The Scream Queen recently conducted an interview with vocalist Mark Hunter of Cleveland, Ohio metallers CHIMAIRA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Scream Queen: I saw you guys back in 2005 at the Sounds of the Underground tour. A lot has changed since then with metal. What do you think has been the biggest change?
Hunter: Well, I don't know if it's really changed, it's just more of the same. I think that there are still a lot of great bands out there, but I think a lot of blood-letting has happened, I think that a lot of bands should go away. There's so many of the same, you know? I mean, check out the whole deathcore genre, OK? Well, you got two or three bands that do something a little different, but then you have a hundred and fifty bands trying to sound like those two bands. It's like a subgenre that comes with the territory — you get a flood of bands that sound identical to each other. And you know, they have their little popularity for a moment, but the bubble will burst. I'm just looking forward to a mass execution! (laughs) I just think there's too much of the same, I think there's too much, you know? We need a new artist to come out and do something a little different and change things up for a little while. That's my only complaint. But I think that the fans are just as loyal, I still think that heavy metal is fully alive, the [Rockstar Energy Drink] Mayhem Festival, a heavy metal festival, look at the bands that are on it, it's the highest selling tour of the summer, hands down, period. That doesn't say that the genre is dead, the limited CD sales in this world, a strong amount of them still belong to heavy metal. Labels are still finding bands, but they're mainly finding awful bands. So, it's got a loyal fan base. We're a band that, for the rest of our career, we'll always sell a set amount of records, and we're lucky enough to have a career of this because the way the (unintelligible) and they make great albums that our fans expect. We've never been lazy, don't intend to be lazy, and just intend to keep maintaining that relationship. That's kind of where I'm angled at, I still love it, I still think it's the greatest genre, but we need to weed out the millions of copycat bands that are just flooding the Internet, wasting people's time.
The Scream Queen: With the reasons you just listed off to me, do you think that those are the reasons why CHIMAIRA is so different from every other band?
Hunter: I don't necessarily think that we're reinventing the wheel, I think that we're definitely a unique-sounding band. We have our own sound; people know who it is when they hear us. We obviously have influences ourselves, it's how you use those influences; if I hear a SLAYER riff that I like, I'm not going to try to recreate the SLAYER riff and song, I might have an influence or be in the same key, or something like that. (laughs) It may sound SLAYER-esque. We've never had a song where you're like "Hmmm, is that SLAYER?" We've never had a song like that, like you cannot tell who the band is. And that is something that we take pride in and do effetely. What confuses me is that OK, there's a band like AS I LAY DYING and there's a band that might be very similar sounding, (laughs) and you cannot tell them apart! That's when it gets to become a problem. If you put on anything in deathcore scene, I dare anybody really, unless they're (inaudible) to the scene, to tell half of those bands apart. Impossible. Put on 20 seconds of a CHIMAIRA song, you know what it's going to be. You put on 20 seconds of a deathcore song, you're lost — Who is this? What is this? What are you listening to? So, that's... If we're responsible for that genre, I'm proud that we're a band that influenced a lot of those bands, but lets keep the four or five that are different, are doing something different, and are good; get rid of the rest. Same thing with the metalcore bands, same thing, etcetera, etcetera, keep going on. I don't want to sound specifically targeted towards one genre, but it's just kind of what it is, you know? And labels sign, that's the problem why they're going to go away. They spend all of their money signing ten to fifteen bands that all sound the same and only one of them is going to do anything, so why not put all of your money and all of your eggs into one basket (laughs) for that instead of — that's just how I look at it.
The Scream Queen: Was there anything that happened with your time in CHIMAIRA that changed all of you as artists?
Hunter: I'd say something happens every week that changes us as a band. I mean, there are so many things, it would be impossible to pinpoint anything. I'll say that the most major things to happen to us were losing our drummer for a couple of years; that was annoying. That's the only word I can use to describe that whole time period. (laughs) And... Dealing and learning with the trials and tribulations of record labels and how they work. We had a great relationship when we were on Roadrunner Records when we started, then our relationship with the U.S. department started to fade and fade, and we lost out on being on Roadrunner on the rest of the world, who were great overseas, but we gained by not being on the label in the U.S. So, yeah, those are giant things that definitely affected us with the band. I think, had we been forced to stay on Roadrunner in the U.S., it might've resulted in a less-than-stellar album because of frustration and anger and confusion and a lot of things that were happening in the band and we didn't really know why. So, taking a backseat to it now, we're like "OK, maybe we didn't really need to be so problematic towards Roadrunner." But at the time, we needed to blame somebody and we didn't want to blame ourselves; no one ever does. It's the same thing with the band; you just got to learn from what you do, make the best of everything that you do, and resolve how you handle all situations, and you can't change the past, so you've got to learn from it.
Read the entire interview from The Scream Queen.