Hi Jeff, nice to meet you! Congratulations on your upcoming album release! How do you feel about the reception that your fans and the media have given your two new singles so far?
I really haven’t read much about it as I’m just used to us going under the radar most of the time. We’re doing music we like regardless of fan, media, label attention. This scene really isn’t much about the quality of the music anymore anyway.
In the immortal words of Metal Blade A&R… “What are you guys doing other than music? We would’ve signed you 2 albums ago if it was about the songs.”
That aside, We recorded the majority of the album over a year ago, so we’re already thinking more about what’s up next instead of what’s already done.
From the little I have seen though, longtime fans seem to be happy we went a little heavier on this one. They probably won’t like the next one then.
The new album, “Earth Will Shed Its Skin,” features a mix of traditional and modern black metal elements, as well as more ambient and alternative moments. Can you talk about how you approached blending these different styles and sounds together, and what you hope listeners take away from the experience?
We started out using old demos of Forward and Broken for this album, which hadn’t been used for a full length up to this point, and they’re probably the more traditional sounding songs. Once those two were arranged, we just worked our way toward the middle.
Tracklist and flow are essential to making an album and the choice of what style goes where sort of comes naturally.
What inspired you to push the boundaries and experiment with new sounds and instruments?
I think we’re just always trying to do something a little different for each album, whether that be adding a new instrument, adding a new dynamic, or even taking something completely out of the mix like using no harsh vocals at all on our third album. It’s a challenge, an adventure and a requirement for myself as an “artist.”
I can’t imagine being in a band who continuously puts out the same album over and over again. If we ever feel we’re doing the same thing twice, I’d rather just split up.
How did the collaboration with Valnoir/Metastazis come about, and what inspired the album’s visual theme?
Valnoir has done layouts and shirt designs for a couple of different projects we’ve been involved with in the past and his output never disappoints. That being said, we literally just let him do whatever he wanted; no direction, no adjustments or edits whatsoever. The result was just as visually stimulating as we expected from such a prolific artist.
Chrome Waves has been described as a supergroup of sorts, featuring members from various notable bands. How does the collaborative process differ from working with a more stable lineup, and what do each member bring to the table?
Honestly, I haven’t invested too much thought into that term as I feel like it’s just a catchphrase used by PR types for publicity more than anything else. With this project in particular, I just kind of invited people to join whom I enjoy being around, they just happened to all be in other bands too.
As far as the collaboration, every band kind of works differently. I haven’t been in a band where there are regular rehearsals or all members living within the same proximity since the early 2000s, so long distance is just normal for me.
With the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, many musicians have had to adapt to new ways of recording and promoting their music. How has the pandemic affected Chrome Waves, and how have you managed to stay productive during that time?
I don’t think it affected the band at all. We’re all capable of recording at home so progress on new music never really ceased. The last 3 albums were all recorded from 2020-2022. We had to cancel a couple weeks worth of tour dates, but it was business as usual otherwise.
The lyrics to your single “Under The Weight of a Billion Souls” touch on themes of humanity’s responsibility towards one another. How important is it for you to address social and political issues through your music?
Shouldn’t a certain amount of gratitude toward your neighbor be common sense and not sociopolitical commentary?
But… Personally, it’s not important to me at all and I think if it were, and we preached the rhetoric… with the extremely polarizing views everyone seems to have these days, it would just alienate the few listeners we do have. Our views are all over the map and I’d rather just keep those to ourselves and those around us.
The post-black metal scene has seen significant growth and evolution over the past decade. How do you see the genre evolving in the years to come, and how do you envision Chrome Waves fitting into this evolution?
I haven’t specifically paid any attention to the genre. When Bob and I started the band back in 2010, there just weren’t really many people doing this sort of thing and I’ve had little interest in letting the few I do like or have listened to influence what Chrome Waves does.
Bands like Slowdive and Skywave have had significantly more influence on this band than anyone from the last decade.
I also don’t really think we need to be/nor have shown that we should be pigeonholed into this style. There will most likely be a drastic change in sound for future albums as this whole not metal, but not quite not metal thing is starting to feel like old news. I’d rather push the extremes for the next couple LPs.
What are some of the challenges and rewards of being a post-black metal band in the Midwest, where the metal scene is not as prominent as in other parts of the country?
How we operate, I don’t really see any challenges. From a touring perspective, we’re in proximity to the majority of A and B markets in the States within a day’s drive, so that’s pretty ideal.
During the first record, I was living on the west coast while James was in Minnesota and Bob in Indiana.
Boston and Portland have hosted some of the worst shows I’ve ever played. The band started in Chicago, the scene there is just as thriving as any city on either coast.
You have a busy schedule as a musician and producer, having worked with several bands and artists over the years. How do you balance your time and creative energy between these different projects?
As someone in my 40s now, I’ve learned that I need to put my business before my projects. This was the complete opposite up until the pandemic and I wish I would’ve made this realization sooner. The business funds the music, the label and the business affords me the time off to produce artists on the label for no compensation.
Most musicians are awful at planning, so I just need others to deal with a timeline. Chrome Waves generally has album 5 completely demoed and ready to record by the time album 4 is even released.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are just starting out and trying to establish themselves in the industry?
Stick with your day job.
What can fans expect from your live shows, and how do you translate the energy and intensity of your music into a live setting?
We unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of touring. After reforming the band and putting out the first LP in spring of 2019, we did a handful of small runs and then obviously 2020 canceled/ruined any plans for further live shows. Although we really have no current plans to headline, we would most likely cater a set to whomever we would be supporting. We could just as easily play with a post rock band or a metal band and fit in.
Looking back on your career as a musician and producer, what are some of the moments and experiences that stand out to you the most, and how have they shaped you as an artist? Thank you!
I’m just always looking forward. Thanks for your time. 🙏🏻
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