The Chariot

author AP date 15/06/12

Back in mid-March, when Norma Jean brought an impressive tour package to Copenhagen, we had the opportunity to sit down with The Chariot's vocalist Josh Scogin to chat about what's been going on in the band's camp over the past year or so. My sincerest apologies for this being psoted so late - the real life has well and truly been suffocating in the past few months, what with exams and the like demanding my full attention. But here it is at last, the long-awaited transcript of my interview with Josh Scogin of The Chariot. Hi, and thanks for doing this interview with us tonight. Let's kick things off by talking about this tour. It must always be a special experience for you to tour with Norma Jean?
Josh: Yeah, it's awesome. We know everybody on this tour, which is very rare. Obviously we have a history with Norma Jean; we've toured a few times with Dead and Divine previously; and even the first band, Admiral's Arms, came to the States and did some stuff with us a couple of times. So it's very nice to be overseas and have that comfort of just knowing everybody from the very beginning. Most tours are not like that. On most tours you may know one band, or you may know somebody, or you may not know anybody - and then you have to get to know everybody. So this is kind of more like a family reunion. It's been real nice. The tour's been good; the shows have been good; the dudes are good; and it's one of my favorite tours that I've ever done. Does it ever give you a sense of nostalgia to see Norma Jean on stage given your history with the band?

Josh: Not really. We've played together enough times that I kind of forget. But I love the band musically, so the ability to see them every night is really fun. Do you have any crazy or strange stories to share from the tour so far?

Josh: This isn't crazy, but it's fun for us. We're all on the same bus - us, Dead and Divine and Norma Jean - so we've been doing question-and-answer sessions most nights. For instance if it's my day: there would be a sheet of paper hanging out, and every time somebody thinks of a question, they'd write it down. Then that night they'd hand me the sheet of paper, I'd read them, and then I'd answer - no matter how crazy the question is, I'd have to answer it. It sounds funny, especially since I've known some of these guys since middle school. It's hilarious, the things you learn about someone when you have the ability to ask whatever you want. Cory, the vocalist of Norma Jean, has actually got his sheet up there right now... But yeah, that's been fun for us because we've never done that before, and it's something that - if we share buses with other bands in the future - we will take into consideration because it's a good time, and you get to know everybody - plus it's really funny. Do you have anything that you want to share that's come up from the sheet?

Josh: A lot of the things that have been interesting to me have been questions like "if you weren't in this band, what would you rather be doing?" and "if you weren't in this band, what would most lilkely be doing"? Those have been pretty interesting because you find out things that you didn't know, even about people in my own band or people in Norma Jean that I've known for years. Like Chris, who's played guitar in Norma Jean since the conception of the band, said he would like to be a marine biologist, and were like "what!?". I've never known that about him, and I've known him since middle school! I've never known that because we've always just been in a band together. So yeah, little things like that, that aren't really a big deal but just really funny to discover about people you've known for a long time. I've noticed that you sometimes put out a call among your fans for a place to crash after the show in the city that you're playing in, and considering that you named a number of songs on your previous album, "Long Live", after some of your most devout fans, I'd be interested to if doing so is part of your close relationship with your fans, or if it is simply for economic reasons?
Josh: It starts economically speaking. But it's kind of funny because when you don't have a bus, you can hang out with maybe the one person whose place you're staying at. When we're on a bus - I mean our bus call tonight is at 00:30 am, which is kind of early for us - usually the bus call is at like 3 am, which means we get to hang out with our fans a lot more then. Anybody who doesn't have to go to school or work the next day, we end up just hanging out with them. It's cool because you get to know people, and we can go all over as long as we're back by 3 am - and then we can go to sleep versus having to drive. Sometimes it's kind of cool to get to know someone and have some personal time with people who like our band, but when we're on the bus we actually get to do that a whole lot more. Also you get to a venue maybe at 10 am or noon, and if you know people there, you can call them up and actually go hang out, whereas on the van you have to drive until it's pretty much time to load in. So on buses we actually get to hang out a lot more, but economically speaking we just have to do vans sometimes. I'd like to think that one of the people whose place you have crashed in the past had the full Guitar Hero or Rock Band kit. Are your Guitar Hero / Rock Band sessions just as energetic as your live performances?

Josh: We've played Guitar Hero a couple of times, though we're not really gamers very much. In fact, I've only played Rock Band once in my life when we were staying at somebody's house and there was a lot of people there. But those sessions are maybe not as chaotic as our live show, because I have no idea what I'm doing in the game - I'm not a gamer so I'm doing everything I can just to hit the right notes. When on tour in Australia last year, you actually played at a fan's house, in his livingroom after the venue pulled the plug on you! I'd be interested to know what the story behind that incident was and how it came to be that you moved the show to his place?

Josh: Well, basically, long story short: There was really a kind of older gentleman that was running the show, and I guess he just didn't know what we did or whatever so he pulled the plug. There was a bowl of pears that was out, just kind of like in the way there - nothing fancy - and they fell over, and I think he thought we did it so he pulled the plug. At first I was concerned that someone had gotten hurt, or that something broke. He said, "yeah, that bowl of pears broke", and we were like, "did you just stop the show because of a bowl of pears?". We've never hurt anyone or broken anything that wasn't ours, so we were offering to pay for that bowl of pears because we just wanted to play, you know? We had never been in Australia at the time, and we were talking to people who had been wanting to see us for six-seven years, and here's this guy pulling the plug after like three or four songs. So we were just trying to get the show to go on.

