going to work. That’s what it all comes down to—not how heavy, soft or poppy or anything like that.

Is there any conscientious concern from the band about that? 
I think that’s where Dave comes in. I think that sometimes we do things that may go over people’s heads on the first or second listen. Sometimes, maybe they don’t understand—from a musical aspect—what it is that we’re doing. But I’d like to think that with this record, we’re going to deliver without alienating anyone. I don’t mean that by cutting all of the edges off, and making it so readily accessible that it turns into a pop record. We’re just more conscious of our different angular parts than we have been in the past.

So you don’t want to have any boundaries going into it, but you’re not going to go off the wall either.
Yeah. So far, we’ve chosen nine songs that are definitely being tracked, and out of those songs, I can’t see any of them being too off the wall or too pop for anyone. I just think they’re us. I think this is a much more mature, much more reeled-in Chiodos, more focused. >>>