I think he kind of just pulled the plug and then he realized that even though it might have looked kind of crazy, but no one got hurt, and nothing happened. It was a sold out show, so there were a lot of angry kids after that to say the least. We actually helped the situation after this guy said "come play at my friend's house". We were just like "we will...! Don't say unless you mean it, because we will!" and he said he meant it. So we actually helped the situation a lot because if we wouldn't have done that, I don't know if these kids wouldn't have rioted or something like that. There was enough people there for that and he wasn't giving refunds. It was a really shitty thing because he'd pulled the plug after like three-four songs; people had been waiting for like six-seven years, and he wasn't trying to remedy it. That's just crooked. That just wasn't cool in any way. So I'm glad that we were able to play at his house and ease the situation. But it's a real shame that it even had to get to that point just because the guy didn't quite understand passion. Did you manage to get out of that incident without any broken vases or damaged paintings?

Josh: Yeah, we actually played more songs than we would otherwise have because we thought it was hilarious just being at a person's house and they were so cool with it. Many people compare your performances to those of the Dillinger Escape Plan, and actually one of our readers wanted to know your take on which band, in your opinion, puts on a crazier show: you, or them?
Josh: I don't know. I've known those guys for a long time, and I love that band a lot. I think they're awesome. But I think it's a matter of we both do different things. I know that they play a lot crazier stuff than we do, and they're so technically inclined and clever that it blows my mind. I have no idea how they do what they do. But I mean it's not a competition or anything, about who goes nuts more. I'd love to tour with them just because I love the energy that they do have on stage, but musically they're just a powerhouse of a band and I respect them tremendously for that. Over the past couple of years you've released some interesting music videos, but for me, "David de la Hoz" takes the prize. It must have been fun making that video? Did it take a long time to synchronize everything? What did you hope to convey with the video?
Josh: It was a little stressful. We didn't have like a director or anything; we just basically did it all ourselves. The idea just kind of spawned in our heads, and we thought if we were going to record the song live, we might as well film it. Then we figured that it would get kind of boring, so we thought we'd throw some drums in the kitchen or something - there were a lot of different ideas like that, and that's how it started to build. It was a really fun process. We literally did it not knowing if we would keep it because I didn't know if it was going to work. We recorded it all live right there, so if something dramatic would have happened like someone not being in tune or something, we would have just had to drop it.

But it was awesome that it worked out, even though we were making huge changes minutes before recording. Because, as I said, we were winging it, the whole thing. We didn't know what we were doing; we would try one thing, and then Matt Goldman would be like "oh, I don't have enough mics for that, so let's do this instead" and then he'd be like "I don't have chords for that, but I can go buy some chords." So he was in on it too; he was very willing to try and make it happen. It was awesome, and at the end where I walk out and we all start cheering - that wasn't planned. When I walked out it just erupted because we couldn't believe we made it that far. The cool thing with recording it live and doing it in one take is that we could watch it right htere without having to edit it. When we went ahead and watched it, we were like "I think this worked, I think we really pulled it off!". So we were really proud of it at that point. Because you know, everybody's gotta do their thing - I might have done my part right but then we might go back and listen to it and dude's not playing the right part. You know, we just wrote that song weeks before, so it's not like it was a song we'd played a hundred times before. So it was very interesting, and it could easily have ended with no one ever seeing or hearing it, but we felt like it came out good, so we kept it. Our guitarist's headphones and got all around his strings at one point - you can hear it because it's being played live - but we thought it was kind of cool because that way people know we're playing it live. So it's not even overdubbed?

Josh: No, we recorded it right there! That was the magic of the video. If we hadn't done that, it wouldn't have been worth doing. You know, when we're all in that big room, all those guitars and drums and mics go into the control board, so what you see is what you hear. It's all live and done right then and there. That's what I mean about thinking it went good and going back to notice that one of the guitarists pulled a string or something, but it went pretty well, so... There have been rumours circulating for some time now that a new album is on its way this year. What can you tell me about that?
Josh: The record is called "One Wing". As soon as this tour is over, after the shows in Russia, we start recording. We're really excited to see what that looks like and what comes of it, but it's some of the most unique stuff we've done, and I'm really proud of it. It's in the early stages, but I'm really excited to see where it goes from there. We're a very impulsive band; we always change stuff in the middle of the process - we might change a whole song or drop a whole song. So I'm just excited to hear the final product. We're expecting the album to come out in mid-to-late August. Given your philosophy of live show comes first, do you ever find yourselves toning something down or making a part simpler so that it can be delivered with maximum energy on stage?
Josh: No. It's funny, because we write whatever we write and then... Because it's coming from the mindset of the live show, it's already there. But we do whatever we need to do to make that record the best that it could be. To be honest, I love live shows, but at the end of the day in the live show you've got the lights, you've got the energy, you've got the commeradery, you've got everyone there, you've got the sweat, and you feel it. There's nothing else going on the CD: it's quieter, it has volume control, there's tracking, whatever. So we try to do whatever we can to make that recording feel as "live" as we can; to make it feel as powerful as we can. There's plenty of things that we maybe put on the record that we might have no intention of doing live. But at the end of the day we feel like we need it for the record. So we've never watered anything down or held back anything - kind of like the old saying of "...more than you can chew" and then chew it up, you know? We write it, we have it, and we like it. Then we make sure we're able to do it live. Right, that was it from us. Do you have any famous last words, shout-outs to our readers, or anything further you'd like to add?
Josh: Thanks to everybody that came out and hung out with us - I hope to see you again. It's very humbling to be able to come to different countries that I do not live in and see familiar faces. It's very comforting and nice, so thanks a lot.

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